Top 20 Things to Do in Houghton, Michigan

Houghton, Michigan / Source: Visit Keweenaw

Nestled on the Keweenaw Peninsula, Houghton is a charming town surrounded by natural beauty. Outdoor adventures, historic sites, and cultural attractions make Houghton a popular Upper Peninsula destination.

From exploring waterfalls to skiing down mountain slopes, Houghton offers diverse activities. Here are the top 20 things to do in Houghton, Michigan.

1. Tour the Quincy Mine

Quincy Mine / Source: SAH ARCHIPEDIA

Address: 49750 US Hwy 41, Hancock, MI 49930

The Quincy Mine gives a glimpse into the area’s copper mining history. This former mine site operated from the mid-1800s until 1945.

Visitors can now tour the surface buildings and descend 500 feet down the mine shaft. Guides share stories of miners and mining methods. See the massive steam hoist and other equipment. Quincy Mine provides an incredible mining experience.

Inside Quincy Mine / Source: Copper Country Trail

2. Hike to Hungarian Falls

Hungarian Falls / Source: Visit Keweenaw

One of the most scenic waterfalls in the Keweenaw Peninsula is Hungarian Falls. Located in Hungarian Falls Recreation Area, a short 1-mile hike leads through forests to the falls. Hungarian Falls tumbles over 50 feet over cliffs into Lake Superior.

For more exploring, longer hiking loops go to more remote falls like Ives and Gem. Hungarian Falls make for an easy family-friendly hike with a stunning payoff.

3. Ski at Mont Ripley

Mont Ripley Ski Area / Source: Visit Keweenaw

Mont Ripley offers downhill skiing overlooking Houghton and Portage Lake. The ski hill has 24 runs ranging from beginner to expert serviced by three lifts.

They have a vertical drop of 440 feet, the highest in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula. Beyond skiing, Mont Ripley has a terrain park, cross-country skiing, and winter hiking. Mont Ripley is the ideal place to hit the slopes in Houghton.

4. Try Pasties at Roy’s Pasties & Bakery

Roy’s Pasties & Bakery Store / Source: Roy’s Pasties & Bakery Store

Address: 305 W Lakeshore Dr, Houghton, MI

No visit to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is complete without tasting a pasty. These savory meat pies originated with Cornish miners in the region. An iconic place to sample pasties in Houghton is Roy’s Pasties & Bakery.

Their made-from-scratch pasties have flakey crust wrapped around beef, potato, rutabaga, and vegetables. Roy’s also sells other baked delights perfect for a taste of the UP.

5. Hike the Michigan Tech Trails

Michigan Tech Trails / Source: annadesignstuff

Michigan Tech has an exceptional network of hiking and ski trails open to the public on their campus. The Main Trails feature over 30 miles of paths for hiking and mountain biking during the summer.

Some winter favorites are the SIS Ski Trails and Forest Trails for cross-country skiing. With fit-friendly mileage markers and bridges over creeks, these scenic campus trails are ideal for outdoor exercise.

6. Paddle the Portage Waterway

Paddle on Portage Lake / Source: Portage Paddle Sports

For fun on the water, head to the Portage Lake Waterway. Local outfitters like the Keweenaw Adventure Company rent kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards and more for exploring the waterway.

Paddle under the iconic Portage Lake Lift Bridge, cruise by Michigan Tech, and admire shoreline homes. Portage Lake offers calm waters perfect for boating adventures in Houghton.

7. Drive the Brockway Mountain Drive

Brockway Mountain / Source: mlive

One of the most scenic drives in Michigan is the Brockway Mountain Drive between Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor. This route along the ridge of Brockway Mountain reaches an elevation over 1,300 feet for panoramic Keweenaw Peninsula views.

Numerous pull-off points all along the drive allow motorists to take in the sweeping vistas of Lake Superior and colorful fall foliage. Brockway Mountain Drive is a must-do UP scenic drive.

8. Grab Brews on the Keweenaw Brew Trail

Keweenaw craft beers / Source: Keweenaw Brewing Company

Beer lovers will enjoy visiting the breweries along the Keweenaw Brew Trail just north of Houghton in the Twin Lakes area. Stops include Keweenaw Brewing Company, Bruegala and Lake Superior Brewing Company.

Sample craft beer while admiring views of inland lakes and woodlands. Hit multiple breweries or just stop into your favorites for a pint of unique UP brewed beer.

9. Visit McLain State Park

McLain State Park / Source: Copper Country Trail

McLain State Park along the shores of Lake Superior has beautiful scenery and recreation. Guests can camp, swim at the beach, hike forested trails to waterfalls, and more. A scenic 2-mile drive leads to the park’s iconic granite rock formations at Superior Point.

