Discover 8 Must-Do Activities in the Keweenaw Peninsula

Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Keweenaw Peninsula offers a range of exciting experiences, from discovering enchanting waterfalls to hunting for Yooperlites.

You can dive into history by exploring lighthouses, savor the delicious tastes of Finnish cuisine, and partake in outdoor escapades in Copper Harbor. Witness the Northern Lights and embark on picturesque drives that reveal the peninsula’s natural beauty.

Below, I’ll provide you with insights into various places to explore and highlight some enticing shops and restaurants, ensuring that your visit is as enjoyable as possible!

Explore the many waterfalls, including one of the best in Michigan

The Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is graced with a multitude of enchanting waterfalls that offer a serene and picturesque escape for nature enthusiasts. You really can’t venture to the Keweenaw Peninsula without exploring at least a couple of these, especially those that are easy to access.

Some notable waterfalls in the Keweenaw Peninsula include Hungarian Falls, Jacobs Falls, and Eagle River Falls.

Jacobs Falls, located near Eagle Harbor, offers a stunning view right off the road as water gently cascades down a rocky face into a pristine pool below.

Jacobs Falls

Eagle River Falls, situated in the quaint town of Eagle River, is easily accessible and boasts a captivating double waterfall that is particularly beautiful during the colorful foliage of the fall season. You can view it from the beautiful Eagle River Timber Arch Bridge, which itself is a treat to view.

Eagle River Falls
Eagle River Falls

But my personal favorite is Douglas Houghton Falls. If you are feeling adventurous you can scramble down a steep cliff side for a magnificent view of what I believe to be one of Michigan’s most scenic waterfalls.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a photographer, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat into nature, the Keweenaw Peninsula’s waterfalls offer a delightful and refreshing experience.

Spend a night looking for Yooperlite

Yooperlite is a unique type of rock found in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan, known for its striking fluorescent properties.

These rocks primarily consist of a mineral called sodalite, which emits a bright orange or yellow glow when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light (you just need to make sure that you use the right kind of black light which you can read more about here).

Rock enthusiasts often search for Yooperlites along the shores of Lake Superior in the Keweenaw Peninsula. There are lots of beaches where you can find them but some places to look include Agate Beach and McLain State Park.

The discovery of these glowing rocks has gained popularity in recent years, attracting both locals and tourists who enjoy the thrill of finding and collecting these fascinating geological specimens during nighttime excursions with UV lights along the picturesque Lake Superior shoreline.

Of course, even if you’re not searching for Yooperlite, the beaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula are full of other interesting rocks like agates. It’s truly a rockhound’s paradise.

Test out the many Jams and jellies

Exploring the Jam Pot in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula is another must when in the area. Nestled close to Eagle Harbor, this delightful establishment is celebrated for its handcrafted jams, jellies, and freshly baked treats, including treats like peanut butter jelly brownies and habanero caramels.

Managed by monks from a Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine Rite, the Jam Pot offers a jack pot of mouthwatering preserves, carefully concocted using locally sourced ingredients, including the bountiful berries and fruits indigenous to the Keweenaw Peninsula.

During your visit, you’ll have the opportunity to savor a diverse selection of flavors but be sure to try the thimbleberry jam.

Also, don’t miss the chance to explore the equally captivating Jam Lady’s establishment, also situated near Eagle Harbor.

Revered for its homemade jams and jellies (along with its chow chow relish) this unique shop operates on an honor system basis.

Inside, you’ll find an intriguing assortment that extends beyond jams and jellies, including vintage postcards and even horseshoes, adding an extra layer of charm to your visit.

Explore the history and culinary seen around Houghton

Houghton and its neighboring city Hancock offer a delightful blend of activities for all interests.

Explore the area’s rich mining history with a captivating tour of the Quincy Mine, taking you deep underground to experience the copper mining heritage. You can expect to be transported back in time as you descend into the mine’s dark and labyrinthine tunnels, guided by knowledgeable interpreters who bring the stories of miners and their struggles to life.

For those intrigued by culture and heritage, Houghton hosts a range of museums, including the Carnegie Museum and the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum.

Don’t miss the iconic Portage Lake Lift Bridge, a striking engineering marvel that connects Houghton and Hancock, offering sweet views of the Keweenaw Waterway.

