Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9: A Balancing Act of Risks and Adventure

Perched along the serene Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in Michigan lies the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook, a majestic 450-foot sand dune that offers visitors breathtaking panoramas of Lake Michigan.

While most tourists flock to the designated overlook area with informative interpretive panels to marvel at the captivating view, an adjacent rugged path along a steep dune beckons to the adventurous.

However, this path carries with it a reputation for numerous emergency rescue attempts. In this article, will take a look at this interesting spot and give some insight into the dangers and adventures that it offers.

What is the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook?

The Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook, also referred to as No. 9 Overlook, is a towering 450-foot sand dune located along the picturesque Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. From this vantage point, visitors are treated to awe-inspiring vistas of Lake Michigan.

Most visitors gather at the designated overlook platform, complete with informative interpretive panels, to soak in the breathtaking view.

However, adjacent to this spot, there exists a rugged path along a steep dune that adventurous souls sometimes venture down. This path has garnered a reputation for the numerous rescue attempts it has necessitated over the years.

Don’t get this overlook confused with the “dune climb” which is a popular tourist spot allowing visitors to climb up a large dune and proceed on a hike to the lakeshore if desired. That’s located at a different part of the park. If you want to find the No. 9 Overlook, you’ll run into it towards then end of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Related: Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tour Review (Tips For Your Visit)

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook history

Over the years, this overlook, known as No. 9 Overlook, has garnered quite a reputation as a hotspot for emergency rescues. It has been a site where numerous 911 calls have been made, resulting in some tourists facing substantial expenses when they found themselves unable to make a safe return.

Just how challenging the rescue is, depends on the water levels.

When lake levels are lower, rescue operations involve the use of an ATV to traverse the beach, reaching individuals and bringing them back to safety. This approach is not only more practical but also significantly more cost-effective than what is needed in high water level years. During these times, a rescue of this kind might incur a cost of approximately $700.

But in years with higher water levels, rescue operations become more expensive, requiring a team of 8 to 10 highly trained personnel to employ rope techniques for lifting victims to safety, sometimes hundreds of feet up the steep sides of the dune. This intricate and labor-intensive method can cost upwards of $2,000 to $3,000.

The responsibility for covering these rescue expenses falls upon the individuals who are rescued, although it’s reported that only approximately half of them actually fulfill this obligation.

Consequently, the fire department is left to shoulder the remaining costs, making it a challenging situation for both the individuals involved and the local authorities.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Why exactly is this considered so dangerous?

The biggest problem is probably visitors being unprepared for the strenuous climb back up.

Trekking uphill on loose sand is not an easy task and can be much more exhausting than a lot of people anticipate.

It’s also common to see people head down without any water supplies, even during warm summer months. After 20 to 30 minutes of strenuous exertion, it’s really easy to get dehydrated and that can be a major problem.

There’s also the issue of potentially getting injured going down.

While sand can be very forgiving, a bad tumble could send you down without being able to stop. Also, if you take a look at the sand you’ll notice that there are quite a few rocks within the sand that could easily cut somebody up.

These risks have been highly publicized and as a result the amount of rescue attempts have decreased.

This has a lot to do with getting the message out about the dangers of heading down to the water via volunteers. A few years back they started a program that brought out volunteers who would try to dissuade people from making the trip down the dune.

There’s also a sign at the top that warns about the dangers and about having to pay $3,000 for being rescued.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9

Some people criticize the policy and warnings requiring people to pay for their rescue.

The argument is that this could incentivize people to not request for help and potentially put themselves in fatal danger. As someone who is big on personal responsibility, I don’t mind requiring people to cover their emergency fees. However, there is always that potential for it to backfire (though that doesn’t seem to be a problem here).

Regardless of some of the criticism, the success of these deterrents has been evident by the number of rescue calls which in some summers has been as slow as only 2 to 3 compared to previous years where in peak season they could receive as many as four rescue calls per day!

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9

Should you make the trek?

Ultimately, the decision to undertake this type of climb rests with the visitor, and it’s important to assess your own capabilities and physical condition. Depending on your fitness level, it could take you anywhere from 30 minutes to close to two hours to get back up.

Regrettably, I found myself in a situation where I had thrown my back out a couple of days prior to my visit, making the temptation of attempting this climb out of the question for me.

Nevertheless, as someone who has tackled numerous hikes, including very strenuous ones like descending to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back in a single day, I can offer some valuable tips.

First and foremost, pay close attention to the temperature, especially if you’re attempting this climb during the summer months. It’s advisable to start early in the morning when temperatures are lower. This approach will greatly aid in preventing dehydration and ensure that the sand isn’t scorching hot under your feet if you choose to go barefoot.

Personally, I would recommend wearing some form of footwear due to the concealed rocks in the sand. Nothing would be more unfortunate than injuring your foot while making your way down there.

I observed various approaches to descending the dune. Some adventurous souls opted for the thrilling sprint straight down the slope, almost seeming to glide on the sand – undoubtedly a lot of fun.

Others chose a more cautious zigzag pattern, a prudent strategy to avoid a potential disastrous tumble.

Then, there were those who took a measured and methodical walk down the dune’s flank, arguably the most sensible approach.

If you’re planning this adventure, I recommend having a CamelBak or a similar hydration system with a generous water supply, possibly around two liters. This ensures you stay well-hydrated for the ascent and allows you to easily sip water during your breaks. Having some electrolytes with you like liquid IV or tablets is also a good idea.

Now, onto the journey back up.

I strongly advise pacing yourself when ascending. While a 450-foot elevation gain may not sound daunting to seasoned hikers familiar with elevation changes, the challenge here lies in the loose sand underfoot. Climbing uphill through loose sand requires considerably more effort than scaling solid ground.

Therefore, don’t attempt to power through it on the way up.

Instead, take ample breaks and relish the breathtaking scenery below, including the shimmering turquoise waters. It might also be wise to have some extra supplies on hand, such as a light snacks, a hat, and sunglasses.

Final word

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9 has been a place where lots of people have gotten into a scary situation and there have been many rescues over the years. But with the public more educated about the risks, it seems that those rescues have declined. For many people, it’s worth just admiring the views from the observation platform which might be some of the best you’ll find in Michigan.

Michigan’s Culinary Delights: Top 10 Must-Try Foods for a Delicious Experience

Michigan is a land of culinary wonders, each dish telling a unique story of the state’s history and culture. From the vibrant swirls of Superman Ice Cream to the hearty pasties of the Upper Peninsula, the Great Lakes State offers a diverse array of flavors to tantalize your taste buds.

In this article, we’ll embark on a delectable journey through Michigan’s culinary world, exploring the origins, tastes, and renowned locations for each of these iconic Michigan foods.

Whether you’re a local looking to celebrate your state’s flavors or a curious traveler eager to explore new tastes, get ready to discover the mouthwatering delights that make Michigan’s cuisine truly one of a kind.

Superman Ice Cream

Superman Ice Cream is a colorful treat that captures the essence of Michigan’s fun-loving spirit. This iconic ice cream is known for its vibrant swirls of red, blue, and yellow, reminiscent of the superhero’s costume (although the ice cream came before Superman’s character).

The taste? Almost impossible to describe.

But think of a delightful blend of lemon, cherry/red pop, and blue moon (itself a bit of a mystery flavor).

Due to potential copyright issues, the ice cream often goes by different names than Superman (e.g., “super rainbow”) and different brands also use different flavors you don’t always get the same flavor profile. For example, instead of lemon you might get vanilla.

When in Michigan, head to any number of ice cream parlors to savor this nostalgic dessert that’s been a staple at summertime gatherings for generations. However, if you want to get local go with Moomer’s or Stroh’s Ice Cream.

Superman Ice Cream


Hailing from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, pasties are the ultimate comfort food and also just kind of fun to eat.

These hearty hand pies were brought to the UP region by Cornish miners in the 19th century and have existed in England for at least 800 years. In fact, those from Cornwall have protected status just like champagne.

One thing you might notice is that they have a unique shape. The practice of crimping the edges not only made them easy to handle (even with dirty hands) but it also allowed miners to identify their pasties, etching their initials into this humble meal.

Pasties typically consist of a flaky pastry filled with a savory mixture of ground meat, potatoes, onions, and rutabagas, seasoned to perfection. The result? A warm, satisfying meal that’s perfect for cold Michigan winters or post-hike meals.

To sample some of the best pasties in the state, visit Lawry’s Pasty Shop in Marquette, Roy’s Pasties and Bakery in Houghton, or Muldoons Pasties in Munising, and you’ll understand why this dish has stood the test of time. Some of the shops like Muldoons also serve dessert pasties such as pumpkin or apple pasties which can be equally satisfying.

pasty michigan

Detroit-Style Pizza

If you thought the best pizza only came from New York or Italy, think again!

Originating in the Motor City in the 1940s, this pizza is known for its deep, square-shaped crust, which is crispy on the outside and wonderfully soft on the inside. It’s topped with generous layers of Wisconsin brick cheese and tomato sauce, often ladled on top in streaks.

Visit Buddy’s Pizza, which claims to be the birthplace of this delectable dish, or check out Loui’s Pizza, Green Lantern, Cloverleaf, or Michigan and Trumbull for a taste of authentic Detroit-style pizza.

We tried out Buddy’s Pizza and I came out thoroughly impressed.

The Detroit-style pizza strikes the ideal balance of thickness, offering heartiness but without too much density — its slices are surprisingly light. But it also maintains just the right amount of crispiness on the edges.

It’s my top choice among all pizza styles I’ve tried so far. When visiting Michigan, indulging in this culinary gem is an absolute necessity.

Detroit-Style Pizza buddys

Thimbleberry Jam

Thimbleberries are a rare and very delicate berry native to Michigan’s forests and other surrounding regions.

Their jam, known as thimbleberry jam, is a true delicacy. With a sweet yet tart flavor, this jam is a real treat for the taste buds. The jam’s vibrant red color and distinctive flavor make it a sought-after local delight.

While it can be challenging to find due to the scarcity of thimbleberries, you might discover jars of this unique jam at local farmers’ markets or specialty stores throughout the state.

However, if you are in the Keweenaw Peninsula you can easily find this jam at the Jam Lady or at the Jampot, which are both interesting places to visit even if you don’t want to buy jam.

