After spending a few days in Traverse City, Michigan, I took a picturesque three-hour drive to Sault Ste. Marie, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
As I got closer to the city, I was shocked to find I was just two miles from the Canadian border. I could see Ontario. Sault Ste. Marie is a beautiful combination of Canadian and American cultures, which adds to its rich history and nightlife.
Discovering Great Lakes History
Sault Ste. Marie is the oldest city in the Midwest. The St. Marys River, which forms the natural border between Canada and the U.S., has played a key role in the city’s history and prosperity. The city is home to the famous Soo Locks, the world’s largest locking system that connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron. What better way to take in the river and gorgeous scenery than to take a boat tour that actually goes through the locks? The expanse of water around you is mind-blowing and breathtaking all at once.
I was told, however, that the most incredible views of the city, locks and river could be seen from the top of the Tower of History Museum, so that’s where I headed next. You can ride the elevator up 64 meters, where you will be rewarded with 360-degree views that are stunning. After taking in the surroundings, I headed to the Museum Ship Valley Camp, where I took a great tour, saw a 1917 Great Lakes freighter up close and learned much more about the area’s history from one of the lovely and knowledgeable staff members.
Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
Northern Cuisine and Downtown Sault Ste. Marie
My next destination was downtown at the Antlers Restaurant; this place was different from anywhere I had been before. The place is chockablock with stuffed wildlife, from bison to deer to squirrels and everything in between. It sounds odd, but it was actually pretty cool. And the locally sourced buffalo burgers were incredible.
Farther down the street, downtown becomes very charming, with old-fashioned creameries offering homemade fudge and ice cream. There are lovely boutiques and gift shops and plenty of places to eat and drink. This brings me to the nightlife. There are 13 bars downtown making up what’s known locally as the “Bar-muda Triangle”. Each bar offers a little something different. They have great live music and some excellent craft beers. Needless to say – and because the World Cup was on – I spent the rest of the evening making friends with the locals, sampling craft beers and generally having a blast. Have I mentioned how much I like the people of Sault Ste. Marie?
Before leaving town, make it a point to visit the gorgeous Tahquamenon Falls State Park, where you can hike, bike, boat and fish. It’s situated on 20,234 hectares and is full of natural beauty, from the falls to the foliage. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, really is a fantastic place for exquisite natural beauty, history, culture, nightlife and dining, and I plan to go back. Plus you’re just 10 minutes from Canada, and that’s pretty cool.
Soo Brewing Company in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan