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Magnificent Munising, Michigan

Author: sightseeingsue
Date of Trip: March 2006

Munising is nestled on the south shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is about a 2 ½ hours drive from the Mackinaw Bridge. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the northern U.S., with superb views of the Bay from every glance. It’s a small town with a population of only around 2,500, but it boasts a wide array of different activities to keep any vacationer happy.

The Pictured Rocks Natural Shoreline can be found here and stretches out for 42 miles of shoreline ending near Grand Marias. Here you can view beautiful mineral stained cliffs in different formations, lighthouses, and waterfalls in this untouched paradise by boat, car, or by hiking trails. This area is also a wonderful place to go hiking and exploring the many majestic waterfalls they have to offer. Many are only a short walk away, and others are a nice hike in the woods.

The quaint little downtown has several nice and very reasonably priced restaurants. Some that can even be enjoyed while overlooking the bay. There are numerous hotel and resorts for travelers to stop at to rest their heads. If you prefer camping then you will not have to look far, as there is a great camping spot right in town and situated right on the shore of Lake Superior. You will be hard pressed to find another location with as beautiful of a view at any other campground.

If you want to try your luck at gambling, then a short 5-minute drive through the town of Christmas is all you will have to do to find the Kewandin Casino. Though this town has one of the most beautiful beaches only 10 minutes from town (Autrain Beach) it’s not too common for people to do much swimming in Lake Superior, as water temperatures usually don’t get warmer than 45ºF. There are rivers and streams that people find better suited for swimming in.

If fishing is your thing, then bring your boat or book a charter and be in for one of the best fishing experiences of your life. Whether you choose to fish for steelhead, salmon, or lake trout on the big lake, or you prefer trying your luck in one of the many inland lakes for walleye, bluegill, or bass, you will not be disappointed with your catch. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit Munising.

For Fishermen:
If you are in town for fishing you may need to purchase a Michigan state fishing license if you don’t already have one. License fees vary due to age and length of time required. So, the best way to find out about them is to pick up a free Fishing Guide found on many magazine racks around town. This guide will also list what time of year you are able to catch specific fish. Licenses can be bought at the two area Hardware Stores, Holiday Gas Station, or Hillside Party Store in town.

Pasties: Don’t miss an opportunity to try one of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’s favorite foods while in town. The pasty is a sort of portable beef stew, folded into a purse of pie dough, and baked to a rich, golden brown — it is oh-so yummy. A meal in itself. You can find these for sale at either Munising bakery or at several of the areas restaurants around town. A trip to Munising wouldn’t be the same without one.

Weather: Without checking the forecast, you will never be able to predict what temperature it will be while visiting Munising. Some times during the summer months the temps will be in the 90ºs, while other times hard pressed to reach 60ºF. One 4th of July, the temperatures started in the high 70ºs, and after a coldfront went by it dropped in to the 40ºs in a matter of minutes. Always pack a lot of clothes. In the winter months, expect lots of snow and to be cold. It didn’t get to be one of the Michigan’s premier snowmobiling cities for nothing! Some of the hotels in town now offer saunas to get the chill out from your bones.

And my best suggestion is don’t forget to bring your camera. This city is beautiful during every season, but especially in the summer months. When in the heart of downtown, Munising Bay will offers you spectacular postcard views from every glance.

Munising is located on Highway 28 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, on the shores of Munising Bay. It’s a 2½ hour drive from the Mackinaw Bridge, 6½ hours from Grand Rapids, or 8 hours from Detroit. The best way to get around town depends on the season. Snowmobiles rule the winter months, while cars with four-wheeled-drive are used in the other months.

The roads in town are paved, but you will definitely run across some dirt roads while exploring the area. Some are in good shape while others off the beaten- path are best used for dirt biking. The road crews are used to the heavy snow this town gets, so roads are usually in good driving condition even after a heavy snowstorm. This town is a breeze to get around in, but just remember to keep you eyes on the road when you drive as you may find yourself peeking out off into the bay…it’s that beautiful.

Au Train Beach

Au Train Beach is located off of Highway 2 on the shore of Lake Superior. Only 12 miles west of Munising and 9 miles from Christmas, it’s a great place to stop at while in the area. The beach is beautiful and the sand so clean and golden in color, it makes this trip worthwhile. You will not find a more beautiful place to spend a day lying on the beach and reading a book, playing a game of volleyball or Frisbee, or building sandcastles on the shore of the river or the lake.

Most people swim in the river, as the lake’s water usually doesn’t get warm enough for most. Even in the hot summer months, water temps are frequently around 45 to 50 degrees. The beach area is never very crowded, and it’s only a short walk from the parking area. This is a great place to spend a day at the beach.

