POV shot of a biker riding through the woods

FREE things to do on your Tahquamenon Falls summer vacation

Spend more time having fun than spending money this summer doing these free things near Tahquamenon Falls. Swim, hike, paddle and look for moose.

Need a break this summer, but can’t afford a big trip? Enjoy hours of FREE fun in Tahquamenon Country! Our long list of no-cost things to do will bring smiles to all ages and the more you save, the more money you will have for ice cream! 

Top FREE things to do

Explore miles of trails

It’s tough in the Midwest to surpass the natural beauty and landmarks you’ll see in Tahquamenon Country. Hike miles within Tahquamenon Falls State Park, follow the North Country National Scenic Trail or find adventure on two-track and back roads. Here is a list of our favorite hiking trails.

Bike around Tahquamenon Country 

Set your pace on two wheels to see popular landmarks, spectacular coastlines and forests. There are mountain biking trails and road bike routes to fit every challenge level. Twist and turn on these top picks by biking enthusiasts or be adventurous following back roads near Newberry and Paradise.

Kayaking

Paddle in tranquility

Whether you spend a couple of hours or a few days paddling the 95 miles of the slow-moving Tahquamenon River, you will have more time to see the stunning scenery, wildlife and birds that call this area home. Or let the serenity of nature soothe you as you zig and zag along the ancient path of the Two Hearted River. Find more peaceful paddling sites on nearby ponds and lakes.

A Moose.

Search in the Moose Capital of Michigan

There are more moose sightings near Newberry than any other county in Michigan. But it’s not an everyday occurrence. Use these tips to increase your chances of seeing these massive animals, more likely seen in fields, wetlands or near beaver ponds. Keep your camera ready.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge.

Meet nature in the Seney National Wildlife Refuge

A half-hour west of Newberry is the incredible Seney National Wildlife Refuge. If you are passionate about the outdoors, you will love fishing, birding, observing wildlife, hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, berry picking, taking photos, geocaching and attending interpretation and environmental education programs here. We recommend taking the seven-mile Marshland Wildlife Drive. Many of the refuge’s diverse habitats and wildlife can be seen at close range from your vehicle, but periodically stop to listen and gaze out from the three observation decks.

Rockhounding Lake Superior.

Go agate hunting on Lake Superior

One of the best free souvenirs is collecting the red, orange and yellow agates along Lake Superior beaches. One of the easiest to access is Deer Park, which you can reach by parking along the lake or walking in from Muskallonge State Park.  

Spy dozens of birds on your bucket list

Whether you are new to birding or a longtime bird watcher, don’t miss spending time along the 150-mile Superior Birding Trail anchored by Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO) in the north and Seney National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) in the south. This trail is a flight path for tens of thousands of migrating birds! Birding enthusiasts thrill at spying Spruce Grouse, Rough-legged Hawk, Jaegers, Great Gray Owls, Pileated Woodpeckers, Peregrine Falcons and many others. 

Learn the stories of our lighthouses

The stories of courage and heart-wrenching tragedies our lighthouses can tell. With Lake Superior an hour north of Newberry and Lake Michigan an hour south, you are close to six of the Upper Peninsula’s 40 lighthouses — many of them you can see for free. Along Lake Superior, visit Crisp Point Lighthouse, the Grand Marais inner and outer lighthouses and Point Iroquois Lighthouse. Or take a day trip to see the still active Manistique East Breakwater Light and Seul Choix Point Lighthouse and on Lake Michigan.

Step back in time

The Luce County Historical Museum takes you inside the historic Luce County jail and Queen Anne-style sheriff’s residence (circa 1894). See jail cells, courtroom memorabilia, a schoolroom, a Native American exhibit and other windows into life in the late 1800s. 

Learn our fascinating past on our Historical Marker Tour

Stopping to read the historical markers scattered through Tahquamenon Country is a great way to get to know us. On your driving tour, visit the markers for the Northernmost Point of Lake Michigan, the Helmer House and the Two Hearted River Life Saving Station. 

Spend initial money upfront to do these things for FREE, too

Get a Michigan Recreation Passport

Some of the best places to have fun in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are our state parks and recreation areas and state-managed boating access sites, state forest campgrounds, thousands of miles of trails and other outdoor spaces – all year long. You must have an annual resident or non-resident Michigan Recreation Passport or a daily pass to access them with your vehicle. Once you purchase your Passport or pass, you can go to any state park or other state recreation property at NO CHARGE until it expires! 

