Named after the French explorer Jacques Marquette, this colorful city is settled on the shores of southern Lake Superior and includes several small islands. Marquette has a long history as a shipping port for hematite ores and is home to a few legends as well. The largest wooden dome in the world, dubbed the Superior Dome, is where Northern Michigan University hosts its home football games. The resident Marquette Monster is said to live here, too—you can even see its likeness at the top of the Old City Hall plaque. Lighthouses, a nightlife casino and lounge, art galleries, breweries, and antique stores all add color to this gorgeous destination. Here’s a little sampling of what you have to look forward to.
If you’re looking for a gateway to boating on Lake Superior, you have some great options. Cinder Pond Marina is home to 91 seasonal slips and 10 transient slips in the area’s lower harbor. If you need fuel or a convenient place to launch or dock, this is a great place to go.
“With its view of the historic Marquette Harbor Lighthouse and the Lower Harbor Ore Dock, Cinder Pond Marina captures the legacy of shipping and boating on the Great Lakes,” shares Nicole Young, executive director at Travel Marquette. “Its central location makes it convenient to festivals in the park and walkable to Marquette's downtown district, with its shopping, locally-sourced cuisine and three craft breweries. Bring your bikes and ride along the lake on the scenic Iron Ore Heritage Trail.”
Marquette County takes the cake as home to the most waterfalls of any Michigan county. The Alder Falls, Dead River Falls, and Morgan Falls are particularly known for being easy to access and absolutely gorgeous to witness in action.
For those who like to build up a sweat, locals will tell you that a great sea kayaking tour to take is the Lake Superior Hiawatha Water Trail, which meanders from Munising through Marquette and on to Big Bay. You can also get lost among islands and coves at the nearby Greenwood Reservoir.
For the anglers out there, you’re set up for some excellent fishing. If you’re trying your luck at Lake Superior, keep a sharp eye out for species like Chinook salmon or whitefish. If you love fish like northern pike, perch, or walleye, head inland for some of the quiet wilderness lakes. And word has it if you’re out to find brown trout, steelhead, or rainbow trout, you can have some good luck in the area’s rivers and streams.
Some of this city’s more adrenaline-spiking outdoor adventures come when winter falls, when sports such as ski jumping, skijoring, and fat biking come to life. But while it’s still summer, let’s stick to fishing and standup paddleboarding!
Marquette Maritime Museum
With a history as rich in maritime influences as Marquette, it’s no wonder there’s a museum especially dedicated to it. The Marquette Maritime Museum first opened in 1982, and as of last year welcomed 12,000 visitors from every state but Rhode Island. Here you can learn about famous shipwrecks, lighthouses, and honoring our submarine veterans.
Marquette has countless more museums and cultural centers to offer, so if appreciating history and culture is your thing, plan on spending a lot of time here.
Music, Feasts & Fireworks
If you’re visiting around June 20, you don’t want to miss the annual Marquette Breakfast Rotary Fish Boil. Hosted on the shores of Lake Superior, you’ll be served fresh Lake Superior whitefish fish boil, barbecue ribs, coleslaw, bread and strawberry shortcake dessert. A cocktail hour, silent auction, and raffle are all included.
While you’re here in the summer, keep your ears sharp. Every summer, a wide variety of local musicians gathers to play along the sidewalks of Third Street in Marquette’s Downtown District from 6 to 8 in the evenings. This annual summer series is called Music on Third and kicks off June 18, running on the third Thursday of every month until fall.
Of course, there’s the big Fourth of July Celebration everyone looks forward to. Watching fireworks burst over Lake Superior is an unbeatable way to celebrate Independence Day.
And whenever you’re hungry, there are countless cuisine hotspots to pick from. Donckers, a made-from-scratch restaurant with a candy store and old-fashioned soda fountain, even hosted President Obama in 2011.
For More Information
Cinder Pond Marina
Marquette Breakfast Rotary Club
Marquette Maritime Museum
Marquette Yacht Club
Travel Marquette, Michigan