Buckhorn

The Buckhorn restaurant/bar is a favorite among the locals and vacationer that come to town. The fresh lake perch is my favorite and is as good as it gets. This place sets deep in the woods between Munising and Wetmore and only a 10-minute drive from Munising. When driving to get here though you may think you are lost in the forest, but continue on into the woods a tad more ’till you finally run across this place. It’ll be worth it.

The Buckhorn offers nightly specials and the food tastes very homemade. The menu consists of just about everything; like sandwiches, steaks, pasta, and fresh fish. They offer a small salad bar with a few side salads that add to your meal. The meal and drink prices are astonishingly cheap, with none over $20. There is a bar with a pool table on one side of this joint, and the restaurant on the other side.

They are able to accommodate large groups, as we know this first hand, as we walked in with around 20 of so hungry people one evening. The waitress didn’t even get flustered by our mob and did a top-notch job of servicing us. Everyone received a satisfying meal, which ranged from spaghetti, to perch, and burgers. They even had a kiddies menu for the little tykes.

It’s a very casual atmosphere, so whatever you are wearing will go. They don’t offer a breakfast meal, and don’t open up until around lunchtime. And if my memory serves me, they are also closed on Mondays.

Another nice thing about this place is that it overlooks a small picturesque lake. Being seated in the back section overlooking the lake is the best spot in the house, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself gazing out the window getting lost in the moment if you are seated in this section.

Conclusion: If you want to find a nice relaxing place to eat a decent tasting and priced meal and aren’t afraid to drive a little off the beaten-path to get there, then I would definitely recommend this to you. Remember a couple things though; first don’t expect to be in a hurry as this is a true UP establishment…nobody’s ever in a hurry up there. And in the winter month’s people usually drive their snowmobiles to get here, as it’s near many popular snowmobile trails.

Kewadin Casino

This casino is not too old and built like a log cabin, so you will love the up-north feel to this place. It has a great little restaurant with wonderful sandwiches and snacks to fill you up. There are not too many machines or table games to choose from, but enough to enjoy yourself for a few hours. There is also a hotel next to the casino that offers great room rates and amenities.

Some of the hotels in the area offer casino packages, which give you a few tokens to play with once you come stay with them. It’s enticing and usually gets me in the doors.

Munising Falls

Munising Falls is considered one of the seven “Notable Falls” in Michigan, one of the most visited waterfalls in Alger County, and probably one of the easiest to get to with only a short 5 minute leisurely walk to see them. They can be found about 2-3 miles from downtown Munising at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Visitor Center. This park is heavily visited, but has a nice size parking area that I have not seen full yet.

Once at the park you will find restrooms, and kiosks with information pertaining to the falls and the trails surrounding the Pictured Rocks National Park area. The trail to the falls is clearly marked, wheelchair accessible, and takes you down a short groomed path (800 feet) to experience the falls. The winding walk goes into the woods and lies next to a quaint little stream surrounded by trees and wildflowers native to the area. Once there you will be witness to this truly majestic sight as the water drops suddenly over a limestone ledge 40 to 50 feet below.

The Park Service no longer allows visitors to walk around, behind, nor underneath the falls for safely reasons, but there are several viewing platforms areas that you can climb to for that special picture opportunity.

I don’t recall the hours the park is open, but it seems like it is open during most of the daylight hours. These falls are open year round but are more frequented in the summer months. I have never experienced these falls in the winter months but have heard they create some absolutely exquisite ice formation.

*Directions: From M-28 in Munising (where it bends 90 degrees), to east on H-58 (Munising Avenue) 1 ¼ mile to Washington street, which forks off to the left. Turn left (north) onto Washington Street, and go about 1/2 mile to where it bears right, at a hospital. The Munising Falls parking area is on your right, across from the hospital.

This is a definite must-see if you are in the area.

Pictured Rocks Boat Cruise

Pack your camera, check your batteries and head out to Munising City Dock for a relaxing 3-hour tour to discover spectacular rock and cliff formations, some of which rise over 200 feet of the Pictured Rocks. These nature wonders can be seen best my this boat tour, which will take you out onto the crystal clear waters of lake Superior for an experience you won’t easily forget.

Tickets can be purchased in advance, or by stopping by the gift shop next to the pier. Tours start the Friday before Memorial Day and continue through the day after Labor Day. Prices for the 2006 season; $29 for adults, $12 for children ages 6 to 12; and children 5 and younger are free. They do offer group rates too, and the schedule varies during the season so make sure to check out their website for accurate departure times. I would imagine that sometimes the tours may get cancelled if the weather is too rough.

Once you are aboard one of several boats available in their fleet, you can either find a seat on the enclosed lower level of the boat or choose to seat up on the upper deck to take in the full experience of the ride. If the weather is warm get there early to assure a spot on the top deck, as these seats go quickly and have the best views.

