Houghton Michigan: Best Things To Do in the Upper Peninsula | Quincy Mine Tours, Isle Royale Seaplane, Ranger III, Restaurants, Waterfalls, Hotels

Houghton Michigan: Best Things To Do in the Upper Peninsula | Quincy Mine Tours, Restaurants, WaterfallsHoughton Michigan: Best Things To Do in the Upper Peninsula | Quincy Mine Tours, Restaurants, Waterfalls

By: Sherry Trautman | Traveling Michigan | www.Travel-Mi.com Updated: November 5, 2023

Houghton and Hancock Michigan is gold mine (or in this case copper) for adventurers, photographers and historians alike. 

Houghton Michigan, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is home to the famous Quincy Mine tours, blue Portage Lake lift bridge, Winter Carnival, Michigan Technological University, Ranger III Ship Ferry, Isle Royale Seaplane, some seriously good eats and a few surprises to boot.

Plus it's Chris' hometown so you have the insider's advantage!

So grab your hiking shoes, camera, bug spray and snacks because we are about to do some crazy exploring in Houghton Michigan.

While Traveling Michigan's Upper Peninsula, we will also wander into Hubbell Michigan, a super interesting nearby town that is only 9 miles away.  So are you ready?  Let's go!

Where is Houghton MI?

Houghton Michigan MapHoughton Michigan Map

Houghton Michigan is located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Houghton MI to Mackinaw City - 4 hours, 38 minutes, 226 miles

Houghton MI to Copper Harbor MI - 46 miles, 57 minutes

Discover Downtown Houghton MI

Houghton Michigan Map of Restaurants, Things to Do and ShoppingHoughton Michigan Map of Restaurants, Things to Do and Shopping

There's lots of opportunities for Houghton MI shopping!

Shelden Avenue is a great road for shopping.  We love frequenting the Michigan Made store for fun souvenirs. 

Plus, Grace + Gather and Chickadees are fun boutique shops in downtown Houghton MI that offer fantastic home décor and clothing. 

See Houghton Michigan's History: The Quincy Smelter

Quincy Smelter (also known as the Quincy Smelting Works)Quincy Smelter (also known as the Quincy Smelting Works). Photo by Susan Delisle

This photo, taken by local resident and my mother-in-law, Susan Delisle, is an old smelter in Houghton Michigan. 

The Quincy Smelter (also known as the Quincy Smelting Works) was a copper smelter.  It is now part of the Quincy Mining Company Historic District which is a National Historic Landmark District.

The Quincy Mining Company built the copper smelter in 1898 and it operated from 1898 to 1931 and 1948 to 1971.

Check out Michigan Tech's Mineral Museum to learn about the schools historic connection to the mining heritage of the area.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Waterfalls Near Houghton 

Michigan's Upper Peninsula waterfalls near Houghton Michigan are absolutely outstanding!!  Be sure to find Miner's Falls, Canyon River Falls, Hungarian Falls, Wagner Falls and a few others!

There are so many fun things to do in Houghton Michigan!

See the Incredible Portage Lake Lift Bridge-Houghton Michigan

Portage Canal Lift Bridge, Houghton, MI

Per Wikipedia, the Portage Lake Lift Bridge (officially the Houghton–Hancock 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.

The Portage Lake Lift Bridge is the only land-based link between the north and south sections of the Keweenaw peninsula.

Did you know?

This bridge is moveable!  The middle section can be lifted from its low point of four feet clearance over the water to a clearance of 100 feet!  This is so boats can float by underneath.

This incredible Houghton–Hancock Bridge is the world's heaviest and widest double-decked vertical-lift bridge

More than 35,000 tons of concrete and 7,000 tons of steel were used to construct the bridge, which replaced a 54-year-old swing bridge. 

Hancock and Houghton Michigan hold an annual celebration called Bridgefest to commemorate the opening of the bridge that united their two communities.

This lovely area is the Portage Ship Canal. There's a lovely walk path to enjoy the views of the Portage Lift Bridge.

Experience Winter Carnival in Houghton Michigan

Winter Carnival is an ultra popular carnival held at Michigan Tech every February.  

Winter Carnival started in 1922 and has grown to become one of the largest annual winter festivals in the nation! Come to enjoy dozens of huge, intricate snow statues all around campus and the community!

Watch students engage in exciting broomball and hilarious comedy skits. Take sleigh rides, watch a queen coronation, and join lots of winter fun.  I can't wait to try ice wall climbing this year-its on my Michigan Bucket List!

Houghton Michigan Isle Royale Seaplane 

Are you headed to Isle Royale for a rugged outdoor Michigan vacation jam packed with camping, sightseeing, hiking and relaxing? 

Can you fly to Isle Royale? Heck yeah!

