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.

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

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 iamnotastalker.com.

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 iamnotastalker.com.

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 iamnotastalker.com.

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!

Cudighi: The Unique Italian-American Sandwich of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Michigan boasts a rich culinary landscape influenced by immigrants and giving rise to unique and beloved dishes such as the pasty.

These creations, rooted in cultural traditions from across the globe, have found a special place in the hearts and palates of Michiganders. And among these culinary treasures, while perhaps not as widely celebrated as the pasty, stands Cudighi.

But what exactly is Cudighi and where can you get it?

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know.

What is Cudighi?

Cudighi is an Italian-American dish consisting of a spicy Italian sausage seasoned with sweet spices that can be bought in links or served flattened on a sandwich on a long, hard roll, often with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. It is now primarily found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


While the Cudighi’s historical roots may not extend as deeply as those of the pasty, they still reach quite far into the past.

It’s said that Cudighi is derived from a Northern Italian sausage called “Cotechino,” which dates back to around 1511 and is made from pork, fatback, and pork rind. It’s a dish with protected designation of origin status and sometimes served on special occasions such as New Year’s Eve.

So how did it become associated with the Upper Peninsula?

In 1936, an Italian immigrant opened up a sausage stand between the family barbershop and a bar, where he sold homemade sausage sandwiches dressed with chopped onions, ketchup, and mustard.

He called the meat “gudighi” and kept the recipe’s special spices under wraps.

Following World War II, as pizza gained popularity in America, his son launched his own establishment and decided to add his unique twist to the dish. He flattened the sausage meat into a patty and layered it with marinara sauce and mozzarella on a bread roll. However, he retained the same secret spice blend.

Soon, the sandwich took off in the area and you could find it in lots of restaurants. At some point, the name changed to Cudighi, though some people still refer to it by its its original moniker.

Cudighi the works

You can find Cudighi largely in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan around the Marquette and Ishpeming area. Popular places include: Ralph’s Italian Deli, Lawry’s Pasty shop, and Vango’s Pizza & Cocktail Lounge, but pretty much any deli or place that serves pizza or pasties might serve them.

Ralph’s has been around since the 1960s and they have a bit of a pedigree in the Ishpeming area, so it made sense that we would go with them first.

It’s a compact deli that is jampacked with all sorts of deli goods and Cudighi variations. (Around here you can find Cudighi in many different products and some people eat it on other foods like pizza.)

We tried the original version with ketchup, mustard, onions and cheese first. Admittedly, it didn’t sound very appetizing for someone like me who doesn’t necessarily care for lots of raw onions. But I didn’t feel like the ketchup or mustard over powered the flavor of the sausage and generally enjoyed it. We went with the medium but they offer three different spice levels.


We also opted for the more contemporary rendition featuring mozzarella and zesty marinara sauce, a variation that quickly became our personal favorite. This version of the dish had a delightful, flavorful kick.

I’ve heard the sandwich described as sort of a cross between a patty melt and a sausage Philly cheesesteak which I think is an odd but somewhat accurate description.

Some just refer to these Cudighi sandwiches as an “Italian sausage sub” although there are some differences.

First, I have to say Cudighi is much funner to say. Hard to argue with that.

But notably, Cudighi has distinct spices and seasoning like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and seems to go without the key Italian sausage ingredient of fennel. So you’re working with a core flavor that’s pretty different from Italian sausage, although some Cudighi creations might bear more of a resemblance to traditional Italian sausage.

There may also be differences in things like the spice level of the sausage, bread type, etc., so I would consider Cudighi a distinct food, especially when eaten in its classic form with mustard, ketchup, and onions.  

Some places serve very large portions of Cudighi making it a good dish to have when you are craving a full meal, much like a pasty. The perfect snack after a good hike.

Many establishments also offer the option to customize your Cudighi with various toppings like mushrooms or peppers, ensuring that your meal suits your personal preferences.

Moreover, when it comes to sides, some places accompany Cudighi with waffle fries, while others provide regular fries or chips,

Final word

Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend giving Cudighi a try if you’re seeking a distinctive regional delicacy during your visit to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Morgan Falls Guide (Marquette, MI)

If you’re looking for an easy Upper Peninsula waterfall hike that’s around 3 to 4 miles long, Morgan Falls is a terrific option. However, when trying to reach the falls, there are a couple of things to know about the trail, such as where to park and how to experience the most scenic hike. Check out the guide below, which will tell you everything you need to know about visiting Morgan Falls.