The ride was smooth as they have new state-of-the-art stabilizers that provide a smooth ride. But, I also checked the weather to make sure the weather was calm for the day I went out. I’m not much for wild waves on boat rides.

Once seated, the captain and co-captain go over all the safety guidelines like don’t hang over the edge and keep small children supervised at all times, etc., and then we were off into the deep waters of Lake Superior. All the boats are regulated by the U. S. Coast Guard, and are equipped with all the latest, greatest safety gadgets available to assure you are getting a safe ride.

Our trip was narrated by our captain and included a little history of Munising, their fleet of boats, and interesting facts of some of the landmarks we passed while on our tour. While still in the bay we saw Grand Island off into the distance, along with the East Channel Lighthouse, then once we reached beyond the bay we started to see the rocks. Now’s the time to take out your cameras.

One of the first and probably the most famous you see is Miners Castle, as you can see this one not only from a boat, but also by the observatory deck in the park or by hiking the trails. When you see photos of Pictured Rocks, Miners Castle is usually the snapshot you will see.

The tour goes on for 2 ½ to 3 hours, and sometimes takes you within feet of some of the rock formations to marvel at there heights and the unique colors they exhibit. Each rock takes on its own unique shape and color, and that is why the Indians probably named them after things they could easily identify. One of the more famous rocks, and one of my favorite, is Indian Head…it is looks like a profile of an Indians head, hence the name.

As the tour continues you will see numerous caves, waterfalls, beaches and other named rock formations along the way. We were especially lucky as the waves were extremely calm that day to actually enter one of the caverns to get an up close and personal view.

If you are near Munising during the summer months put this on your list of things to do. You won’t be disappointed. I look forward in doing this again, but next time I’m going for the sunset cruise for a totally different perspective of this incredible adventure.

Wagner Falls

Sometimes, just the smallest of stops stay with me the longest…maybe that is why visiting Wagner Falls is one of my favorite places to visit, when I am in the Munising area, to take in some nature and not take the wind out of me doing it.

Wager Falls, one of the seven “Notable Falls” in Michigan, can be found just minutes outside of Munising, MI. Picturesque, and being easy to visit, is why you will want to visit here. This scenic waterfall is just a short ½-mile trail, nestled amongst virgin pine, hemlock trees, and beside a rambling stream. When you arrive you will see a small parking area and a sign leading you to the trail. Once out of your car you will be surprised to hear the rushing sounds of the water, which will make you eager to head out into the woods to check this out.

The trail is an easy scroll, and my parents in their 70’s had no problem and were able make the walk. There is a bench along the way if you need to rest for a minute or two. Once at the falls you will see a platform for a great picture opportunity (some of my family have used this background for their Christmas Card Photos), but don’t worry you don’t have to climb the few stairs to enjoy its beauty. The falls are about 20 feet in height and get their water source from Wager Creek. In the winter months awesome ice formations can be seen with this waterfall.

If you are in the area then don’t miss this opportunity to check out this breathtaking waterfall. It only takes a few minutes to experience it, and you won’t be sorry that you stopped.

White Fawn Cabins/Glen Forest Resort

White Fawn Lodge/Glen Forest Resort is located in Wetmore, Michigan, about 10 minutes from Munising. We stayed here for a family reunion vacation in August of 2005. A total of 30 family members came along, and we rented four of the units that were available. This resort is situated on a small inland lake off of Highway 13, next to the Hiawatha National Forest.

The rental cabins vary in sizes. There is one large two-story cabin that can sleep up to 12 people comfortably. The other cabins sleep any where from six to eight. The units are clean but very typical of UP cabins. They are furnished with dishes, pots and pans, and a refrigerator and stove. This is my type of camping…

Don’t expect to watch TV here, as they only get one channel, and that’s out of Green Bay, Wisconsin, which is 3 hours away — not a station you want to get your weather reports from.

The resort offers a community room (pole barn), which we used to have a family party at. It is usually used for breakfasts during snowmobile season, but it was adequate for our purpose and had a stove, refrigerator, and lots of tables for us to use. We even had a family talent show, which we had to do a little rearranging to make work, but it was fun and worked out okay.

The cabins ranged in price from $800 for large unit to $600 for the smaller cabins for the whole week. They provided towels and bedding and had a small convenience store on-site. Each unit has use of a rowboat for the week. The lake offered a swimming area and paddle boats to rent by the hour. The kids loved the fishing and spent many hours trying to caught the big one. There is one large campfire pit that is on the property for your use; just bring some wood, a guitar, and some beverages for a great time.

This place isn’t for everyone, but then for the price and the beautiful setting, it’s well worth the drive and price for most. It’s the perfect place to go to relax and enjoy the nature the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has to offer.

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