Satisfy your taste buds at a charming Finnish restaurant, Suomi Home Bakery & Restaurant, where you can order traditional Finnish dishes that pay homage to the area’s rich Finnish heritage. Indulge in classics like pasties, pulla (Finnish sweet bread), Finnish pancakes, and Finnish French toast.

If you are a fan of white fish you can relish the delightful flavors at Four Sons Fish and Chips.

Houghton also boasts a rich history in professional hockey, with a connections to the sport’s legacy. In fact, its said that the first recognized professional hockey team was born in Houghton.

The downtown area is full of charm in historic buildings and it’s definitely worth the walk around.

Explore lighthouses

The Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan is home to several enchanting lighthouses, each with its own unique history and architectural charm.

One standout is the Copper Harbor Lighthouse, perched near the tip of the peninsula. Built in 1866, this iconic lighthouse guided ships safely through the treacherous waters of Lake Superior during the height of the copper mining era.

Another notable beacon is the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse, established in 1851 and rebuilt in 1871. Its iconic design and red brick, along with the adjacent maritime museum, offer visitors a glimpse into the maritime heritage of the region. It’s also located right by an observation platform that has amazing views of the lake. I definitely recommend a stop.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

The Eagle River Lighthouse also merits a visit, as its now a vacation rental.

The Sand Point Lighthouse is located at the base of the peninsula and is another worthwhile lighthouse to check out.

These lighthouses not only provide a visual treat but also offer a fascinating window into the maritime history and navigational significance of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Copper Harbor

Copper Harbor, located at the northernmost tip of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, is a haven for outdoor adventurers and nature enthusiasts.

The area is renowned for its pristine natural beauty and offers a wide range of activities. Visitors can start by exploring the scenic Brockway Mountain Drive, which offers panoramic views of Lake Superior and the surrounding wilderness.

Outdoor enthusiasts can hike or bike along miles of picturesque trails in the Copper Harbor Trail System, including the renowned Estivant Pines, home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in the Midwest. Kayaking and boating on Lake Superior, as well as fishing in nearby inland lakes, provide aquatic adventures.

History buffs can delve into the Keweenaw’s mining heritage at the Central Mine Historic Site or Fort Wilkins State Park. Fort Wilkins is an interesting site because it not only preserves the rich military history of the mid-19th century but also provides a glimpse into the daily life of soldiers stationed here during that era.

The well-preserved fort includes historic buildings, exhibits, and interpretive programs that allow visitors to step back in time and learn about the challenges and triumphs of those who served on the remote Keweenaw Peninsula.

Furthermore, the park’s picturesque setting along the Lake Superior shoreline provides breathtaking vistas and recreational options, appealing to history enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Northern lights

The Keweenaw Peninsula is a prime location for witnessing the mesmerizing natural spectacle of the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. Thanks to its northern latitude and relatively low light pollution, the Peninsula offers an ideal vantage point for observing this dazzling celestial display.

Visitors often find themselves awestruck by the vibrant curtains of green, pink, and purple lights dancing across the northern skies during clear, dark nights, particularly during the fall and winter months.

To enhance your Northern Lights experience, venture to remote areas like the Brockway Mountain Drive or the shores of Lake Superior, where you’ll have an unobstructed view of the night sky, creating unforgettable memories of this awe-inspiring natural wonder.

Scenic drives

The Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan is a haven for scenic drives, offering breathtaking vistas and a chance to immerse yourself in the region’s natural beauty.

One must-visit route is the iconic Brockway Mountain Drive, which winds its way along the spine of Brockway Mountain, providing sweeping panoramic views of Lake Superior and the surrounding wilderness.

M-26, the highway that traverses the peninsula, also offers spectacular sights, from dense forests and sparkling waterfalls to charming small towns. Along the way, you can explore the historic towns of Houghton and Hancock, stop at picturesque roadside parks, and relish the tranquility of the Peninsula’s serene lakes and forests.

Before you leave, make sure you check out the end of US Highway 41, which terminates in Copper Harbor, not far from Houghton. This iconic highway, stretching over 1,900 miles from Miami, Florida, to the northern reaches of Michigan, offers a symbolic journey from the tropical south to the picturesque north.

Final word

The Keweenaw Peninsula abounds with stunning landscapes and captivating attractions. Whether you’re strolling along the beaches at night, searching for Yooperlite, or descending cliffs to admire mesmerizing waterfalls, adventure and awe-inspiring vistas await. This region is also a haven for culinary enthusiasts, offering delectable jams, sweets, and ethnic cuisine to savor.

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