Marquette Things to Do
The beautiful city of Marquette Michigan has so much to offer with its natural beauty and rich history. There’s no reason you shouldn’t have plenty of things to do in Marquette.
Lake Superior Beaches
In Marquette, the summertime temperatures can climb into the low 80’s causing residents and visitors to seek refuge on one of the many beautiful sandy beaches. Many of the beach-lovers are attracted to slightly warmer waters of South Beach, located just beyond the municipal power plant. However, it’s unlikely you’ll feel warm in the water since Lake Superior overall is colder than the other Great Lakes. Of course, if the water is too cold, it is still a great place to relax.
If you don’t want a view of the municipal power plant while hanging out at the beach you can check out Little Presque Isle – which actually is an island now, thanks to changing currents in the lake over the last 50 years which have washed away the “land bridge” out to the island. One thing to note is that you’re required to have a Michigan parks permit before you can access the beach parking lot since Little Presque Island is part of State Forest lands.
Some other great beaches include a rather secluded gem on the Big Bay Road (County Road 550) north of Marquette on a dirt access road right after the Harlow Lake Rd heading west. It’s a great place to beat the crowds and see some choppy waves. Another local favorite is just off M-28, about a 15-minute drive from downtown Marquette. It’s at the first pullout as you are heading eastward on M-28 and provides a great view of the sunset.
Of course, it’s not just beaches that draw people to the water. There’s a historic boat docked just outside the city. The private docks are open for everyone to walk around and admire the fleet, but the Coaster II steals the show. There is also a beautiful lighthouse is at the south end of Shiras Park worth checking out if you have the time.
When planning a day near the water it’s important to note that in the spring and early summer, the blackflies here can be aggressive, but by August they’ve usually moved on.
Rich Architecture & History
Marquette’s wealth of iron generated enough prosperity to fund sharp looking commercial buildings downtown during the late 19th century.
The only thing the area had more of was snow. This prompted builders to install some beautiful and durable steel roofs, even in residential areas. The old heavy gauge steel roofing was originally painted, but now often appears red with rust. Walking North from downtown toward the university will lead you toward many fine old homes. The oldest home spotted is a post-Civil War brick structure about a block north of downtown. However there is plenty of other grand residential architecture in Marquette from the late 1880’s through the early 20th century.
In the downtown area you’ll see a number of other diverse and beautiful structures from the massive concrete and steel ore loader on the waterfront to the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church adorned with Tiffany windows. Walking about you’ll find art hidden in the least likely of places. For instance, the post office displays a 1930’s mural of Jacques Marquette and his discovery of the area in 1671. Another surprising stop is at the Northern Michigan State University. Built in 1899, the school was intended to educate K-12 teachers, but now boasts an impressive nursing program. Because of the school’s long and varied history, the campus is home to an assorted collection of different architecture styles.
There are also a number of other traditional historic attractions including the Marquette Maritime Museum, The Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, and Marquette County Historical Society and Museum.
You’d be remiss to avoid the great outdoor recreation areas in Marquette. A local favorite is Mattson Lower Harbor Park that covers 22 acres with a large grassy open space area, park benches, picnic tables, a children’s playground, a concession stand, restroom facility, boat ramp, and a large nearby breakwater. This park is also the site for many festivals, such as the Seafood Festival, the International Food Festival, Winterfest, concerts, fireworks, as well as group projects, often centering around art.
If you enjoy hiking or biking, the Marquette Region has 25 miles of various loop trails. These range from easy to very difficult, with level to steep and hilly terrain. You will find mostly forested trails, with several lakes and overlooks, as well as a lakeshore route. For instance, Hogback Mountain is a mildly strenuous hike that will reward you with a fine vista of the Lake Superior shoreline and forested hills for miles around. An easier climb than Hogback is Sugarloaf, which has its own paved parking lot, clearly visible from County Road 550, and a well-marked trail that has been furnished with wooden staircases climbing to the top. At Presque Isle, you’ll find the geologic formation known as the black rocks. These are exposed volcanic rocks that are among the very oldest formations in the Western Hemisphere. Of course, if you’re traveling during the winter you can still enjoy the outdoors skiing on Marquette Mountain.
And if you’re not in the mood for anything too strenuous, but want to see natural beauty, you should stop at Laughing Whitefish Falls. This is one of the most substantial waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula, and is it’s “fullest” in spring. The Dead River Falls are also beautiful and something of a local secret. Unfortunately, they’re located on land owned by one of the local electric utility companies, so they don’t have the formal “park status” of other waterfalls in the area.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about things to do in Marquette.
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