The Jam Lady’s approach is refreshingly unique, allowing you to select jams and a wide range of assorted products based entirely on an honor system, adding a touch of trust to your culinary adventure. From vintage postcards to horse shoes, you can find a little bit of everything in the shop which is housed in a former post office.

On the other hand, the Jampot is an establishment lovingly managed by monks from the Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine Rite. Here, you not only have the chance to savor thimbleberry jam but also indulge in a variety of exquisite sweet treats, including irresistible creations like peanut butter and jelly brownies.

We enjoyed thimbleberry jam on toast and it’s easily one of my favorite jams.

Thimbleberry Jam

Coney Dog

The Coney dog is Detroit’s answer to the classic hot dog, and it’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Originating from Coney Island, New York, it found its unique identity in the heart of Detroit. A Coney dog typically consists of a steamed hot dog topped with a flavorful meaty chili sauce, chopped onions, and a drizzle of mustard.

Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island, both located in downtown Detroit, are legendary destinations where you can savor this iconic Michigan dish. The friendly rivalry between these two establishments adds an extra layer of charm to your culinary adventure.

But you can also enjoy a Flint-style coney dog, although I have to say it was not my favorite dish to try when in Michigan. We visited one of the recommended places in Flint and I just didn’t find the chili used on the hotdog appetizing at all and the casing on the hotdog was not right.

Coney Dog

Mackinac Island Fudge

Mackinac Island, a picturesque gem in Lake Huron, is famous for its delectable fudge, which dates back to over 100 years.

Crafted in the tradition of old-world confectionery, Mackinac Island fudge boasts a rich, creamy texture and an array of flavors, from classic chocolate to modern combinations like sea salt caramel and cookies ‘n cream.

You’ll find over a dozen fudge shops along the charming streets of Mackinac Island, such as Murdick’s Fudge and Ryba’s Fudge Shops, where you can witness the art of fudge-making and indulge in a sweet treat that perfectly complements the island’s nostalgic ambiance.

Personally, I’m not really a fudge person (or “fudgie”). I mean, don’t get me wrong I will eat some fudge but it’s never been my go-to dessert or anything like that. However, I struggled to put down the chocolate walnut fudge from Murdick’s Fudge, which I found to be pretty damn irresistible.

Mackinac Island Fudge

Boston Cooler

Despite its name, the Boston Cooler has nothing to do with Beantown.

The name’s origins are a bit of a mystery. Some attribute it to a neighborhood in Detroit with the name Boston in it while others point to a connection to Boston Boulevard.

After looking deeply into this history though it seems that these are probably myths and that the beverage has a long and varied history with Boston Coolers taking many different forms over the decades, dating back to the late 1800s.

Confusing history aside, this delightful beverage combines two main ingredients: vanilla ice cream and Vernors ginger ale. The result is a frothy, creamy, and subtly spicy concoction that’s perfect for quenching your thirst on a hot summer day.

Visit ice cream shops or burger joints like Mercury Burger to savor this nostalgic beverage.

Boston Cooler


Michigan’s Traverse City is often dubbed the “Cherry Capital of the World,” and for good reason. The area’s climate is ideal for cultivating both sweet and tart cherries, and you’ll find them in various forms, from fresh-picked fruit to preserves and pies.

Michigan cherries are perfect for snacking, baking, or enjoying in a classic cherry pie. Traverse City, in particular, is renowned for its cherry orchards, and the National Cherry Festival is a must-visit event for cherry enthusiasts.

When in “TC” you will find places like Cherry Republic, the Cherry Stop, Grand Traverse Pie Company, and a bit further out you’ll find the famous Cherry Hut, all of which offer endless cherry products. Whether it’s cherry soap or cherry coffee, you’ll find a vast array of options that will intrigue and perhaps even confuse you.

cherry pie


When it comes to freshwater fish, Michigan’s whitefish is a prized catch. With its mild, delicate flavor and flaky texture, whitefish is a versatile fish that can be prepared in various ways, from grilling to smoking.

The Great Lakes, especially Lake Superior, are teeming with this delicious fish. For a taste of fresh whitefish, head to a lakeside restaurant like. We really enjoyed Four Suns Fish & Chips, located on the Keweenaw Peninsula. But there are endless restaurants in Michigan where you can find a good whitefish like The Cove in Leland or Legs Inn in Cross Village.



Hailing from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, cudighi is a spicy Italian sausage sandwich that’s become a local favorite. The sausage is made from a blend of ground beef and pork, seasoned with a fiery mix of spices, which gives it a distinct taste.

Cudighi is often served on a soft roll with marinara sauce and melted cheese, creating a spicy, savory, and satisfying sandwich. But you can also enjoy this “classic style” which consists of the sausage with onions, ketchup, and mustard.

To try this UP classic, visit Ralph’s Italian Deli in Ishpeming or Vango’s Pizza & Cocktail Lounge in Marquette, both renowned for their delicious cudighi sandwiches that pack a flavorful punch.


Final word

Upon arriving in Michigan, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a diverse array of unique foods to sample. While some of these dishes may have their roots in other parts of the country or even the world, Michigan has added its own distinctive twist to each one. No matter your palate preferences, you’re bound to find a culinary delight that will leave your taste buds thoroughly satisfied.

Exploring Fort Mackinac’s Rich History & Firing the Canon!

Mackinac Island in Michigan is a treasure trove of captivating history.

From its distinction as one of the earliest national parks in the United States to its transformation into a sought-after destination for travelers, it is steeped in historical significance.

Yet, one of the most intriguing and compelling narratives on the island unfolds within the walls of Fort Mackinac.

What is Fort Mackinac?

Fort Mackinac, situated on Mackinac Island in Michigan, is a historic military fort offering visitors a glimpse into the military history of the region and the role the fort played during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including its involvement in the War of 1812.

Fort Mackinac: a brief history

Fort Mackinac has roots dating back to the late 1700s.

Before 1763, the French utilized Fort Michilimackinac, located on the mainland’s south shore of the Straits of Mackinac, to assert control over the region.

Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the British took control of the French fort but found it challenging to defend.

In response to these challenges, in 1780 Lieutenant Governor Patrick Sinclair took charge of the construction of a new fort made of limestone on the 150-foot limestone bluffs of Mackinac Island.

To create this new fort, various buildings were relocated from the mainland post of Michilimackinac, including the barracks, guardhouse, and provision storehouse.

The fort was strategically positioned to oversee the Straits of Mackinac, connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and played a pivotal role in regulating the lucrative fur trade. But it had its shortcomings as you’ll see.

Fort Mackinac

Eventually, in 1796, several years after the American victory in the Revolutionary War, the United States assumed control of the fort and it went on to play a substantial role in the region’s history, notably during the War of 1812.

In June 1812, as the War of 1812 commenced, Fort Mackinac was defended by a modest United States garrison consisting of roughly sixty men, led by Lieutenant Porter Hanks.

Unfortunately, Hanks and his men were unaware of the outbreak of the war due to a lack of communication.

In the early hours of July 17, 1812, a joint British and Native American expedition, led by British Captain Charles Roberts, launched a surprise assault on Fort Mackinac.

This force comprised 40 British soldiers along with 500 French Canadian and Native American allies, significantly outnumbering the US troops.

They disembarked on the northern tip of Mackinac Island, a location still accessible today and recognized as “British Landing.”

Fort Mackinac British Landing
British Landing

They then ascended to the island’s highest point, which afforded a commanding view of Fort Mackinac.

This area was eventually reclaimed by the United States and named Fort Holmes. And today, there is a recreated fort at this location that offers a fascinating historical experience well worth exploring.

Fort Mackinac Fort Holmes
Fort Holmes

But back to the invasion by the British….

Once the British were on the island’s high point they strategically positioned their cannons directly aimed at the fort, compelling its surrender in what marked the first land engagement of the War of 1812.

A couple of years later in August of 1814, there was another significant battle for the island that ended unfavorably for the Americans. Similar to the British approach, the American forces landed on the island’s northern side.

However, as they advanced toward the fort, they faced strong resistance and were ambushed by Native American allies, leading to the loss of 13 American soldiers, including their second-in-command, Major Andrew Holmes.

This battlefield is yet another location that you can visit when on the island.

Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac remained under the control of the British Empire for a significant period until the conclusion of the war when it was returned to the United States as part of the Treaty of Ghent in 1815.

Throughout the 19th century, Fort Mackinac continued to operate as a military post. However, by the late 1800s, its defensive role had become obsolete.

Instead, it found new purposes, such as serving as the headquarters for managing the national park established on Mackinac Island. Eventually, it was decommissioned in 1895, and the fort became a part of Michigan’s first State Park, as the focus on the island shifted to tourism.

In the late 1950s, after restoration work that went on through the decades, Fort Mackinac opened as a living history museum.

Fort Mackinac view

How to get to Fort Mackinac

To visit Fort Mackinac, you must first make your way to Mackinac Island.

If you’re not familiar with the island, it’s important to note that automobiles are not permitted there. Instead, you’ll need to access the island by taking a ferry, boat, or flying in. It’s just a brief uphill walk from the downtown area to reach the fort’s south entrance. Alternatively, you can come from the north entrance.

An adult ticket is about $15 and comes with admission to other sites on the island. For more on pricing and admission you can go here.

Fort Mackinac exterior

Experiencing Fort Mackinac

Indeed, there is much to explore and experience at Fort Mackinac. When planning your visit, it’s advisable to allocate ample time to fully appreciate all that it has to offer.

Throughout the day, visitors have the opportunity to witness engaging historical demonstrations that transport them back in time.

These demonstrations often include captivating reenactments featuring period rifles like the Springfield model 1873.

Fort Mackinac

he firing of the renowned cannon, a 1841 model six-pounder is not to be missed!

Fort Mackinac canon demonstration

There is also a guided tour which will give you a great background into the evolution of the fort.

For the most part, you’re standing in the parade grounds so the tour doesn’t take you in and out of the buildings (which is probably a good thing because those are best explore in small groups).

Fort Mackinac tour

Visitors can plan ahead by calling to inquire about the scheduled times for these demonstrations.

Alternatively, while exploring the fort, keep an ear out for the uniformed workers dressed in 1880s Prussian-inspired uniforms, as they often make announcements regarding the timing of these events.

Furthermore, if you encounter these knowledgeable workers during their free moments, don’t hesitate to approach them with any questions you may have about the fort’s history. They are usually eager to share fascinating insights and historical tidbits.

