If you don’t know much about the city of Marquette Michigan, you might be wondering why it’s such a good place for a winter weekend getaway…
The truth is that this city (the largest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!) is full of things to do for every time of year. But thanks to the local love of cold-weather sports and its proximity to Lake Superior, Marquette really shines in the winter season.
Even if you’re not into skiing or snowshoeing, there is no shortage of winter things to do in Marquette, Michigan! The city is home to a wide range of things to do and see, from restaurants to nature parks, museums, shopping, and one-of-a-kind experiences.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Marquette County in Michigan to help you plan your Michigan winter getaway.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors: Snowshoeing in Marquette Michigan
If you know anything about Michigan and Michiganders, you might not be surprised that snowshoeing is a popular activity when the temperature starts to drop! The city of Marquette has the third-highest annual snowfall of anywhere in the contiguous United States thanks to the effects of Lake Superior.
The areas on and around the lake are popular sites for snowshoeing, offering beautiful overlooks of Lake Superior, which rarely freezes in the winter. However, that is far from the only place to strap on a pair of snowshoes.
Little Garlic Falls is within the Elliott Donnelly Wilderness and is reached via the North Country Trail. This trail offers gorgeous views throughout the year. It is a great spot for hiking in the summer. Once winter arrives, you’ll find the area drawing plenty of snowshoe enthusiasts.
Little Presque Isle Recreational Area is another population destination. This simply breathtaking spot on the shores of Lake Superior lay against the backdrop of pine forests. This spot boasts a grand total of 39 miles of trails.
If you are looking for a great place to snowshoe, the Noquemanon Trail Network provides multiple trails to explore. The network encompasses trails all around Lake Superior and is dedicated to providing a place for non-motorized sports and leisure activities.
The trails in Marquette also offer a variety of overlooks and terrain. Beginners can find rentals with easy trails offering views of the lake or pine forest. Advanced snowshoers will find longer trails with more challenging terrain. Some of the top places to rent snowshoe equipment in Marquette include MooseWood Nature Center, Northern Michigan University Outdoor Recreation Center, and Down Wind Sports.
Try a Popular Winter Sport (While Taking in the Sights): Cross Country Skiing in Marquette
If cross country skiing is more your style, you’ll also find plenty of trails for it around Marquette. The Noquemanon Trail Network also provides opportunities for ski equipment rentals, so don’t worry about finding your own equipment (especially if you’re trying it out for the first time!).
The trails in and around Marquette have something for everyone, no matter what their skill level or experience. Blueberry Ridge Pathway, for example, is a moderately difficult trail that follows approximately 13 miles through pine forests. It is one of the Upper Peninsula’s top places for cross-country skiing.
Try Something New: Unique Winter Experiences in Marquette
Marquette isn’t all about cross country skiing and snowshoeing. You’ll find many interesting outdoor experiences here, even during the winter months. From outdoor winter sports to interesting places to explore, Marquette is all about enjoying the great outdoors no matter what time of year it is.
The Lower Harbor Ore Dock is a popular spot for anyone who wants to catch a great view of the lake. A relic of the town’s history as a place for mining iron ore, the dock dates from the 1930s. Though it is no longer in use, it’s now one of the top places in Marquette to look out on Lake Superior (and learn a bit about the town’s history, too).
The dock isn’t the only historical attraction nearby! The Marquette Harbor Lighthouse is a beautiful historical site dating from 1853 and also served as the residence of the lighthouse keepers up until 1998.
As we’ve mentioned, sports don’t stop in Marquette when the temperature starts to fall. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can tube at Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming or watch winter surfing at Presque Isle. Alternatively, if you prefer to stay warm, feel free to watch the events from the beach while snuggled up with your significant other.
Presque Isle Park is worth a visit on its own. This state park includes more than 300 acres of untouched forest on a peninsula protruding into Lake Superior. Here, you’ll find views of the lake that you can’t find anywhere else. But the sights aren’t the only reason why Presque Isle continues to draw thousands of visitors every year! It also features unique rock cliffs, antique blackrock formations, lush pine forest, and gorgeous coves.
Outdoors sports enthusiasts will love checking out the Suicide Hill Ski Bowl Jump at Ishpeming Ski Club. This club has a more than 100-year history in Ishpeming and includes Olympic athletes! There are five annual ski jumps, which are open for the public to observe.
Can you say extreme sports? The UP Luge Club is one of the few places in the United States where you can participate in the luge! The club strives to provide a safe and accessible experience to all participants. If you have a love of adventure (and let’s be honest, enjoy a rush of adrenaline) make sure you take time to try it out.
Have an Amazing Meal: Food and Drink in Marquette
No winter getaway would be complete without an excellent meal, and the good news is that you’ll find eateries aplenty in Marquette. There is everything here including fine dining, pub fare, cultural specialities, and coffee shops.
Beer lovers can stop in for a drink at Blackrocks Brewery, a cozy brewery dedicated to locally made craft beer. Alternatively, stop into The Vierling for an alternative pub experience on the water, featuring fresh fish, classic American fare, and of course, plenty of beer.
If you’re looking for some unique fare, try The Delft Bistro. This one-of-a-kind eatery offers a full meal where every course plays with your senses. Lovers of German food will want to stop in for a meal at Steinhaus for Jägerschnitzel and sauerbraten. And though Marquette is far from Cajun country, you can still enjoy amazing Cajun Creole cuisine at Lagniappe.
