If you’re looking for a unique and beautiful place to visit, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a great option. The UP is home to stunning natural scenery, including forests, lakes, and rivers. There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities the whole family can enjoy like hiking, camping, and fishing. From the Great Lakes to Mackinac Island and Isle Royal National Park, you’ll find some of the most famous sites in Michigan here. In addition, the UP is home to several small towns with charming shops and restaurants. Of course, planning a trip with kids takes planning, which is why we put together this list of the 16 Fantastic Places To Visit In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula With Kids. Alongside things to do, we’ve also included where to stay and more tips, so keep reading!
Best Time to Visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with Kids
Before planning your trip to Michigan with kids, you may be wondering: what’s the best time to visit Michigan with kids? The answer largely depends on where you’ll be visiting and what you want to do. Summer is the best time to visit for swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, and quick weekend getaways. This is especially true along Lake Michigan or Lake Superior.
Families visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula also love seeing the sights in the summer. However, the UP is also fantastic for stunning fall colors. This is especially true at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, and in towns such as Marquette. Then, winter is great for ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, etc. Now that you know all about when to visit Michigan with kids, keep reading to find out what to do and see!
Best Towns to Visit in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with Kids
From charming Mackinac Island to lakeside Munising, the UP is filled with several charming towns! To help you narrow down your search, we’ve highlighted three great places in Upper Michigan to visit with kids. Keep reading to find out more!
Families looking for things to do with kids in Marquette, Michigan, won’t be disappointed by the array of offerings! Whether you’re visiting in the summer or winter, there are plenty of activities to keep your kids busy in this Upper Michigan destination, from hiking to biking trails, water parks, and playgrounds.
Stroll through the historic downtown to learn more about Marquette or get kids engaged at one of the many interactive museums. From the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum to the Marquette Maritime Museum, there’s something for all ages to enjoy! Families can also take a scenic drive along Lake Superior or go fishing. At Lower Harbor Park, located on the shores of Lake Superior, there’s plenty of space for little ones to roam, plus a playground. Looking for an easy hike just outside of the city? Visit Presque Isle Park and hike its namesake 2.3-mile loop. Kids will love exploring the iconic black rocks, seeing the rare white-tailed deer population, or swimming in the nearby inlet!
Visiting Marquette between late September and early October? Take the short hike to Thomas Rock or drive a scenic route, like County Roads 510 or 550, for epic views and vibrant autumn hues. In fact, just off County Road 550, Sugarloaf Mountain offers easy and difficult trails leading to the same phenomenal view. End your day with a warm belly at Jean Kay’s Pasties. And don’t forget – Marquette is also home to some great ice cream shops, perfect for treating the kids (and yourself) after a long day of exploring!
Mackinac Island is one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids. Accessible via ferry from Mackinaw City (Lower Peninsula) or St. Ignace (Upper Peninsula), this beautiful island town is perfect for a family vacation. In fact, it has no cars and is very walkable!
From quaint nature walks to bike rides, horsedrawn carriage tours, and learning more about history, there are plenty of things to do on the island too. Explore the charming downtown area, then kids can stop at one of the many local fudge shops! Other ways to explore the island in the summer include kayaking, parasailing, sailing on Lake Michigan, or aboard a fishing charter. Of course, don’t miss the iconic Arch Rock, where families can enjoy a picturesque picnic lunch. Mackinac Island offers several great restaurants and cafes, so you can always find something to eat.
Families who are taking a trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula should stop in Munising. Nestled along Lake Superior, this low-key town showcases outdoor adventures for all ages, from hiking to biking, swimming, and kayaking. When staying here, you’ll also be within a short distance of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, featuring one of the UP’s iconic landmarks.
Families can also explore Grand Island National Recreational Area (only .5 miles offshore!) Hike Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to see Miners Castle, and further along the shore, Sable Falls. Need to cool down from the summer heat? Visit one of the many watering holes in town, like Memorial Falls, or head to Sand Point Beach. Kids will also love taking a Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tour to see several shipwrecks up close! Within an hour, you can also reach Kitch-iti-kipi and Presque Isle Park.
Best Outdoor Adventures in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with Kids
Families who love the outdoors will be in paradise when visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula! From hiking to biking, kayaking, fishing, and more nature-oriented fun, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the fresh air and scenic views during your vacation. To help you plan, here are our favorite outdoor adventures in Michigan for families! Stay tuned, because we have also included our top picks for national and state parks below.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Between sandstone cliffs, inland lakes, waterfalls, and beaches, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore truly has it all! The area is full of natural beauty, from bright blue waters to hiking trails. There are also many opportunities for kids to explore too, such as climbing on the rocks, looking for fossils, and playing in the water. In the summer, families will find lots of beaches, including Sand Point Beach, which is very kid-friendly. It boasts fewer waves and warm, shallow water for little ones, plus, picnic tables. Families can also go kayaking, fishing, and canoeing. And, if you’re visiting from mid-May to mid-October, you can also take a boat tour to see the namesake colorful cliffs, aka the “pictured rocks.”