Fort Mackinac tour

In addition to the scheduled demonstrations and shows, you have the freedom to embark on self-guided exploration throughout the fort.

As you explore, you’ll encounter a plethora of intriguing structures to enter and explore. Many of these sites feature interpretive panels and artifacts that provide valuable insights into the fort’s rich history, enhancing your learning experience.

Indeed, some of the structures within the fort are incredibly captivating, such as the Post Guardhouse, which once served as the detention area for prisoners. What makes it even more intriguing is the presence of graffiti dating back to the 1800s, left behind by the incarcerated individuals who were held in this room.

You’ll also have the opportunity to explore a variety of other historical buildings, each with its own unique significance. Some of these include the Soldiers Barracks, Post Schoolhouse, Officer’s Stone Quarters (which is Michigan’s oldest building, dating back to 1780), and the Commissary Building.

Fort Mackinac barracks

These structures offer a diverse range of insights into the fort’s history and the daily life of its inhabitants during different time periods.

Fort Mackinac tea room

One of the most intriguing and unforgettable experiences you can have at Fort Mackinac is the opportunity to be the one person who fires the cannon in the morning, for a little extra cost (~$60 extra).

As a history buff, this is an incredibly cool and memorable activity, well worth the investment. Plus, I’m pretty sure the money spent on this experience goes toward supporting the fort and its preservation, making it a win-win for history buffs and the fort’s continued maintenance.

Final word

For many people, Fort Mackinac stands as the highlight of their Mackinac Island experience.

Its rich history, well-preserved structures, and engaging historical demonstrations make it a must-visit destination for those exploring this unique and captivating island.

From its strategic location overlooking the straits to the intriguing artifacts and stories it houses, Fort Mackinac offers a glimpse into the past that truly enhances any visit to Mackinac Island.

The Boston Cooler Chronicles: Experiencing A Refreshing Detroit Tradition

When it comes to refreshing summer drinks, the Boston Cooler has to rank among the very best. Unknown to lots of people outside of the Midwest, it’s a Detroit staple for many.

But what’s the story behind this beverage, and how exactly does it relate to Detroit, Michigan?

In this article, we’ll delve into the intriguing origins of the Boston Cooler and even provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to craft this Midwest classic at home.

What is a Boston Cooler?

A Boston Cooler is a classic beverage that combines Vernors ginger ale and creamy vanilla ice cream, resulting in a delightful and refreshing treat. Its origins are somewhat disputed, but it’s now closely associated with Detroit, Michigan, where it gained popularity.

Boston Cooler mix

Boston Cooler History 

The origins of the Boston Cooler are a topic of some debate, particularly regarding who first coined the term.

However, one thing seems certain: this beverage has gone through several transformations before settling on the combination of Vernors and vanilla ice cream that we recognize today.

Many individuals attribute the creation of this delightful beverage to an establishment once situated along Boston Boulevard in Detroit, which, of course, would provide a logical explanation for its name, the “Boston Cooler.”

However, this connection appears to be more along the lines of a myth, and the term “Boston Cooler” has evolved over time with various interpretations and associations.

Boston Coolers may have been born in Massachusetts in the late 1800s as a cocktail of rum, lime, and soda water.

Around the same era, in 1889, an article on summer cocktails in New York mentioned a Boston Cooler recipe that combined ginger ale and sarsaparilla.

The article, with its tantalizingly long headline, enticed readers by describing the drinks as “Seductive Drinks that Come Like a Breeze from the Arctic—Cocktails that Are ‘Midsummer Poems’—A Recipe for a ‘Liquid Blizzard’ Suited to the Dog Days.”

Also, during the early 1900s when soda fountains were all of the rage, there were advertisements offering a “Boston Cooler,” which was a a scoop of ice cream in a half of a melon. Apparently, these treats were extremely popular.

Finally, when soda fountains were all of the rage, the term Boston Cooler became associated with various types of ice cream-soda concoctions that one could order at the soda fountains and ice cream shops.

So essentially, the Boston Cooler became the “generic term used in the early 20th century for any drink mixing ice cream and soda.” For instance, Hires, a root beer company, promoted their own version of the Boston Cooler.

Suffice it to say these drinks weren’t specific to Detroit or Michigan by any means.

But how then did they develop the D-town connection that is undeniable today? 

Well, a significant part of the answer lies with Vernors and a gentleman named Fred Sanders.

Fred Sanders was the visionary behind one of Detroit’s pioneering ice cream and confectionery shops. He’s been credited with introducing ice cream sodas to the Detroit scene during the 1800s.

What’s particularly noteworthy is his choice of a key ingredient: Detroit’s very own Vernors, a beverage concocted by local pharmacist James Vernor. To this day, Vernors is renowned for its potential stomach-soothing properties.

One version of history says that at this shop, the modern Boston Cooler’s precursor, the “Vernors Cream,” was invented.

Initially, this concoction would have consisted of a shot or two of sweet cream poured into a glass of Vernors Ginger Ale. Over time, its believed the cream was replaced with vanilla ice cream, giving rise to the creamy and refreshing Boston Cooler we know today.

Then fast forward to 1967. In that year, Vernors trademarked the Boston Cooler when they were introducing a Vernors Boston Cooler flavor ice cream bar, which apparently didn’t do so well.

However, it was likely at that point that the Boston Cooler-Detroit connection began to solidify and eventually outpace its association with other beverages and regions.

What’s in a Boston Cooler?

The beverage is made with two key ingredients: vanilla ice cream and ginger ale. 

To achieve an authentic Boston Cooler, it’s a must to use Vernors Ginger Ale.

Renowned for its mellow ginger profile complemented by a noticeable hint of vanilla, Vernors adds that extra layer of magic, bridging the gap between traditional ginger ale and the creamy goodness of cream soda.

As for the ice cream, some whip these up with generic vanilla or soft serve though some also strive for local ice cream brands like Stroh’s for their vanilla.

The ratio of ice cream to ginger ale may vary but it seems like the standard is something like 3 parts ice cream to one part ginger ale. This could be roughly 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream with one 8 oz Vernors.  

The last crucial step to making a Boston Cooler is to combine the ice cream with the ginger ale, but this isn’t your typical float where you simply plop ice cream scoops into a beverage.

Instead, you’ll want to blend these components into a smooth and creamy consistency that can be sipped through a straw, a distinct departure from the traditional float experience.

Some places make theirs more “shake like” than others but it’s usually different from a normal float even though you can find “Vernors floats” offered at some establishments. 

Boston Cooler

Where can you find Boston Coolers?

You can find Boston Coolers at ice cream shops and restaurants like burger joints around Detroit and other areas of Michigan.

We enjoyed a couple of fabulous Boston coolers from a burger place called Mercury Burgers, where they are served up in glasses and given the respect they deserve. 

But you can also find these at Detroit-area Dairy Queen’s and perhaps even McDonald’s. In fact, local McDonald’s stores once gave out free Boston Coolers on the city’s 315th anniversary in 2016.

Of course, you can also just make yours at home, as we did using Vernors and homemade vanilla ice cream from Kemp’s.

After blending all the ingredients together, we were left with a delightful concoction. The mellow ginger notes from the Vernors Ginger Ale harmoniously mingle with the luscious creaminess of the vanilla ice cream. It’s really the perfect beverage.

However, if your ice cream is straight out of the freezer, you might want to let it thaw for a little bit to ensure it’s wonderfully creamy. Some experts also suggest a special technique: pour about an inch of Vernors into the glass first, which helps create a fluffy foam.

Then, gently place two scoops of vanilla ice cream into the glass and carefully pour in the remaining Vernors. Stir the mixture until it reaches a smooth and harmonious consistency. This method guarantees a top-notch Boston Cooler experience!

Final word

The origin of the Boston Cooler is a complex and multifaceted tale, and its direct connection to Detroit is a matter of debate. However, it has undeniably cemented its status as a beloved Detroit staple over the years.

This delightful beverage, with its unique blend of Vernors Ginger Ale and creamy vanilla ice cream, shines brightest on scorching summer afternoons, offering a refreshing respite from the heat.

However, its appeal extends well beyond the summer months — the Boston Cooler is a versatile treat that can brighten your day year-round.

Frankenmuth, Michigan: Tourist Trap or Worth the Visit?

If you appreciate distinctive towns, particularly those infused with German culture, Frankenmuth is sure to captivate your interest. This quaint locale, rich in history, provides a taste of Germany right in the heart of Michigan.

But is it merely a tourist trap or a destination worth exploring? Our recent brief visit to Frankenmuth provided us with some insights.

What is Frankenmuth, Michigan?

Frankenmuth, often referred to as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria,” is a quaint and compact city celebrated for its strong German heritage and architectural style. It is renowned for its vibrant array of festivals and events, as well as for housing the world’s largest Christmas store.

Frankenmuth history: brief overview

The city derives its name from a fusion of the German terms “Franken” and “Muth,” which translate to “Franconia” and “courage” in English. Thus the name Frankenmuth actually means “courage of the Franconians.”

This nomenclature is tied to its history, which has its roots in the 1840s.

In 1840, a German missionary by the name of Frederick Wyneken was stationed in the upper Midwest.

He penned a letter addressed to Lutherans across Germany, seeking assistance while describing the challenges faced by German pioneers in his region. He emphasized their pressing needs, including a shortage of pastors, churches, and schools.

Wilhelm Loehe, pastor of the country church in Neuendettelsau, Mittelfranken, Kingdom of Bavaria, was moved by the letter and wanted to send a missionary congregation to give comfort to the German pioneers but to also show the Native Americans in the region “Wie gut und schön es ist bei Jesu zu sein” (How wonderful it is to live with Jesus).

So Loehe selected Pastor August Craemer to be the mission’s leader and he would lead a group of 15 German Lutherans consisting of mostly mostly farmers from around Neuendettelsau.

After a tumultuous 50-day sailing experience across the Atlantic where they dealt with terrible weather and illnesses, they reached New York Harbor on June 8, 1845.

Subsequently they embarked on a journey via steamboats and trains, ultimately reaching Bay City and then trekking miles through forest, thickets, and swamps to Frankenmuth.

The settlers were drawn to Frankenmuth by its rolling hills and lush forests, which reminded them of their native Mittelfranken.

