Perched on the brawny shores of Lake Superior with a population of 21,000, Marquette is a major shipping port and the small town hub of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The varied and sweeping landscape include miles of rugged, rocky coastline interspersed with both pebble and sand beaches, miles of breathtaking hikes, killer mountain bilking, and cross-country ski trails, a small ski mountain, and the wide expanse of Lake Superior and all of the water recreation that goes along with it. In short, there is enough outdoor entertainment to keep even the most avid outdoors-lover amused all year long. As the largest town on the Upper Peninsula, Marquette also boasts a cornucopia of local restaurants with a wide variety of offerings, in addition to a seasonal farmer’s market (late-May through mid-December) and a superb food co-op. On my most recent trip to Marquette, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at The Marq —Marquette’s first farm-to-table restaurant— which opened in March of 2015. Other trips have bestowed equally enjoyable outings, including several mouthwatering Thai dishes at Rice Paddy, an exquisite meal at the Landmark Inn’s Piedmont Restaurant, a hearty lunch in the comfortable, diner-esque Donckers, and more than one wholesome breakfasts at the homey Sweet Water Café.
In addition to the spectacular outdoors and abundance of good, local restaurants, Marquette supports a thriving arts culture with numerous galleries and an army of creative-types. The designers at Revisions Design Studio find “inspiration [and] beauty in old objects of years gone by, and, through a series of revisions, are able to take something once discarded and breathe new life into it to be appreciated in a different way. The Risak Gallery, located north of downtown near Presque Isle Park, is run by a family of potters specializing in the “Raku technique.” Many museums worldwide house the Risak’s pieces, including the Smithsonian Institute, The White House, and the University of Tokyo. Through artifacts and storytelling, the Marquette Regional History Center showcases the rich and captivating history of the Upper Peninsula in addition to hosting a “Re-Design Fashion Show” an event that brings together the region’s “upcycling” artists for “a runway show of original designs…featuring creative uses for recycled clothing and fabric.” Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the spectacular Peter White Library, a stately building chock-full of resources, which also houses the Marquette Arts and Culture Center.
Most importantly, the community spirit in Marquette is downright palpable. Everywhere we went, we found people who were eager to share their love for the community and the people living there. The vibrancy that comes from the spirit and beauty of the outdoors percolates through the cultural climate of food, art and ideas. Time and again we were peppered with stories of those who landed in Marquette while attending Northern Michigan University but could not get themselves to leave after graduation —a strong endorsement of the strength and spirit of this outstanding community.
Elevation: 120 feet
Avg Temp in January: 25/13
Avg Temp in July: 70/53
Known for: Olympic Peninsula, Victorian Seaport, Hiking, Biking, Water Sports, Large number of non-profits and cooperatives, Arts, Local Foods
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