Category Archives: Attractions

Fall in Love with The Soo

alone on the beach

Fall in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is like no other. Pull up a seat and enjoy the view or take a drive out to a stunning lighthouse just off the scenic path less traveled.

You don’t HAVE to drive far to find great color; downtown Sault Ste. Marie is bustling with shops, restaurants, freighters, and fall.Portage Fall 2013 Mikel Classen Keep Calm

If you do leave town a gorgeous drive west along the Curly Lewis Highway and then north to Paradise (literally) will take you to the Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

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There’s lots to do in the Soo as the colors begin to change. Sault International Marathon runs rightDSC_1167 into the heart of Oktoberfest in downtown September 27.  Family friendly activities, craft market, barrel tossing and spirits are just a handful things to find at Oktoberfest. There are live bands throughout the day including a traditional Polka Band.Oktoberfest FallJoin us in the Sault for a picture perfect fall. Peak color starts approximately the last week of September first week of October. At this time (9/11/2014) color saturation is less than 10%.

freighter fall

Sault Ste. Marie Photo Montage: Looking Back at July

Summer can be shy in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Some years 4th of July is our kickoff to the summer season and we are more than ready for sun and fun. July 4 1 July 4 2 Mother nature can be temperamental in our picturesque part of the world. It can be 80 degrees today and mid 60’s tomorrow. Pack one of everything is good advice for visiting the Sault. 7-14-2014 The early morning fog can bring shipping in the Soo Locks to a standstill and without a moment’s notice the sun is shining and we carry on. July 5

July 8

PTP_1442July 26

During July we take full advantage of the sun and the great outdoors in Sault Ste. Marie with festivals and great family events:

  • 4th of July Parade & Fireworks
  • Wednesday Music in the Park
  • Wednesday Farmers Market
  • Sault Tribe Powwow & Summer Gathering
  • Weekly Concerts at John Johnston Historic Home
  • Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament
  • Connor Gorsuch Kids Fishing Day
  • Rendezvous in the Sault last full weekend in July

july 15July 7 3     Boats in the St. Marys River are always a summer draw. Whether it’s the Sugar Island Ferry navigating the treacherous current or the thousand foot freighters quietly gliding up and down the river the boats are mesmerizing.  Take a Soo Locks Boat Tour and you might get to sail with the freighters.

The sun has set on July but here in the Upper Peninsula we are comforted by the knowledge that these amazing sunsets are ours year round.
For more great photos please visit I Love Sault Ste. Marie Facebook page.July 20

Soo Locks open March 25

The calendar tells us that spring has sprung, but if you live in the eastern half of the country, you know we’ve been living through something of a Modern Ice Age. In the coming weeks, an annual rite of passage (literally!) will take place and Sault Ste. Marie is offering ring-side seats. Come see a spectacular battle as Great Lakes cargo ships and ice breakers take on the forces of nature on the St. Marys River. 

US Army Corp 1

Photo Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers

On March 25th the Soo Locks will open for the season, connecting Lake Superior to the rest of the Great Lakes. That, however, will require vessels to conquer a barricade in the form of a 45-mile river system that is covered in a continuous sheet of ice.  Beyond the river, most Lake Superior ports are still packed with ice.  Duluth, Minnesota has experienced one of its top 4 worst winters in history.

US Army Corp 2

Photo Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers

If you’ve never seen an ice breaker at work; or have never seen a snow-encrusted freighter; or have always wanted to join the celebration of welcoming the first ship through the Locks – this is your year. From 9am – 3pm on March 25, the Soo Locks Visitors Center will be open with hot coffee and a chance to see the Soo Locks in rare form. Traditionally, this is the day we will welcome the first ship through the Locks, but the exact day and time of arrival is always unknown until a day or so before. Monitor our Facebook page for updates on the exact time of arrival.

Let’s be honest – you’ve had enough of shoveling and ice and freezing temperatures. Come help us cheer on the icebreakers and send old man winter packing!

Packing a picnic? Here’s your table with a view.

DSC_0042 (2)What is it about eating outdoors that feels so … liberating? Breathing fresh air and surrounded by nature – maybe it rouses our more primitive side. It’s a slice of Americana – packing the picnic basket and searching for the perfect spot. And everyone’s version of the perfect picnic spot is different. That’s why we’re offering up four fabulous picnic places for your next Eastern Upper Peninsula picnic.