What is Morgan Falls?

Morgan Falls is a small waterfall situated in the South Vandenboom Recreation Area, within Marquette County, Michigan, approximately 2 miles to the south of Marquette. Formed by Morgan Creek and cascading 20 feet into the Carp River, it’s a popular destination for hiking and fishing, and you can easily access it via a short trail from Marquette Mountain Road.

Morgan Falls Michigan

Where is Morgan Falls?

The trailhead for Morgan Falls is found along M-553.

Something a little bit difficult about Morgan Falls is the parking situation. If you follow the directions to the trailhead you’ll likely arrive at a closed off road with no parking in the immediate area.

There is a campground nearby that could potentially be a parking option but we chose to park down the road on M-553. It’s about .2 miles south from the trailhead but there was a wide open parking lot for us to use.

You can then walk on the shoulder of the road which does mean walking alongside some pretty fast moving traffic (although there is another option to avoid that which I will talk about below).

Experiencing Morgan Falls

After figuring out the parking situation we made our way to the beginning of the trail which is basically a gravel road (SM 417) blocked off to vehicles.

Morgan Falls Michigan Trail

You can follow this trail all the way to the falls which is the easiest option.

It will take about 1.5 miles to arrive to the falls and you are only looking at a couple hundred feet in elevation so it’s definitely an easy “hike.” Along the way, several mountain bike trails intersect the path and you will see them on both sides of the trail.

Morgan Falls Michigan Trail

It’s a pretty scenic path taking you through a lush forest that I’m sure has some great color change in the fall. However, it’s not nearly as scenic as the other trails you can take that are shared with mountain bikers. For that reason, we ended up coming back on the Carp Eh Diem Trail, which I would highly recommend.

Morgan Falls Michigan Trail

Also, bugs can be an issue on this trail. We did the trail in the morning and dealt with a little bit of mosquitoes but nothing too bad and it helped that we had pants and long sleeves on.

Once we started to get close to Morgan Falls we jumped on the Carp Eh Diem Trail because we could not tell if the falls directly connected to the path we were on based on the map. However, whenever we got closer to the falls we saw that there was a wooden staircase coming down from the main path so I’m pretty sure that it connects right there.

Morgan Falls Michigan Trail

Once you make it to the falls area, you’ll head over a bridge that spans across the beautiful Morgan Creek.

Morgan Falls Michigan Trail

Then you need to make a short and a tad steep (but very doable) descent to the falls where you’ll need to get past a muddy spot but some logs are there that will help you get through without getting dirty.

Morgan Falls Michigan Trail

The falls were quite beautiful and the entire surrounding area is just a very peaceful spot with plenty of space to admire the falls and even a picnic bench to relax on. While only 20 feet tall, the falls are pretty loud which gives you a really immersive falls experience.

Morgan Falls Michigan

We had the whole thing to ourselves until we were ready to leave which was really nice but I do think that this trail gets busy on weekends, so be prepared for crowds if visiting at that time.

Morgan Falls Michigan

For the way back we decided to stick entirely to the Carp Eh Diem Trail.

Morgan Falls Michigan

This is what I would strongly recommend to do because the scenery is a lot better and you also get taken down to the Carp River for a portion of it, which is just beautiful.

Morgan Falls Michigan

The drawback is that you may have to deal with mountain bikers but we only saw three the entire way.

Morgan Falls Michigan

The trail is very windy though so just be prepared for a lot of twists and turns, not that they are difficult or technical when you’re not on a bike.

Additionally, should you encounter a mountain biker, it’s essential to be ready. Avoid making direct eye contact and aim to make yourself appear larger. My apologies, that advice was meant for mountain lions! Jokes aside, it’s important to be prepared because the trail can be quite narrow at times, and finding a convenient spot to step aside isn’t always easy. I once nearly slipped down the hillside while attempting to make way.

Morgan Falls Michigan Trail

On this path you will have to deal with a lot more tree roots and up and down so it gives you much more of an authentic hiking experience than the main path. The vegetation is also more interesting and diverse.

Morgan Falls Michigan Trail
Morgan Falls Michigan Trail

Whenever you are headed back you can choose to join the main path again and then come back the way you entered but we did not like walking on the side of the busy road so we took the Double Take Trail back to 553.

You’ll find a faint social trail just before the river crossing that you can use to jump back on the side of the road so that you only have a short journey on the side of the road to the parking lot. In total, this loop was 4.0 miles and the elevation gain was 383 feet. Not bad.