After paying $1,700 to purchase 680 acres of Chippewa Indian Reservation land from the federal government, they began building their settlement, which involved lot of land clearing and some rough times with one person writing home, “The most miserable village in Bavaria has palaces by comparison.”

At the outset, their settlement had a mostly religious motive, aiming to establish a Lutheran mission for Native Americans. However, the Native American population in the area was subsequently displaced and moved away to better hunting grounds, leading to an early abandonment in their mission efforts.

Nevertheless, immigration from Germany continued to contribute to the region’s population through the decades and Pastor Loehe also organized three other colonies in Michigan in the nearby area like current-day Richville.

The settlers residing in this region remained steadfast in their allegiance to Germany and the Kingdom of Bavaria while living on American soil.

Frankenmuth achieved official city status in 1959, around the time when the tourism industry began to quickly rise, and today its known for being a tourist hot spot with waterparks and festive shops and restaurants.

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Our experience visiting Frankenmuth

Frankenmuth is a small city with most of its sites pretty close to each other making it an easy destination to explore even if you are just passing through.

The “hub” of Frankenmuth — at least for tourists — is on Main Street where you can find Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, a place known for its family style fried chicken dinners.

We did not have the opportunity to test out their chicken but I have heard mixed reports. Some have talked about it as if it’s nothing special while others have raved about it, so I’d imagine it’s worth giving it a shot at least once.

They also have a market on the bottom level that’s definitely worth checking out, as you can find a lot of different tasty pastries, breads, and other fixings.

Just on the other side of the street you will find the Bavarian Inn Restaurant (not to be confused with the Bavarian Inn Lodge which is on the other side of the river). This is another well-established restaurant that also has a bakery and chocolate shop underneath it. If you’re looking for a delicious soft pretzel this is where you can find them.

You can take a stroll down the street where you will encounter the Frankenmuth Visitor & Welcome Center, which can help you plan out your visit. If you are a fan of cheeses then be sure to stop at the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus.

Frankenmuth Cheese Haus

If you’re interested in exploring more of the city’s history there is the Frankenmuth Historical Museum housed in a former hotel from 1905. Another museum worth investigating is the Military and Space Heroes Museum.

You’ll find several other restaurants and shops along Main Street and there is a parking lot that runs in the back of lots of these buildings so it’s easy to get from one end to the other even if you don’t prefer to walk.

The Cass River meanders through the city and you can even hop on a Bavarian Belle Riverboat tour if you’d like.

Frankenmuth, Michigan

A few bridges cross the river but make sure you take time to cross over the beautiful wooden covered bridge, which you can do in your vehicle or by foot. Mind the low speed limit of 7 mph!

Frankenmuth, Michigan covered bridge

On the south side of the river you’ll find the Frankenmuth River Place Shops. This is essentially an outdoor mall that is filled with Bavarian style architecture buildings.

In actuality, the Bavarian-inspired architecture found throughout the town offers a creative interpretation, somewhat reminiscent of a Disney-fied version of Bavaria. It’s a captivating and unique sight to behold, even though it may not be an exact replica of the original Bavarian architecture.

You’ll find over 40 shops and attractions in this area, including local family-owned businesses and national retail chains. Many of them are dog friendly which you will know by the red paw print on the outside of the store.

Frankenmuth, Michigan
Frankenmuth, Michigan

After you get done exploring this portion of the town, you can take a short drive a few minutes south to arrive at the famous Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. This place is known for being the “largest Christmas store in the world.” For anyone who is a fan of Christmas, it’s worth checking out.

Frankenmuth, Michigan christmas

The store is incredibly vast, overflowing with ornaments, lights, decorations, and an abundance of holiday items. It’s quite easy to find yourself navigating its expansive aisles.

Whether you’re looking for personalized ornaments and stockings or searching for practically any Christmas-related item you can envision, this store has you covered. It’s particularly appealing for those celebrating a traditional Christian-style Christmas, offering nativity sets and similar Biblical-themed items.

But even if you simply crave the festive spirit of Christmas, this is the ideal destination to immerse yourself year-round in all things merry and bright.

Frankenmuth, Michigan christmas

While the year-round attractions are interesting, Frankenmuth is also very well known for the special events that take place during holidays.

As you might imagine, Oktoberfest is a major event that starts here every September. And they also have big Christmas and winter events like Zehnder’s Snowfest and Dog Bowl, the largest Olympic-style event for dogs.

Basically, before heading up check your calendar and see what is potentially around the corner as it could really enhance your visit!

Final word

Overall, I thought Frankenmuth was a really interesting stop. Despite its evident touristy and theme park-like ambiance, I wouldn’t categorize it as a tourist trap. This is because it possesses genuine historical significance and offers real value to visitors with its unique sights, food, etc.

Some people make this a multi-night vacation spot which I could see being worth it for some (especially during festivals and special events) although I would probably opt for a day trip in most cases. And as mentioned, if you’re like us and just passing through it can be worthwhile stop.

A Taste of Mackinac Island: A History of Fudge on the Island

Mackinac Island is the self-proclaimed “fudge capital of the world” and for good reason.

With over a dozen fudge shops dotting the island, Mackinac boasts a rich tradition of fudge-making that spans over a century.

Our recent first-time visit to Mackinac Island offered us the chance to indulge in this delightful treat, and we were so deeply impressed by the exceptional fudge quality that couldn’t pass the opportunity to write an article about the experience.

Mackinac Island fudge, a brief history

Mackinac Island’s reputation for sweet treats goes back to the to the time when the island transitioned from being a hub for fur trading to a sought-after summer retreat during the Victorian era.

Native Americans like the Anishinaabeg had a long tradition of harvesting maple sugar on the island. And after wars were no longer being fought on the island and fur trading phased out, vacationers came here for the sweet delight of maple sugar.

During the 1880s, the Murdick family made their way to Mackinac Island and established the island’s inaugural candy store, Murdick’s Candy Kitchen.

Henry Murdick and his son, Jerome “Rome” Murdick, who were skilled sail makers, used the back of the candy store building to craft sails. Whenever sailors and other customers visited, Henry’s wife, Sara Murdick, astounded them with her remarkable confectionery creations.

In due course, she began to experiment with fudge-making, and her son Rome quickly learned the recipe, becoming skilled at crafting these delectable treats too.

Savoring sweets while vacationing soon became an integral aspect of the Mackinac Island tourist tradition as other fudge shops also opened up on the island.

Mackinac Island fudge making

Rome Murdick became the first on Mackinac Island to craft fudge using marble slabs, a technique that bestowed a distinctive creamy texture to the product while simultaneously serving as an entertaining spectacle for customers.

With the addition of music, these fudge-making performances became a bit of a show.

Onlookers were captivated as they witnessed the workers guide the fudge through its entire production process.

The process commenced with a blending of chocolate, sugar, cream, and butter in a copper kettle, skillfully maintained at the ideal temperature with the aid of an oak paddle.

Following this, the skilled artisans expertly molded and gently worked the cooling fudge into loaves before executing precise cuts to create individual, delectable pieces.

In an effort to attract more customers, Rome Murdick and his oldest son, Gould, utilized the cooling fans in their kitchen to disperse the irresistible aroma of freshly-made fudge out into the streets, effectively enticing passersby and helping to revitalize their business.

Mackinac Island fudge experienced both peaks and valleys throughout the first half of the 20th century, navigating the challenges posed by two world wars and the Great Depression.

As sugar became rationed and tourism dwindled, several fudge shops on the island were forced to shut their doors, including Gould who sold the business to Harold May in 1940. May would go on to create May’s, another beloved fudge shop on the island.

Meanwhile, Jerome Murdick, Gould’s half-brother, eventually opened Murdick’s Candy Kitchen, re-igniting the family’s fudge legacy on the island during the 1950s.

Mackinac Island fudge making

After World War II, the country’s economy took off and the expanding interstate highway system made it easier than ever for people to visit Mackinac Island.

Fudge shops proliferated, and by the 1960s the island’s visitors coming for the fudge were known as “fudgies.” Shops experimented with new flavors of fudge and worked to make Mackinac Island synonymous with the treat. 

Some shops in the area even attempted to branch out nationwide, which is how we encountered a random candy shop in Georgetown, Colorado, with past ties to Mackinac’s “fudge rush.” Others now have locations in places like Chicago and even Martha’s Vineyard.

Today, over a dozen fudge shops grace Main Street and surrounding area.

It’s said that the island imports 10 tons of sugar per week, handcrafts an average of ten thousand pounds of fudge daily, and that each shop can make up to five hundred pounds a day. The designation of the “fudge capital of the world” certainly appears well-deserved.

As you wander down Main Street, you’ll notice that certain brands have expanded to multiple locations (often within a short distance of each other), making them impossible to miss.

They run on different schedules so you’ll have to just poke around the shop to see fudge making in process but it’s not very difficult to find the workers in action.

Mackinac Island fudge

As far as the Murdick legacy goes, there are only a few stores that still have a direct lineage connection to the family but none of them are located on Mackinac Island.

That’s because Bob Benser, Sr. bought the Murdicks’ business in 1969 after opening an ice cream shop next to Murdick’s Candy Kitchen and learning how to make the delicious fudge.

So if you’re looking for fudge shops with the direct Murdick family tie, you’ll need to find them in other areas like Traverse City, Michigan.

On our visit to Mackinac Island, we ventured into several of the different fudge shops including Original Murdick’s Fudge, Joann’s Fudge, Ryba’s Fudge Shop, and a few others.

We picked up on some of the differences between the flavors and textures and enjoyed most of the different shops we tried but our ultimate favorite was Murdick’s.

It’s said that you don’t have to worry about the fudge melting which is a relief but you don’t want to refrigerate your fudge (apparently you can freeze it for a while without ruining it). Lots of the shops allow for online orders so you can always purchase gifts for people later on, after you’ve had your fair sampling.

Final word

While fudge making was not invented here (it likely was invented near Baltimore when someone accidentally “fudged” a batch of caramel) Mackinac Island certainly helped transform it into a cherished part of American culinary tradition, particularly when on vacation.

For someone like me, who is not a true fudge person, it says a lot that I could not get enough of the chocolate walnut fudge from Murdick’s. If you catch a fresh batch of that, it’s really hard to put down. By the way, if you’re headed to the airport after making your fudge purchase, be sure to read our guide so that you don’t trip off alarms!

