A huge part of the fun of traveling comes from exploring terrain that is unfamiliar to you and trying new things. If you're looking for a vacation package where you can skip the theme parks, get off the beaten path, and enjoy the remote wilderness and tranquility that comes with an outdoor adventure instead, there's no better place than Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Flanked by three Great Lakes, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron, as well as northern Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula — or "da Yoop," as natives refer to it — is nothing like lower Michigan. The remote location is sparsely populated, and the people who live there, called "Yoopers," exemplify SISU, a Finnish word which essentially means grit and determination. These character traits are required to survive in this often-harsh climate as many areas of the Upper Peninsula receive six full months of winter and more snow than much of Alaska does. Here are four must-have experiences if you decide to visit the U.P.
The Upper Peninsula has many historic lighthouses, several of which are open to the public to tour. Many vacation packages to the region follow the lighthouses around the shoreline. Whitefish Point Lighthouse is the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Superior, and it shines its beacon in one of the most dangerous parts of the Lake, known as the Graveyard of Ships. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is also located here, and it includes the bell of the famed Edmund Fitzgerald, an ore freighter that went down in 1975 and was memorialized in song by Gordon Lightfoot.
Eat A Pasty
Pronounced "pass-tee," these meat pies are a hallmark of life in the Upper Peninsula. This area was largely settled by miners and loggers. Miners who emigrated from Cornwall, England, brought their Cornish pasties, and the people of the U.P. have embraced them as their own.
A pastry crust is filled with a mixture of beef or venison, rutabaga, potatoes, and onions, and then baked until golden brown. It is then served with ketchup in much of the region; however, there is an ongoing debate as to whether they should have carrots rather than rutabaga as well as served with gravy rather than ketchup. Many people who vacation in the area try several different pasties for fun of comparison as they traverse the region.
Visit The Porcupine Mountains
Located in the far western U.P. near the shores of Lake Superior, these rugged backwoods are pristine in its natural beauty. Called the "Porkies" for short, this state park has the largest area of old-growth timber west of the Adirondacks. In addition to towering trees, you'll see abundant wildlife, birds, waterfalls, rivers, streams, and its shining beauty, the Lake of the Clouds, a crystal-clear lake nestled in the mountain valley. Visitors can camp, hike almost 100 miles of trails, fish in trout streams, and if you visit in winter, ski at nearby lodges.
Bring Home The Souvenirs
In many ways, visiting the Upper Peninsula is like visiting another country; life is very different than most of the rest of the United States. Therefore, you will want to bring back mementos of your visit. Whether it's a tour of the factory that makes the traditional wool cap called a "Stormy Kromer," or stopping by a roadside stand of artisans who carve wooden moose key chains and miniature lighthouses, stopping by a rock shop for polished agates from Lake Superior, or a stop at any tavern for a simple classic Pure Michigan T-shirt, you'll cherish the memories of your time spent in "da Yoop" for years to come.
For more information on vacation packages, contact your local travel agency.