Marquette, Michigan is the biggest and most populated city in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with about 20,000 residents. It’s home to Northern Michigan University and is highly regarded as an outdoors lover’s paradise.
Nestled among the shores of Lake Superior, Marquette offers many incredible views, excellent hiking/biking trails, sandy beaches, several breweries, and awesome food. It’s always been busy in the summer with tourists but has steadily grown in popularity as a summer destination, especially in recent years.
There are tons of things to do in Marquette, Michigan, both outside and inside! Even if you’re not a big “outdoorsy” person, you will still appreciate the lovely scenery while taking part in other activities.
This list of 37 Amazing Things To Do In Marquette, MI will help you plan your trip to town, no matter the circumstances. There’s something to do for everyone, no matter the weather!
1. Visit Presque Isle
Presque Isle is a 323-acre public park located northwest of Marquette. Locally referred to as “The Island,” Presque Isle itself on an oval-shaped peninsula reaching out into Lake Superior.
Enjoy the endless gorgeous views of Lake Superior and the landscape of The Island itself as you either walk or drive the 2-mile round trip around it.
Take a stop at one of the several rocky beaches to skip rocks, pack a picnic, or grab a cone at The Island Ice Cream Store.
2. Jump Off Of Black Rocks
Chances are you’ve heard of Black Rocks already, but of course, it’s worth mentioning! Black Rocks is an area of volcanic rock located on Presque Isle that visitors can traverse to get an unobstructed view of Lake Superior.
The real attraction is the 20-foot ledge that is perfect for cliff jumping! It’s the high-school and college hotspot during the summer. Head on out to watch cliff-jumpers, or take the plunge yourself!
Be warned that Lake Superior is extremely cold, even on the warmest of days. If you jump in, be prepared for a shock to your body (including difficulty breathing) until your nervous system acclimates to the frigid temperatures.
3. Bog Walk
Also located on Presque Isle, the bog walk is a publicly accessible urban bog with an elevated boardwalk to travel on. Look for some amazing plants and animals on your way.
The Moosewood Nature Center (located directly adjacent to the bog walk) has a virtual bog walk on their website listing species to look for.
4. Hike Sugarloaf
Like Black Rocks, Sugarloaf Mountain is another famous Marquette destination for both tourists and locals, alike. The trailhead is just a few miles from downtown Marquette, the turnoff from county road 550 is well marked, and it’s a relatively quick hike to the top where you’re rewarded with one of the best views in the Upper Peninsula.
Visit all three viewing platforms to gain a truly panoramic view of Marquette and its surrounding areas. Follow the “difficult” path for a short 15-20 minutes hike with steep inclines traversing rocky and root-filled terrain. Take the “easy” path for a longer, more simple hike over boardwalks and several staircases.
This is a family-friendly hike suitable for kids. Search for “Sugarloaf Parking Lot” in your GPS, and it will take you right there.
5. Mount Marquette
This 1,200ft mountain is a popular scenic outlook that offers an expansive view of historic Marquette’s cityscape and Superior shoreline. Mt. Marquette is accessible by car, hike, or mountain biking!
Yes, there is a road that goes right up to the top of the mountain, so don’t fret if you just want a nice view without sweating. If you do want to hike or bike, here is more information and directions to the trailhead. Otherwise, here are directions for your GPS to get to the top by car.
6. Dead River Falls
The Dead River Falls is easily one of the best waterfall adventures that the UP has to offer. A set of sudden plunges in a rocky gorge about a half-mile in length sits just outside of Marquette off of Forestville Road.
The river drops about 90 feet in total throughout the cascading falls, making it a destination that is accessible and incredibly scenic. Here is a link to more information and directions to the trail.
7. Noquemanon Trail Network
If you’re looking to get active in the peace and wonder of nature, check out the options on the NTN.
In the summer, you can mountain bike, go trail running, and hiking along over 80 miles of single-track trail between Big Bay and Munising. In the winter, they have groomed cross-country ski trails!
Check out the NTN website here for more information. They also own a campground located at the Forestville Trailhead with 25 campsites.
8. Float/Canoe the Autrain River
For a fun sunny-weather activity, take a ride down the Au Train River, located roughly 30 minutes east of Marquette up M-28.
Rent a canoe or kayak from Northwoods Canoe & Kayak Rentals located right on the river. There is a parking lot at the end of the float, and after you have your vessel, Northwoods will shuttle you up to the starting point.
The 7.5-mile lazy river route meanders through the Hiawatha National Forest and usually takes about 3 hours. Of course, the pace is totally up to you! Take your time drinking with your friends, stop for some swimming, pull off for a picnic, or take a ride on the rope swing – the options are endless.