NATURE IS THE STAR

We’re starting west of Sault Ste. Marie at Big Pines Picnic Area in Hiawatha National Forest. Perched on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior, find picnic tables, grills, and plenty of giant red and white pines. The beach below is lovely, sandy stretch perfect for a long walk or an agate search. Big Pines has ample parking, rustic toilets, and an abundance of fresh forest to explore. This area is roughly 30 minutes west of Sault Ste. Marie and, despite its perfect setting, is often underused, which means you can enjoy a serene, beautiful lunch or dinner.

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LANDMARK LOCATION

The area surrounding Point Iroquois Lighthouse is perfect for a picnic. For those dreaming of a beach picnic, this is the perfect place. Spread your blanket in the shadow of the lighthouse and enjoy! If you’d prefer to keep sand out of the equation, take advantage of one of the benches on the boardwalk – a beautiful, winding path that makes its way from the light to the beach. After your appetite is sated, explore the lighthouse, climb the stairs to the top of the tower, and check out the museum that tells the story of the lightkeeper’s life. Operated by the US Forest Service, Point Iroquois has lots of parking and, even better, flush toilets! It is located just west of Brimley.

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FOOD & FREIGHTERS

Back in Sault Ste. Marie, one local park offers one-of-a-kind entertainment. Rotary Island is a City of Sault Ste. Marie park accessed by causeway. This spot on the St. Marys River affords great views of Sugar Island, the Sugar Island Ferry, and all river traffic – including the mighty freighters that pass by on a regular basis. Launch a kayak from one end of the park or let the kids try their luck at the attached kid’s fishing pond. Park your car nearby and take your picnic to one of the many tables. Use a grill or bring take-out from a local favorite only a stone’s throw away: Clyde’s Drive-In. Rotary Island park also has playground equipment and pit toilets.

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A FAMILY FAVORITE

With a kid-friendly beach, volleyball courts, playground equipment, picnic pavilion, and a basketball court – it’s hard to keep the kids focused on the picnic when you come to Sherman Park. This city property, located on Sault Ste. Marie’s west side, has ample parking, flush toilets, and plenty to keep every member of the family occupied. Also located on the St. Marys River, boat nerds will get a great view. Picnic tables can be found in the sun or in the shade at Sherman Park.

These four fabulous picnic places have one important thing in common: all parks are free of charge. So, in the words of Yogi Bear, “Hey there, Boo Boo. Let’s get us a pic-a-nic basket!”

 

History comes to life during performances on Water Street

I don’t know about you, but I’ve sometimes perused museum exhibits or historic homes and felt like I should tip-toe through the location. Don’t make any noise. No sudden moves. It’s probably self-induced, but I feel like I’m in a library and someone might “shush” me at any moment. I’ll go one step further and say sometimes my attention span can be a little, shall we say, limited.

All of this is my not-very-brief way of saying that performances make museums and historic places come alive for me. Every summer, thousands of visitors feel the same when they visit the John Johnston House on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-2pm. That’s when local singer/songwriters Dave Stanaway and Susan Askwith give small, intimate concerts and bring history to life with their voices and their guitars. The performances are included in the price of admission to the historic homes and are offered through July and August.

Susan Askwith & Dave Stanaway

Susan Askwith & Dave Stanaway

Of course, you can have the best of all worlds. You can tour the homes on Historic Water Street at your leisure and combine that with a Tuesday or Thursday concert. These important buildings – John Johnston house, Bishop Baraga house, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft house and the Kemp Coal Office – have distinctly different exhibits and each tells a unique story. The homes are open 7 days per week from Noon-5pm through Labor Day. The price of admission grants you access to the four buildings and is $3 for adults, $2 for children, $8 for a family, and $15 for a season pass. 

 For more information on events and activities visit Sault Ste. Marie.

 

 

 

Tall Ships sail on St. Mary’s River

During a six-day period later this month, as many as eight Tall Ships are expected to sail the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, including transit through the famous Soo Locks.

Like a parade passing by our front door, these spectacular vessels will travel from a variety of locations between the dates of July 19 and July 25 en route to a gathering in Duluth, MN. Visitors lucky enough to stake out a spot at Alford Park, the Soo Locks observation platforms or dozens of other prime viewing points in the area will get quite a show.