Of course, no meal is complete without a cup of coffee, and Marquette has plenty of offerings on that front. You’ll find delicious local coffee at The Crib, Contrast Coffee, Velodrome Coffee Company, and Dead River Coffee — each offering its own unique experience, of course. The Crib features Crappie Coffee which is roasted in Marquette, while Velodrome Coffee Company features gift items and a seasonally rotating menu.
Take in Local Art and Artists: Cultural Experiences in Marquette
Some people love spending time outside during the winter. But if you and your significant other prefer to stay indoors where it’s warm and cozy, don’t worry. Marquette has plenty of indoor activities to offer, as well. If you’re looking for a cultural experience or simply love art and history, here are a few places you should stop.
Downtown Marquette is home to many interesting attractions and experiences. The area is where you will find most of the city’s museums and cultural destinations, including the Marquette Regional History Center, Zero Degrees Art Gallery, and the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum.
The DeVos Art Museum on Northern Michigan University’s campus is a great place to spend an afternoon. There are regular events here, but you’ll find exhibits open to the public on a daily basis. Entry is free, and visitors can enjoy regularly rotating displays of local art.
If you are an artist or are just looking for a fun date activity, try HOTPlate Pottery & Art Studio. This self-titled DIY art studio offers guests the chance to take a class on painting, pottery, and other art forms. These casual sessions are all about having fun and creating a memory to take home.
The Peter White Public Library & Marquette Arts & Cultural Center is a great place in Marquette to enjoy cultural experiences and see some beautiful art in Michigan. The art exhibits rotate regularly, so you may have the chance to see anything from paintings to glasswork, sculpture, and more.
We said that Michiganders love to ski! Nearby Ishpeming is home to the US Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. Here, visitors can learn all about the best skiers and snowboarders in history. It’s a perfect way to fill the time between actually hitting the slopes.
Score a Deal: Shopping and Retail in Marquette
Like any good city, Marquette features plenty of great places to shop. While many of these retail outlets are in the downtown area, you can find interesting shops and boutiques throughout Marquette.
If you are looking for equipment before heading out for an outdoor adventure, Down Wind Sports is the place to go. This store is the top place in Michigan for sports gear and equipment, especially when it comes to winter sports. You’ll find everything here from biking equipment to hiking and camping gear. For a winter retreat, check out their options for downhill and cross country skis, snowshoes, and cold weather apparel. You can also find more winter and sports gear at West End Ski & Trail in nearby Ishpeming and winter apparel at Getz Apparel in Marquette.
Of course, there’s much more to shop for than just sports equipment. Marquette is home to many unique interest stores and boutiques such as The Gathered Earth gift shop. Shop for one-of-a-kind, locally-made art pieces from Marquette- and Michigan-based creators, including candles, jewelry, glasswork, garden items, wind chimes, soap, and gift cards.
If you love niche shops or boutique stores, make sure to stop in to Revival. Located in downtown Marquette, this unique storefront features women’s apparel as well as home decor, accessories, and antique items. You won’t want to miss this shop with one-of-a-kind items!
Mark Your Calendar: Marquette Michigan Winter Events
If you are planning to visit Marquette for an event, there are a few that should definitely be on your calendar! The annual NYE Ball Drop, for example, is Marquette’s way of sending out the Old Year on Dec. 31st. It starts at 11 p.m. when the city shuts down the 100 block of Washington Street in the center of town to make room for the celebration.
If you’re planning on being in Marquette in February, you’ll have the chance to watch the UP 200! This annual series of sled dog races are unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere in Michigan. The races vary from 26 to 230 miles and take place over several days with opportunities to watch in downtown Marquette.
The Meijer Winter Games are a new tradition expected to kick off in 2022. During this time, you’ll get to see a variety of winter sports and competitions, including cross country skiing, figure skating, curling, ice hockey, luge, skiing, snowboarding, and ski jumping.
If you’ve never heard of the legend of Heikki Lunta, you might want to stop at downtown Negaunee’s annual Heikki Lunta festival. Heikki Lunta is Finnish folklore that is specific to the Finnish immigrant communities of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and stands for all things winter-related! This festival kicks off with a ski and snowboard rail jam competition, and features many scattered winter activities such as skating, a tunnel of lights and more.
The Fat-Ish/Skinny-Ish events are all about outdoor winter sports. These races take place at Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming, The Fat-Ish event includes 10- and 20-mile fat bike races. Meanwhile, the Skinny-ish is a series of competitive cross-country skiing events. The whole thing starts with a ride down the sledding hill. The event also features live music and local food vendors, so it is an amazing experience for racers and visitors alike!
Rest and Relax: Accommodations in Marquette
There are many places to stay in Marquette, from simple lodges to upscale hotels. You’ll find hotels and motels aplenty, with amenities galore.
Making the Most of Your Winter Adventure in Marquette
Marquette is truly a hidden jewel of Michigan. Its proximity on the shores of Lake Superior and other natural attractions make it a beautiful site for nature lovers and outdoorsmen and women alike.
There are also many annual events, some of which you won’t find anywhere else! Marquette is perfect as a place for outdoor activity, enjoying nature, patronizing local eateries, or attending one-of-a-kind festivals, community events, and more.
With winter sports and outdoor activities galore at any time of the year, there are dozens of ways to fill your time there, whether you are there for a weekend or longer. No matter what your interests are, Marquette, Michigan is the perfect destination for a winter adventure with your significant other!