Northwoods is open until 9am – 9pm, so you have plenty of time to enjoy the ride! Book your reservation or view rental rates on the Northwoods Canoe website.
9. Eat At A Delicious Restaurant
Marquette has many yummy places to eat. When I go back home, I always plan out what restaurants I’m going to eat at weeks in advance.
My personal favorites are Lagniappe, Border Grill, and Iron Bay. If you need more ideas or information, here are The 10 Best Dine-In Restaurants In Marquette and The 10 Best Takeout Restaurants In Marquette.
10. Brewery Hop
Marquette has truly become the brewery hot-spot in the UP within the last decade. I plan on writing a more in-depth article about breweries in Marquette, but for now, here is a list of where you can hop to:
– Blackrocks Brewery
– Ore Dock Brewing Co.
– Barrel & Beam
– The Vierling
– Iron Bay Taproom (call for hours, as they may be affected by the pandemic)
11. Have a Picnic
Picnicking is one of the easiest and most enjoyable activities you can do in Marquette! With so much public green space in the area, the options for scenery, landscape, and amenities are endless.
My favorite places for a picnic are McCarty’s Cove beach, The Lower Harbor Park, Little Presque Isle Beach, and the top of Hogback Mountain.
If you’re looking to make your own food or grab some healthy snacks, check out the Marquette Food Co-op for yummy organic options. If you’d rather just pick something up premade, check out our list of the 10 Best Takeout Restaurants in Marquette for some easy and yummy options!
12. Shop Around Downtown
Downtown Marquette has a multitude of amazing small businesses and shops to peruse. My personal favorite shops are Boomerang Retro & Relics, a retro clothing and home goods store, Snowbound Books, a new and used bookstore, and Madgoodies Studio, an art store that features art and jewelry from local artists.
Depending on what your interests are, there’s something for everyone! For a complete list of shops and businesses in downtown Marquette, check out this list.
13. Go To The Beach
There are many beaches around Marquette! Keep in mind that Lake Superior is the coldest of the Great Lakes, and even if you decide to go to the beach, you may not want to be in the water very long.
Pack a book, picnic, or just lay out in the sun and go for a quick dip when you get too hot – at least that’s what I usually do!
Here is a list of beaches in Marquette with their location (click for GPS directions):
– McCarty’s Cove (1/2 mile east of Lower Harbor on Lakeshore Blvd.)
– South Beach (off S. Lake Street running adjacent to US 41 on the way out to Harvey)
– Hidden Beach (between Wetmore Landing and Little Presque on CR-550)
– M28 Beaches (on M-28 toward Munising, there are several scenic turnouts with access to sandy beaches)
– Clark Lambros Beach (on Lakeshore Blvd. before you get to The Island)
– Little Presque (on CR-550 3 miles past the Sugarloaf Parking Lot)
14. Go Mountain Biking
There are many trails to mountain bike in the Marquette area, and a ton of places to rent mountain bikes from. As mentioned above, the Noquemanon Trail Network has over 80 miles of trails, there are some trails out at Harlow Lake (near Hogback Mountain), and the ski hill has trails to ride on.
For more info, ask one of the following bike shops for the lowdown! These are also the shops where you can rent mountain bikes:
– MQT Bike Rentals
– Marquette Mountain
– Lakeshore Bike (due to lack of inventory, no mountain bikes available to rent during 2021)
– Sports Rack Marquette (due to the pandemic, they are not offering rentals for 2021)
– Quick Stop Bike Shop (due to the pandemic, they are not offering rentals for 2021)
15. Go Regular Biking
Marquette has an amazing network of bike paths, in addition to a bike-friendly downtown area. Here is a map of the bike paths around Marquette (called multi-use paths because you can also walk, scooter, rollerblade, etc. on them!).
If you are looking to rent a regular pavement bike, here are some options:
– MQT Bike Rentals
– Lakeshore Bike
– Sports Rack Marquette (due to the pandemic, they are not offering rentals for 2021)
– Quick Stop Bike Shop (due to the pandemic, they are not offering rentals for 2021)
16. Hike Hogback Mountain
Not far away from Sugarloaf on the other side of CR 550, is a longer, more difficult hike up Hogback Mountain.
There are several trails up to the summit, but whichever one you take, make sure to keep track of the trail markers. It is admittedly (from experience) easy to take a wrong turn.
After a short bit of scrambling to reach the summit, enjoy some more unobstructed 360-degree views of Marquette. There is a nice rock ledge to hang your legs off of and enjoy a picnic or a summit beer while taking in the beautiful scenery. Here is a link to more information and directions to the trail.