For great views of Lake Superior and the UP, you can also hike the iconic Miners Castle Trail. Offering kids a chance to see wildlife, this out-and-back trail lets kids get a glimpse at a local landmark, Miners Castle.
Hike throughout the Upper Peninsula with Kids
Looking for an adventure in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? Go hiking! For families who love the outdoors, countless trails boast epic scenery. Located in Palms Book State Park, the Kitch-iti-kipi is an easy hike for kids of all ages, passing through a wooded area before arriving at an iconic spring. There’s even a raft at the end of the trail for kids to ride and marvel at the clear, turquoise waters! The Upper Peninsula also showcases a variety of stunning waterfalls for families to see via a hike. For a quick trek with toddlers or inexperienced hikers, Munising Falls is a must. After walking a paved, 800-foot trail, you can even climb an extra set of stairs for a better look at the waterfall!
If you want a longer or more challenging hike in the Upper Peninsula, check out Estivant Pines Loop, located within Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary near Copper Harbor. This trail consists of 2 loops (the Memorial and the Cathedral). Not to mention, some of the largest trees in the UP for kids to spot! They can also work on their mushroom identification. Since it’s hilly in some areas, it’s rated more moderate. Other fantastic hikes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for kids include the Lake of the Clouds, Sand Point Marsh Trail, and the Presque Isle Park Loop.
Discover more hikes in the Upper Peninsula on our list of the Best Upper Peninsula Hikes In Michigan For Families!
Skiing in Michigan’s UP with Kids
Families looking for an outdoor adventure during Michigan’s cold winter should try skiing! There are several ski resorts across the state where families can hit the slopes, whether your kids are just learning or already experts. In the Upper Peninsula, Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort is a great option for families. For those learning the slopes, they offer beginner, semi-private, and private lessons. With 45 trails and 1 unique terrain park, as well as on-site dining, you’ll have everything you need all in one spot. This includes rental gear! Pine Mountain Resort is another fantastic option for families in the UP. Here, you’ll find multiple terrain options (including backcountry terrain), several lesson options, gear rental, and much more!
Hiawatha National Forest
Known as “the Great Lakes National Forest,” the dramatic views at Hiawatha National Forest are sure to impress everyone in your family. Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this natural area encompasses lakeshores, lighthouses, parks, islands, and more unique destinations waiting to be discovered. It’s also a popular place for swimming, hiking, fishing, hunting, etc. From the Big Pine Picnic Area to the Spectacle Lake Scenic Overlook, there are lots of picturesque observation points throughout the forest. Looking for an easy hike to wow your kids? Try the Au Train Songbird Loop, an easy 2-mile trek with wildlife viewing opportunities. Families can also visit Au Train Beach and the Au Train Falls. From white water rafting to horseback riding, it’s no wonder this is one of the best places to visit in Michigan with kids!
Best State + National Parks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with Kids
From Fayette Historic State Park to Palms Brook State Park, the UP is also home to some amazing state and national parks. Plus, the UP boasts one of the best national parks in the United States. Here are some of our favorite options for families, including the best places to visit in Michigan with kids!
Isle Royal National Park
Visiting Michigan with tweens or teens who have wilderness skills? Isle Royal National Park is the place to be! Surrounded by Lake Superior, this gorgeous natural area encompasses 850 square miles of wilderness, scenic landscapes, and marine life. It’s also one of the least visited and most remote national parks in the United States.
There are over 200 islands, including a main, larger island, 160+ miles of wilderness trails, four lighthouses, sunken ships, and no cars. Paddling, canoeing, and kayaking are three popular ways to explore the water. Families can also take a guided boat tour, go fishing, or try scuba diving. For a scenic hike around the park, try the Stoll Memorial Trail. There are two return loops, so you can customize the duration to your liking, like for 1.9 miles, 3.2 miles, or 4.2 miles.
Fayette Historic State Park
Combine your love of history and nature with a visit to the stunning Fayette Historic State Park! Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this family-friendly destination contains a historic townsite, a harbor, a beach, hiking trails, and even cross-country skiing for winter fun.
Start your visit by navigating the bustling town site to provide kids with insight into life during the 19th century. Families also particularly enjoy the walking tour, taking time to learn more about the smelting operation at the visitor’s center. Kids can also swim in clear blue waters outdoors at Snail Shell Harbor and even scuba dive for the day! Or, hit the Fayette Overlook Trail to walk along the bluffs, featuring a coveted view of Lake Michigan, the Old Settlement, and beyond. Michigan’s Fayette Historic State Park also has a campground if you want to stay overnight.
Explore more Midwest state parks from our list of 10 Best Midwest State Parks For Families!
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Add Tahquamenon Falls State Park to your Upper Peninsula itinerary with kids! Located near the town of Paradise, it encompasses close to 50,000 acres stretching over 13 miles. Though not all of this is accessible, there are still lots of places to explore as a family.
Firstly, hike the paved trail to the Upper Falls of Tahquamenon Falls. Also called Root Beer Falls for its unique coloring, there’s a viewing platform at the top if you want a better look. Plus, a visitors’ center is nearby. For more trekking, get back into your car and head four miles downstream to the Lower Falls. There’s a moderate 2.6-mile loop hike leading to a series of five smaller falls around a charming island. In the summer, you can even rent a rowboat to take you out to the island!
