Tag Archives: Eastern Upper Peninsula

Give the Gift of Sault Ste. Marie

 

Struggling to find just the right gift for someone you love this winter? A trip to Sault Ste. Marie is a hit with both the guys and the gals. Let us show you how.

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Lucky guys know that planning a surprise vacation to play in the snow will be a home run. Make all the arrangements and wrap the details up in a box with cute hats, mittens and other winter accessories she’ll love!

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Or maybe a new pair of cross-country skis are more her style? With the beautifully-groomed trails of Algonquin Ski Trails, enjoy the beautiful north woods together while getting some fresh air and exercise worthy of your New Year’s resolution!

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Ladies can plan a winter escape, too. Maybe your guy is looking for a place to try out his new snowboard at Sault Seal Recreation Area?

 

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Sault Ste. Marie isn’t just for couples. Families find plenty to do during a winter trip to Sault Ste. Marie, including tubing at Sault Seal Recreation Area, hockey action at LSSU, ice skating at local rinks, and no winter trip is complete without an excursion to Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

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A winter adventure to Sault Ste. Marie is a fun and affordable getaway for everyone!

 

48th Annual International 500 Snowmobile Race in Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Are you up for an adventure? 500 miles of thrills, spills, and chills are waiting for you at the 48th International 500 Endurance Snowmobile Race. The I-500, as locals call it, is February’s answer to cabin fever for over 10,000 spectators. For $20 dollars admission you can watch 38 teams race over 100mph through the straightaway for a prize purse worth tens of thousands of dollars.

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Did I mention that they race on a one mile ice oval track? Yes, ice. It takes three weeks, 1,800,000 gallons of water, and freezing temperatures to create the track.

You’ve never been, you say?!? What’s to do, you ask?!? Between laps watching the snowmobiles careen around the ice track you might wander through the Top of the Lake Vintage Snowmobile Show. Sleds representing nearly every decade since the dawn of the snow machine are present. Admission is included with the purchase of a button.

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The I-500 race has a tailgate atmosphere filled with festive social spectators. Bring your cooler or purchase food and beverage from the local vendors that line the infield. Join the fun to chase away your winter blues, but remember to dress really warm. You never know what the weather has in store for the Eastern Upper Peninsula during early February.

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Truth be told, you can turn your Saturday I-500 Race adventure into a weeklong excursion.

One week before the race join Sault Ste. Marie for the Downtown Winter Ice Festival. Saturday, January 30th, watch as ice carvers go head-to-head to chip, chisel, and saw ice creations before your very eyes. Monday night bring your ice skates and join in for skating on the smooth one mile oval track. Tuesday through Thursday afternoons watch as teams practice and jockey for position in time trials. Ramp up Thursday night with the 20 lap Woody’s Challenge Pro-Am Race, followed by the Downtown Pub Crawl.

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Friday night cast your vote for the 2016 Miss I-500 with your pocketbook; all funds donated to the Pink Ribbon Riders Breast Cancer patient assistance fund. Admission is free. Stick around after the crowning to watch the kids tear up the track in the Mini-5 Race. Enjoy the crackling bon-fire as Friday night wines down and you prepare for the fun of Saturday morning.

So pack up the vehicle (and/or sleds) and make your way to Sault Ste. Marie for a day (or week) filled with fun and excitement.

 

Lights, Contests, Gifts – It’s December in Sault Ste. Marie

Okay. I’ll admit it. When I heard the words Light Up the Soo for the first time a few years ago, a bevy of marijuana-related jokes came to mind. Immature? Yes. But here’s the thing – the joke’s on me because there is nothing more beautiful than twinkling holiday lights in Sault Ste. Marie.

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It’s true that plenty of communities show their Christmas spirit with fantastic light displays. What makes the Soo unique can be summed up in three words: Tower Of History.

From 200 feet above Portage Avenue and tucked safely into an enclosed observation platform, bring friends and family to view the lights of the city, as well as the one-of-a-kind glow of freighters on the St. Marys River and the sparkle of our sister city – Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

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It took only one visit and it quickly became obvious that Light Up The Soo is the newest holiday tradition in my household. Visit the Tower of History Dec. 18-31 from 5-9pm to start your own. An entire family can visit the Tower for just $10 or pay $4 per adult and $2 for kids 6-18.

With such an inexpensive family outing, you’ll have more money for Christmas shopping. Sault Ste. Marie isn’t the place to visit for huge box stores or massive shopping malls. Instead, it’s the place to find that really special something in one of the many Downtown or Business Spur stores.

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Not sure exactly what to get someone? The Sault Area Chamber of Commerce sells Chamber Bucks that can be used at a wide variety of local stores and establishments. Like a gift certificate that spends at a list of stores and restaurants, Chamber Bucks make a great gift.

