The Best Places to Visit on Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes and the largest freshwater lake in the world. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin share its southern shore, and the arrowhead of Minnesota is on the western side of the lake. Ontario, Canada, borders the rest of the lake. Lake Superior offers so much to see and do all around it. Let us take a circle tour of the best places to visit on Lake Superior.
Did You Know?
Lake Superior contains 10% of the world's fresh water!
Best Places in Michigan to Visit on Lake SuperiorClick thumbnail to view full-size
Visit the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan is an engineering marvel. The locks opened up Lake Superior to the world. They allow ships to travel around the 21 foot drop from Lake Superior to Lake Huron. The State of Michigan built the locks in 1855 and operated them until 1881. The state charged $0.04 per ton until 1877 and then reduced it to $0.03 per ton. The U.S. Federal Government took control in 1881 and tasked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with operating it. The Soo Locks have been free ever since. The locks have close to a million visitors each year. There is an observation platform allowing visitors a close up look at the large cargo ships passing through the locks. The Soo Locks are a must-see on Lake Superior.
Fun Soo Locks Facts:
- 90% of the iron ore in the world passes through the locks.
- Soo Locks are 100% gravity fed and do not rely on pumps.
- One 1,000 foot freighter equals 584 train cars to move the same freight.
- The locks close down each year between January 15th through March 25th for repairs.
Visit Whitefish Point, Michigan
Whitefish Point offers incredible views of Lake Superior. It juts out into the lake and marks the entry point to Whitefish Bay. It is home to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and close to one of the best waterfalls east of the Mississippi. Below is a closer look at both of those places.
Visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point gives visitors a chance to learn about the shipwrecks that have happened over the years and also about the life-saving devices. It has become a popular tourist destination. The most famous wreck was the Edmund Fitzgerald. The museum has the bell from the ship on display. The museum campus is home to the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior.
Hike to Upper Tahquamenon Falls
Upper Tahquamenon Falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. It is about 50 feet high and 200 feet wide. It is a short 0.4-mile hike to the viewing area. There is also a 4-mile trail leading to the Lower Falls. Tahquamenon Falls is a beautiful waterfall especially during the fall when the leaves are at peak color. I highly recommend visiting Tahquamenon Falls, which is about 20 miles southwest of Whitefish Point near Paradise, Michigan.
Visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a paradise for outdoor lovers. It is 42 miles long and bookended by Grand Marais to the east and Munising to the West. It is known for multicolored, towering sandstone cliffs. Pictured Rocks offers close to 100 miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, untamed Lake Superior Beaches, streams, kayaking, birding, cross-country skiing, beautiful fall colors, and much more. I recommend taking a Pictured Rocks sunset cruise and enjoying the beauty of God's creation. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a must see.
Visit Presque Isle Park in Marquette, Michigan
Presque Isle Park in Marquette is pristine in its beauty. It is a forested 323-acre park on a peninsula that offers tremendous views of Lake Superior. Landscape architect Fredrick Olmsted, famous for his role in designing Central Park in New York City, visited Marquette in 1891. Marquette city architects asked him to take a look at a peninsula north of town to turn it into a park. Fredrick offered a three-word answer: "Don't touch it."
Presque Isle offers visitors the opportunity to hike, view wildlife, bike, and visit Sunset Point to catch the sun setting over Lake Superior. One unique thing to try on a hot summer afternoon is cliff diving off of Blackrocks. It is about a 10- to 15-foot jump into frigid Lake Superior. It is such a great park.
Visit the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan
The Keweenaw Peninsula offers beauty. It offers old-growth forests, waterfalls, rivers, and amazing views of Lake Superior to name a few things. Enjoy a scenic autumn color drive that is unmatched in beauty or a boat ride out to Isle Royal National Park. The Keweenaw Peninsula has something to see for everyone.
Take a Scenic Drive on the Keweenaw Peninsula
The Keweenaw Peninsula offers several great scenic drives. Each of them shows off the beauty of the Keweenaw Peninsula. In the fall, there is no better place to be to see amazing colored trees. The scenic Covered Drive runs between Delaware and Copper Harbor on US-41. It is the best fall color road.
Brockway Mountain Drive is a 9.5-mile scenic drive off of M-26 that runs between Copper Harbor and Eagle River. It is the highest drive above sea level between the Alleghenies and the Rockies. The views of Lake Superior are breathtaking as are the sunsets.
