Splashing in a lake. Staring at the stars. Laughs around a campfire. Exploring ruins. In the Keweenaw, our lands, water, and history create family memories that last a lifetime. Leave those screens at home on your family’s trip up North because you’ll find plenty of things to do with the kids.
We may be biased, but we think the Keweenaw is one of the BEST places for children to “unplug” and fall in love with the great outdoors. Your children will love climbing rocks, swimming in Lake Superior, seeing big waterfalls for the first time, or going to the top of Brockway Mountain. Explore kid-friendly mountain biking trails in Copper Harbor and introduce your little ones to outdoor recreation and sports. Or, for a truly wild experience, spend a few days in Isle Royale National Park … Create new family connections through adventuring in the Keweenaw’s great outdoors.
Learning about history can be fun for all ages! Grab a Junior Ranger Explorer book (ages 4-6) or a Junior Ranger book (ages 6+) and embark on a historic journey through the Copper Country. Children will enjoy learning the history of the area as they can touch, feel and truly experience history by visiting the area’s heritage sites. Once your child has finished completing the activities in his/her booklet, it can be returned to the Calumet Visitor Center (or mailed) so your child can receive their own Junior Ranger badge!
Named after the popular board game, Chutes & Ladders Park in Houghton is one of the best places to let your kids expel some of the energy they collected on the drive to the Keweenaw. Kids love climbing up this magnificent structure and sliding down all the colorful slides. Parents will love the views of the Keweenaw Waterway and the Portage Lake Lift Bridge as their kids splash in the water at the park beach. Grab an ice cream cone or rent water toys from Portage Paddle Sports for even more fun!
Okay, so it’s okay to get in some screen time! Stop by the Keweenaw’s Mine Shaft Arcade in Houghton for an afternoon of exciting arcade games, bowling, or even a game of mini golf. The arcade offers a great selection of videos and to earn reward tickers to score a prize. Be sure to grab a piece of pizza or a burger at the Rock House Grille which is located in the same building.
If you have a budding geologist in your crew, or perhaps an intrepid treasure hunter, be sure to add the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum to your list of things to do. With more than 2,000 minerals on display, kids are amazed at the wonder, color and diversity of minerals. From giant crystals to glowing rocks, its a great way to spend an afternoon. Plus, the museum has a great gift shop perfect for souvenirs.
Once you're finished learning about the joys of minerals at the museum, it's time to explore the beaches to find your own treasure. Shorelines are filled with fascinating rocks including agates, quartz, and more. Yooperlite hunting has become a favorite pastime for families. Yooperlites are fluorescing stones found along the the shores of the Keweenaw Peninsula with the aid of a black light. Lights can be purchased at shops in the area. McLain State Park and Calumet Waterworks Beach are two great locations to try out.
Fort Wilkins Historic State Park is a great place for kids to learn about life as a 19th century soldier living in the vast Keweenaw wilderness. While the fort's days of keeping law and order in the Copper Country are long past, you can still visit and tour buildings where soldiers and locales ate, slept and lived. During the summer months, the park hosts actors dressed in 1800s garb who share what life was like when the fort was in operation.
There's perhaps nothing more memorable than taking a child (or grandkid) out fishing. Learning about the importance of conservation and useful skills like baiting a hook and catching your own lunch is something you never forget. The Keweenaw has plenty of lakes, shorelines and docks perfect for fishing. If you need a little help planning, consider working with one of the area's local fishing guides. They can help get you out on the water with the right gear and bait so that you can come home telling your own fish story.