9 Hocus Pocus Filming Sites to Visit in Salem That Will Put A Spell On You [2023]

Salem, Massachusetts was the primary filming location for one of the most popular Halloween movies from the 1990s: Hocus Pocus.

It’s been nearly three decades but Hocus Pocus fans can still run amok at a lot of the original filming spots located throughout the charming and fascinating city of Salem.

In this article, I will give you the most efficient way to visit these filming sites and also give you some tips into how to line up your photos with movie screen stills!

Map of Hocus Pocus Filming Sites

The best routes for exploring Hocus Pocus locations in Salem

The easiest way to see all of the Hocus Pocus filming locations in Salem is to lump them into three separate groups and then decide how you want to explore each group (walking, driving, etc.).

Group 1:

  • Ropes Mansion and Garden (318 Essex St)
  • Old Town Hall (161 Essex St)
  • Phillips Elementary School (next to 56 Washington Square)
  • Salem Common (next to 82 Washington Square)

Group 2:

  • Max and Dani’s House (4 Ocean Ave)
  • Pioneer Village (98 West Ave)

Group 3:

  • Old Burial Hill Cemetery
  • Crocker Park
  • 85 Washington St
Map of Hocus Pocus movie filming locations.

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Exploring Group 1 via walking could be done in as short as 15 to 20 minutes from point to point, so it’s a great way to hit some cool Hocus Pocus spots in a very short amount of time.

If you want to add on the sites from Group 2, the time needed for the full walking tour from the Ropes Mansion (318 Essex St) to Pioneer Village (98 West Ave) would be about one hour (one-way).

The Old Burial Hill Cemetery is not located in Salem and is a handful of miles away so if you plan on walking that will take you an additional couple of hours. Using a rental car or calling an Uber would be a better way to go for a lot of people.

We broke our Hocus Pocus tour into two days.

The first day we explored Group 1 sites and then took a short break before heading down to check out the Group 2 locations.

The next day, we chose to drive out to Old Burial Hill Cemetery at sunrise to avoid the crazy October traffic in Salem. After that visit we then took off to Danvers to check out some of the real witch trial memorial sites.

Tip: If you want to start from the very beginning, you can use my pre-set directions here.

I would also recommend to focus on Hocus Pocus locations separately from the Salem witch trial sites.

While it might be more efficient to check out both sites at the same time, visiting the Hocus Pocus filming sites is more about having fun while visiting the historic sites and memorials for the Salem witch trials is more about reflection and remembrance.

I think it is a better experience to explore them separately but that is just me.

Related: The Harry Potter London Tour Review at Warner Brothers Studio

Old Burial Hill Cemetery Hocus Pocus movie.
Old Burial Hill Cemetery at sunrise.

Ropes Mansion and Garden

  • Google Map address: 318 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970
  • Website

Photo/visit notes

The Ropes Mansion is very easy to find and it is right next to the The Witch House at Salem.

To get your movie shot, simply stand in front of the Ropes Mansion and take your photo from the street or sidewalk. To align your photo with a screenshot from the film, make sure you are getting all four posts from the gate.

Movie scenes

  • 23:49

The Ropes Mansion is Allison’s house where they had the fancy Halloween party with Colonial ball costumes. It’s also the site of the infamous and cringe-worthy “yabbos” scene.

When we visited in October, we didn’t find any jack-o’-lanterns or haystacks outside but a day or two before Halloween they might decorate the house in Hocus Pocus fashion.

The actual filming of the party in the interior of the house took place in California at the Crank House, which interestingly enough was also used as the Omega Beta Zeta house from Scream 2 according to

Did you know? Dozens of black cats were used for Binx with each cat having special abilities that could be tapped into for the specific scene (e.g., jumping, staying still, etc.)

Allison's house Hocus Pocus movie.

More on the site…

Built in 1727 and extensively remodeled in 1894, The Ropes Mansion is one of the most iconic buildings in Salem and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The mansion is now the property of the Peabody Essex Museum. You can walk onto the property and even head to the back where there is a pretty elaborate garden. If you want to explore the interior you can also book a tour. Just be warned, the mansion is apparently haunted!

Ropes Mansion and Garden Hocus Pocus movie Salem MA.

Old Town Hall

  • Google Map address: 161 Essex Street
  • Website

Photo/visit notes:

The Old Town Hall, a National Historic Site, is located right in the middle of town and is about an 8 minute walk from the Ropes Mansion. The side of the building used in the movie did not have stairs and it looks a little different on each side so in case you are in doubt about the correct side, take photos from both angles.

Movie scenes

  • 54:22

This is the building where Max’s parents attended their Halloween party and Bette Midler did her famous rendition of “Put a Spell on You.” The actual filming of the interior took place in California at the The MacArthur’s Elks Hall according to

Town Hall Hocus Pocus movie.

More on the site…

You can go inside Old Town Hall today and it hosts several events.

The most notable of these events is the interactive play Cry Innocent (about to hit 30 years running…). This tells the story of Bridget Bishop’s trial and allows audience members to participate as members of the Puritan jury. Tickets are about $25. Read more about the play here.

Town Hall Hocus Pocus movie Salem MA.
Town Hall Hocus Pocus movie Salem MA.

If you want to enjoy a nice buttery lobster roll, you can eat at the Lobster Shanty. Some tables set up for outdoor dining have a great view of Old Town Hall.

Related: Goldbelly Lobster Rolls (McLoons) Review (Order from anywhere in the US!)

Looking at Town Hall Hocus Pocus movie from Lobster Shanty in Salem MA.

Did you know? In South America, Hocus Pocus went under the title “Abracadabra.”

Phillips Elementary School

  • Google Map address: 56 Washington Square (next door)
  • Website: None

Photo/visit notes

The Phillips Elementary School is located on the perimeter of the Salem common. You could put in the address 86 Essex St but that will take you to the back of the building.

So I would just head to the Salem Common and then walk along S Washington Square. The old elementary school will be right next to 56 Washington Square. You can’t miss it.

Movie scenes

  • 1:01:28

Phillips Elementary School was used as “Jacob Bailey High School” and featured in the early scene where the students are leaving school. Somewhat accurately referred to as a “prison, for children” by the witches, it is also the place later on where Max and Allison trick the witches and melt them down into a green trail of smoke.

Max's High School Hocus Pocus movie.
  • 1:03:11
Max's High School Hocus Pocus movie.

More on the site…

The elementary school reportedly shut down in 1992 which was just one year before Hocus Pocus was made. From everything I can tell, this building looks like it might serve residential purposes now.

Related: Hobbiton Movie Set Tour Review

Max's High School Hocus Pocus movie Salem MA.

Salem Common

  • Google Map address: 82 Washington Square
  • Website

Photo/visit notes

The Phillips Elementary school and Salem Common film site are located in virtually the same spot so you should be able to knock out two birds with one stone.

Movie scenes

  • 14:13

The scene in the Salem Common looks like it was shot from outside the fenced area near 82 Washington Square.

You can try to line up your shot with the screen still from the movie by using the basketball court as a frame of reference.

However, this one is tough because it’s possible they framed the shot with a nice zoom lens and I’m pretty sure the color change trees were fake, which kind of throws off your alignment.

Salem Common Hocus Pocus movie.

More on the site…

Established in 1667, the Common was initially a partial swamp where livestock roamed freely. Over time, it also became grounds for early militia drilling and may have even been the birthplace of the National Guard.

Eventually, efforts were made to beautify the area and the wrought iron fence around the Common was put up in 1850. Today, this is one of the popular places in Salem for strolling around and for local events.

You’ll likely encounter some food carts here serving up all sorts of different items like crepes, hot chocolate, and fried foods. The prices here were very expensive and the quality in my experience was not very great so keep that in mind.

Salem Common Hocus Pocus movie Salem MA.

Max and Dani’s House

  • Google Map address: 4 Ocean Ave
  • Website: None

Photo/visit notes

From Salem Common this would be about a 1.5 mile one-way walk so it will take you about 30 minutes to get there.

It’s a nice walk down Lafayette Street and a great opportunity to check out a lot of the local architecture. If you’re visiting in October, you’ll see a lot of houses going all out for Halloween. This is Salem, after all!

Max and Dani’s House is also located extremely close to Pioneer Village so you can knock those two out at the same time.

Movie scenes

  • 17:25

You’ll see their house several times in the movie including when they open the spell book and a bright beam of orange light is shot from the crow’s nest atop the house.

Max and Dani's house Hocus Pocus movie.
  • 1:09:53
Max and Dani's house Hocus Pocus movie.

More on the site…

Max and Dani’s House is a private residence so you absolutely want to keep your distance and show respect. I’ve heard that the owner is really cool but your best bet is to stay in the street to take a couple of photos.

You might also want to take photographs in the opposite direction since this house has a pretty amazing view of the water, which was not depicted in the movie (but included in the deleted scenes).

Max and Dani's house Hocus Pocus movie Salem MA.

Pioneer Village 

  • Google Map address: 98 West Ave, Salem, MA 01970
  • Website

Photo/visit notes

The village is tucked away behind a baseball park and could be very easy to miss. It is only about a 7 minute walk from Max and Dani’s House. Check out the open hours and dates below if you want to visit.

Movie scenes

  • 2:16

The opening scenes of the film (before Thackery Binx made his feline transition) were filmed at Pioneer Village. Because it was closed when we visited, we were not able to explore this place closely. But even if it is closed when you arrive, you can still peak over the fence and check out a couple of the structures that were used in the movie.

Pioneer Village Hocus Pocus movie.

More on the site…

Pioneer Village, built in the 1930s, is America’s first living history museum and still offers tours. As of October 2021, they were only open on weekends from 12 to 4pm with a $5 admission ticket. So be prepared for odd and limited hours.

Pioneer Village Hocus Pocus movie Salem MA.

Old Burial Hill Cemetery

  • Google Map address: Marblehead, MA 01945
  • Website

Photo/visit notes:

From Salem Common this would be about a 4.5 mile one-way walk, taking you about 1.5 hours. For that reason, you may want to drive or take an Uber.

There are a few areas to park along the street nearby and if you go early in the morning (we went around sunrise) you should be able to easily find a spot somewhere close.

When you get there, you will see Fountain Park on one side and then some steps taking you to the cemetery on the other side. It’s a short uphill walk and to find the specific spot that was used in the film.

