Sault Ste. Marie is a charming lakeside city on Michigan's Upper Peninsula with a rich maritime history and a bustling waterfront. Surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes that change into spectacular dioramas with the changing seasons, Sault Ste. Marie is home to an array of things to see and do from the world-renowned Soo Locks, historic lighthouses and cultural sites, the magnificent Tahquamenon Falls, and a variety of year-round recreational activities. Hours/availability may have changed.
The Soo Locks are a set of water locks that were built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that enables ships to move between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Constructed in the mid-1800s, the locks are fondly known as the ‘Linchpin of the Great Lakes’ and are an engineering marvel that draws thousands of tourists to see them every year. The Soo Locks see more than 7,000 vessels including barges, tugboats, and huge freighters, passing through each year, being lifted, and lowered the 21-foot difference between the two lakes. An observation deck named after General Douglas MacArthur is in the Soo Locks Park and offers fantastic views of ships passing through the working locks.
Soo Locks, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, Phone: 906-632-3366
2.Museum Ship Valley Camp, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
© Museum Ship Valley Camp
The Museum Ship Valley Camp is a museum ship dedicated to the lake freighter, SS Valley Camp that served on the Great Lakes for almost 50 years. The 550-foot-long vessel is permanently docked on historic Water Street and features over 100 interesting exhibits that document the history of the freighter and the maritime heritage of Sault Ste. Marie. Visitors can explore the ship on guided tours, experience the crew’s quarters which housed 29 men, and take in the fascinating exhibits housed in the cargo hold. The Valley Camp also houses four aquariums showcasing a variety of fish species from the Great Lakes region. The Museum Ship Valley Camp is open to visitors from mid-May through Mid-October.
326 E Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
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3.Point Iroquois Light, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
The Point Iroquois Light is a historic lighthouse on a bluff in the Chippewa County that marks the meeting point of the St. Marys River and Whitefish Bay. The iconic lighthouse and the land on which it rests is part of the Hiawatha National Forest and is now a marine museum that documents the history of the lighthouse. The lighthouse museum features a furnished apartment that housed the lighthouse keeper, exhibits of navigational aids and lighthouse technology, and a collection of historical photos, and is open to the public seasonally.
13042-13260 W Lakeshore Dr, Brimley, MI 49715
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4.Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge
The Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge stretches across the St. Marys River to connect the United States and Canada. The iconic bridge links to the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario and is one of the busiest passenger crossings along the border. Constructed in 1960 and opened to traffic two years later, the bridge is built with steel arch trusses with a suspended deck with double arches on the U.S. side crossing the four Soo Locks.
934 Bridge Plaza, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, Phone: 906-635-5255
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5.Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
© Lake Superior State University
Lake Superior State University is a vibrant learning institution with a 115-acre campus built on the historic site of Fort Brady that offers undergraduate degrees ranging from fisheries and wildlife management to engineering. In addition to offering a first-class education on an international level, the university is renowned for a few unique traditions like the ‘Banished Words List, which is a list of words that are forbidden due to misuse and overuse. Other traditions include the ringing of the Hoholik Victory Bell after home game victories; the blasting of the Ship's Horn after goals are scored at home games; and the Snowman Burning to celebrate the first day of Spring.
650 W Easterday Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, Phone: 906-632-6841
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6.Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church
© Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church
The Holy Name of Mary Proto-Cathedral is the oldest Catholic Church in Michigan. Also known as St. Mary Proto-Cathedral, the historic Roman Catholic church was once a cathedral and the first of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette. Designed Canadian architect Joseph Connolly and erected in 1881, the present church is built in the Gothic Revival style and features many beautiful architectural and design elements. The parish follows the faith traditions begun by Jesuit missionaries more than 350 years ago.
337 Maple St, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, Phone: 906-632-3381
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7.River of History Museum, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
© River of History Museum
The River of History Museum is dedicated to presenting the history of Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding waterways of the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, including the culturally important St. Mary's River System. Located on Ashmun Street in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, the museum features 11 galleries with fascinating exhibits documenting the history of the river system from the Ice Age to the present day. Exhibits tell the story of life next to and on the river, and the history of French fur traders and local Native Americans. There are also a variety of artifacts relating to the river and its rich history on display, and a museum shop sells books, educational gifts, and souvenirs.
