12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Munising, MI
Author Meagan Drillinger visited Munising in the fall of 2022 while on assignment for PlanetWare.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula (or the UP) is the quintessential escape when it comes to natural beauty and interesting small towns. Munising, in particular, is one of the best small towns in the UP, with plenty of things to do year-round.
Perched directly on the southern shores of Lake Superior, Munising, is a top spot on the Lake Superior Circle Tour in Michigan.
Outdoor adventure abounds in Munising no matter the time of year. Tucked within the Hiawatha National Forest, Munising is the gateway to the spectacular Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It is also the last point on the Upper Peninsula before venturing off into the Grand Island National Recreational Area.
Other highlights and tourist attractions in Munising include more than a dozen waterfalls, a handful of lighthouses, great restaurants, and tons of small-town charm. Read on if you're ready to explore the best things to do in Munising, Michigan.
1. Marvel at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Michigan's Upper Peninsula is home to an endless array of natural beauty. But perhaps the crown jewel of the Upper Peninsula is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hugging the coast of Lake Superior, the lakeshore is known for its beaches, waterfalls, sand dunes, forests, and, of course, the gorgeously colored sandstone cliffs.
The rocks get their name from the streaks of mineral stain that drip down the side of the cliffs, creating stripes of different colors, like red, orange, blue, green, brown, black, and white. Each color represents a different mineral that bubbles up through the cracks of the limestone and subsequently trickles down the face of the rocks.
The cliffs themselves stand anywhere from 50 to 200 feet directly over the glassy, blue-green surface of Lake Superior. Beyond the 15 miles of cliffs, the park also has 12 miles of beaches, more than 100 miles of trails, lakes, streams, and forest.
Address: N8391 Sand Point Road, Munising, Michigan
2. Take a Snap of Miners Castle Rock
Within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of the most famous monuments – Miners Castle Rock. The famous limestone landmark juts out into Lake Superior, perched atop one of the striated stretches of cliff.
Access: Unlike many of the other cliff faces in the park, Miners Castle Rock can be seen from a viewing platform, meaning anyone with a vehicle can see the rock, rather than having to hike to other viewpoints or hop aboard a boat to see the formations from the lake. It's a short, paved walk from the parking lot right to the viewing platform, which makes it accessible to almost everyone.
If you wanted to put in a little extra effort, a mile-long stretch of trail leads from the top of the cliff down to Miners Beach.
One of the best perks about Miners Castle is that visitors do not have to pay an entrance fee, so you can get an up-close look at the pictured rocks without having to pay.
3. Hike to Miners Falls
Within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is yet another natural landmark that is worth the trip. The rushing Miners River drops 50 feet over beautiful sandstone cliffs, resulting in one of the strongest and prettiest waterfalls within the Upper Peninsula.
While you'll need to hike in from the parking lot, the hike to the waterfall is rather mild at just 1.2 miles round trip. A parking lot sits about four miles north of Highway 58 off Miners Castle Road, so it's fairly easy to access. It will take about 20 minutes to reach the waterfall from the parking area.
Once you reach the waterfall, you'll have to walk down more than 70 steps to reach the viewing platform to watch the water cascade over the ledge and crash on the rocks below. If it's summertime, you can go all the way down to the swimming hole at the bottom of the falls.
Camping is also permitted in the area, but a permit is needed as well as some experience, since it's backcountry camping in this part of the park.
4. Visit Munising Falls
Even easier to access than Miners Falls is Munising Falls, which is within the city limits of Munising. Located near Sand Point Road, near the Munising Memorial Hospital, this 50-foot waterfall is easily accessible from an 800-foot trail.
A paved trail from a parking lot winds up a shaded canyon following Munising Creek and leads you directly to the base of the falls. Several viewing platforms are available for multiple different angles of the falls. Note: In winter you can enjoy some of the spectacular ice formations that crystallize along the rock face.
The best time to visit the falls is in the spring after the snow melts. This is when the waterfall is at its most powerful as it plunges down over the sandstone cliff. A visitor center has a small bookstore, as well as exhibits on the geology and forest history of the area.
5. Splash around at Sand Point Beach
Lake Superior has many beautiful beaches along the coast, but one of the best for the Munising area is Sand Point Beach. Located at the end of Sand Point Road, about four miles out of town, this beach is one of the best beaches in Michigan, particularly along the Upper Peninsula. The beach is part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Residents and visitors alike love it for its white sand, calm water, and beautiful views. From the beach, it's easy to see Grand Island and the East Channel Lighthouse.
All throughout the summer, you'll find the beach packed with people swimming, sunbathing, and grilling on the public grills. Because the water is relatively shallow at the beach, the water is much warmer than at other beaches along Lake Superior.
For people who need something active to do, the Sand Point Marsh Trail runs for half a mile around a beautiful wetland area, known for its birds, turtles, leaves, and frogs.
