Whether you’re a visitor or longtime resident, Marquette County has much to see and do. We can’t include every favorite location, but we’ve narrowed it down to twelve we guarantee will please you.
Presque Isle Park: The Jewel in the Queen City’s Crown is Presque Isle Park. This natural park has been a favorite of Marquette residents and visitors since 1891. Presque Isle is home to the grave of Chief Kawbawgam, last Chief of the Chippewas. It contains great walking trails and stunning sandstone cliffs, a charming cove, and the unique geographical feature of the Black Rocks. It’s not uncommon to meet a deer in your path and the lucky visitor might even spot a moose. Don’t forget to stop at the Island Store for ice cream and to visit Moosewood Nature Center—a great learning experience for children and adults.
Sugarloaf Mountain: Just six miles north of Marquette on County Road 550 is Sugarloaf Mountain. This cliff towers over Lake Superior and has been a popular hike for Marquette residents for a century. Today, flights of wooden stairs help visitors climb to the summit, which can usually be reached in about twenty minutes. At the top, a monument built by the Boy Scouts around 1920 pays homage to their leader Bartlett King who died in World War I. The view is breathtaking and includes Presque Isle Park and Marquette to the right and Partridge Island and Little Presque Isle to the left. After your hike, continue north on County Road 550; soon on your right are roads to Wetmore Landing and Little Presque Isle. Little Presque Isle is an island you can walk out to depending on the tide and songbird nature trails are nearby. Wetmore Landing is a popular beach with surfers.
Marquette Regional History Center: Marquette has had a historical society since the 1890s but in 2011 this phenomenal new history center opened. The entire history of the area of Marquette and its neighboring communities is depicted here. From early Ojibwa communities, to dioramas of local wildlife, the cultural history of the community, farming, military, and logging history—the Marquette Regional History Center has it all. Events are also regularly scheduled, including auctions, special exhibits, and cemetery and city walking tours.
Marquette Maritime Museum & Lighthouse: Located in the old sandstone Marquette Waterworks building constructed in 1890, this museum depicts the area’s long love affair with Lake Superior. A film and numerous displays tell the history of shipping on the lake, from early schooners to ore boats, and of course, shipwrecks. The museum also offers tours of the Marquette Lighthouse, built in 1866.
Downtown Marquette Shopping & Architecture: Marquette’s main streets, Front, Washington, and Third (“The Village”) offer a variety of Marquette originals for shopping, dining and live music. Enjoy ethnic specialties, fresh locally grown food, chocolates galore, all Michigan-made products; artwork by U.P. artists, unique gifts, fashionable clothing and a great selection of books. While you shop, be sure to admire Marquette’s fabulous architecture including the 1892 Savings Bank, Marquette’s first skyscraper, and Wells Fargo, originally the First National Bank of Marquette, the most expensive building in the world per square foot when it was built in 1927. Marquette’s Old City Hall with its prominent roof is a true original, and the movie classic Anatomy of a Murder was filmed in the Marquette County Courthouse.
St. Peter’s Cathedral: Built in 1881, St. Peter’s has been called the world’s most beautiful sandstone building. The original cathedral was a small church whose cornerstone was laid by founding bishop Frederic Baraga, known as “the Snowshoe Priest” and currently up for sainthood for his work converting the Ojibwa and serving the early mining communities. The cathedral contains beautiful stained glass windows and impressive marble columns and has been the spiritual home to generations of Marquette’s Catholics.
Northern Michigan University: Northern Michigan University is not just for college students. Several cultural and artistic venues include the Beaumier Heritage Center, which continually features exhibits about the people and history of Upper Michigan. The Devos Art Museum has hosted nationally known artists as well as the university’s own student artists. Finally, the Superior Dome—the world’s largest wooden dome—pays homage to NMU’s athletic past, including nationally known coaches Tom Izzo and Steve Mariucci. Don’t forget to stop at the NMU Bookstore in the University Center to get your green and gold gear. Go Wildcats!
Mount Marquette: By now you may think you’ve seen all of Marquette, but you haven’t really seen the Queen City of the North until you view it from Mount Marquette. Go south on US-41 and to the left you’ll find the road (if you pass the prison entrance you went too far). The road is a bit rough but the glorious view is worth the trouble, especially when the autumn colors are vibrant.
In Marquette Township
Dead River Falls: Locals sometimes keep mum about this relatively unknown gem hidden just a few minutes from downtown Marquette. You often can hike this series of waterfalls without seeing a soul. It has its challenges—you must cross a small creek over fallen trees near the start, followed by a steep incline; however, step-like spots similar to a twelve-foot ladder are helpful. Afterwards, you’re rewarded with an easy meander through several waterfalls. Walkable rock outcroppings bring you to the base of a thunderously beautiful thirty-feet plus of water rushing down, as well as to soothing views from above. Small but wide falls create pools swimmable if temperatures are warm or you are hardy enough.
In Chocolay Township
Lakenenland: This sculpture park features countless works by local artist Tom Lakenen, including dinosaurs, bears, alligators, UFOs, ships, flowers, and pigs riding bicycles. Everything imaginable is here in one of Marquette County’s favorite tourist destinations. The park is just east of Harvey on M-28 heading toward Munising.
Michigan Iron Industry Museum: Marquette County was developed because of the 1844 discovery of iron ore near present-day Negaunee. The Michigan Iron Industry Museum is devoted to telling the story of that discovery and all that resulted from it. Learn the history of iron ore production and shipping, watch how a pocket dock works, and enjoy regular educational programs.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum: Ishpeming, the birthplace of organized skiing, is proud to claim this national landmark. Complete with a ski slope roof, the museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts and archives relating to the history of skiing. Displays include over 375 Honored Members, trophies, clothing, and equipment, as well as a library on skiing, a theater, and soon a ski film institute.
By now, you understand why Marquette County has been voted one of America’s favorite destinations. But we’ve only scratched the surface. Here’s our runners-up list: in Negaunee: Antique Shops; in Ishpeming: Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum and the Tilden and Empire mine tours; in Marquette: historic homes of Ridge and Arch streets, McCarty’s Cove, the Children’s Museum, the Peter White Public Library, and the Lake Superior Theatre. We hope you visit and enjoy them all!
Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Summer 2012