I often refer to Houghton/Hancock as the city where I fell in love. Moving up there when I was 19 and enrolling at Michigan Technological University, I met the man I would later marry and raise a family with. I fell in love with him, while also falling in love with Houghton and Hancock as well.
The beauty of the Copper Country is truly overwhelming. Endless beaches, friendly townies, and food that will knock your socks off. If you are looking for a place to soak in the natural beauty of Michigan, look no further. Visiting once will leave you with a lifelong urge to return every year.
Ambassador | 126 Shelden Ave, Houghton
I dream about their food. Truly have seasons of my life where I crave the ranch and garlic toast basket. Their pizzas are amazing. If I had to choose a favorite…I might die before I was able to decide between their BLT pizza and their Tostada pizza.
Suomi | 54 Huron St, Houghton
If you love breakfast, this is a spot you cannot miss. With small town charm and a Finnish menu that will warm your heart with all the Pannukakku goodness. We used to stand at their door waiting for the opening key to turn on weekend mornings.
Roy’s Pasties & Bakery | 305 W Lakeshore Dr, Houghton
When I lived in Houghton, I will admit that I visited Roy’s almost DAILY. Sandwiches, soups, freshly made baked goods and of course…this wouldn’t be an Upper Peninsula food review if it didn’t include the best pasties ever. Can’t wait to try one of their pasties? They offer online ordering!
FAVORITE FREE ATTRACTIONS
Agate Beach Park | 42870 Agate Beach Rd, Toivola
It was honestly difficult to even share this golden spot…because it feels like my hidden treasure! We visit this beach every time we visit. Explore this uncrowded beach, hunt for beautiful Superior rocks, have a fire, and cook your lunch next to the beautiful lake views. Bring a tent or camper and you can pop up right next to the crashing waves.
McClain State Park | 18350 Highway M-203, Hancock
McLain State Park offers two miles of sand beach on Lake Superior. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of activities in the park: fishing, windsurfing, berry picking, beachcombing, sight-seeing and hunting.
Misery Bay | West of Freda and East of Ontonagon
Uncrowded beach, beautiful views, and truly just another beautiful beach to explore.
A.E Seaman Mineral Museum | 1404 E Sharon Ave, Houghton
The A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum showcases amazing minerals from the Great Lakes region and around the world. Experience the beauty and splendor of minerals at one of North America’s great mineral museums. We love visiting this museum every trip to Houghton, it is clean, beautiful, and fills every member of our family with wonder.
Quincy Mine | 49750 US Hwy 41, Hancock, 906-482-3101
This is such a gem! Take a guided tour of an underground copper mine on the Quincy Electric Reversible Mine Transport (QERMiT). Be sure to check out: Quincy #2 Shafthouse, an engineering marvel; the Nordberg Steam Hoist, the largest steam-powered hoist engine ever built; and, the Passenger Cog Rail Tram, which takes you from the top of Quincy Hill to the East Adit (mine entrance). Experience the panoramic view of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, Houghton, and the Huron Mountains.
FAVORITE PLACES TO STAY
Ramada | 99 Navy St, Hancock
Cross the lift bridge into Hancock and the Ramada sits right on the portage with beautiful water/bridge views.
Hancock Recreation Area | 2000 Jasberg Street M203, Hancock
There are 72 sites to choose from; 58 for recreational vehicles and 14 for tents.
This 4 bedroom, 2 bath home is located on Portage Canal next to Houghton Beach, Chutes & Ladders, and Houghton public docks. Home is a short walk to Michigan Tech and historic downtown. There are two kayaks and 2 bikes available for you to use and explore the canal or downtown.
FAVORITE PLACE FOR SWEET TREATS
The Jampot | 6500 State Hwy M26, Eagle Harbor
The Jampot is ran by a Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine Rite located on the shores of Lake Superior. The Jampot offers a wide selection of homemade jams, jellies and preserves and fresh bakery and fruitcakes. Online ordering is available. They are open from May to mid-October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
FAVORITE PLACE FOR SOUVENIRS
Keweenaw Gem and Gift, Inc. | 912 Razorback Dr, Houghton
Specializing in rocks and minerals from Michigan. Featuring Michigan native copper and the related ores used to create unique gifts including bookends, clocks, and decorator pieces. We have had beautiful custom copper pieces made and always let the kids pick something out when we visit. They were established in 1981 and we love to pop in and visit with these friendly shop owners.
Urban Rustics | 48345 Hwy M26, Houghton
Home decor, gifts and much, much more. There is a wide array of new and recycled and locally hand crafted goods from local vendors. An adorable coffee shop is available while you shop. I leave with something every time I visit.
FAVORITE PHOTO OP
Portage Lake Lift Bridge
I might be biased… but I have this bridge and view tattooed on my forearm. The Portage Lake Lift Bridge connects the cities of Hancock and Houghton. It crosses Portage Lake, a portion of the waterway which cuts across the Keweenaw Peninsula with a canal linking the final several miles to Lake Superior to the northwest.
FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP
Victoria’s Kitchen | 518 Shelden Ave, Houghton
Always order the Turkish coffee for a pick-me-up. While you are there, grab breakfast and chat with Victoria herself. I love the Turkish coffee that she serves. Turkish coffee is a style of coffee prepared using very finely ground coffee beans without filtering. Despite the name, the style originated in Yemen and was brought to Turkey during the period of Ottoman rule.
BONUS TIPS TO HOUGHTON/HANCOCK
- Approximate Travel Time: 8.5 hours via I-75 N, Detroit to Houghton
- If you are looking for beautiful beaches and amazing waters, the Copper Country is the place for you. Driving anywhere along the peninsula will lead you to beautiful open beaches where you could spend the day and have the entire beach to yourself.
- Houghton and Hancock are college towns in the fall and spring, however, summer time promises beautiful weather and gorgeous beaches. They have town festivals and activities every month. Those are listed with dates and descriptions here.
- If you are a snow fan like I am, I HIGHLY recommend heading there in the winter to enjoy Winter Carnival. The Michigan Tech University Winter Carnival takes place on the campus and at various Houghton/Hancock locations February 3-6, 2021. Events include the famous snow statues, sporting events, the queen contest, a torch light parade, fireworks, the Sno-Ball, and more.
- I could truly go on, and on, and on about all the beauty within an hour radius of Houghton/Hancock. Our favorite vacations are spent in these cities just exploring and spending our days at different beaches.
- If you stay in Houghton or Hancock, you can spend a day or even an afternoon exploring Copper Harbor. It is a fast drive through the peninsula, with even more small town charm and beautiful breathtaking sights.