Home of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Hiawatha National Forest, Grand Island National Recreation Area, and Alger Underwater Preserve, Munising is a gorgeous little city located on the southern shoreline of Lake Superior that’s full of activities year-round.
Nestled in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Munising offers incredible boat and kayak tours of the Pictured Rocks, over 14 stunning waterfalls, hundreds of miles of trails for outdoor enthusiasts, and unique coffee shops, breweries and restaurants.
Check out this list of the best things to do in the Munising and Pictured Rocks area and see why hundreds of thousands of people visit every year:
1. Top Thing to Do: Tour the National Lakeshore with Pictured Rocks Cruises
For over 50 years, Pictured Rocks Cruises has been offering boat excursions to the breathtaking cliffs, waterfalls, sea caves and sandstone formations of the Pictured Rocks.
From mid-May to mid-October, you can embark on a quintessential outdoor adventure that leads you past the most iconic landmarks of the park, including Miners Castle, East Channel Lighthouse, Grand Island, Caves of All Colors, and Lovers Leap.
2. Kayak Through Amazing Sea Caves
Now offering a 3-hour Miners Castle Tour for those short on time, kayakers can explore the caves of the most popular sandstone formation in the park. Otherwise, Pictured Rocks Kayaking’s 5-hour Ultimate Tour features Lovers Leap, Grand Portal Point, Chapel Rock and Cove, and so much more, giving paddlers countless intimate views they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
3. Discover Over 14 Stunning Waterfalls
You don’t have to travel far in the U.P. to find stunning waterfalls … the area is home to hundreds of them! With its proximity to the Great Lakes and countless streams and creeks, it’s no wonder the rural area is overflowing with these gorgeous sights. Several of these falls can even be found within the Pictured Rocks.
4. Relax on Gorgeous Beaches
Munising and the Pictured Rocks park are renowned for pristine and awe-inspiring beaches that line Lake Superior’s shoreline. While the majority of them have sandy shores, some consist of rocky terrain and others are a combination of both. Regardless, you’ll have many options of finding the perfect spot to take in the area’s beauty while relaxing near the water.
5. Enjoy Incredible Breweries, Coffee Shops and Ice Cream Parlors
Following a tranquil sunset cruise or a satisfying meal at one of Munising’s eateries, there are numerous options for entertainment in the town. Whether it’s checking out a craft brewery or a cozy coffee shop, there’s a multitude of choices available to cater to everyone’s preferences.
6. Explore World Class Trails
If you’re seeking a quick stroll, a full day of hiking, or a backpacking adventure, Pictured Rocks boasts some of the most impressive trails in the world. For those seeking other options, the Hiawatha National Forest also has numerous hiking and biking trails (that become snowshoe and cross-country ski trails in the winter) for the daring and adventurous.
7. Try Something “Cool” … like Ice Climbing!
During the winter season, enjoy Munising’s snowmobile and silent sports trail system. However, a popular winter activity in the region is ice climbing. Munising proudly hosts Michigan Ice Fest in February every year. If you’re not interested in climbing, viewing the ice caves and formations is something to put on your bucket list.
8. There’s a Reason Munising’s Considered the “Snowmobile Capital of the Midwest”
With the help of lake effect snow, the winter season arrives earlier and remains for a longer duration in the Munising area, creating optimal conditions for a remarkable snowmobiling adventure. The region boasts over 300 miles of impeccably maintained trails which consist of some of the most immaculate and breathtaking natural landscapes in the world.
9. Learn about the Local Lore
Munising’s past is rich, starting with Native American legends, with some attempting to explain the national lakeshore’s magnificent vistas and amazing formations. There are also captivating tales of its early settlement and booming lumber industry. The area’s connection to shipwrecks and maritime leisure history adds a fascinating layer to Munising’s past.
You can learn all about this at Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center, which contains a wealth of knowledge regarding the history of the community, its fishing industry, and the inhabitants that have resided in the region for multiple generations. The free indoor museum is a perfect stop for rainy days and is located right across the street from the Pictured Rocks Cruises dock.
10. A Grand Island Adventure
Whether you have a day to spare or just a few hours, Grand Island offers an array of activities, such as hiking, biking, fishing and camping. With a mix of gravel roads and rocky trails, it caters to adventurers of all levels. To get to the island, you’ll have to embark on a 5-minute ferry ride from Munising where you’ll be dropped off at William’s Landing, the southern point of the island.