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Looking for something interesting to do in the Upper Peninsula with kids? Look no further than Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park! Located near the shores of Lake Superior, this 60,000-acre state park is the largest in Michigan. That means there’s plenty for kids to see, including over 90 miles of hiking trails.
For a moderate out-and-back hike with wonderful views of the UP, embark on the 1.5-mile Lake of the Clouds Trail. Though there are some steep areas, it’s still accessible for young kids. At the top, take in the views of the lake and surrounding wilderness from the overlook. Then, follow the lush trail down to the lake, where families can take a boat out during the summer and go fishing. Other attractions include the Summit Peak Observation Tower, an 18-hole disc golf course, and much more.
Palms Brook State Park
Looking for a family-friendly state park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? Palms Brook State Park is a great option! Located near Thompson, the park is known for its natural beauty and offers plenty of activities for kids of all ages, including hiking, fishing, and picnicking. Plus, it’s situated on a beautiful lake, making it the perfect place to enjoy some time outdoors.
For an easy hike, the whole family can enjoy the famous 0.2-mile Kitch-iti-kipi. From the parking lot, it’s a very short distance through a wooded area to the iconic spring. At the end of the trail, kids can ride a small raft and try their hand at the manually-propelled wheel. On the raft, marvel at the beautifully clear, turquoise waters and peer down to the bottom of the spring. There’s also a playground and a sand volleyball court at the park.
Additional Things to Do in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with Kids
Now that you’ve planned your UP hikes, here are some additional things to do across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula With Kids. From fun museums to the iconic Soo Locks, there is still a lot to love about visiting this part of Michigan!
Museum Ship Valley Camp
For a unique animal experience in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, nowhere beats the Museum Ship Valley Camp! Kids will love exploring all the nooks and crannies of this preserved ship, which is now a museum and aquarium for the public to enjoy. The 20,000 square foot cargo holds used to carry freight are now filled with endless paintings, artifacts, shipwreck items, and exhibits about maritime history. Not to mention several aquatic sights for kids to take advantage of as well! Throughout the ship, you’ll find four 1,200-gallon aquariums teeming with multiple species of fish from the Great Lakes region. Given the ship’s architecture, it’ll almost seem you’re looking out onto the ocean, at the fish in their natural habitats! This is a wonderful activity for families who want to combine an animal adventure with an educational excursion.
The Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum
If you’re visiting Marquette with your kids, don’t forget to stop by The Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum! Recommended for kids between three and thirteen, this hands-on, interactive museum has exhibits that teach kids about the area’s history, culture, and natural resources. Wander through The Human Body exhibit, where children can climb through a rumbling stomach, up a wart, slide down intestines, and so much more. Aspiring pilots can even see what it feels like to sit in the cockpit of a real jet in the Over The Air exhibit! Or, crawl into and underneath a massive tree at the Fantastic Forest exhibit. The museum also has a playground and a picnic area for kids to enjoy. Certainly, this is one of the best things to do in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula With Kids.
Get your daily dose of history at Fort Michilimackinac, an 18th-century fort in Mackinac National Park. Families can explore this former military outpost through a series of interactive exhibits spread across fourteen buildings in total. There are also some sections where visitors can climb and touch the exhibits!
What makes it even more interesting for kids is the incredible staff, who dress up in period costumes to teach visitors more about the fort. Children will have a blast watching history come to life through live demonstrations, like a blacksmith welding with fire or a soldier setting off a cannon! There’s also a garden area with different types of plants and chickens, plus a playground for small children. If you’re visiting close to sunset, you can also enjoy amazing views over the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge.
The Soo Locks are a set of locks located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Used to raise and lower boats between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes, they’re an engineering marvel and definitely worth a visit with your family. Kids will love seeing different ships go through the locks and learning about their history. This is certainly one of the most unique things to do in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula With Kids.
There are various viewing platforms to give you a closer look at the locks and some observation points at ground level too. Though this is a government-operated site, there’s a small Visitors’ Center to give you a little background on the area and its shipping industry. This is also where you’ll find a schedule of all the boats traveling through the locks so you can plan your visit more precisely. As each boat passes through, kids can hear fun facts about it on the loudspeaker!
Best Resorts in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for a Family Getaway
If you’re looking for a lovely resort to spend some time in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula With Kids, we have three great options for you to consider! Located on the shores of Lake Huron, Mission Point Resort is a wonderful summer destination for families on Mackinac Island. Then, overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, the Grand Hotel is another fantastic option on Mackinac Island. It’s historic and offers amenities like a pool, spa, and loaner bikes. Looking for somewhere to stay further into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? Check out Drummond Island Resort & Conference Center on Drummond Island.
We hope you liked this article featuring the 16 Fantastic Places To Visit In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula With Kids! From boat rides to hiking, biking, historic sites, and so much more, this is surely a fantastic state to visit as a family. Enjoy Michigan with your kids!
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.
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