The Great Northern Route

Midway across the Upper Peninsula along Hwy-28, the UP’s biggest and, in many ways, most attractive city is Marquette (pop. 21,355), a Lake Superior ore port with a lovely lakeside setting. Blocks of 100-year-old beaux arts buildings fill the business district above the heavy industrial harbor, and the presence of government offices and the region’s main college (Northern Michigan University) have given it a lively, prosperous feel. From downtown, you can follow the lakeshore drive 3 miles north to Presque Isle Park, 323 acres of pristine wilderness.

Other aspects of UP life are documented down the road in neighboring Negaunee, eight miles west along Hwy-28/US-41, where the excellent Michigan Iron Industry Museum (906/475-7857, daily May-Oct., Mon.-Fri. and first Sat. Nov.-Apr., free) tells the full story of the $48 billion Michigan iron mining industry. Farther west, the lighter side of UP life is the theme of Yooperland (906/485-5595, daily, free), a.k.a. “Da Yoopers Tourist Trap,” a gigantic gift shop-cum-cultural museum along Hwy-28/US-41 in Ishpeming that features the “Largest Working Chainsaw in the World” and “The World’s Largest Working Rifle.” If you’re looking for comic postcards of giant pasties and similar oddities, this is the place to come.