The Road Less Traveled: Minneapolis to Pictured Rocks

Lover’s Leap. Photo courtesy of Tim Trombley.Lover’s Leap. Photo courtesy of Tim Trombley.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or even an extended vacation that isn’t too far away, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula should be on your radar. Just an inviting 7 hour drive separates Minneapolis from this national treasure. But what’s the hurry? Make sure to take a little extra time to check out the sights and attractions along the way.


Why Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore?

Kayakers after paddling Lovers Leap in Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreKayakers emerging from a Lovers Leap, a gigantic arch in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, on a Pictured Rocks Kayaking tour.

Pictured Rocks is a dream for anyone seeking serene beauty and adventure. Managed by the National Park Service, the Pictured Rocks park is made up of towering sandstone cliffs and unique formations along Lake Superior shoreline, sand dunes, miles of incredible hiking trails, beaches, waterfalls, inland lakes, and wild forests. Lake Superior minerals stain the cliffs and sea caves with glorious hues of white, red, blue and greens as water seeps into cracks and crevices in the sandstone. While the park offers some of the most beautiful trails in the world, the rocks and sandstone formations are best viewed aboard an intimate boat cruise or kayak trip.

Why Pictured Rocks is a National Gem

How to Road Trip from Minneapolis to Pictured Rocks

Tobie’s Restaurant and Bakery

Just 443 miles Via I-35 north and M-28 E makes up the entire trek between Minneapolis and The Pictured Rocks. Visit eclectic coffee shops, historical towns and landmarks, and gorgeous waterfalls by taking the scenic route through Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin over to the western and central half of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Start Your Trip

Start your day with breakfast at Tobie’s Restaurant and Bakery in Hinckley, Minnesota, right off US 35, which has been a must stop for delicious baked goods since 1947. Not a fan of sweets? Try something on their menu, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Then, swing by a cat-themed café in Ashland, Wisconsin for coffee. Visit Black Cat Coffeehouse, which prides itself not only on its quirky décor but organic coffee and teas and farm-to-table menu choices.

Go to the Minneapolis Road Trip Map

More Adventurous Options Along the Way:

Devils Island Lighthouse in Apostle IslandsDevils Island, with its sandstone sea caves and its iconic lighthouse.

If you’re on a longer getaway, you can visit the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth and explore its fascinating exhibits showcasing the diverse aquatic life of the region. Enjoy a scenic stroll along the Lakewalk, taking in panoramic views of Lake Superior.Or head to Bayfield, Wisconsin, and embark on a memorable adventure to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Take an Apostle Islands Cruises boat tour to explore the stunning sea caves, towering lighthouses, and pristine beaches of the islands. Enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the natural splendor of the national lakeshore.

Of course, there are plenty of other majestic sights along the way. Your journey could include Gile Falls, to witness its breathtaking cascades. Maybe you stop Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, to hike to the iconic Lake of the Clouds.

Why the Apostle Islands are Wisconsin’s “Crown Jewels”

On To the Upper Peninsula

Canyon FallsCanyon Falls.

Once you’re in the Upper Peninsula, a short hike to Canyon Falls will soothe your soul. This impressive waterfall is located right off US 41 and quite easy to get to. Further east, you’ll drive through Michigamme, where Mount Shasta – a historic restaurant where the music scene from the movie “Anatomy of a Murder” was filmed – is located. Old photographs of Jimmy Stewart and Duke Ellington decorate the walls of the historic restaurant and the windows even still have the same drapes from in the movie!The Best Waterfalls in the U.P.

Black Rocks in Presque Isle ParkThe Black Rocks in Presque Isle Park.

The next place you’ll want to check is the Yooper Tourist Trap – a roadside classic gift shop in Ishpeming, an old mining town, that has unique gifts, stones and more. While you’re at it, check out Black Rocks in Presque Isle Park in Marquette just 15 miles east. In the summer, you’ll see people jumping from the volcanic rocks into the crystal clear and often cold waters of Lake Superior.

The Best Things to Do in the Munising and Pictured Rocks Area

What Do I Do When I Get to Munising?

Pictured Rocks Cruise.Guests on a Pictured Rocks Cruise. Photo courtesy of Tim Trombley.

Take a guided tour aboard Pictured Rocks Cruises newest catamaran or enjoy a kayak tour with Pictured Rocks Kayaking to see the best of the sandstone formations along the lakeshore up close and personal. There are hundreds of miles of trails to explore in the park and the nearby Hiawatha National Forest, along with 20 breathtaking waterfalls and white sandy beaches where you can unwind and soak in the sun. Are you a fan of arts and culture? Check out a new historic photography walk and beautiful murals around downtown Munising. While dining out, try the local cuisine. Popular dishes? Fresh Lake Superior whitefish or a pasty.

Learn More About Cruise Tours

The greater Munising area offers a wonderful selection of lakeside hotels, cabins and cottages in the woods, and rustic or modern campgrounds. Book your trip now!

Plan your trip!