Movie scenes

  • 15:45

This scene is where Max ends up shoeless after he has a run-in with the two bullies: Jay and Ernie (aka Ice). This spot is cool because you can get in the exact same location that was filmed in the movie by finding the specific tombstones.

Shortly after you enter the graveyard you will look to your left and you’ll be looking for two tombstones that are angled towards each other (pictured below in the bottom left). The name on the tombstone you are looking for is: Mary Doak.

I think that the tombstone pictured below on the right is either a fake or was removed for some reason because I did not see it in person.

There are also a couple of other tombstones you can find that were used in individual scenes, like when Max was riding his bike into the cemetery.

Old Burial Hill Cemetery in Hocus Pocus movie.

More on the site…

In case you couldn’t tell this is a real graveyard (and in fact it is one of the oldest in New England dating back to 1638). It’s said that about 600 Revolutionary soldiers were buried here so be sure to be respectful.

Old Burial Hill Cemetery in Hocus Pocus movie Marblehead MA.

If you want to add an extra location to your stop check out nearby Crocker Park. There is where a quick scene was shot where Max is overlooking the city right after dealing with the bullies and you can check out that overlook.

  • 17:19
Old Burial Hill Cemetery in Hocus Pocus movie.

You can also head to a nearby intersection at 85 Washington St, Marblehead, MA 01945. This is where another very short clip of Max riding his bike back home after getting bullied was shot.

  • 15:22
Max riding bike Hocus Pocus movie.

Los Angeles, CA Locations

As mentioned above, some of the shots from the movie were also filmed in Los Angeles.

If you remember the scene where the Sanderson sisters find themselves in the home of their “master” aka Satan (and his not so happy wife), that house is located at 6536 Friends Ave, Whittier, CA 90601.

Another house was used was 6546 Friends Ave, located just two houses down from the house above. This house was only seen briefly in a scene where kids were trick-or-treating.

Interestingly, the shot where they are celebrating after melting the witches was actually shot at the Warner Bros. Ranch. It’s the same park and fountain used in the intro of Friends.

Also, in case you were wondering the graveyard where the Sanderson sisters turned to stone/died and their house where they brewed their potions were filmed on Stage 2 on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, CA.

Information found via

Hocus Pocus 2 filming location

Hocus Pocus 2 how now been released!

Filming began in the fall of 2021 and at least one filming site was open to the public at Chase Park in Lincoln, Rhode Island.

A large portion of the park was partitioned off but they still left a trail on the fringes that you could follow and get a good view of the set.

The set at Chase Park consisted of a small colonial village, which we were able to capture below.

Hocus Pocus 2 movie filming Lincoln RI.
The new Hocus Pocus 2 movie set getting built!

Final word

Salem Massachusetts already has a ton of interesting and fascinating places to see. But if you are a fan of Hocus Pocus, you’ve got the added pleasure of checking out these cool sites. If you follow this guide you should be able to efficiently visit all of these filming places and know exactly what to look for.

Buc-ee’s Ultimate Guide (Locations & Facts) [2023]

If you’ve ever been on a road trip in Texas chances are you or someone in your car has wanted to stop at Buc-ee’s. Over the years, Buc-ee’s has established itself as a distinctly Texan establishment.

But what exactly does Buc-ee’s have to offer that makes it so special?

In this article, I’ll give you the ultimate guide to Buc-ee’s.

You’ll see what exactly is so special about this oversized convenient store and what you can expect when you visit different locations.

What is Buc-ee’s?

Buc-ee’s is a chain of travel centers (convenience stores) that can be found throughout Texas and the South.

The stores are known for their enormous gas station facilities, wide range of food and snack offerings, and most of all: ultra-clean bathrooms.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Things to know about Buc-ee’s

The store that never sleeps (open 24 hours)

All Buc-ee’s locations are open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. So even on major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas you can still experience a good ole Buc-ee’s visit.

What’s more, the stores are often well lit and with all of the security cameras (see below), they generally feel like pretty safe places to stop at.

Related: How Long Does It Take to Drive Across Texas?

Crowds can be an issue

Even though some Buc-ee’s locations are absolutely huge and can cater to throngs of customers, crowds and traffic can still be an issue.

If traveling on a weekend, especially around the holidays, you might have to wait or get aggressive to find an open gas pump.

And when venturing inside, you could run into a madhouse as soon as you pass that little buck-tooth beaver statue outside.

These stores are designed to cater to massive amounts of people so big crowds are not always a problem. Hordes of people seem to move in and out without a lot of issues.

But if you’re expecting a quiet and peaceful visit to a gas station bathroom, you won’t always get that at Buc-ee’s.

For some, the chaos just isn’t worth it.

40+ locations (not only in TX)

To the dismay of many Texans, Buc-ee’s is no longer an exclusively Texan establishment.

In 2019, Buc-ee’s opened their first convenience store/gas station outside of Texas in Alabama.

And now you can now find 40+ locations in states all over the south including Georgia.

More states are being added to the Buc-ee’s roster and you’ll soon be able to find locations in states like Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

Related: How Many Miles Do You Cover When Driving Across the US?

The eyes of Buc-ee’s are upon you

Some Buc-ee’s locations are known to have high levels of surveillance. For example, the Bastrop location has about 200 high-tech cameras.

These are those movie-like cameras that can zoom in and reveal fine details like the type of bill you used to pay for your purchase.

You could be tracked from the time you enter the parking lot to the time that you leave so you don’t want to test the beaver.

Hopefully you don’t ever have to worry about this but if something ever goes down you will need to file a police report and then request for the police to request the surveillance footage from the store.

There’s a Buc-ee’s credit card

The Buc-ee’s credit card, issued by TDECU (Texas Dow Employees Credit Union), will get you $.10 off every gallon and comes with no annual fee.

In terms of rewards, this is not the most rewarding travel credit card but for a true Buc-ee’s fan, it might be worth picking up. You can find out more details about the credit card here.

Not every one wants Buc-ee’s

Believe it or not, not every place on the globe is eager to add a Buc-ee’s.

 Efland, North Carolina did not want one.

Why not?

They worried it would “would worsen traffic congestion, pollute a protected watershed, and offend aesthetic sensitivities.” 

Those seem like some pretty legit concerns so you can’t knock the town but it all probably just comes down to the fact that not everyone outside of Texas will “get” Buc-ee’s.

Where the name came from

Buc-ee’s was founded in 1982 which means that it will turn 40 years old in 2022.

The owner and co-founder, a Texas A&M graduate (whoop!), went by the name of Arch “Beaver” Aplin III and he apparently always had a liking for the Ipana toothpaste mascot known as “Bucky the Beaver.”

One look at that logo and you can see where the inspiration came from for Buc-ee’s.

Not every Buc-ee’s is bigger in Texas

To give you a sense of how big the Buc-ee’s stores can be, consider that the New Braunfels, TX, location boasts:

  • 120 fueling positions
  • 1,000 parking spots
  • 64 ice freezers
  • 83 toilets
  • 31 cash registers
  • four Icee machines
  • and 80 fountain dispensers

The entire New Braunfels store is 66,335 square feet, which is more square feet than a football field.

Seriously, a gas station bigger than a football field.

Only in Texas.

But this may come as a surprise: not every Buc-ee’s location is the size of a small airport or shopping mall.

Several locations are actually quite compact and closer to the size of your regular convenience store.

Many of these smaller locations are in Texas so if you see an out-of-state Buc-ee’s, there’s a good chance that will be on the bigger side.

Bathrooms are NOT overrated

You’ve probably heard about the award-winning bathrooms at Buc-ee’s.

While some gas stations look like a scene from the movie Saw, Buc-ee’s stores are famous for being the cleanest bathrooms you’ll find on the road and in my experience it’s always true.

In fact, the pristine bathrooms found at Buc-ee’s are probably the number one reason why people stop at Buc-ee’s.

But they aren’t just spotless — the bathrooms also are usually huge and spacious.

I’ve never seen a wait for a urinal and only on a couple of occasions have I seen a real line for the stalls.

In the men’s room, you can find walls of urinals with deep floor to ceiling partitions that actually give you real privacy.

For people traveling with families, the consistently clean and private bathrooms are even more attractive.

Bottom line: if you ever need to go on the road, Buc-ee’s is definitely where you want to be.

And just in case you were wondering, you don’t actually have to buy anything to use the bathroom there.

Inside Buc-ee's

You’ll have plenty of food and drink options at Buc-ee’s

Buc-ee’s will have just about every type of snack item you could possibly be craving, including their famous “Beaver Nuggets” which are a sweet combination of caramel, sugar, and butter coated corn puffs.

Prices sometimes feel a little high but some popular items to pick up at the store include:

  • Jerky
  • Fudge
  • Kolaches
  • Dippin dots
  • Sandwiches
  • Tacos
  • Icees (lots of flavors)

If you’re looking for specific suggestions consider these:

  • Hill Country turkey jerky
  • Bohemian garlic jerky
  • Salted caramel covered pretzels
  • Rhino breakfast taco
  • Texas BLT
  • Mediterranean salad wrap

Some locations have a barbecue stand called the Texas Round Up where you can buy pre-made chopped brisket sandwiches, pulled pork, turkey, sausage, etc.

In my experience, the food is not always phenomenal but a solid notch or two above your standard gas station food.

It’s perfect when you’re looking for something quick and hearty on the road.

In terms of barbecue quality, you could certainly do better in Texas by hunting out a BBQ joint.

But the beauty of Buc-ee’s is that it’s highly convenient to pick up a hot BBQ sandwich while also filling up your tank and not having to gamble on the bathroom situation.

The shopping at Buc-ee’s goes well beyond food and drink, though.

You can find all kinds of apparel, souvenirs, and random items.

If your location is near a tourist hotspot with a particular type of attraction then you’ll find gear for your visit such as fishing rods, beach supplies, river tubes/shoes, hunting gear, etc.

Buc-ee's bbq

Buc-ee’s is NOT a truck stop

Buc-ee’s are not truck stops and so you are not going to find any showers or a lot of 18 wheelers hanging around.

In fact, you can often find “no 18 wheelers” signs posted at the entrances.

The reason for this is to keep Buc-ee’s like it is, a family friendly environment without some of the “hassles” that come with truckstops.

Many truckers are unhappy with being denied access to Buc-ee’s — after all, without massive shipments coming in from truckers how else could Buc-ee’s exist?

