Houghton, Michigan is in the Northern tier of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The estimated population of 7,888 keeps a small town feel for this cold-weather city. Because of the long winters, many outdoor winter activities and festivals are held. Michigan Technological University holds a winter carnival each year that celebrates the cold weather with snow sculptures and contests. Visitors to Houghton will want to plan their trip accordingly. If you are interested in warmer weather activities, consider boating on the Portage Lake or a cruise along the Portage Canal. Be sure to check out some of the unique eateries around town.
1. A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum of Michigan Tech
© Minakryn Ruslan/stock.adobe.com
In 1991, the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum was named Michigan’s official mineral museum. Over the history of the museum’s gathering, there are now about 4,000 specimens on display over the three exhibit areas, though the number of specimens in the collection are well over 50,000. Those three exhibit areas are the Copper Pavilion, which showcases a 19-ton Lake Copper sample; the Phyllis and John Seaman Garden, a place to view rocks and plants; and the Thomas D. Shaffner Exhibit Hall, where mineral exhibits are housed. Guests are encouraged to dedicate, at minimum, two hours for touring the exhibits.
1404 Sharon Avenue, Houghton, MI 49931, Phone: 904-487-2572
2. Carnegie Museum
© Carnegie Museum
This building is associated with a great name not just in name alone. Andrew Carnegie provided a $15,000 grant for a library to be built here. Since then, the library has become the Carnegie Museum. In 2009, a board of trustees took over the museum, attempting to renovate it back to its former glory. The exhibits featured in the museum are free for visitors. The museum is run completely on the funds of museum members. Guests to the museum can check out some of the current exhibits, like the vintage postcard display or the history of brewing on the Keweenaw.
105 Huron Street, Houghton, MI 49931, Phone: 906-482-7140
3. Isle Royale Ranger III
When you’re on your way to the Rock Harbor on Isle Royale, you’ll likely need to hitch a ride on the Ranger III. This vessel is 165 feet long and can carry 128 passengers across the water to the island. The schedule varies day-to-day, though you’ll want to plan ahead to make sure you are not caught in one of the ports overnight (unless planned) since the trip is six hours one way. Along with transport, this ferry provides hour-long tours and even a three-hour cruise down the Portage Canal. Along with comfortable indoor and outdoor seating, there are lounges and a grill on board.
800 East Lakeshore Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, Phone: 906-482-0984
4. Nara Nature Park
The Nara Nature Park is quite young, having been established as recently as 1993. Robert and Ruth Nara donated their property to the Houghton community to become a nature park. Over time, additional land was purchased, the Nara Nature Chalet and Interpretive Center was built, and an animal shelter was created. In 2008, the trails were mapped and officially connected to the Michigan Tech trails. One of the treasures of the Nara Nature Park is the Boardwalk, which is a 4,500-foot bridge that overlooks the Pilgrim River. There are fishing areas and kayak/canoe launching areas connected to the Boardwalk.
47375 US-41, Houghton, MI 49931, Phone: 906-487-2578
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5. MacInnes Student Ice Arena
As part of the Michigan Tech Student Development Complex, the MacInnes Student Ice Arena is home to the Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team. This is a 4,200-foot arena that has been built up to near-professional arena standards. Fitting a capacity of 4,466 people, the arena is now home to 14 luxury suites, a pro shop, nine locker rooms, and a video scoreboard. For those visiting and training, there is a Puck Pit (thing batting cage for hockey) and a 1,500-foot fitness center. If you want to catch a game, be sure to check the home schedule.
1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, Phone: 906-487-2975
6. Mine Shaft and Rock House, Houghton, MI
When you’re ready to dive into some interactive fun in Houghton, stop by the Mine Shaft and Rock House. This building is designed with the old Quincy Mineshaft in mind, featuring rock tables, timber beams, and a bar with copper flecks. Along with an 18-lane bowling alley, there is an 18-hole miniature golf course and arcade with over 40 games. After a day of play and checking out the virtual reality roller coaster, be sure to stop by the Rock House Grill for some delicious food. For the adults, 12 taps serve up local and regional beers.
915 Razorback Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, Phone: 906-482-1230
7. Keweenaw Brewing Company
© Keweenaw Brewing Company
No visit to a new city would be complete without checking out one of the local wineries or breweries. The Keweenaw Brewing Company has been serving up brews since 2007. Today’s patrons can either visit the brewery or go to the tasting room. At the brewery, an average of eight different brews is canned and shipped throughout Michigan. At the taproom, you can put your feet up around a 4-sided fireplace, the bar, or one of the tables. Brews that were prepared on site are served for a small fee. Ask what’s on tap at the time, or look for one of their staples, like the Widow Maker Black Ale, the Pickaxe Blonde Ale, or the Borealis Broo.
408 Sheldon Avenue, Houghton, MI 49931, Phone: 906-482-5596
8. Ambassador Restaurant, Houghton, MI
Under Rossi ownership since 1965, the Ambassador offers food that can be eaten in the restaurant or taken home to finish baking. Cheese and pepperoni pizzas are both available as partially made for take-and-bake orders. If you’d like to dine in, which is always a great option, you’ll be treated to the full bar, including the 25-ounce fishbowl cocktails. Start your meal off right with an appetizer, like chicken wings, tacos, or nachos. Then, dive into your entrée, a delicious specialty pasta, a delicious pizza, or a submarine sandwich. Try out the cudighi sandwich, which is homemade Italian sausage with Colby cheese and pizza sauce.
126 Sheldon Avenue, Houghton, MI 49931, Phone: 906-482-5054
9. Four Seasons Tea Room, Houghton, MI
© Four Seasons Tea Room
A church auction was the muse for the Four Seasons Tea Room. Today, locals and visitors to the area can find a great experience in a relaxing environment. Decorated in warm tones and woods, porcelain figures, satin table cloths, ladies’ hats, and ceramic teapots adorn the tea room. Besides wonderful tea options, Four Seasons offers tiered options for how much of an experience you’d like. If you want just a touch of some elegant tea, consider the cream tea, which is tea served with scones and cakes. If you’d like to make it a larger experience, try the full afternoon tea, which includes a 3-tiered tray of sandwiches and sweets, an entrée, and a cup of soup.
606 Sheldon Avenue, Houghton, MI 49931, Phone: 906-482-3233
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