Final word

After doing the short trail to Warner Falls and experiencing our first Upper Peninsula waterfall, we instantly became addicted to these beautiful waterfall trails. Seriously, it’s great how many of them there are in this area and I just love how lush they are.

This one was even more enjoyable than Warner because it was much longer and offered some really beautiful forest scenery to take in for a couple of hours. I also liked that there’s a lot of space by the falls so you can enjoy it even if there were other people hanging around.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tour Review (Tips For Your Visit)

If you’re aiming for one of the most immersive Pictured Rocks experiences, a kayaking tour is undoubtedly one of the top choices. From paddling beneath colossal arches to navigating through narrow caves, this adventure promises unforgettable memories and some of the clearest water you’ll find.

In this article, I’ll provide you with all the essential information on booking a Pictured Rocks kayaking tour, along with some valuable tips to truly elevate your experience.

Pictured Rocks Overview

Pictured Rocks, one of just three national lakeshores, stands out for its breathtaking multicolored sandstone cliffs, formed as mineral-rich waters permeate the rocks and trickle over the cliff faces, leaving behind a vivid display of hues.

The colors you see correspond to different minerals such as: iron (red and orange), copper (blue and green), manganese (brown and black), and limonite (white).

There’s also a lot of cultural history here as Native American tribes, including the Ojibwa and Ottawa, have long inhabited this region, and their cultural presence is deeply woven into its landscape. Furthermore, European explorers and fur traders ventured along these shores in the 17th century, leaving their own mark on the history of the area.

In total, this remarkable coastline stretches for an impressive 42 miles and while popular for hiking and boar cruises, it’s also renowned as one of the nation’s premier kayaking destinations.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

What is the Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tour?

There are two different kayaking tours that you can book with Pictured Rocks Kayaking.

The first is the Miner’s Castle tour which is designed for people who don’t have the time or interest in doing the longer kayaking tours.

If you’re in a time crunch this can be a good option but I would highly recommend the Ultimate Tour Paddle Route as you will be able to see all of the major highlights.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking

Our Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tour Experience

We booked a 9 AM Pictured Rocks kayaking tour and so to make sure we were getting there early, we left Ishpeming at 7AM. Remember, this tour will leave on time so you do not want to be late!

When it comes to physical activity we tend to knock these things out as early as possible but supposedly the best lighting is in the late afternoon or evening so you might want to consider doing one of the later tours if possible.

When we arrived there were several staff members pointing us on where to park making it really easy to get situated. I was also impressed that they had so many bathrooms at their facility both on the outside and the inside.

We went right to the check-in desk where we reviewed and signed the waiver and then checked in for the tour. After you check in, you’ll just hang out outside under the tent and wait for the safety briefing and orientation.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking office

You’ll be issued a life jacket and a spray skirt that will help you stay dry in the kayak. The instructors will show you how to properly fit both of these things on and it’s very easy if you’ve never done it before.

You’ll also get a briefing on some tips for paddling as well as a safety briefing.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking

Here are a few things you need to remember.

The person in the back is the one who does the steering and it’s where the “control freak” needs to go. If you are the photographer of the duo you’ll want to be in the front.

The tandem kayak is quite stable. But make sure you don’t both look over the side of the kayak at the same time to admire the beautiful clear water because the kayak will start to tip. Also, always let the other person know when you are adjusting your seat position so that they are prepared for a bit of rocking.

And finally, always remember that that your paddles need to face the right direction (with the logo facing you).

I don’t think you need to go into a deep dive in paddling before doing the tour but if you wanted to get a good overview, I found the video below pretty helpful:

After the orientation, it will be time to load the boat and chances are it’s going to be a pretty packed house inside.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking boat cabin

In terms of what to wear and what to bring, here are some valuable tips.

I saw people wearing everything from pants and sweatshirts to tank tops and board shorts.

Personally, I wore hiking pants and a long sleeve shirt for sun protection but if I could do it again I probably would wear athletic shorts or swimming shorts. For footwear, you could wear sandals or water shoes but tennis shoes also can be just fine (there are no pedals to worry about). Don’t forget sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen. Bugs weren’t an issue.

One last suggestion is if you are prone to blisters, consider workout gloves that can help keep the hotspots away on the hands.