17. Little Presque
Little Presque is a beautiful DNR-managed natural area located off of CR-550 on the way to Big Bay. There are hiking trails, miles of sandy beach, rocky cliffs and outcrops, and an island to explore!
Wade out to Little Presque Isle through waist to chest high water (depends on how tall you are). Hike around the island on several trails, and if you’re feeling adventurous, go cliff-jumping off of the rock ledges on Little Presque’s far side (if it’s a warm day, people are bound to be there, so just ask if you can’t find it!).
There are several museums in Marquette that you should definitely check out – I won’t go into too much detail here, but below is a list with a link to each website and a short description.
Marquette Regional History Museum – History museum of Marquette County and the UP with interactive and immersive exhibits. Great for both kids and adults!
UP Children’s Museum – A hands-on children’s museum with fun and playful displays. One of my favorite places to go as a kid! If you have kids, this is a great place to take them.
Devos Art Museum – A regional art museum of the Upper Peninsula showcasing both students’ and professional artists’ exhibits and work.
Marquette Maritime Museum – The Marquette Maritime Museum protects and preserves the maritime history of Marquette, Lake Superior, and all the Great Lakes, and honors submarine veterans.
19. Escape Marquette
Perfect for a rainy day, Escape Marquette is a great place to bring a group of people to put their minds to the test! You and your group will be put in a room where you must use logic and critical thinking to decipher clues and escape within 60 minutes. Check out their website for more info.
20. Marquette Mountain
Marquette Mountain is a ski hill in town, and apart from the obvious winter offerings of downhill skiing and snowboarding, they offer many summer activities as well. You can go mountain biking, volleyball court rentals, rock climbing, and hiking.
**Please note that Marquette Mountain is private property, and you must purchase a pass in order to use their trails. You can choose to include a chairlift ride with your pass that will bring you to the top of their hills with or without your bike! Check out their website for more info.
21. Live Music
There are many opportunities to experience live music in Marquette. My favorite venue is Ore Dock Brewing (click here for their live music schedule), however you should also see what is happening at Black Rocks Brewing, Flanigans, DIGS, Yoop-Phoria (yes, a frozen yogurt store!), and the bandshell on Presque Isle.
22. Disc Golf
There are 2 disc golf courses in the immediate Marquette vicinity, with 2 other courses a little bit farther out in Negaunee and Ishpeming.
Powder Mill Disc Golf is located at the Kaufman Sports Complex on the north side of town. Silver Creek Disc Golf Course is in Harvey near Silver Creek Church. Both courses have 18 holes and you will need to bring your own discs!
There are many festivals that take place in Marquette throughout the summer – many of which take over Lower Harbor Park with their setup. Of course, in order to attend one of these fests, you’ll need to be in town on certain dates.
Below are the festivals that take place, their usual timeframe of occurrence, and their website so you can verify dates and costs.
Food Fest – 3-4 days including July 4th at Lower Harbor
Blues Fest – Labor Day weekend at Lower Harbor
HarborFest – a weekend in middle to late August at Lower Harbor
Art on the Rocks – a weekend in late July at Lower Harbor
Outback Art Festival – a weekend in late July at Picnic Rocks
UP Beer Fest – second or third Saturday in September at Lower Harbor
Blueberry Fest – a weekend in late July on Washington Street downtown
Hiawatha Music Fest – a weekend in mid-July at Tourist Park
Fresh Coast Film Fest – mid-October at various venues around Marquette
24. See A Show At Lake Superior Theater
Lake Superior Theater puts on musicals and plays in a large boathouse located directly adjacent to the Lower Harbor Marina on Lake Superior every summer.
LST showcases local actors and musicians in both popular and lesser-known performances. Check out their schedule and buy tickets for a show online here.
25. Hot Plate
Going to Hot Plate was a childhood favorite treat of mine! This is a paint-your-own pottery studio where they supply the pottery and painting supplies, and then they kiln-fire it for you.
I’ve made some awesome gifts for people throughout the years and had a ton of fun doing it. You can even bring your own beer or wine to sip on while you paint.
It does take a week for your pieces to be done firing, but per their website, you can ask for a rush if you’re only visiting for a short time. Book a reservation on their website here.
Ever been to a free 24-hour sculpture park? Well, here’s your chance!
Lakenenland Sculpture Park has over 100 sculptures made from scrap iron. In addition to the sculptures, you’ll find a bog walk, a picnic ground, two entertainment stages, a playground, two fishing ponds, and a massive framed timber pavilion with a fireplace.
