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.
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.
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.
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!”