But one thing is clear, Buc-ee’s is serious about keeping out 18 wheelers and will even escort drivers out of the store who try to make their way in.

They pay great

Working at Buc-ee’s can be a lucrative job opportunity because their employees are well paid.

According to GlassDoor, “The average Bucee’s hourly pay ranges from approximately $16 per hour for a Cashier to $18 per hour for a Team Lead.”

That’s some really good money.

Meanwhile, the typical Circle K Cashier salary is earning $10 per hour and many convenient stores will be closer to $9 per hour.

These mega-convenience stores can get incredibly busy so it helps tremendously to have employees getting sufficiently compensated so that they can help keep things moving at a quick pace.

You may not have windshield cleaners

If there is one major weakness of some Buc-ee’s locations, it’s that they don’t have windshield cleaners or squeegees located at the pumps.

This means that your bug splattered windshield will have to remain dirty on your long journey to you next destination, unless you have some way to clean it yourself.

They have car washes

While you may not find windshield cleaners, some locations have car washes.

As you would expect some of these car washes are going to be quite large just like the one in Katy, Texas, which is the largest car wash in the world.

Gas may or may not be cheaper

I’ve seen gas at Bucee’s priced both a little bit lower and a little bit higher when compared to nearby gas stations.

Buc-ee’s locations



  • 2328 Lindsay Lane South, Athens, AL 35613


  • 2500 Buc-ee’s Blvd., Auburn, AL 36832


  • 6900 Buc-ee’s Blvd., Leeds, AL 35094


  • 20403 County Rd. 68, Robertsdale, AL 36567



  • Expected to be the largest convenience store (and largest Buc-ee’s) in America


Daytona Beach

  • 2330 Gateway North Drive, Daytona Beach, FL 32117

Saint Augustine

  • 200 World Commerce Pkwy, Saint Augustine, FL 32092



  • 601 Union Grove Rd. SE, Adairsville, GA 30103

Warner Robins

  • 7001 Russell Parkway, Fort Valley, GA 31030



  • 1013 Buc-ee’s Boulevard, Richmond, KY 40475

South Carolina


  • 3390 North Williston Road, Florence, SC 29506



  • 2045 Genesis Road, Crossville, TN 38555


  • 170 Buc-ee’s Blvd, Kodak, TN 37764



  • 780 Hwy-35 N Byp, Alvin, TX 77511


  • 2299 E Mulberry St, Angleton, TX 77515
  • 931 Loop 274, Angleton, TX 77515
  • 2304 W Mulberry St, Angleton, TX 77515


  • 1700 Highway 71 East, Bastrop, TX 78602


  • 4080 East Freeway, Baytown, TX 77521


  • 801 N Brooks, Brazoria, TX 77422
  • 1101 S Brooks St, Brazoria, TX 77422 (Closed)


  • 27106 US-290, Cypress, TX 77433


  • 2800 S Interstate 35 E, Denton, TX 76210

Eagle Lake

  • 505 E Main St, Eagle Lake, TX 77434


  • 1402 South IH- 45, Ennis, TX 75119

Fort Worth

  • 15901 N Freeway, Fort Worth, TX 76177


  • 4231 E. Hwy 332, Freeport, TX 77541
  • 1002 N Brazosport Blvd., Freeport, TX 77541


  • 2375 E Austin St, Giddings, TX 78942


  • 27700 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 77494

Lake Jackson

  • 899 Oyster Creek Drive, Lake Jackson, TX 77566
  • 101 N Hwy 2004, Lake Jackson, TX 77566
  • 598 Hwy 332, Lake Jackson, TX 77566

League City

  • 1702 League City Pkwy, League City, TX 77573


  • 10070 West IH 10, Luling, TX 78658


  • 205 IH-45 South, Madisonville, TX 77864


  • 1550 Central Texas Expressway, Melissa, TX 75454

New Braunfels

  • 2760 IH 35 North, New Braunfels, TX 78130


  • 2541 S Main St, Pearland, TX 77584
  • 11151 Shadow Creek Pky, Pearland, TX 77584

Port Lavaca

  • 2318 W Main, Port Lavaca, TX 77979


  • 1243 Crabb River Rd, Richmond, TX 77469

Royse City

  • 5005 E Interstate 30, Royse City, TX 75189


  • 4155 N General Bruce Dr., Temple, TX 76501


  • 506 W. IH 20, Terrell, TX 75160

Texas City

  • 6201 Gulf Fwy (IH 45), Texas City, TX 77591


  • 40900 US Hwy 290 Bypass, Waller, TX 77484


  • 10484 US 59 Road, Wharton, TX 77488

Find locations here.

Final word

Buc-ee’s is a must stop for millions of people every year when traveling through Texas and now through the South.

Beyond the broad food selection, spotless bathrooms, and absurd number of gas pumps, there’s just something special about the store that gets a lot of people excited.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park Guide

Located near the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Fort Wilkins Historic State Park offers a captivating journey back in time. Step into an era defined by the copper rush and uncertain relations with the local Native communities.

As you explore the well-preserved living quarters and structures like the old powder rooms, you’ll find yourself fully immersed in this historical period.

In this article, we’ve got all the essential information you need to make the most of your visit to Fort Wilkins Historic State Park.

What is Fort Wilkins Historic State Park?

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park safeguards the meticulously restored Fort Wilkins, a military outpost from 1844, which earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Access to Fort Wilkins is complimentary, but it’s important to note that a Recreation Passport is mandatory for vehicle entry into the park. We purchased one online and it was not delivered in time so we just showed the receipt in our emails and they allowed to send.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park Historical overview

The fort’s historical roots trace back to the early 1840s when a copper rush unfolded and prompted a rapid influx of fortune-seekers to the peninsula.

In response to potential disorder and violence concerns, along with the need to facilitate the transportation of vital supplies and copper, the U.S. government undertook the construction of the fort.

The stationed troops had a twofold purpose: assisting in local law enforcement and maintaining harmony between miners and the local Ojibwas.

In the controversial Treaty of La Pointe, the latter had recently relinquished extensive tracts of land, including a significant portion of the Upper Peninsula. Some Ojibwe opposed the treaty believing that they were giving up too much. Naturally there were concerns over potential conflicts with the natives.

So the fort was established in 1844, and the United States Army occupied it, albeit briefly.

That’s because it soon became evident that the fort’s presence was unnecessary, and it saw only a few years of active use.

Several factors contributed to this shift: the copper rush began moving south, the Chippewa had largely accepted the treaty they had previously agreed to, and the miners in the area were predominantly law-abiding.

After the conclusion of the American Civil War, the U.S. Army reoccupied Fort Wilkins from 1867 to 1870.

During this period, the fort accommodated Civil War infantry veterans. But eventually, the War Department decided that maintaining the post was too costly, leading to its closure in August 1870.

In 1848, construction commenced on the Copper Harbor Lighthouse complex, situated at the eastern tip of the landmass commonly referred to as Hays Point.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Experiencing Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

After making the drive from Houghton, we arrived early in the morning.

There was plenty of parking and from the parking lot it’s just a short walk to the park’s main structures.

This is a dog friendly location so as long as your dog is on a leash and you keep them outside of the interiors of the buildings, you are good to bring your furry friend. Our pup really enjoyed his time and there were several other dog owners out as well.

You’ll first come across a number of cabins, which is where the married enlisted men lived. They are furnished with historical furniture and/or interpretive exhibits, so you’ll be able to dive right into the history of this place.

Take a stroll through these buildings and learn about what daily life was like on this remote fort, where winters were brutal.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

After exploring the cabins, your next stop is the fort itself, offering a splendid view of Lake Fanny Hooe, complete with a duo of canons overlooking the water.

Here, you’ll encounter several structures arranged around a courtyard (called the Parade Grounds), and many of these buildings are open for exploration as well. I’d encourage you to get a map to help you get a sense of what these buildings were designed for. Try to hit them all if you can.

Some buildings have plexiglass panels you can look through while others will allow you to go inside of them and even head upstairs (watch your head).

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

As you start to explore the grounds, you realize that they essentially had a mini city built out here.

In total, they built over 20 structures which included things like a guardhouse, powder magazine, officer’s quarters, barracks, mess halls, a hospital, storehouse, sutler’s store, bakery, blacksmith’s shop, and others.

Nineteen of twenty-four buildings survive, including twelve original structures.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

In each of these buildings, there is a story to be told about what life was like. Some of the rooms are intricately designed with real or recreated artifacts from over 100 years ago.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

It’s pretty interesting to learn about how they performed certain basic duties like baking bread and the immersive recreations really do take you back to a different era.

You can find workers in period outfits that will role-play so feel free to ask them about “their life” on the frontier.

One thing is clear, it did NOT sound like the most ideal place to live.

Many of the soldiers were under paid for their manual labor and some of the conditions and work were substandard on the fort.

For example when it came to the blacksmiths one officer said: “I would not have such persons work for me on a private enterprise if they worked for nothing.”

In the wintertime, when the rivers transformed into icy barriers, the fort found itself isolated from the outside world. Mail deliveries relied on carriers braving the snow-covered terrain on snowshoes. So you can imagine life was pretty rough.

Still, they found ways to pass the time whether that was through literature and hunting or gambling and drinking.

As you enter the hospital, be prepared to cringe at the peculiar medical practices from back in the day. Brace yourself for tales of “bleeding” – a treatment that’ll make you thankful for modern medicine and slightly relieved you weren’t born in that era!

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park hospital

In addition to learning about life on the fort’s history, there’s a lot of exhibits that go into detail about the history of the army during this time. It was interesting to learn about certain facts like that immigrants made up one half of the standing army during this time (1840 to 1870).

After checking out the structures, you can make your way across Fanny Hooe Creek where there are multiple bridges. It’s a really scenic creek and a great place for some photo ops!

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

You can continue down on some trails that will take you throughout the park and to other areas where you’ll find campgrounds and other facilities.

After successfully crossing the creek, our journey led us to the Copper Harbor Lighthouse overlook, a spot we highly recommend checking out.

Constructed in 1848 and later replaced by the current structure in the 1860s, the Copper Harbor Lighthouse was one of the earliest beacons on Lake Superior.

Besides enjoying the lighthouse’s historical charm, this location offers spectacular views of the rugged, picturesque shores. Additionally, you can delve into the fascinating story of the shipwreck of the Brig Astor, which burned for weeks off these shores.

