Come visit the world above the bridge. Miles of freshwater coastline. Hundreds of picturesque trails, inland lakes, rivers, and waterfalls offering boundless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Dozens of small towns, many reveling in their European heritage. And for the more studious traveler, numerous museums and historical sites complete the picture.Even the larger cities of the U.P. have a small-town feel, exemplified by the absence of parking meters.Welcome to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the world above the mitten. Sporting a rustic, even austere terrain, the U.P.’s sparse population provides peace and solitude. The eastern portion, part of the Great Lakes plain, contrasts sharply with the rocky western half. Each offers idyllic settings for camping, boating, and fishing, and the pristine landscape makes packing a camera an absolute necessity. While enjoying the outdoors, stay on the lookout for moose, black bears, red foxes, and white-tailed deer.
In many U.P. towns, descendants of European immigrants maintain the traditions of their ancestors from Scandinavia, Cornwall, Germany, or Italy. The blend of heritage and warm hospitality in the region can be absorbed through the food: Enjoy meatballs at a Swedish café or homemade ravioli at an Italian eatery, or try a Cornish pasty (a bread turnover filled with pork, chicken, or venison), a local favorite.
A visitor in search of culture will feel at home in the Upper Peninsula. Art museums, outdoor concerts, and a bevy of historical museums offer stimulation for both the heart and the mind.
So what doesn’t the U.P. have? Crowds and congestion, for one. Even the larger cities of the U.P. have a small-town feel, exemplified by the absence of parking meters. And with a population density of just 19 people per square mile, Michigan’s extreme north offers plenty of room to explore. Hundreds of miles of trails await hikers, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers.
People from the Lower Peninsula jokingly refer to their U.P. counterparts as “Yoopers,” who return the compliment by dubbing those from downstate to be “Trolls.” But the rivalry is good natured—each year the Upper Peninsula welcomes all visitors to a northern paradise.
Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.