One of the fastest ways to reach Michigan's only National Park is by the Isle Royale Seaplane located in Houghton Michigan!

You can take one way trips (take a boat on the way back) or round trips to Isle Royale National Park.  You would leave from the Hancock Portage Canal and fly to either Windigo or Rock Harbor. 

Hancock Portage Canal Seaplane Base21205 Royce Road, Hancock, MI 49930

Houghton Michigan Ranger III - Isle Royale National Park

Houghton Michigan Ranger III - Isle Royale National ParkHoughton Michigan Ranger III - Isle Royale National Park

How long does it take to get to Isle Royale from Houghton? The 73 mile journey to Rock Harbor takes 6 hours.

Are you headed to Isle Royale for a rugged outdoor Michigan vacation jam packed with camping, sightseeing, hiking and relaxing? 

Reservations for the Ranger III begin March 1 and are available through mid-September. 

Outbound and Inbound Isle Royale Voyages occur only on certain days of the week, so be sure to check their schedule and book your Michigan vacation early.

  • You will need to book a hotel in Houghton the night before as the boat leaves around 9:00 am. See our recommendation below.

Your Isle Royale National Park journey starts at the Ranger III's home port located at 800 E. Lakeshore Dr., Houghton, Michigan.

Did you know there are...

Free Ranger III Tours?!

Scheduled Tour Details:

  • Park at the Houghton Visitor Center
  • Be there about 10 minutes prior to the tour time
  • Tour time length: Approximately 1 hour

Houghton Michigan Hotels

We recommend staying at the Super 8 which is located along this fabulous walk path with views of the Portage Lift Bridge and waterway. I always choose a hotel along the water if I can as it really enhances our stay.  

There is a grill and picnic table so you can enjoy a meal right on the water.  How awesome is that?

The Downtowner: One of Our Favorite Restaurants in Houghton Michigan

If you are looking for great eats with an even greater view, the Downtowner located in Houghton Michigan is the place to go! 

Grab a burger and a beer and kick back with views overlooking the gorgeous Portage Lake Lift Bridge and sparkling waters. No better way to spend a warm Michigan day in the Upper Peninsula!  

It's one of our favorite restaurants in Houghton Michigan.

"Traveling is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown" Anthony Bourdain

Tour the Quincy Mine and Check Out The Incredible Dry House

The Quincy Mine is an extensive set of copper mines located near Houghton Michigan.

The mine was owned by the Quincy Mining Company and operated between 1846 and 1945, although some activities continued through the 1970's.

The Quincy Mine offers tours that tells of the fascinating history.  Grab a jacket and hard hat as you embark on the family friendly tour so you can play the part of a hard working miner! 

The tour definitely sets your imagination ablaze as you imagine the hard life these miners lived everyday.

Make sure you have time to explore the nearby grounds shown in the photo below.

Photo is Chris' mom Susan, myself and Chris embarking on the Quincy mine tour. Aren't we dashing in our yellow hard hats? 

Don't be jealous, you too can join the hard hat fashion statement by going on this fun tour!

I adore ruins and their history just as much as I love gorgeous landscapes. This fantastic building is part of the Quincy Mine in the Upper Peninsula. I absolutely love the feel of this building, it's arched doorways and missing roof. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
My soul just soars while exploring this place. I been here a few times and each time I discover new tidbits that I missed.

Check Out The Dredge #2 Located in Hubbell Michigan

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During our week long adventure in Michigan's Upper Peninsula this fall, we discovered the Quincy Dredge Number Two. What a fascinating piece of history!! You miiiiight have to sneak under a fence to get close...⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Chris took this drone photo of the dredge to show you a birdseye viewpoint. It was a little nerve wracking as he was flying closer to the dredge as a flock of birds were very curious of the drone's presence. I'll have more close-up photos in the next couple of days.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ History: The Quincy Dredge Number Two (previously known as the Calumet and Hecla Dredge Number One) is a dredge currently sunk in shallow water in Torch Lake, across M-26 from the Quincy Mining Company Stamp Mills Historic District. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1978. The dredge was used to reclaim previously-milled sand deposited in the lake after it had gone through the stamp mill. The dredged sand contained copper that earlier stamping technology had not been able to separate out. Improvements in stamping efficiency and cost increases in traditional shaft mining made these sand tailings economically feasible to reclaim and re-stamp.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #Michigan #puremichigan #greatlakesstate #travelingmichigan #michiganders #upperpeninsula #dredge #yooperlife #michiganaddict #michigander #hancockmichigan #houghtonmichigan #exploremichigan #puremittenpride #greatlakesproud #michiganphotographer #michiganmade #ig_awescapes #ipulledoverforthis #photooftheday #abandoned #abondonedbuilding #adventureislife #travelphotography #welivetoexplore #thegreatoutdoors #nature #travelblog #droneoftheday #dronephotography

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This Dredge #2 (read the history above embedded in my Instagram post) offers such a great view of Torch Lake located in Hubbell Michigan.

