Making memories with family members is one of the top reasons we travel. Sharing new experiences with our loved ones, especially while their children, are some of the most important moments of our lives.
The Keweenaw's unique blend of outdoor experiences, history, and charming small towns offer family travelers an opportunity to disconnect from daily routines and really connect with each other. Here are a some recommendations for family coming to the Copper Country.
No matter the season, hiking is a great way to experience the Keweenaw's wilderness. Hikes can be tailored to meet family members' fitness levels and attention spans so that everyone has a good experience. Hiking allows for plenty of social interaction, rest stops, and snack breaks. Strap on a pair of snowshoes during the winter, and you can have a whole new experience on a trail previously trekked during the summer or fall.
Best of all, the Keweenaw offers many trail experiences to choose from, even those that include the family canine companion. From day trips to Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park to forays into the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness Area, you'll have a hard time narrowing down to just one!
The Keweenaw is home to a wide variety of parks, from traditional small town playgrounds to nationally recognized wilderness parks. Families seeking backwoods adventures or a few hours of playtime will discover a park that meets their interest. The Keweenaw is even home to a unique historical park system that shares the region's rich copper mining heritage perfect for families drawn to historical pursuits.
Yes, this recommendation definitely falls under the preceding "visit a park" section. But a family trip to Isle Royale National Park is so uniquely special it warrants its own shout-out. For those not aware, Isle Royale is one of the least visited national parks in the continental United States. Reachable only by boat or seaplane, this island in the heart of Lake Superior is a bastion for outdoor enthusiasts seeking true wilderness.
As more families seek out the benefits of disconnecting from smart-devices in the pursuit of quality-time, Isle Royale's lack of cell signal and abundant outdoor opportunities has become a draw. Visitors can explore the island's 165 miles of hiking trails, enjoy truly dark skies, paddling in Lake Superior and even fishing charters and boat tours offered by Rock Harbor Lodge. Families can choose between staying at the lodge and cabins in Rock Harbor or camping along the island's backcountry. With a bit of planning, this is an experience your family will never forget.
Well, not in the literal sense. Rock hounding is a prime pastime in the Keweenaw, and there's something irresistible about spending hours walking along the lakeshore admiring wave-tumbled minerals. With more than 200 miles of Lake Superior shoreline and numerous public beaches, this is a great activity for families seeking free entertainment and possibly a free souvenir.
If you'd like to learn more about what you may (or may not) have found along the shoreline, be sure to visit the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum in Houghton. This is the State of Michigan's official mineral museum and its located on Michigan Tech's campus. Spend hours exploring mineral collections and specimens from the Great Lakes and around the world. Plus, they have a great gift shop!
Did you know that Copper Harbor is home to the Upper Peninsula's only internationally certified dark sky park (Another park? We couldn't help ourselves). Headquartered at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, families can explore the Keweenaw Dark Sky Park which offers regular dark sky educational programming and a telescope lending program for dark sky viewing. While the Keweenaw's abundant wilderness and low-light pollution offers plenty of locations to enjoy stargazing, the dark sky park gets you about as far north as you can go in Michigan with resources to help your family get the most of the experience.
Take a break from the outdoors and partake in some creative expression at one of the many art galleries and studios found in the Keweenaw. You'll find collections hosted at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, the Finnish-American Heritage Center, the Copper Country Community Arts Center and the Art District in Calumet. These galleries often host works by local artisans inspired by the Keweenaw's natural beauty and history. Or give it a try yourself by visiting The Magic Kiln in Hancock to paint your own pottery and create a keepsake to take home.
The Keweenaw is known as one of the top mountain biking destinations in the Midwest. And families seeking a little adrenaline will discover that this sport isn't just for the experts. Many of the Keweenaw's nearly 100 miles of singletrack is suitable for newbies. The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Copper Harbor has several trails ready for beginners that offer flows and technical riding and they also offer bike rentals on site if you didn't bring your own. The trails at Michigan Tech in Houghton also have several beginner rated trails in addition to a small skills park to practice some beginner drops and other techniques. And if your fam is ready to move on to the more advanced stuff, you'll find trails in Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, Chassell and Copper Harbor to meet your needs.
Winter is a great time of year for families to visit the Keweenaw thanks to abundant snow and plethora of snow-sports. Grab a sled and find a hill at one of the area's local parks and let loose for an afternoon filled with great memories. But if you're ready to take your family winter vacation up to the next level, be sure to visit Mont Ripley in Hancock.
Ripley is known for being the oldest downhill ski mountain in Michigan and is owned by Michigan Tech. And while you'll certainly find many a Tech student shredding the hill all winter long, its a great spot for families looking to get in on some downhill fun. Ripley has three lifts that get skiers up to a variety of runs from beginner to expert, plus a terrain park for anyone looking to really show off some skill. Best of all, Ripley is home to a four-lane tube-park used by visitors of all ages and skill abilities. After a morning or afternoon of winter fun, head to the chalet to warm up and grab some hot cocoa and snacks.
A fed family is a happy family. There are plenty of kid- and family-friendly restaurants across the Keweenaw that specialize in relaxed atmospheres and budget-friendly prices. Like any visitor to the Keweenaw, you're required (really, but not really) to try a pasty from one of local pasty shops. Roy's Pasties & Bakery is a local favorite thanks to the variety of pasty-filling options and the mouth-watering, yet moderately priced baked-goods and sweets. Other great options include:
Looking for some additional resources to assist with the planning process? Check out these guides tailor-made for families visiting the Keweenaw.
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