They do suggest you bring an extra pair of clothes just in case you get wet. I ended up getting my pants pretty damp despite the skirt on the kayak so I’d just bring keep some dry clothes with you in a backpack or in your vehicle.

We also brought water, beef jerky sticks, and chips to help us get by since the entire excursion is approximately five hours.

As far as what you will bring on the actual kayak that just varies. I saw some people bring nothing while others were bringing small backpacks, hydration bladders, little packs of snacks, etc.

I just brought one large water bottle with me on the kayak and placed it between my legs underneath the spray skirt. That did mean I had to undo it to get the water but it’s not that difficult to takeoff and on. You might be able to slip a hydration bladder through the spray skirt at your chest.

The ride out to the kayaking spot is going to take about 40 minutes. There was a little bit of wind but our boat had stabilizers so it never got bad at all. I always take Dramamine just in case but I probably would have been fine without it.

Sometime during the journey you’ll be assigned a group which is essentially a boarding group. In our case, there were six groups and we were assigned to group 5. We did not end up hitting the water until about 10 minutes after 10 AM.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking

The “boarding process” is really great because they make it very easy to get in to your kayak, which is usually one of the major challenges of kayaking.

They will pull one of the kayaks from above and you’ll have bars to help you stabilize yourself as you sit into the kayak and then secure your spray skirt. This is yet another reason why I think it’s great for beginners.

Once we were seated, they gave us a little push and we were off to the races. We made our way towards the cliff face where our entire group would meet up along with our instructor who was in a red kayak for easy spotting.

You’ll want to hang around the group as it is required but they do give you some leeway so that you don’t always have to be bunched up together. It’s a win-win situation because, let’s face it, 1) kayak collisions are no one’s idea of fun, and 2) having your own slice of aquatic real estate is just plain delightful.

Speaking of crashing into things…. If you find yourself getting close to the rocks, use your hands to push off from them rather than your paddle and try to avoid colliding the kayak with them.

Also a few people did bump into each other. Often times you can just stick your paddle in the water to quickly brake the kayak. But if that’s not possible then just give the people a heads up that you are about to play a little bit of bumper boats and chances are the collision will not be that bad.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking

Once the gang’s all there, your instructor will provide a brief overview, and then it’s time to embark on a captivating exploration of 5 miles along this breathtaking coastline.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking

This was our inaugural kayaking experience, so everything felt entirely novel, yet surprisingly, it was relatively easy to get the hang of. Dealing with some wake proved a bit more challenging, but in the calmer stretches, we effortlessly glided through the serene waters.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking

What’s nice about the tandem kayak is that you can take turns paddling if one person gets tired and you can also utilize one person to get more of the video or photographs you’d like to get.

As for what to do with your camera phone, some people purchased lanyards to hold their phone since if your phone does fall into the water, you are not permitted to recover it.

Remember, your arms will be getting tired and extending your arms out to get awesome video and photos while bobbing in the water can be a lot more taxing than you think.

What we did is simply place our phones between our life jacket and our chest. If your life jacket is snug it should be able to safely fit there without falling through.

Speaking of which, your guides can also take some epic photos of you so make sure you take advantage of that.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking

If you’re doing the 5 mile tour, you have around 13 different sites to explore. These range from gnarly looking rock formations and monumental arches to tight cave openings and underwater boulder fields. It’s an impressive and diverse line-up of sites.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking

You’ll be so close to the cliff faces that you’ll be able to give them a high-five at times and have the mineral rich droplets that form the colors on the wall fall down on you.

The water is incredibly gorgeous and very clear. At times, you can see the fine details of the dunes below or boulders and rocks like you’ve got some kind of aquatic X-ray vision. I dunked my phone under the water a few times to get some underwater shots but obviously only do that if you are confident with your grip.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking  clear water

It’s also pretty cold so you don’t want to fall into this water but it can help you cool down. I for one love dipping my cap into the water and cooling off my head or just submerging my hands in the water and cooling off that way.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking

Ultimately, the trip culminates at Chapel Rock, an iconic Pictured Rocks landmark immortalized on the Michigan quarter, where a lone white pine tree grows atop a stone pedestal, defying the odds of nature.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore kayaking

At that point, you will have kayaked 5 miles switch for a beginner feels really good. Overall it’s a pretty good workout for your upper body but not so exhausting that you can’t enjoy the experience.

Final word

I think a kayaking adventure is one of the best ways to explore Pictured Rocks. The ability to get up close to these magnificent clear faces is truly special and the staff runs such a great job that it makes everything easier on you. The only thing I would’ve changed his maybe booking a tour in the evening for the different lighting but the morning trip also has its own charm as the sun begins to peak above the cliffs.

Warner Falls Michigan Guide & Tips to Visit

The Upper Peninsula abounds with stunning waterfalls, varying in accessibility and effort needed to reach them. Among these waterfalls, Warner Falls stands out as relatively easier and quicker to access, offering a satisfying experience to people of virtually all fitness levels.

Here is all the essential information to have before planning your quick visit to these falls.

What is Warner Falls?

Warner Falls is a smaller roadside water fall in the Upper Peninsula that offers relatively easy access for visitors who are willing to navigate a short trail with somewhat steep terrain and overgrowth.

Where is Warner Falls?

Warner Falls is located on the side of East State Highway M-35, just south of the city of Palmer. This puts it roughly 20 minutes west of Marquette and about 15 to 20 minutes from Ishpeming.

It’s one of those stops that is located very close to the side of the road making it a perfect “pitstop” destination. The GPS coordinates to the parking area (found on the side of the road) are: 46.43229537989792, -87.5986229624974.

It is possible to see the falls from the road although I would highly encourage you to make the short “hike” if you can because the views are substantially better.

Experiencing Warner Falls

We pulled up to the parking area on the side of M-35.

It’s not a large area but you’ll see the parking area when you pass the overpass over Warner Creek coming from the north.

From the parking area, you’ll see a faint trail running on the side of the guardrail and that is the direction you need to head to get to the waterfall.

Warner Falls Michigan trail

After a short while, you’ll see a sign pointing down and that is where you need to go to get to the waterfall. I did this in tennis shoes without any major issues but hiking boots would have been much better.

Warner Falls Michigan trail

It’s gonna be a short hike although a couple of portions of it are a little steep. If you are anything close to average fitness, you should be able to navigate this pretty easily but you do want to be careful not to slip on some of the steep terrain or loose rocks.

Warner Falls Michigan trail

Some of the area can get a little muddy at the bottom so if it has recently rained you might want to wear shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy.

There is an alternate path you can take as well. If you pass up the sign that takes you down and just keep going straight along the guard rail you’ll eventually come to a rocky slope.

If you are experienced or comfortable with heading down a steep rocky scree path then this will be a shorter trip for you and you should be able to avoid some of the muddy parts. Just be warned that this path is much more treacherous.

Some of the trail was extremely overgrown and there were some low branches to dodge so just be prepared for that.

Generally, the trail is quite straightforward to trace, although it may become less distinct at a couple of points. Given the brevity of the hike and how close it is to the road, getting lost shouldn’t pose a significant challenge.

Warner Falls Michigan trail

Once you are down by the waterfall, there is a small area for you to admire the falls from although it’s not the most spacious area.

There is a charming little pond that forms at the bottom and considering how close this waterfall is to the road, I’d say it’s a pretty darn impressive waterfall.

Warner Falls Michigan

We had it all to ourselves and I really enjoyed just relaxing by it. It was also nice to have so many beautiful flowers in the vicinity.

Warner Falls Michigan

If you’re feeling adventurous you can certainly scramble up the wall which is a pretty steep scramble, probably class three and four. Without my hiking boots, I just left that adventure alone but it could give you a unique vantage point and it looked like it had plenty of footholds to help you on the way up and the way down. I would not do any cliff jumping here as the water looked pretty shallow.

Warner Falls Michigan

Final word

All in all, if you’re up for a quick hike to a gorgeous waterfall, I’d say it’s totally worth the small effort to reach it. Just be ready for a couple of some small sections of relatively steep terrain and some overgrowth, and you’ll be just fine.

Experiencing The Pasty: An Upper Peninsula Delicacy

One of my favorite aspects of traveling is discovering local delicacies, especially whenever they have a rich history to go along with (hopefully) rich flavors. Savoring a good local dish is akin to grasping the essence of a place, creating an intricate bond between palates and landscapes that you’re sure to remember.

No visit to to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would be complete without trying a pasty which has become almost a culinary rite of passage for tourists that come through this far northern region of the country. And in this article, I’ll dive into this flaky dish, giving you some history and tips on choosing where to feast on your first pasty.

The history of the pasty

The pasty, a savory pastry filled with a mixture of meats, vegetables, and seasonings, has been around for probably over 800 years. The exact origin of the dish is still somewhat of a mystery but there are a plethora of mentions of it throughout history.