Sand Dune Drive is part of M-26 that runs between Eagle River and Eagle Harbor. This scenic drive offers views of Lake Superior and its sandy shoreline. South Shore Drive runs along the southern portion of the Keweenaw Peninsula. It allows visitors to see the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula sticking out into Lake Superior. It also offers gorgeous views of Bare Bluff, which is a must see in the fall.
I recommend making a day of it and enjoying all of these scenic drives.
Visit Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park is a great place to get away from the rat race of life and enjoy the quiet solitude of a remote island. It is a tremendously beautiful place and offers opportunities to hike, backpack, camp, kayak, and more. Isle Royale gives visitors a chance to see moose in their natural habitat. Gray wolves have recently been introduced to the island to help control the moose population.
The island is only reachable by ferry or seaplane. Isle Royale National Park ferries leave from Houghton and Copper Harbor in Michigan and from Grand Portage in Minnesota. Visitors have the opportunity to make a day trip or to spend one or more nights on the island. Isle Royale is amazing.
Explore Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is one of the best places to visit on Lake Superior. At close to 60,000 acres, it is the largest state park in Michigan and offers views that are not found anywhere else in the Midwest.
The park offers miles of Lake Superior shoreline, numerous hiking trails, all kinds of rivers and streams, waterfalls, and pristine forest. The most popular spots include Lake of the Clouds, Porcupine Mountains Ski Area, and the area around the beautiful Presque Isle River. It is a great place to go to enjoy the solitude of God's creation. I highly recommend a visit here.
Best Place in Wisconsin to Visit on Lake SuperiorClick thumbnail to view full-size
Visit the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a great place to explore. It consists of 21 islands and about 12 miles of shoreline on the mainland. One of the top things to do is to check out the sea caves either by boat or kayak. In the winter, the caves turn into beautiful ice caves.
The Apostle Islands are also a great place to scuba dive because the water is clear. Divers like this area because of the interesting underwater rock formations and a couple of shipwrecks that are worth checking out. Visitors can also hike, kayak, camp, or take in the beautiful windswept sandstone cliffs. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is an awe-inspiring place.
Best Places in Minnesota to Visit on Lake SuperiorClick thumbnail to view full-size
Visit Duluth, Minnesota
Duluth is the second largest city on Lake Superior and a fun place to visit. The Aerial Lift Bridge is the most iconic sight in the city. In the summer months, the bridge lifts about 26 times a day to allow giant iron ore ships, sailboats, etc. to pass underneath. It is a marvel of engineering know how. The Skyline Parkway is another popular attraction that offers tremendous views of the city and Lake Superior. The Duluth Lakewalk is a beautiful opportunity to stroll along the lake shore and enjoy the beautiful sights. Another great place to check out is the Enger Tower, which is over 530 feet above Lake Superior. It offers incredible views of the city and lake. Duluth is a destination in and of itself.
Visit Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota
Photographers flock to the Split Rock Lighthouse which is perched high on a cliff overlooking beautiful Lake Superior. I recommend taking at least several of the hiking trails to see the lighthouse from different places. The fall is a great time to come with the temperatures cooling off and the leaves exploding in color. Split Rock Lighthouse is a must-see.
Best Places in Ontario, Canada, to Visit on Lake SuperiorClick thumbnail to view full-size
Visit Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay is an incredible place. It offers spectacular views of Lake Superior. It is a great place to go hiking, birding, camping, kayaking, boating, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing. The Top of the Giant Trail and Thunder Bay Lookout offer the best views of Lake Superior and the surrounding area. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is stunning.
Lake Superior Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada
Lake Superior Provincial Park offers many things to see and do. The park is home to the Agawa Rock Pictographs, which are accessible by foot when Lake Superior is calm. There are about 35 visible red ochre images. It is also a great place for trout fishing, hiking, kayaking, and camping. Another major attraction is the fall colors each year.
Don't Miss a Chance to Visit Lake Superior
Lake Superior is amazing. There are so many cool places to visit along its shores. It makes me long for summer so I can go back and explore more.
U.S. Places to Visit on Lake Superior Map
Best Places to Visit in Canada on Lake Superior Map
© 2019 Eric Cramer