6. Walk to Wagner Falls
If you haven't noticed by now, Munising has a lot of waterfalls in and around the vicinity. Another great one to check out is Wagner Falls, which flows from Wagner Creek. The 20-foot waterfall is easy to access and a beautiful place to visit when you're waterfall hopping in Michigan.
You can access the falls via M-94, past the intersection of M-94 and M-28. It's actually on the side of the road, where a small walk leads to the falls, which are surrounded by gorgeous pine and hemlock trees. It will take about five minutes to get to the falls from your car, and the walk is less than a quarter of a mile on a flat stretch of boardwalk, making it super easy to access.
After Wagner Creek tumbles over the falls, it flows into the Anna River, which then continues on to be one of the tributaries of Lake Superior.
7. Explore Chapel Rock and Beach
The woods and fields around Munising are a treasure trove of great hiking trails, particularly within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. One of the most popular hikes is the Chapel Rock & Chapel Beach trail, particularly if you're looking for a nice, solid day hike.
The entire trail is a 6.2-mile round trip and weaves past Chapel Falls and continues on to Chapel Rock and Chapel Beach. Chapel Rock is a lingering remnant from the Cambrian age, which dates back nearly 4,000 years ago. Its shape is thanks to erosion over the centuries. An archway once connected the structure to the mainland, but that collapsed in the 1940s.
Do you notice the white pine tree that sits on top of Chapel Rock? That tree is estimated to be about 250 years old.
Next to the rock is Chapel Beach, surrounded by high bluffs and carpeted with soft, fluffy sand that leads out into Lake Superior.
8. Take the Grand Island Ferry
Just off the shores surrounding Munising is the naturally beautiful Grand Island. Part of the Hiawatha National Forest, the island sits just half a mile offshore in Lake Superior.
A paradise for nature lovers, the island is beloved for its viewpoints, beaches, forests, and lakes within lakes. It is rich with regional history, too. Settlers came to the island in the early 1800s. A trading post was established in 1846. Today the homes that you see on the island date back more than a century.
In 1990 Grand Island became a National Recreation Area and since has been a hot spot for outdoor recreation, from mountain biking to camping.
Visitors can get to Grand Island from Munising using the Grand Island Ferry. The ferry landing is just off M-28, about four miles west of Munising. Note that the ferry is seasonal and will run throughout the day from the Friday before Memorial Day until early October.
9. Drive the Lake Superior Circle Tour
Lake Superior is one of the largest lakes in the world. Its shoreline measures roughly 2,726 miles. One of the best ways to see the entire lake is to drive the Lake Superior Circle Tour.
The Lake Superior Circle Tour is a 1,300-mile self-guided driving tour that travels all along Lake Superior and passes through Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and, of course, Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
One of the best things to do in Munising is to drive a portion of the Circle Tour that stops at scenic points all along the Michigan coast of Lake Superior.
Of course, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of the most popular sightseeing stops along the Circle Tour, but travelers can drive the entire stretch from Sault Ste. Marie, which sits on the border with Ontario, all the way to the border of Wisconsin. You can even keep going up through Minnesota and back into Ontario to complete the entire circuit.
10. Venture through Lakenenland Sculpture Park
Speaking of sites along the Circle Tour, Lakenenland Sculpture Park is a quirky and interesting little slice of culture tucked between the trees. Situated between Munising and Marquette, Lakenenland Sculpture Park has a walking path (which doubles as a driving path) through a course lined with peculiar recycled iron sculptures, created by Tom Lakenen.
Lakenen created more than 80 funky and whimsical massive works of art that have all been created from recycled iron. He has been constructing these sculptures in what he refers to as his "junkyard" for more than 25 years. The park is free to enter and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Want a cool way to see the park? Visit during the winter, and you can go across the course on snowmobile. The park area also has a pond, fireplace, and a playground.
Address: 2800 M-28 East, Marquette, Michigan
11. Take a Peek at the Munising Front Range Lighthouse
The coasts of Michigan are famous for their many lighthouses, and the Upper Peninsula is no exception. Munising has many lovely lighthouses near the city – five to be exact – but one to visit in particular is the Munising Front Range Lighthouse.
The historic lighthouse was built in 1908 and was used to help ships navigate the narrow channel into Munising Bay. It stands at 58 feet tall and works with a second lighthouse, the Munising Rear Range Lighthouse, to ease vessels toward the channel.
The grounds around the tower are open, though the tower itself is closed. Today it is managed by the National Park Service.
Address: Address: 503 W Munising Ave, Munising, Michigan
12. Wander Munising's Art in the Alley
This sliver of culture in downtown Munising has been on display since 2018. Art in the Alley sits near the Harvest House, displaying more than 70 reproduced works of art by residents of Alger County in the Upper Peninsula.
Art in the Alley is a beloved highlight of downtown Munising during the summer months.
Address: M-28 and Elm Ave., Munising, Michigan