Thursday, February 02, 2023

What to do in the Keweenaw - Winter Edition


I often get asked about what to do in the Keweenaw in winter.   Here's some of my favorite things to do:

Eat a pasty

In Houghton, my favorite is Suomi Restaurant...It's on Huron St. They do have lots of Finnish specialties like Pannukakku, which is like a baked custard and comes with a thimbleberry sauce. Thimbleberries are like raspberries, and they are a Keweenaw specialty. They also make a great pasty - better than any of the tourist traps on US 2 just over the bridge. By the way, pasty rhymes with "nasty", it is not pronounced "PAH-sty" as is sometimes suggested. If you pronounce it that way, I can guarantee the locals will think you are troll (Yooper slang for a downstater - i.e. someone that lives "under the bridge") trying to fake a Yooper accent. By the way, don't call it a "paste" y, because that's something strippers wear. I like pasties with gravy or mustard, but most locals like them with ketchup on them.

In Hancock, the Kaleva Cafe has excellent pasties and a better breakfast and bakery than the Suomi. 

Also, great pasties can be had (and cookies) at Amy J's Pasties in Hancock.  

Eat a pickled egg

Pickled eggs are a Yooper bar snack!  Spicy - I like mine with tabasco and plenty of jalapenos.  Here's the 2 best places:

B&B Bar - it's on M26 as you are slightly west of downtown toward Walmart. It used to be a total dive bar but it has gentrified in recent times.   Take in the hockey history!

Douglass House Saloon, aka the Dog House or just "The Dog".   It's right on the main drag.  When I was a college student, it was the place where MTU students hang out.  They now hang at the Downtowner, which has its own charms.   I like the Dog's pickled eggs, and they also have popcorn, which is awesome.  

Favorite Downtown Houghton spots for a drink

I also love the submarine sandwiches and the fishbowl cocktails at the Ambassador, which is slightly up the street from the Downtowner. The fishbowl drinks are served in brandy snifters - my favorite is the Quaalude. Be careful - they sneak up on you!

Have a beer at KBC or Keweenaw Brewing Company. They don't have food, just beer and peanuts in the shell, but it is good beer.  My favorite is the Red Ridge.

Go Copper Country Cruising

CC Cruising is what MTU students call hopping in your car and driving north to Copper Harbor, and stopping on the way.

As you get toward Copper Harbor, I like Fitzgerald's in Eagle Harbor. You can dine overlooking Lake Superior. (reservations a must)

In Copper Harbor, visit the Brickside Brewery, the northernmost microbrewery in Michigan. Eat at the Mariner North

Have a drink at the log bar at Mt. Bohemia. or ski if you are really good.

If you want to do some really outdoorsy stuff, rent skis or snowshoes from Keweenaw Adventure. 

Check out the snow thermometer near Mohawk (pictured above).   Good food at the Glacia Tavern   


Hungarian Falls - there's a bit of a hike, but fun!  Snowshoes helpful

Jacob's Falls - Eagle River

Eagle River Falls 

Inside activities

Visit the A.E. Seaman Mineralogical Museum

Go to the Gay Bar. No, it's not what you are thinking - the Gay Bar is in Gay, Michigan, which is on the east side of the Keweenaw. When I was a college student in the 80s, you could regularly see the guy that played Jethro Bodine on the Beverly Hillbillies or Ted Nugent there, as they both used to hunt nearby. Now that Tedly's moved to Texas, I'm not sure he visits anymore.  There's not much else to do in Gay, but you can say you've done it!

Visit historic Calumet: check out Copper World, the antiques at Vertin Gallery, have coffee at Keweenaw Coffee Works, tour the Calumet Theater, check out the Tiffany glass at the bar at Shute's. 

Outside Activities

Cross country ski or snowshoe at Swedetown or MTU Ski Trails.   You can rent at Cross Country Sports in Calumet or at Michigan Tech.

Downhill Ski or tube at Mt. Ripley - rentals available

Winter Carnival

If you are visiting during MTU's winter carnival, here's the additional activities I recommend:

Hockey games (get tickets in advance)

Tour snow statues

Go to the all-nighter statue building Wed night on campus

Watch the torch light parade on Saturday night on Mt. Ripley, with fireworks!

There is sometimes a lantern lit snowshoe hike in on the MTU trails

Watch the Grundy Run guys from Sig Tau race in their skivvies for a good cause.   Usually on Friday

Tour the Quincy Mine 


CandyG said...

I love Toni's Country Kitchen (Laurium) for pasties, too, along with their saffron bread, povatica, prune tarts and molasses cookies!

Regina said...

Greetings from a troll. Your list of places to see makes me want to have a redo of our trip we took in 2017 (I think). We life in lower Michigan and took the Ferry over to Wisconsin and drove up and went thru the U.P. West to East and back home.

I feel getting information from a local, would have benefited on where to eat and see so much more. We stayed in Calumet one night at the Larium.

Do you have a suggestion on best time to visit for things to be winter. I know winter time, winter things, but when do things really open up for Spring, mid May? Thx.

Cynthia said...

The shoulder season up here is Mar/April. I'd suggest Jan/Feb