Destinations / North America / Michigan

Awesome Things to do in Munising MI: A Road Tripper’s Guide

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In the heart of Michigan’s upper peninsula, it’s hard to find a better base than Munising. The town serves as the gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore but also a great jumping off point for many other attractions along Lake Superior.

After reading this guide you’ll be ready to plan your top things to do in Munising MI, from outdoor activities and boat tours to restaurants and more!

Things to do in Munising area

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Experiencing Pictured Rocks is by far one of the best things to do in Munising, Michigan and the reason most people come here. There are plenty of ways you can enjoy the park. You can easily walk to numerous waterfalls like Munising Falls, the Au Sable light station (with shipwrecks rising from the beach below if you walk down that way for your return), and the picturesque lookouts at Log Slide and Grand Sable via dozens of hiking trails. You’ll find plenty of options for new hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike!

Be sure to visit the Miners Castle overlook (image at the beginning of this section) during golden hour. Even if you head out with Pictured Rocks Cruises (more on that later), the stunning colors and view over Grand Island are the perfect way to wrap up your day surrounded by natural beauty.

Personally I’d skip the Sand Point Marsh Trail (not enough to see) and the Beaver Basin Wilderness Loop (much longer than the ranger told us!). Instead next time we’ll hike Chapel Falls or Mosquito Falls if there hasn’t been a major storm the day prior.

Sand Point beach

Sand Point (right at the western end of the National Lakeshore) is a lovely beach with warm water and beautiful sunsets. Grab some pizza to go and end your day with a picnic here!

Pictured Rocks boat tour

A relaxing boat ride with Pictured Rocks Cruises to see the colorful sandstone cliffs should definitely be on your Munising itinerary, as it’s one of the best ways to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. When you’re in the area, keep an eye on the forecast and try to book the day before your intended boat ride. As the official concessioner, they run lots of boat tours.

You’ll pop into sea caves, cruise by Chapel Rock and more as you enjoy the spectacular views on Lake Superior.

If the weather looks good, I recommend taking the last classic cruise that’s before the sunset cruise for brilliant colors and views in both directions. We took the sunset cruise and by that time a gorgeous afternoon had turned into an overcast evening (which happens often I think) and it was completely dark on the way back from our boat ride.

Glass bottom shipwreck tours

One thing we didn’t have time for – but will do next time – is a glass bottom shipwreck tour. Due to its extreme depth, there are many shipwrecks in Michigan along the shores of Lake Superior.

This two hour boat tour takes you over two different shipwrecks: the Bermuda in a bay of Grand Island and the Herman H. Hettler closer to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore as you cruise through Munising Bay.

During the summer months this tour runs three to five times per day, with the last tour at 4pm. Be sure to reserve your tickets a few days before you want to go!


The “big cold spring” (from the Ojibwe language of the area’s indigenous community) at Palms Book State Park is an incredible site! The water is crystal clear all the way to its 40ft depth and has an other-worldly emerald color.

As you go across on a rope-propelled raft – an unforgettable experience in and of itself – you’ll see fish swimming below you in this serene place. It’s an incredibly popular site in the summer, so plan to arrive early – it’s about 50 minutes from Munising. But I promise, it deserves a spot on your Upper Peninsula bucket list!


If you need a little r&r after all that exploring, continue south from Kitch-iti-kipi to ThompsonRogers Roadside Park, a lovely beach on the north side of Lake Michigan. It offers warm, calm water and plenty of sand for playing amidst pristine UP surroundings. When you’re done, you can head over to see the East Breakwater Lighthouse in town as well.


Lakenenland is an incredible, privately owned but publicly accessible sculpture garden. Artist Tom Lakenen (who we had the pleasure of meeting on-site) uses his immense skill as a pipe fitter to transform scrap material into anything you can possibly imagine. Park the car and wear your good walking shoes so you don’t miss a thing as you explore! Be sure to buy a t-shirt at the end to support Tom’s work.


This college town in the Upper Peninsula has a totally different vibe than the rest of the region! You’ll find craft breweries, coffee shops, ice cream, creative dining options and quirky shops in town. It’s also home to the iconic red Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. Marquette makes the perfect lunch stop en route from Munising to Houghton.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Just north of Marquette, you can’t miss Sugarloaf Mountain! It’s one of the best hikes in the Upper Peninsula. Though the trail is only about a 1.5 mile loop, it covers around 1,000 feet of elevation (some of that is on graded trail and some is on stairs). I’d rate it “moderate”, and we were far from the only family out there ready to explore.

The views from the top are simply stunning! There will be no doubt that you’re in the great outdoors as you take in the 360 degree views of the surrounding area. As an extra motivator, in July there are wild blueberries to collect along the trail – be sure to use Seek or another app to verify plants before you eat.

Where to stay in Munising, MI

There are plenty of lodging options to choose from in the Munising area.

  • Holiday Inn Express Munising – Lakeview – We stayed here and it was excellent! If you book a balcony room (as we did) you can actually see Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the distance from you room. Check out our room’s sunset view over Grand Island above – Pictured Rocks is off to the right outside of the frame. There’s a huge indoor pool, a lovely patio looking out to Lake Superior and rooms for up to six people!
  • Roam Inn – If you’d rather stay in downtown Munising, consider Roam Inn. It’s upstairs from the excellent Tracey’s restaurant, which is the perfect place to enjoy a high-end dinner while admiring the colorful sky over Lake Superior. Roam Inn offers rooms for two or four people.

Restaurants near Munising, Michigan

  • Tracey’s – As I mentioned above, this is the place to be for fine dining in downtown Munising. Be sure to reserve a patio table shortly before sunset and grab a cocktail while you wait for your dinner to arrive.
  • Pictured Rocks Pizza – Grab a top-quality pie to go and enjoy it as the sun goes down at nearby Sand Point beach. If it’s already dark, you can take advantage of their large turf patio to hang out on a summer evening over pizza and a soda.
  • Falling Rock Cafe – Sadly we didn’t have a chance to pop in here but this coffee shop and bookstore also has simple fare for breakfast and lunch. It’s a popular spot for live music too!
  • Frosty Treats – Fantastic sundaes in the heart of Marquette!
  • Clyde’s Drive In – Burger lovers will have a great time at the Manistique outpost of this UP favorite. The food is delicious, fresh and affordable. There’s even a “Jr. Burger” for those with a smaller appetite, which ran us $3.45 in 2023. It’s the perfect post-beach dinner stop!

Where to go next

As you head through the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, check out our Houghton travel guide to plan the next leg of your road trip! You can also see how your visit to Munising fits into your Michigan summer road trip itinerary.

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