We spent a month exploring Michigan’s upper peninsula. And Manistique was the last stop on our journey. It was a great end to the trip because the town was a perfect blend of things to do and also relaxing enough to enjoy our beautiful campsite on Lake Michigan. So I hope this small town makes the list on your UP travels!
1. Manistique Visitor Center
The visitor center is always a good place to start when visiting a new place. The Manistique Tourism Council is located at 1000 W. Lakeshore Drive. So make sure to stop in and grab some brochures and get your picture taken with the Paul Bunyan statue.
2. Enjoy the views at The Big Spring
The Big Spring, called Kitch-iti-kipi is located at Palms Brook State Park and is something you don’t want to miss, as it is one of the best things to do in Manistique. Open daily and all year long from 8AM to 10PM. I would suggest arriving early in the summer months, before 10AM or after 5PM to miss the crowds. You can easily spend an hour or two just viewing the spring, learning about the history, walking around the property and browsing the gift shop, so make sure to give yourself enough time when you visit.
How to see The Big Spring
To really enjoy the spring, you will want to ride the observation raft that floats over it. The raft is more of a floating wooden platform that is operated by a pulley system that takes you across the spring. The water is so clear you can easily see down 45 feet as you move across the water and watch as gallons of clear water gush from the bottom. The spring flows at the rate of more than 10,000 gallons of water per minute and is a constant temperature of 45 degrees fahrenheit.
You will also see lake trout, brown trout and brook trout swimming around the water. They move freely from the The Big Spring to Indian Lake. You might also notice some fish have a clipped fin, this is something the hatchery does so you can identify wild from hatchery raised fish.
The only way you can view the big spring is on the observation raft. Swimming, snorkeling or diving are not permitted in the spring. It’s a beautiful float across the spring, we actually went across twice, so enjoy it!
3. Outdoor Recreation at Indian Lake State Park
The state park is located about 4 miles west from the town of Manistique and Indian Lake is the 4th largest inland lake in Michigan’s upper peninsula. According to records, Indians lived in log cabins near the outlet of the lake, and probably the reason Indian Lake has its name.
The state park offers camping with a swim beach, a beach house , boat ramp, horseshoe pits and volleyball court.
The area around the lake offers endless recreational opportunities:
- Hiawatha National Forest offers hunting, fishing, canoeing, hiking, snowmobiling and cross country skiing.
- The Seney National Wildlife refuge is great for bird watching and wildlife viewing.
- The mouth of the Manistique river is a hot spot for salmon and steelhead fishing.
4. Manistique Boardwalk
Enjoy a nice walk along the north shore of Lake Michigan on the Manistique boardwalk and river walk. The walkway extends 1.83 miles and has parking areas on both ends. On the walkway you have access to the fishing pier, picnic area, nature and wildlife viewing and the east breakwater light. The boardwalk is great way for you to get some exercise and enjoy the views. Just note, this path is only for pedestrians, as bicycles are not permitted on the trail.
5. Walk to the East Breakwater Light
The Manistique Breakwater Lighthouse is located off the boardwalk in the Manistique Harbor. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Its a nice walk along the pier to get to the lighthouse. Enjoy the views and capture a great photo at sunset when the red lighthouse catches the sunlight just right.
6. Stroll Around the Social District
Manistique was the first district in the UP to launch a Social District. The Social District allows you to stroll around a designated area downtown with an alcoholic beverage. You can explore the area, listen to music or wait for your dinning table, all within the common areas of the district. Check the website for participating restaurants. https://www.discovermanistique.com/socialdistrict
7. Catch a Fish at Manistique Lake
If you enjoy fishing then this is your place! Manistique lake is one of six lakes that make up the largest lake complex in the upper peninsula. Wish a variety of fish species, you can expect world class trophy fishing from these lakes.
8. Seul Choix Point Lighthouse
With more than 40 lighthouses in Michigan’s upper peninsula, you can add another lighthouse to visit while in Manistique. The Seul Choix Point Lighthouse is located about 20 minutes away is still fully operational. The museum and lighthouse tours are open seasonally from Memorial Day to mid October.
9. Try your luck at Kewadin casino
For a little gambling fun you can always visit the local casino.