The word “pasty,” which yes, unfortunately rhymes with “nasty,” derives from the Medieval French word for a pie filled with meat, vegetables or cheese, and baked without a dish.

You can find a mention of it in cook books dating back to around 1300. And they have been a part of major literary legacies ranging from The Canterbury Tales to a few of Shakespeare’s works.

Wife, bid these gentlemen welcome. Come, we have a hot venison pasty to dinner: come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.

The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 1 Scene 1

Pasties even passed royal taste tests, as a letter from a baker to Henry VIII’s third wife Jane Seymour states: “hope this pasty reaches you in better condition than the last one.”

But it was during the 17th and 18th centuries, that the pasty became popular with working people in England’s southwest region (Cornwall and Devon) and this is when its more modern form took shape consisting of beef, potatoes, swedes (rutabagas) and onions.

Embraced by families, fishermen, and farmers alike, the pasty’s true champions were the tin miners, drawn to its ingenious shape that allowed convenient portability and utensil-free consumption. On top of that, its folded pastry retained warmth for hours, and even when chilled, a simple warming over a candle-lit shovel revitalized its comfort.

In the mid-19th century, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan welcomed the introduction of pasties as Cornish miners, in pursuit of work in the iron and copper mines, brought this tradition to these northern forests.

Just like its stint in England, the pasty proved its worth as a handy and transportable feast, perfectly tailored for the strenuous work below the surface.

Its popularity didn’t just stop with the Cornish; other immigrant groups like the Finnish and Italians, who eventually formed a bigger crew, hopped on the pasty train too. They didn’t hold back either, giving the classic recipe their own remix – like swapping turnips for carrots.

pasty Upper Peninsula

As time passed, the pasty’s allure transcended the confines of mining communities, transforming into a cherished regional delicacy within the Upper Peninsula.

Its distinction elevated it to the status of a local specialty, captivating not only locals but also drawing visitors from afar, making it a prominent tourist attraction.

Today, the Cornish pasty has been awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) by the European Commission, so it enjoys the type of esteemed status as revered entities such as champagne.

A Cornish pasty, as defined by its PGI status, should:

  • Be shaped like a ‘D’ with crimps on one side.
  • Have beef, swede, potato, and onion as its main ingredients, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, while keeping a chunky texture.
  • Be golden and keep its shape after cooking and cooling.

And most importantly, a Cornish pasty must be made in Cornwall to receive the authentication stamp.

pasty Upper Peninsula

Where to find a pasty Upper Peninsula

It’s not hard to find a good pasty in the Upper Peninsula. We’ve eaten good pasties at Lawry’s Pasty Shop and Iron Town Pasties in and near Marquette, MI, but you can find them all over and in quite a few different forms.

The traditional pasty in the Upper Peninsula is a beef pasty loaded with beef, potato, rutabaga, and onion.

Some places serve up mini pasties which you can order by the dozen and sometimes you can find them in different sizes such as a 12 ounces or 17 ounces.

Beyond the traditional pasty they have breakfast pasties with ham, potato, egg and cheese along with vegetarian and gluten-free versions. Sometimes, the world of pasties stretches its boundaries to include more daring versions, like spicy jalapeño-infused varieties that break away from the idea of plainness often associated with traditional English food.

People often enjoy pasties with various sauces, offering a wide range of choices. Gravy is a common option, but others might prefer ketchup, mustard, butter, or something else entirely. The decision is entirely up to you and your taste preferences but you may want to ask what options you have before ordering.

pasty Upper Peninsula

As for how these things taste….

A pasty tastes like a hearty and flavorful combination of tender meats, vegetables, and seasonings encased in a golden, flaky pastry shell. They always remind me of a type of chicken pot pie but with the noticeable hint of rutabaga which brings a flavor that could be described as a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.

Not every person is a “pasty person” so you should be prepared for the possibility of not liking the pasty or at least not being in love with it.

So I suggest that you go out and work up a good appetite and then go for your first pasty because then you’ll appreciate it a lot more.

My personal tip: Ketchup mixed with a little Tabasco goes a long way to bring out some flavor!

Final word

Participating in the nearly millennium-old tradition of savoring a pasty holds its own charm, even if the experience of relishing it within the cozy confines of a restaurant vastly contrasts with the historical context of eating it amidst the dark chambers of a mine. If you come to the UP, you have to give them a shot.

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