Places to show your Passport in Tahquamenon Country for FREE entry:

Upper Tahquamenon Falls.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park | Entrances in Newberry and Paradise

This is a must-see destination in Tahquamenon Country. The Upper Tahquamenon Falls are the second largest falls east of the Mississippi River, eclipsed only by Niagara Falls! There is a wheelchair-accessible path to an overlook so everyone can see and hear the thundering water. 

The Lower Tahquamenon Falls are five smaller falls around an island in the river. You can reach them by crossing a footbridge or renting a rowboat. A trail encircles the island and once there, you can enter the river to feel the water swirl around you.

The park has 35 miles of hiking trails, an excellent bird-watching area and it is the only Michigan state park with a micro-brewery/restaurant and gift shop.  

Muskallonge State Park | Newberry

Muskallonge Lake State Park is in one of the least populated counties in the state, making it a perfect retreat from hectic living. The park is between Muskallonge Lake and Lake Superior. Muskallonge Lake’s water is calmer and warmer in the summer months. On the other side of the park, Lake Superior is enormous and deep, its shoreline rocky, water temperatures cold and at times, its waves fiercely wild. It’s a favorite place to do water sports, hike, collect rocks, spy dozens of bird species, fish and ORV/ATV. 

Mouth of the Two Hearted River State Campground | McMillan Township

The Two Hearted River State Campground is where the 23.6-mile river empties into Lake Superior, a spot made famous by American author, Ernest Hemingway. Its day-use area has picnic tables, a charcoal grill, a boat launch and a skid pier. A suspension bridge takes you from the 36-site campground to Lake Superior’s sandy, dune-lined shore. The river mouth is a popular place to fish (pre-purchase an annual license), paddle and watch for river otters and eagles.

Headquarters Lake Equestrian State Forest Trail | Newberry

This is a beautiful area for trail riding! Pull your small or large trailer into the day-use area where you can venture over 25 miles of well-marked equestrian trails of varying lengths and steepness. A standout feature of this trail system is the 18-mile round-trip route that takes you to Lake Superior. It’s an unforgettable experience!

Purchase an annual license and/or a permit

ATV/ORV Riding  | Throughout Tahquamenon Country

A network of trails through the Lake Superior State Forest wilderness provides you with many hours of unsurpassed riding. State Forest roads are also open to ORV users unless otherwise posted. Plus, almost all seasonal roads throughout Luce County are open to ORV enthusiasts unless gated. Before you ride, check Michigan’s ATV/ORV license, permit and state regulations.

Three people fishing from a boat.

Boating | Throughout Tahquamenon Country

There are many places to launch your boat, sailboat or personal watercraft in Tahquamenon Country. From Newberry, you are within an hour of Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Big Manistique Lake, Round Lake, South Manistique Lake, Bass Lake, Hulbert Lake, Trout Lake, Brevort Lake, Rexton Lake, Kaks Lake, Pike Lake, and Culhane Lake! Before you go on the water, please read the Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws to learn about boat registration, age restrictions and boater safety certification.

Fishing | Throughout Tahquamenon Country

The Upper Peninsula is known as one of the best fisheries in the world and Tahquamenon Country contributes to its acclaim. Luce County has 160+ lakes and numerous rivers and streams making it a popular destination for seasoned to first-time anglers. Wet your line and you will soon catch your limit of delicious salmon, trout, walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike and muskellunge. Before fishing, buy a license and familiarize yourself with fishing seasons and regulations. 

Stay over for more Tahquamenon Country adventures 

When traveling to Tahquamenon Country, you can find lodgings in Newberry with the amenities, rates and pet-friendly accommodations you enjoy. Wake up refreshed and ready to do more free things. It will be the best summer vacation ever! 

Book your stay

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Kirkland Warbler
POV biker racing down a dirt track in the forest
Yellow Ladyslippers
Tahquamenon Falls in summer
scenic shot of Crisp Point Lighthouse
a small bunch of white trillium on the forest floor
closeup of rocks
Blackburian Warbler on a pine tree limb
The Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat heading up the river.
The northern lights over Lake Superior
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