10. Explore the Downtown Shopping Area
The downtown area of Manistique is small but full of charm. With a handful of restaurants and shop to visit, it is worth spending some time walking around.
Make sure to stop into The Mustard Seed and Bostique for some fun and unique finds.
11. Tour the Historic Buildings at Fayette State Park
Located about 30 minutes from Manistique you will find Fayette State Park and Historic Town. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this activity and it was probably our second favorite thing to do in Manistique.
We learned alot about this historic site and the once bustling industrial community. Snail Shell Harbor, located within the historic community was once one of the most productive iron-smelting operations in the upper peninsula. You can learn about the history of the town through guided tour and information at the visitor center. It was a unique experience to be able to tour all of the historic buildings. So make sure to allow a few hours up to half a day to walk around the property.
Also, don’t miss the scenic overlook trail. It’s a great place to get a birds eye view of the beautiful scenery of the property and the lake. Afterwards you can relax and enjoy a snack in the picnic areas and then head over to the gift shop.
The state park also offers RV camping and overnight and day use boating opportunities. Hours vary by season, so check in before you visit.
12. See the historic tall brick water tower
Visit the Schoolcraft county historical park and water tower. The tall brick tower was built in 1922. It’s an octagonal red brick structure standing 137 ft high and 38ft wide. It’s one of the most noticeable landmarks in town, so you can’t miss it when you drive by. Along with the tower you will find a museum and farmhouse to tour, all part of the Schoolcraft County Historical Society.
13. Thompson state fish hatchery
Just “follow the yellow fish road” on a self guided tour and you will learn all about the fish hatchery. Open daily from 7:30am to 3:30pm and its free. The hatchery produces Chinook salmon, steelhead and walleye for the great lakes waters.
The things of interest include: Educational information, short video about hatchery, a show pond and fish viewing in the outside buildings from September through May. It was informative and made me have a better appreciation for the process of restocking fish. It is an easy stop after visiting the natural spring at Kitch-iti-kipi.
14. Stay the night at Manistique Lakeshore Campgound
This campground was one of our favorite places to stay in all of the UP. It is located on and has direct access to the shores of Lake Michigan and if you book early enough, you can get a beautiful lake view spot. It is a very well maintained campground and is big rig friendly. If you are camping in the area, I would highly recommend Manistique Lakeshore Campground.
15. Enjoy a day of golf
With two courses to choose from, Garden & Stony Point Golf Clubs, both offer affordable rates for either 9 or 18 holes. And they are conveniently located just a few miles from downtown Manistique on Hwy 2.
16. A Great Place to Eat
One of our best meals in town was from the Upper Crest Deli & Bakery. Open daily for breakfast items, lunch and desserts. We all really enjoyed our sandwiches. Its a cute place on the water, so it has a nice view while sitting outside. Make sure to arrive at least 45 minutes before the closing time to get in your order, as they close promptly at closing time.
17. Day trips from Manistique
Visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
No trip to Michigan’s upper peninsula would be complete without visiting Munising and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior. The best way to see the sandstone cliffs is a boat tour. Thankfully there are a few to choose from. So, if you decide to visit Munising, this will be helpful: 20+ Best Things To Do In Munising Michigan
Drive over Mackinac Bridge and visit Mackinac Island
You most likely drove over the Mackinac Bridge at some point to get to the upper peninsula. But if not, you should consider driving over and a day trip to Mackinac Island. Its like no other place on earth!
19. See the Soo Locks in Sault Ste Marie
Watching the huge freighters pass through the Soo Locks is such an interesting experience. The boat tour is a must do while visiting. You can find out about it here: 20+ Best Things to do in Sault Ste Marie MI
20. Explore the largest city in the upper peninsula
If you are exploring many areas in the upper peninsula, you may want to consider Marquette. Its the largest city in the UP and is about 1.5 hours away. The lovely town has a charming downtown, lots to see and do and a beautiful shoreline of Lake Superior. The Best Things To Do In Marquette MI
All the reasons to visit Manistique
Whether Manisitque is your destination or you are stopping through on your way, Manistique will surprise you! So enjoy Manistique and the upper peninsula. It’s absolutely beautiful and so worth the trip so I hope you find this list of the best things to do in Manistique helpful. Please let me know and leave a comment below.