Tag Archives: Soo Locks

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.

Moose by Esther Mudge resized

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….


Tahquamenon Falls….

fall at Point Iroquois





and Point Iroquois Lighthouse….







fall photo -resized

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.

boat tours fall classen

Photo credit: Mikel Classen

Classen fishing

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.

re July 2014 319

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.

re July 2014 198 re July 2014 233

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?

re July 2014 218

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?

re July 2014 187 re July 2014 239

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.

car show downtown soo (2)

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…..


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

re July 2014 319free compliments (2)

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.)

re PTP_5644

A “Rendezvous” with History in Sault Ste. Marie

Call it humbling. Or maybe thought-provoking. It may even feel like deja vu if you think you were an explorer or fur trader in a previous life. The feeling differs from person to person but the outcome is the same: it’s just plain awesome to walk the same shores of the St. Marys River settled by Europeans nearly 350 years ago.

You’ve got a date with history on July 25-26, 2015.

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Rendezvous in the Sault

re PTP_5638

Surround yourself with costumed re-enactors from the French Colonial Heritage Society of Port Huron who pride themselves in recreating authentic scenes, activities, and living arrangements from the 17th and 18th centuries. These encampments are truly remarkable in their detail.

There’s music to dance to, wares to be purchased, and hatchets to throw. This isn’t a passive exercise, but rather an immersion into another time. Both children and adults will enjoy listening to the story-teller, playing authentic games, and meeting historic personalities from the era.

re PTP_5737 PTP_5643 resize

There’s butter to be churned, concerts to be performed and cannons to be loaded. Rendezvous in the Sault is a perfect multi-generational activity, so bring the whole family.

re PTP_5659 re PTP_5759

If you appreciate the assistance of a schedule, you can always consult the Rendezvous website, where you’ll find details about events and times.

These are the very grounds where the first European settlement in Michigan was created in 1668. Sault Ste. Marie’s early history gravitated around the river, creating a gathering place for literally centuries of Native Americans and European settlers alike. What better place for a historic rendezvous than on the place where history was first made?

Join us as we make merry and celebrate our shared history on July 25-26, 2015.



Engineer's Day 2013 pic 8 (2)

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!

Engineer's Day 2013 admin bldg IMG_140627-a-YU979-7251_300dpi

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!

ice cream cone DSC_6504

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.

hydroelectric plant 2 (2) Cloverland Open House 2013 (2) PTP_9380 (2)

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.

Bridge Walk 2013 (2)

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.

LSSUTugParade2223 (2) DSC_0698

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. 

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!

DSC01283 (2)

The Wonders of Wednesday: Markets and Music

If you visit Sault Ste. Marie only on a weekend, you might be missing one of the best days of the week. There’s a special something in the air on Wednesday nights in “the Soo” – especially Downtown.  While the attractions that make the city irresistible – the Soo Locks, a variety of museums, historic churches, boat cruises and more – are still on the menu, two special offerings can be found only on Wednesday evenings.

DSC_2502 Farmer's Market

It starts with the Farmer’s Market, located at the corner of Portage Avenue and Ashmun Street. From 4-7pm, local farmers share the bounty of their gardens and fields throughout the summer season. From arugula to zucchini, those interested in locally-grown goods will have plenty of options. But it’s more than just vegetables and fruit. Fresh fish, poultry, eggs, baked goodies, canned jams, pickles and more…and the list goes on and on.

There are also non-edibles for sale. For instance, when we mention the word “hoop” – you probably expect to hear about produce grown in a hoop house, but at the Sault Farmer’s Market, you can also find HOOLA HOOPS! (And jewelry, and hand-carved items, and so much more.)

DSC01257 (2)

It’s a good thing the Farmer’s Market closes at 7pm, because that’s when you’ll need to be at the Soo Locks for the weekly “Music in the Park” series. A different act takes the stage each week and the styles of music vary dramatically from week to week. Tomorrow, for instance, the Petoskey Steel Drum Band will perform for what is typically the largest audience of the season. Last week, a trio shared romantic crooner classics and future performances will include Da’ Yoopers, a local rock group, and a banjo band. How’s that for variety?

 DSC01286 (2)

Bring a lawn chair, then kick back and listen to the music while watching freighters, Coast Guard vessels, and other watercraft make their way through the Locks nearby. Just when you think a perfect summer evening can’t get any better – did I mention this is free?

Have you caught Wednesday fever? The only known cure is to plan your Sault Ste. Marie visit to include what some call “Hump Day” but we simply refer to it as Wonderful Wednesday! See you Downtown!