27. Superior Dome
The Dome (for short) is listed in the 2010 Guinness Book of World Records as the largest wooden dome structure in the world! It stands 14 stories high and encompasses 5.1 acres under its roof.
The Dome is home to the NMU football, soccer, and track teams, and is often open for walking to the public. Even if you don’t have anything to do at The Dome, it’s worth taking a look inside – it is a very cool structure to see in person. Check here for more info, hours, and accessibility.
28. Get Ice Cream
Ever heard of Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream? It’s an area favorite ice cream flavor that (as the name suggests) has chunks of famous Mackinac Island chocolate fudge.
Jilbert Dairy makes the ice cream and has its store in Marquette. Go check out the giant cow while you eat your regular, peanut butter, mint, or amaretto cherry-flavored Mackinac Island fudge ice cream cone.
29. Walk A Break Wall
There are two break walls in Marquette – one by the Lower Harbor and one by the Upper Harbor. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a break wall is designed to protect coastal land from the battering of waves – in this case, both break walls are protecting marinas from the giant storm waves of Lake Superior.
When the weather is nice, it’s possible to walk to the end of the break walls! It’s a very unique experience and gives you a neat view of Marquette and Lake Superior that you can’t get anywhere else in town.
Please do not venture on the walls if there is any kind of weather occurring – it can be extremely dangerous. Even on nice days, the break walls will be windier than on shore, so I suggest bringing a sweatshirt or jacket.
30. Lower Harbor
The Ellwood A Mattson Lower Harbor Park (more commonly referred to as “The Lower Harbor”) is a 22-acre grassy area with a large kids castle playground, a bike path, bathrooms, an ice cream/concessions stand, and a boat ramp.
This is a great place to take the kids, have a picnic, play frisbee, or just hang out in the grass for the day. It is also the site of many festivals mentioned above including the Food Fest, Blues Fest, and Beer Fest.
31. Waterfall Tour
Did you know there are several waterfalls in Marquette and its surrounding towns? If you don’t mind driving a bit, go on a waterfall tour throughout the Marquette area!
Here is a map with directions and coordinates to 12 waterfalls within a one-hour driving distance of downtown. Somehow I’ve only been to a couple of these spots, so I recommend doing more research on which falls you choose to see. Make sure you have a good understanding of the length and difficulty of the hike (if any) to see each.
32. Farmers Market
The Downtown Marquette Farmers Market operates right downtown (imagine that) at the Marquette Commons. They operate May – October outside, where vendors set up tents, and November – December is held inside the Commons building.
At the market, you’ll find organic farms offering produce, meat, eggs, dairy, wool, cut flowers, landscaping plants, fresh herbs, and mushrooms. Additionally, look for vendors selling bread, other baked goods, candles, CBD products, coffee, beer, kombucha, handmade jewelry, artisan pottery, and home decor.
For a complete list of vendors and dates, visit the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market website.
33. Grab some coffee
In recent years, the coffee scene in Marquette has seen a huge boom. There are now five non-chain coffee shops located downtown, in addition to several other bakeries that offer great coffee with their food offerings.
There’s nothing better than reading in a coffee shop on a rainy day or having a long chat with a good friend over a nice latte. Here are the websites for your coffee shop options:
– Contrast Coffee Co.
– Velodrome Coffee Co.
– Dead River Coffee Roasters
– Cafe Allenatore
– The Crib
34. Food Truck Hop
Food trucks have gotten quite popular in Marquette in the past few years. Many schedule themselves at different breweries around town, so if there’s one you’re interested in, definitely check out their website to see where they’ll be located!
– The Burger Bus
– Dia De Los Tacos
– Fish Express
– Manny Mags Mexican Food
– G’s Pizzeria & Deli
Marquette has some amazingly scenic golf courses! Seriously, if you like to golf, I highly suggest playing a round on Greywalls – it has some of the best views in all of Marquette.
Unfortunately, Greywalls is definitely the most expensive in the area, so if you need something more affordable, there is Heritage (at the same location as Greywalls), Gentz’s, and the NMU Golf Course.
Bowling is fun! Not much needs to be said here. Go to Superior Lanes Entertainment Center for 10-pin bowling, food, beer, and arcade games. Perfect for a rainy day with the family. Go to their website for hours and rates.
37. Have A Beach Bonfire
There are a couple of scenic turnouts on M-28 along Lake Superior that are excellent for beach bonfires.
This stretch of beach is usually not busy, and even if it is, it’s so expansive that there’s enough room for everyone to have their private section of beach.
Set up for the afternoon or evening with your group of people, some beach games, a fire, drinks, and s’mores and you’re bound to have a great night! Of course, you will need to bring your own locally sourced firewood.