And speaking of surprising someone you love with a great gift, wouldn’t you love to share VIP treatment at the upcoming International 500 (I-500) snowmobile race with someone special?

Truthfully, just attending the I-500, with its “NASCAR on Ice” reputation and its high-speed excitement is something you don’t want to miss. Thousands attend annually and, on Feb. 6, you can be a part of history for the 48th annual race.

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Can you imagine how exciting VIP treatment would be? This year one lucky winner of the I-500 VIP contest won’t have to worry about arranging lodging, finding a place to watch the race or having a good time because it’s all included in the grand prize!

Spend two nights at the Soo Locks Lodge & Suites and watch the race from the enclosed, comfortable VIP area with a friend. It’s truly a great way to enjoy a winter tradition.

Enter the contest now and we’ll look for you at the top of the Tower, in the shops of Sault Ste. Marie, and, if you’re lucky, in the I-500 VIP suite!

Ready for a Sault Ste. Marie Peepshow?

Don’t just steal a peek or pretend you don’t know what we’re talking about. You wouldn’t be the first person to head to upper Michigan for the kind of show you can’t experience close to home. But talk is cheap, so here’s a picture of the kind of rack you can hope to see at our Peepshow.

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Photo Credit: Esther Mudge

I’m not sure what you were expecting to see. It’s leaf peeping season in Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area and there’s no better Peepshow than what you’ll find along the roadways and wooded pathways of the Eastern Upper Peninsula. Moose, for instance, are most likely to be seen in the Newberry area. Stay in Sault Ste. Marie and then take a leisurely drive not just to see moose, but maybe a few other autumn attractions. Like….

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Tahquamenon Falls….

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and Point Iroquois Lighthouse….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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and Mission Point Overlook.

 

 

 

 

There are plenty of scenic routes to explore around the region, where you’ll enjoy changing colors beautifully composed alongside lighthouses, waterfalls, Lake Superior shoreline and so many other stunning backdrops.

Appreciating the colors of fall doesn’t have to involve a road trip, either. You can take to the waters of the St. Marys River and bask in beautiful autumn light while your Soo Locks Boat Tour captain does the driving. Or you can stake out a spot along the shore and haul in a fresh catch for your dinner.

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Photo credit: Mikel Classen

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Photo Credit: Mikel Classen

Oh sure – those people in New England think they have a corner on the autumn color tour market. Some say they were the ones to coin the term “leaf peeper” and if you watch the video below, they’ve probably coined a few other words, too? (“Foilage” anyone?)

Funny right? We can appreciate a good giggle and truth be told, we sometimes chuckle when visitors ask us what day they should come to see the leaves turn. But we’ll take Boston Jonny’s video and raise the stakes with one beautiful presentation of fall in Sault Ste. Marie.

There is plenty to see and do during this fall color season and it’s not too late! So book your Sault Ste Marie lodging, pack your bag, and head to Sault Ste. Marie.

And please make sure to tell your relatives you’re on your way to the peepshow. We like to stir up a little trouble now and then.

Beer steins & running shoes: It’s a Sault Ste. Marie Saturday

I have a confession to make. I have never thought of myself as athletic.

What does my confession have to do with someone flinging a beer keg? Easy. I have never thought of myself as athletic…until I discovered that on Sept. 26 in Sault Ste. Marie, competitive sports involve running a half marathon, sprinting over a bridge, walking a 5K, holding a beer stein for a lengthy period, pulling a fire truck, and flinging a beer keg. I am confident I can master at least one of these competitions.

On Sept. 26, two great events occur on the same day in our fair city. Sault International Festival of Races dominates the morning hours, while Oktoberfest takes the reigns in the afternoon and evening.

Truth be told, I am in awe of those who have run the Half Marathon and the 6.6 mile Bridge Run over the past five years since the event was launched. It grows each year in popularity which makes perfect sense, considering it has to be the most scenic race in all of Michigan. During your morning run, cross the International Bridge and sneak a bird’s-eye glimpse of the Soo Locks below.

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And for those who aren’t runners, there’s even a 5K Run/Walk. It doesn’t cross the bridge but it does take a scenic path through Downtown Sault Ste. Marie.

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Since Oktoberfest happenings don’t begin until the afternoon, you over-achievers can participate in all events, including the Keg Toss, Fire Truck Pull, Tug of War, and more.

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You can even sign up for the Samuel Adams Beer Stein Challenge at the Alpha Bar, where you’ll have to hold a beer stein in front of you in a test of both endurance (how long can you hold it?) and discipline (how long can you go without drinking it?) at this first-time event. Lacking a photo, I invite you to check out the following video from Cincinnati and start conditioning your arm TODAY to get ready for the Soo event.

The Alpha isn’t the only business offering special events during Oktoberfest. And, like any good festival, there are awesomely-autumn vendor booths, tasty fair food and live entertainment – all found in Downtown Sault Ste. Marie.

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Hoisting a beer. Walking a beautiful downtown. Joining in a tug of war. Visiting vendor booths while listing to live music and munching on good eats. These are all on the docket, which is why I’m retracting my confession. I AM athletic and I will give all takers a run for their money in at least one of these events. Can you guess which one?

See you in Sault Ste. Marie!

Those Lazy, Crazy, DOWNTOWN DAYS of Summer

Am I giving away my age if can sing alone with Nat King Cole to Those Lazy Crazy Hazy Days of Summer? In truth – I learned it from watching Gilmore Girls. Know what else I love about that show? The small town of Stars Hollow always has some quirky, fun, unique festival going on. The same can be said for Sault Ste. Marie, when Downtown Days roll out on Ashmun Street, August 7-8, 2015.

What’s the secret sauce behind a great festival? First, it has to be kid friendly, right? I’ll go even further – the kids have to be entertained and having fun. I’m talking about petting zoo, bouncy house, hands-on art project fun.

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The Downtown Days “Kid’s Zone” – complete with bouncy houses, dunk tank and more – is open each day from 9am-6pm. The petting zoo is sure to bring a smile each day from 11am-5pm. (And pardon me, but petting small, furry animals isn’t just for kids!)

Another key ingredient to a successful festival is entertainment – particularly local talent. From kids performing dance routines, musicians sharing their art, or martial arts demonstrations – there’s something so authentic about street performances. Don’t you just want to join in?

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There’s also plenty of shopping – with more than 50 stores and vendors featuring their wares in a “sidewalk sales” fashion as part of Downtown Days. Who doesn’t love a good deal?

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If we’re talking fun for the whole family, then someone is bound to love classic cars and Downtown Days also features the Slashin’ Ashmun Car Show on Saturday, from 10am-3pm.

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And there’s more – including a pancake breakfast, B.A.S.S. tournament, and a Kids Balloon Drop with prizes for everyone. Yes – there’s so much going on – you will need this schedule.

And like we learned on Gilmore Girls, there can be unexpected benefits from a festival…..

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….No, No…..not a doggy swami, but making new friends and what’s more festive than that?

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So what are you waiting for? It’s time to roll out those lazy, crazy, hazy DOWNTOWN DAYS of summer. I’ll be there Aug. 7-8 — will you??

(P.S. Just like compliments, admission is FREE and the event is hosted by the Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Development Authority.)

Engineer’s Weekend in Sault Ste. Marie

“What was your favorite part of our vacation?”

That question floats easily off the tongue toward anyone with whom I’ve traveled near or far. Secretly – I only ask it so they’ll ask me in return! I’m chomping at the bit to relive every minute and the most memorable vacations….those are the one’s when you cannot decide which part was the best.

Engineer’s Weekend in Sault Ste. Marie is like that.

Starting on the last Friday in June, you find yourself moving from one great event to the next, starting with Engineer’s Day at world-famous Soo Locks. It’s pretty remarkable to stand on a lock gate at the Soo Locks and stare a massive freighter in the nose. To wander the inner sanctum of this engineering wonder is an opportunity that happens only one day a year and worth the wait!

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There are interesting displays and booths inside the park, vendors set up nearby, and great shops and restaurants just across the street. We like to park the car and leave it while we explore. Oh…and we always make time for this!

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But there are more things to see and do and it’s time to move less than a mile up Portage Avenue to tour the Cloverland Hydro-Electric Plant, opened in 1902 and still providing power to part of Sault Ste. Marie today. It’s a stunning beauty from the outside, but simply fascinating inside to see how they turn water into power.

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Can you believe that’s all on Friday alone? Come Saturday, we’ve tied our shoes, charged our camera batteries and are ready to beat feet across the border for the International Bridge Walk. Stretching from Michigan to Canada and passing high over the Soo Locks, the event is fun, picturesque and, in truth, a pretty easy walk.

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The whole town is hopping during Engineer’s Weekend. We sampled Upper Peninsula maple syrup, watched the kids bounce to their heart’s content, and bought a few souvenirs at Fridays’ Arts, Crafts, and Family Fun Day. On Saturday, after the bridge walk, we cheered tugboats as they raced up and down the river.

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We also made time for museum visits, brewery samples, casino action, and dipping our toes in the St. Marys River. It’s no wonder I can never choose the best part of Engineer’s Weekend! I guess we’ll just have to try again this June and see what tops the list.

Can you pick your favorite?

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. 

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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.

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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!”