See the Quincy Stamp Mill

Directly across from the Dredge #2 is an incredible abandoned stamp mill. Probably not safe to go in AT ALL, but I had to as I absolutely adore exploring them. 

The Quincy Stamp Mill is off Michigan highway 26, about half way between Dollar Bay and Hubble. There are spots to park on the side of the mill building on the North side of the road.

Construction began on the stamp mill in 1888.  These mill buildings are part of the Quincy Mining Company Stamp Mills Historic District. They received ore from the Quincy mine above Hancock. The ore was crushed, refined and concentrated. Waste sand was dumped into nearby Torch Lake as a part of this process.

Processed ore was then taken to the Quincy Smelter for additional refining.  The mill closed around 1967. 

Love abandoned buildings?

Check out our Most Haunted Places in Michigan post!

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Is nature winning? This fantastic building is located in Hubbell, Michigan. I just love how the trees are reaching through the windows trying to consume the crumbling walls. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The sharp graffiti is such a contrast to the delicate nature that is surrounding it. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Tag someone that loves graffiti!!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #abandoned #oldbuilding #graffiti #graffitiart #graffitti #graffiti_art #Michigan #exploration #explorepage #oldbuildingsarecool #oldbuildings #greatlakesstate #travelingmichigan #michiganders #mittensmitten #michiganaddict #michigander #onlyinmichigan #exploremichigan #michiganphotographer #ipulledoverforthis #explore_destinations #saturdayvibes #saturday #saturdaymood #saturdays

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I worry this building will collapse very soon so I wanted to document it the best I could....(or I was just super giddy to check out every nook and cranny of this abandoned building in the name of photo journalism!) 

Ahmeek Stamp Mill, Tamarack City Michigan

The ruins of the mill are easy to find and explore. They are directly off the side of the road and visible from M 26 as it passes through Tamarack City and Hubbell.  It is very close and directly east of Hungarian Falls.  The Ahmeek Mill was built in 1910. 

There is a nearby playground for the kids.  Take time to explore the many vertical structures, all lined up like dominoes! 

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Have you visited the Quincy Mine? (You get to wear a hard hat...just sayin')⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The Quincy Mine is an extensive set of copper mines located near Hancock, Michigan.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The mine was owned by the Quincy Mining Company and operated between 1846 and 1945, although some activities continued through the 1970's.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The Quincy Mine offers tours that tells of the fascinating history. You'll don a jacket and hard hat before leaving on the family friendly tour so you can play the part! It definitely allows you to imagine the hard life these miners lived everyday.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ See the link in my bio under "Houghton" for more things to do nearby!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #Michigan #puremichigan #greatlakesstate #travelingmichigan #michiganders #upperpeninsula #yooper #yooperlife #michiganaddict #michigander #hancockmichigan #houghtonmichigan #exploremichigan #puremittenpride #greatlakesproud #michiganphotographer #michiganmade #ig_awescapes #ipulledoverforthis #photooftheday #traveling #adventureislife #travelphotography #welivetoexplore #explore #travelblog #quincymine #quincyminetours

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About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

Thanks for stopping by!

Our Words of Wisdom: “Never follow anyone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means follow that path.”

"Sherry & Chris"

We're Sherry and Chris the founders of one of Michigan's most comprehensive and Top Travel Blogs!

    Sherry Trautman is a seasoned business owner and a multifaceted content creator, deeply entrenched in the world of travel in Michigan. With her extensive background in writing, editing, photography, marketing, website design, web mastering, social media, and publishing, she is the driving force behind the acclaimed Michigan Travel site "Travel-mi.com." A lifelong Michigander, Sherry's journey began in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan led her to St. Joseph during her formative years, and further to Kalamazoo for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and Fine Art from Western Michigan University. Her career initially blossomed in Battle Creek, where she contributed significantly to aviation, marketing, and the art industry.

    In 2018, Sherry, alongside her husband Chris, embarked on a passionate endeavor with the inception of Travel-MI.com. This venture was not just a business but a full-time commitment to exploring and celebrating the diverse landscapes and communities of Michigan. Together, they tirelessly traverse the state, curating unique experiences, capturing stunning visuals, and weaving engaging narratives that showcase Michigan's rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty. From her early experiences in different Michigander locales to her extensive professional background, Sherry's life and work epitomize a deep-rooted expertise in Michigan travel, making her an authoritative voice in this niche.

Sherry & Chris are at the Inn at Bay Harbor and looking out at the lake.
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