Flagship Niagara

Flagship Niagara

At least three ships are expected to stay in the area on the Canadian side for three-days: the Flagship Niagara, the Pride of Baltimore II, and the Privateer Lynx. These vessels are part of a Tall Ships 1812 Tour happening throughout Ontario. (That’s one of the perks of visiting a border town – you can enjoy events on both sides of the bridge!) The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario event is July 19-21.

Pride of Baltimore II

Pride of Baltimore II

As for the additional Tall Ships, we unfortunately can’t pinpoint the exact date or time they’ll pass Sault Ste. Marie. But we know this for a fact – while waiting to see a Tall Ship, you’re certain to see tugboats, barges, lake freighters, and a variety of other fascinating boats that will keep the waterways hopping and very watchable.

Enter Sault Ste. Marie contest and win cash!

Gone are the days whvideo contest photo 2013en videotaping your favorite summer vacation involved a heavy camera of questionable quality and actual tapes. The word “videotaping” hardly even applies anymore. Instead, many of us have a digital video camera – either as a feature on a smart phone or as part of our digital camera.

What is the best part of the evolution of video? We think it is YOUR ability to enter contests, like this one that will focus on capturing your best day or favorite activity in Sault Ste. Marie.

Levideo via cell phonet’s face it – the advent of the Internet has illustrated how fun, kooky, and downright creative everyday people can be. Who needs a millionaire producer or a carefully-honed script? When people are having fun in a beautiful destination like Sault Ste. Marie – compelling video is only the press of a button away.

The Sault Area Convention & Visitors Bureau wants you to be involved at several levels. Not only can you submit up to 5 videos for the contest, but you also get to help in the voting process by lending your “like” to entries of your choosing on the “I Love Sault Ste. Marie” facebook page. Contest entries will be uploaded by the participant to their own YouTube or Facebook account and then linked to the “I Love Sault Ste. Marie” Facebook page to be eligible for any of the prizes.

Let’s talk about prizes – specifically $750 for first place, $250 for three 2nd place finishers, and $100 for two 3rd place winners. It’s like having someone pay for your camera and your fun!

The hardest part of this video contest? Figuring out which of these great activities you’ll focus on for your video. But don’t forget – video content must focus on those activities within the Sault Ste. Marie city limits. Remember – you can submit up to 5, so try your hand (or your camera) on several!

Be sure to read the rules for entry and then immerse yourself in Sault Ste. Marie. We can’t wait to see you on video!

Take a Sault Ste. Marie virtual tour

It’s a big decision – where to go on vacation. Where do you get good information? You want to make a choice that everyone will enjoy. But you can’t break the bank, either.

Recommendations are good and websites have a lot of information, but sometimes seeing is believing – which is why we’ve put together a “virtual tour” of Sault Ste. Marie. Block out the noise, stop thinking about work and dedicate 11 minutes to imagining yourself at the Soo Locks, the kids playing putt-putt golf, and the money you’ll win at Kewadin Casino. Keep an eye out for smiles, laughter, clean waters, and friendly people. You’ll find them on the video….and on your vacation! Come on up and see us!

Now that you’ve taken the tour, get details and logistics at these websites:

Sault Ste. Marie Convention & Visitors Bureau

Soo Locks Boat Tours

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Museum Ship Valley Camp, Tower of HIstory & River of History Museum

For more details on area attractions, call the Sault CVB at (800) MI-SAULT or (906) 632-3366.

Opening Day, Soo-style: No baseballs…only lifeboats.

Ship's Wheel - Valley CampFitzgerald Lifeboat at Valley Camp

Opening day quickens the heartbeat for many, but we’re not talking about the first game at the ballpark. Sault Ste. Marie has its own style of opening day – the day when several attractions and restaurants open for the summer season.

We take special note here that May 15 marks the opening of the Museum Ship Valley Camp – the location where the next generation of boat lovers find themselves exploring cargo holds and walking topside like a seafaring deckhand. There are more than 100 exhibits in this retired Great Lakes freighter, each with its own unique spin on the maritime world. See the lenses from famed lighthouses, explore the pilot house, and, perhaps most chillingly, touch the lifeboats that were ripped away from the S. S. Edmund Fitzgerald on November 10, 1975 without a single survivor.

See the newscast and a video tribute to the Fitzgerald, including the haunting song by Gordon Lightfoot here:

Stop by the Valley Camp on opening day from 10am-5pm. For a complete list of rates and hours, visit the ship’s website at http://www.saulthistoricsites.com/