Lake Superior is one of the “Great Lakes” of North America.
There are 5 lakes that make up the Great Lakes.
And one of the Great Lakes is Lake Superior.
Lake Superior touches 3 states in the United States (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota) and 1 province in Canada (Ontario).
The list below will focus on things to do as you are driving along Lake Superior in Michigan!
A trip to Lake Superior in Michigan means a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Lake Superior can be a perfect part of an Upper Peninsula Michigan road trip.
And in fact, it would be perfect to make Lake Superior the focus of your trip to the Upper Peninsula!
Here are the quick lists if you’re looking for something specific to do around Lake Superior:
More below about stops to make when you’re doing a drive along Lake Superior!
IMPORTANT: If you're going camping, read about Michigan's campfire warning!
There are many videos below. If you can’t see them, you can watch the Lake Superior video playlist on youtube.
Lake Superior road trip: Things to do along Lake Superior in Michigan
This list will generally go from east to west.
So you will start from the eastern side of the Upper Peninsula.
And then it will be a drive west along Lake Superior towards Wisconsin to the western side of the Upper Peninsula.
1. Soo Locks
Sault St Marie is located at the US – Canada border, and this is where the Soo Locks are located. (The “Sault” in Sault St Marie = “soo”)
The Soo Locks is considered a great engineering feat, called the “lynchpin of the Great Lakes,” connecting the Great Lakes of Lake Huron and Lake Superior. This allows for big ships to pass through the narrow waterway.
This also means Sault St Marie is one end of Lake Superior.
The Soo Locks is also designated as a National Historic Landmark, as designated by the US Department of Interior and National Park Service.
See the current status of the observation deck before you go. Even if the observation deck is closed, you can see the Soo Locks from ground level.
2. Brimley State Park
Brimley State Park has a beach that allows for swimming in Lake Superior.
There is also the Brimley State Park campground, and will be a short walk to the beach. You can also catch the sunset on Lake Superior a short walk from your campsite!
This is one of the many campgrounds near Lake Superior.
See more about this Lake Superior activity: Brimley State Park
3. Point Iroquois Lighthouse
If you’re looking for a nice stroll alongside a lake, the Point Iroquois Lighthouse on Lake Superior is another place to consider visiting!
This is one of the many lighthouses near Lake Superior.
There’s a boardwalk that leads to some benches where you can sit with great views of the lake.
See more about this Lake Superior activity: Point Iroquois Lighthouse
4. Whitefish Point
You can make a visit to Whitefish Point on Lake Superior a quick stop to go and check out the Lake Superior beach here, or you can easily spend several hours here.
This area has also been called the “Graveyard of Lake Superior” or the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes.” It’s said that there have been over 500 shipwrecks in this area.
The day I went to Whitefish Point, it sure seemed to give the mood of this!
It was a gloomy day with choppy water, and you could imagine how the waters of Lake Superior may not be so kind.
So, what is there to do at Whitefish Point?
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is here, which you could take your time going through and spend 1-2 hours.
On the same grounds is also the Whitefish Point Lighthouse which you can also walk through.
And then you can spend as little or as much time going for a leisurely stroll along the shores of Lake Superior.
You’ll see a lot of driftwood on the beach. You can walk for 15 minutes, or you could go for a 1 hour beach walk!
This is also known as a beach to search for agate stones and you will likely see people looking closely at rocks.
This means you can find many colorful rocks here.
The cost of entry to the museum and lighthouse $14 per person. See current prices. No cost for parking or to visit the beach!
See more about this Lake Superior activity: Whitefish Point
5. Vermilion Point
You may consider visiting Vermilion Point for a quieter experience.
This is also on the shores of Lake Superior and you can get a somewhat similar experience as the Lake Superior shoreline at Whitefish Point, but there will be far less people here.
At the Vermilion Point beach you’ll also find driftwood and colorful rocks, and you can seemingly walk for miles.
This was also the location of a US lifesaving station, which was the equivalent of the US coast guard, also looking out onto the waters of Lake Superior.
This Vermilion Point lifesaving station is now in a state of disrepair, but the building is still standing.
This is a part of the Vermilion Point Nature Preserve.
There are smaller sand dunes to be seen here.
It’s a dirt road to get back to the shores of Vermilion Point.
See more about this Lake Superior activity: Vermilion Point
6. Crisp Point Lighthouse
For another lighthouse to visit along Lake Superior, there is the Crisp Point Lighthouse!
Here you will get more scenic views of Lake Superior, beaches on both sides of the lighthouse, and another chance to search for colorful rocks.
You’ll also take a dirt road to get here.
See more about this Lake Superior activity: Crisp Point Lighthouse
7. Grand Marais Truck Trail
The Grand Marais Truck Trail is a gravel road that goes right along Lake Superior in part, and you’ll find a number of access points where you can walk down to the Lake Superior shoreline!
If you’ll be driving from Tahquamenon Falls to Pictured Rocks, you may consider a slight detour to drive along the Grand Marais Truck Trail.
See more about this Lake Superior activity: Grand Marais Truck Trail
8. Grand Marais MI
Grand Marais MI can be considered a small gateway town of Pictured Rocks. From the town of Grand Marais to the Pictured Rocks entrance is less than a 5 minute drive.
Grand Marais is located directly on Lake Superior.
You can take a walk out on the Grand Marais outer harbor pier for vast views of Lake Superior.
There is also a beach here where you may be able to find colorful rocks.
Depending on where you’re coming from, google maps may route you through Grand Marais.
And if it doesn’t, you may want to route yourself through Grand Marais if you’re looking for some quieter stops on your drive through the Upper Peninsula!
You can make Grand Marais a quick stop on your way to Pictured Rocks, or you can stay for 1-2 hours.
See more about this Lake Superior activity: Things to do in Grand Marais MI
9. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
And 2 of the 3 national lakeshores are along Lake Superior!
Aside from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, there is Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin.
So as a national lakeshore, there are tons of spots for scenic spots in Pictured Rocks!
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is best known for its cliffs.
You can see the Pictured Rocks cliffs by boat and sea kayak.
You can also see the cliffs by foot by hiking the Chapel Loop Trail.
You can hike part of the Chapel Loop Trail to see the Chapel Rock that has a tree growing on it.
If you’re after hiking trails that come with Lake Superior views, be sure to see the list of best hikes in Pictured Rocks.
Looking for colorful agate stones is a thing on the shores of Lake Superior, and you can do this in Pictured Rocks too.
But this is just for looking! As a type of national park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a protected area which means not taking anything, including rocks.
See more about this Lake Superior activity: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
10. Marquette MI
Marquette MI is biggest city in the UP.
And that is where you will find the Sugarloaf Mountain Natural Area for a hike that comes with amazing views of Lake Superior.
And Marquette is also where you will find Presque Isle Park for more amazing views of Lake Superior.
11. Keweenaw Peninsula
This is more of an “off-beat” UP spot, as not as many people get up to the Keweenaw Peninsula compared to other places in the UP.
Copper Harbor is the city that’s located at the far northern tip of the UP (and far northern tip of Michigan).
For nature and incredible Lake Superior views, you can go to Devil’s Washtub.
You can also go to Hunters Point Park for a red sand beach with red rocks.
The Brockway Mountain overlook is another good spot for Lake Superior views.
The area is also “Copper Country” and there are many spots around the Keweenaw Peninsula where you can learn about the former big copper industry of the region, including through visits to places that are a part of the Keweenaw Heritage Trail and Keweenaw National Historical Park.
See more about this Lake Superior activity: Keweenaw Peninsula
12. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Now this is the far western Upper Peninsula, getting close to Wisconsin.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is located directly along Lake Superior.
There’s also the Union Bay campground where it’s possible to get a campsite right along Lake Superior.
There are also backcountry campsites and backcountry cabins located near Lake Superior too. See about camping in the Porcupine Mountains for more about both.
And then aside from Lake Superior, one of the best hikes in the Porcupine Mountains is hiking along a ridgeline for views!
See more about this Lake Superior activity: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
And those are some ideas for your Lake Superior road trip!
Plan more for a trip to the Great Lakes in Michigan beyond Lake Superior:
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
- Muskegon State Park
- Hoffmaster State Park camping
- South Haven beach town
More of the Great Lakes beyond Michigan:
HAPPY DRIVING TO LAKE SUPERIOR!
The most important places in the UP to know about are Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and the bubbling Big Spring of Kitch-iti-kipi.
Make it a Michigan camping trip to remember by going camping near Lake Superior.
Lighthouses are also a thing, so stop by one of the Lake Superior lighthouses (or many more!), like Whitefish Point and/or Crisp Point. You can also go to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum to explore why Lake Superior has a reputation for being Shipwreck Coast and the Graveyard of the Great Lakes.
Many people don't make it over to the western part of the Upper Peninsula. But if you want to, you will want to know about Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Then, on your way back down south, you can make a detour to go to Mackinac Island (ferry required) or Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. (Or, you can do these things on your way up north!)
Read the details: Best places to visit in the Upper Peninsula
Take care when camping!
Message from the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources:
Michigan is currently experiencing unprecedented hot and dry conditions, causing extreme fire danger.
While we desperately await some much-needed rainfall, it's important to note that you could be the difference between a campfire and a wildfire.
We strongly suggest you refrain from any outdoor burning at this time.
If you do decide to have a campfire, be sure to:
- Keep a water source next to your campfire.
- Properly extinguish your campfire when you are finished by dousing with water and stirring dirt in with a shovel.
- Use the back of your hand to detect if heat is still coming from the fire or ring. If you can feel heat, the fire is not out. Douse and stir again.
- Spray down the metal ring of your campfire. The heat from that can cause dry grass to catch fire.
- Never leave your fire unattended, not even for a minute.
Read more from the State of Michigan.
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