531 Ashmun St, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, Phone: 906-632-1999
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8.Saint Mary's Falls Hydropower Plant
The Saint Marys Falls Hydropower Plant is a hydroelectric generating plant that extracts water from the St. Marys River to create power for the Soo area. Built in 1898, the hydropower plant is one of the oldest hydroelectric stations in the United States and features 74 generators together under a single span of roof. The plant is constructed in the Classical Style spanning 1,340 feet in length along the banks of the St. Marys River. The Saint Marys Falls Hydropower Plant is listed as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, Phone: 800-562-4953
9.Soo Theatre Project, Inc., Sault Ste. Marie, MI
The Soo Theatre is a community performing arts venue that presents an array of shows, including off-Broadway shows, theater, opera, and musical and dance recitals. The intimate venue opened in 1930 and presented a variety of major productions and full orchestral concerts until 1974 when it was converted into a two-screen movie theater. The theater closed and fell into disrepair in 1998 and was later restored to its former glory as a performing arts venue by the Soo Theatre Project in 2005. Today, the theater presents locally produced shows and offers a variety of classes in drama, dance, art, music, and yoga.
534 Ashmun St, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, Phone: 906-632-1930
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10.Karl's Cuisine, Winery and Brewery
© Karl's Cuisine, Winery and Brewery
Located in a freighter-shaped building overlooking the Soo Locks, Karl's Cuisine, Winery and Brewery offer a unique dining experience that celebrates fresh, locally sourced food and handcrafted beers and wine. The restaurant is spacious and airy with chic décor and has a charming rooftop patio for alfresco-style dining against a backdrop of views of the locks, allowing guests to watch the vessels traveling through the locks while wining and dining. The farm-to-table menu features freshly prepared dishes made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients from regional artisans and farmers, and the on-site winery and brewery offer a wide range of handcrafted beers and brews on tap and by the bottle and local wines. Karl's Cuisine, Winery, and Brewery is open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday through Saturday.
447 W Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, Phone: 906-253-1900
11.The Palace Saloon, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
© The Palace Saloon
The Palace Saloon is a long-standing dining destination with rich décor and elegant chandeliers that has been serving New American and Mexican fare and handcrafted cocktails for more than 100 years. Established in 1903, the stylish restaurant boasts ornate furnishings, walls adorned with hockey memorabilia, and a beautiful mahogany bar serving an extensive list of drinks, including many varieties of margaritas. Seasonal menus feature traditional Mexican dishes prepared using age-old recipes passed down through generations, as well as classic American fare like burgers, steaks, and salads. The Palace Saloon is open for lunch and dinner, daily.
200 W Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, Phone: 906-632-7721
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12.Zak's Kandy Haus, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
© Zak's Kandy Haus
Zak's Kandy Haus is a small café that serves all things decadent and sweet. Located on Portage Avenue, the little café is an ideal spot to stop for a sweet treat after watching the ships pass through the Soo Locks, and offers an array of Stroh's (Mooney's) ice-cream, hand-spun milkshakes, sundaes, floats, and waffle cones. The menu also features 12 flavors of homemade fudge, sugar-free fudge, freshwater taffy, cashew, and peanut brittle, freshly baked brownies, cookies, and cakes.
401 W Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783-1839, Phone: 906-635-0350
12 Best Things to Do in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
- Soo Locks, Photo: Jacob/stock.adobe.com
- Museum Ship Valley Camp, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Photo: Museum Ship Valley Camp
- Point Iroquois Light, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Photo: steheap/stock.adobe.com
- Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, Photo: Dana/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Photo: Lake Superior State University
- Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church, Photo: Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church
- River of History Museum, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Photo: River of History Museum
- Saint Mary's Falls Hydropower Plant, Photo: Dana/stock.adobe.com
- Soo Theatre Project, Inc., Sault Ste. Marie, MI, Photo: cdrw1973/stock.adobe.com
- Karl's Cuisine, Winery and Brewery, Photo: Karl's Cuisine, Winery and Brewery
- The Palace Saloon, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Photo: The Palace Saloon
- Zak's Kandy Haus, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Photo: Zak's Kandy Haus
- Cover Photo: Dana/stock.adobe.com
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