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Final word

Fort Wilkins stands out as an intriguing historical site because, unlike many forts where visitors typically immerse themselves in reliving past battles, Fort Wilkins never experienced a single conflict and had a relatively brief period of active service. Nonetheless, it offers a captivating glimpse into the past, providing visitors with the unique opportunity to gain insights into life on the 1800s frontier fort.

Yooperlite Hunting: A Guide to Finding Michigan’s Glowing Rocks

If you’re planning a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or anywhere in the northern Great Lakes region, Yooperlite hunting is a highly recommended form of unique night life.

There’s an undeniable allure to these luminous rocks, and the thrill of discovering them in the wild is truly satisfying.

Below, I’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to Yooperlites.

I’ll offer insights into their discovery, delve into their geological history, explore the luminescent components that make them unique, and also share a range of tips drawn from my personal experiences while searching for Yooperlites on the Keweenaw Peninsula.

What is Yooperlite?

Yooperlite is a trademarked brand of a type of fluorescent rock that is found along the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (in addition to other areas as well).

The rocks are made up of mostly syenite rock, which is similar to granite, but they contain a high concentration of fluorescent sodalite. This mineral gives the rocks their distinctive glow when exposed to ultraviolet light and makes them a prime catch for rock hounds.


Yooperlite: A brief history

Yooperlite has both a very long and very short history.

In the summer of 2017, a moment of curiosity led to an extraordinary discovery by Erik Rintamaki, a gem and mineral enthusiast hailing from Marquette, Michigan.

Armed with a UV light, he embarked on a lakeside exploration along the shores of Lake Superior. To his amazement, that fateful morning revealed a couple of rocks aglow, as if they harbored an inner molten core. In an instant, Rintamaki had unearthed a treasure previously unknown to the Michigan region.

But where did the name “Yooperlite” come from?

The nomenclature of these rocks bears a connection to the Upper Peninsula, affectionately known as “The UP.”

Within this region dwell the proud residents known as Yoopers (as in “UPers”). Thus, the initial segment of the rock’s name is a nod to these locals. The second part, “lite,” comes from the mineral “sodalite.”

Since Yooperlite is focused on the UP and these rocks do exist elsewhere, some people prefer to call them by their scientific name (Fluorescent Sodalite-bearing Syenites) or by other nicknames, such as Glowdalites.

Personally, I just like the idea of sticking with Yooperlites, because it reminds me of the UP (a place I’ve really come to love) and the UP seems to be the primary spot to find them.

Yooperlites were formed through volcanic activity approximately 1 billion years ago when the North American continent was splitting apart.

We call the event the Midcontinental Rift (or Keweenaw Rift) and it sticks out because it was the most extensive rift in Earth’s history that never evolved into an ocean.

During this time, massive amounts of lava was being produced, thousands of feet thick. Near the modern shores of Lake Superior in Ontario, a substantial body of magma was trying to breach the surface but this molten rock never made it.

Instead, it gradually cooled and solidified beneath the ground, ultimately transforming into a variety of granite known as “syenite.” This particular syenite variety had an abundance of a mineral called “sodalite,” which we will come back to in a second.

For roughly a billion years, these remarkable sodalite-filled rocks lay concealed beneath the Earth’s surface.

Then, about 10,000 years ago, the world witnessed the advent of the last ice age, with colossal ice sheets carving a dramatic path across the landscape.

In their relentless advance, these icy behemoths unearthed the Yooperlites from their ancient resting place, transporting them southward.

Ultimately, these rocks found their current abode along the shores of what would later become the Great Lakes, where they continue to be discovered and admired to this day.

So that’s how they got to Michigan but why do they glow?

Yooperlites exhibit fluorescence because of the unique properties of minerals like sodalite found within them.

When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, these minerals absorb the high-energy UV photons and this elevates electrons to higher energy states within the minerals.

As these excited electrons return to their lower energy states (aka rebound), they release the absorbed energy as visible light, creating the characteristic glow that Yooperlites are known for.

Where can you find Yooperlites?

People have reported finding Yooperlites in different parts of the Great Lakes region, including parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. However, the most popular spots seem to be the Keweenaw Peninsula and areas along the north east Upper Peninsula.

Speaking with some locals, there definitely are some common hotspots people have.

From what I was told, a good Yooperlie hunter will wait until a storm rolls through that shakes everything up and brings new Yooperlite to the shore and then they will have a field day that evening. I won’t mention any of the local spots so as to not betray the friendly locals but even if you don’t know the lesser-known spots there are quite a few widely known spots to find Yooperlite.

Along the Keweenaw Peninsula you have a lot of options and we personally had luck with McLain State Park. We also tried Calumet Waterworks Park but we struck out there and I suspect some people had already cleaned house. For more locations around the Upper Peninsula, check here.

Finally, if you can’t get to the beach you can find them in rock shops. One of the easiest places to get if you are in the Houghton area is to check out the visitor center and gift shop at the Quincy Mine. They have a cool display and you can purchase them (the price depends on the size).


My experience finding Yooperlite (and several tips)

Arriving early can be worth it if you have a good light

We typically reached the beach approximately 20 minutes before sunset, and it wasn’t uncommon to spot one or two fellow enthusiasts already engaged in their quest.

Prior to sunset, if equipped with a sufficiently powerful black light, Yooperlites are certainly discoverable, albeit with a higher level of difficulty.

Discovering your first Yooperlite — as you witness a seemingly ordinary stone transform into a radiant spectacle — is an unforgettable experience and instantly addictive.

On our first outing, we found ourselves dedicating a solid hour or so to the pursuit, although it’s entirely possible we could have continued for much longer if we didn’t have other plans that evening, such as hunting for the northern lights.

You can still find them if trailing behind people

Even if you’re trailing behind someone, following in their footsteps, there’s still a good chance of making substantial finds.

It’s a challenging task for anyone to meticulously examine and search through all of the thousands upon thousands of rocks, so you’ll likely to still be able to find something.

A 365 nm UV light is preferable but you can still get by with a 395 nm

The prevailing advice often suggests that a 365 nm UV light is notably superior to a 395 nm one for Yooperlite hunting. Personally, I found myself favoring the 365 nm UV flashlight, primarily due to the enhanced glow of the rocks.

However, during my “time in the field,” I didn’t observe a substantial disparity in terms of detecting Yooperlites when using either the 395 nm or the 365 nm UV light.

In both cases, I could readily discern the sparkling specks of glowing sodalite.

It’s very likely that the quality of my 365 nm flashlight was not optimal (it was like $15), but it’s reassuring to know that a 395 nm black light can still effectively illuminate Yooperlites.

Which ever way you go, make sure you have an extra set or two of batteries so that you can continue on through the night, especially if you’re having a lot of good luck.

Yooperlite hunting

A rock scooper and more powerful UV light will make the hunt less physically demanding

I found myself quite fatigued (and lightheaded) from constantly crouching and getting up during our Yooperlite hunts.

Our use of small black lights forced me to get up close to the rocks, and the absence of a rock scooper further added to the effort.

Many other rockhounds on the beach were equipped with more potent black lights and rock scoopers, sparing them from the need to frequently bend over.

If you’re truly committed to spending ample time searching for Yooperlites, I recommend investing in these tools, as it appeared to make the process significantly more efficient and less physically demanding.

Yooperlite hunting

Be prepared to find some weird stuff

With your UV light, you’ll find more than just Yooperlite.

You will notice that some rocks also have a certain glow about them although it’s different from the orange glow of the sodalite.

You also might come across trash and random discarded oddities.

You can use this as an opportunity to help clean up the shore but also be mindful of the things you might be grabbing with your hand as you may not want to come into contact with certain things. For example, I came across a random Q-tip.

Take a note of where your turn off on the beach is

You’re going to be wandering around at night but luckily, it’s pretty easy to navigate as you’re just walking along the shoreline, probably in one direction and then coming back. It would be hard to get truly “lost” but it’s possible you could struggle to find your turn off point back to the parking lot.

I’ve heard of people using glow sticks to mark the turn off point which could be helpful if you’re somewhere that’s tricky to identify. However, we were able to usually just note a large stone or driftwood that helped us remember where to go.

It will also be helpful to have a regular white light or red light to help you navigate when not using your black light (headlamps are also handy).

Hiking boots are a good choice

We opted to don hiking boots with waterproof capabilities, enabling us to position ourselves where the waves washed up on shore. This placed us in proximity to what’s likely the most abundant collection of stones, as it represents the freshest deposit of rocks at any given time.

I’ve also come across stories of individuals wading into the water during their Yooperlite quests, so the approach can vary depending on your level of dedication and adventure-seeking spirit.

Hiking boots also help you better navigate the rocky shores which could be tougher with thin tennis shoes.

Bring a bag

You’ll definitely want a dependable bag to keep all your discovered rocks secure, as Yooperlite hunting can yield quite a collection. This is also where you can keep some snacks and water as you’ll be surprised how quickly you can work up some thirst and an appetite hunting for rocks.

Check up on the law

At the time of this post, it looks like Michigan law allows you to collect up to 25 pounds of rocks per year from state parks but make sure you verify the legality of what you’re doing. Some sites (like Pictured Rock National Lakeshore) may not allow rock collecting and you also need to be careful about stepping onto private property.

Wear extra layers

There’s a good chance it will get cold when out there so having extra layers is good. On one night we went out it wasn’t bad at all. Still, I always like having a puffer jacket when heading out to a lakeshore like this at night because you never know what the wind is going to be capable of.

Look for patterns in the rocks

We noticed a striking similarity among most of the rocks we encountered – a gray appearance with black speckles. So one effective strategy is to concentrate on rocks that resemble the ones you’ve already gathered, although it’s worth noting that there can be variability with these rocks.


Final word

Our Yooperlite hunt was undoubtedly one of the highlights, no pun intended, of our time in the Upper Peninsula.

It’s one of those peculiar discoveries that unexpectedly becomes quite addictive. If I lived in this area, I could easily see myself making it a regular pastime.

There are no doubt some spots that are hotspots, not because they receive an extra deposit of these rocks but because only seasoned enthusiasts know how to access and uncover them. But there are also many well-known beaches along the coast in the Keweenaw Peninsula that seem like a good spot for the average newcomer.

I hope the wealth of information and tips provided in this article will equip you to fully appreciate, enjoy, and ultimately build your own collection of these fascinating stones when you explore the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!

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