McLain State Park allows easy access to the lakefront and North Woods just north of Houghton.

10. Ride the Copper Country Trail

Copper Country Trail / Source: Midwest Living

The Copper Country Trail runs from Houghton to Copper Harbor offering a biking adventure across the Keweenaw Peninsula. The crushed limestone rail-trail stretches over 30 miles one-way with natural scenery.

Multiple access points allow tailoring bike trips short or long distance. The trail follows the original route of the historic Copper Range Railroad used to transport copper.

11. See the Houghton County Historical Museum

Houghton County Historical Museum / Source: Tripadvisor

Address:  53102 M-26, Lake Linden, MI 49945

To learn about the region’s past, visit the Houghton County Historical Museum. Their extensive collection covers various facets of local history like Native American tools, industrial artifacts, vehicles, furniture and more.

Inside the museum / Source: Tripadvisor

Of special note are the exhibits about copper mining, railroads, and shipwrecks. Don’t miss the museum store filled with area souvenirs.

12. Take a Cruise on the Ranger III

Ranger III / Source: National Park Service

For unique cruising, take a ride on the Ranger III tour boat docked at in Houghton. This National Park Service vessel offers scenic cruises on Lake Superior highlighting historic lighthouses, geological formations, and wildlife.

Special themed cruises are also available like the sunset and full moon cruises. Enjoy informative boating adventures on the Ranger III.

13. Sample Olive Oils at Lehto’s Pasties

Lehto’s Pasties / Source: The Pasty Guy

Address: 626 N State Street, St. Ignace, MI 49781

In addition to their famous pasties, Lehto’s Pasties at has a fun olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting room. Guests can try over 50 flavors of oils and vinegars from around the world.

Lehto’s also sells specialty seasonings, sauces, and other UP gourmet foods. Stop in for a tasty sampling of unique provisions.

14. Attend the Summer Concert Series

Houghton Summer Concert Series / Source: Upper Peninsula

Downtown Houghton offers free live music performances on Thursday evenings in the summer. The Portage Lake Waterfront concert series takes place at Chutes and Ladders Park along the waterway.

Visitors can bring lawn chairs and snacks to enjoy blues, folk and jazz artists against the beautiful Houghton backdrop. Houghton really comes alive with these lively community concerts.

15. Peruse the Keweenaw Time Traveler

Keweenaw Time Traveler / Source: Michigan Technological University

The Keweenaw Time Traveler in Houghton provides an artistic dose of local history. This gallery features the scaled dioramas of area artist Peggy O’Leary highlighting historical events and sites.

Scenes include a mining camp, Fort Wilkins, and more with amazing detail. It’s free to browse this creative trip back in time.

16. Go Agate Hunting along Lake Superior

Lake Superior’s agates / Source: Geology In

Search for the official state gemstone along the Lake Superior shoreline near Houghton. Agates wash up in the gravel and sand, especially after storms.

Great spots to hunt are the Gemstone Beach at the Cliff Drive Scenic Turnout and Miners Beach Recreation Area. Bring a sifter and watch for sparkling in the stones. Finding a colorful, banded agate makes for a priceless souvenir.

17. Tour Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park / Source: Flashpacking America

Just outside Houghton lies Fort Wilkins Historic State Park. This 1844 fort protected early copper miners and pioneers.

Today visitors can take guided tours to see reconstructed buildings and historic exhibits. Living history demonstrations provide a glimpse into fort life. The park also has a campground, cabins, hiking trails and Lake Fanny Hooe.

18. Experience Winter at the Porkies

Porcupine Mountains in winter / Source: Pure Michigan

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is about an hour west of Houghton near Silver City. “The Porkies” are stunning in winter with cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking and more.

Highlights are skiing down the sledding hill and touring the remote backcountry yurts. Escape to the snowy wilderness wonderland of the Porkies.

Finlandia University Gallery / Source: Natalie Salminen

The Finlandia University Gallery rotates inspiring exhibits of local and international artists throughout the year. Located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, the gallery represents various mediums like painting, jewelry, ceramics and more. Public receptions allow meeting artists. Don’t miss this rotating collection of fine art in Houghton.

20. Attend the Festival of Treasures

Finlandia University / Source: WZMQ CBS

Every August, the Federation of Finnish American Societies hosts the Festival of Treasures on the grounds of Finlandia University. This popular event celebrates Finnish culture and crafts.

Guests can browse handmade products by artisans, watch folk dancing, and savor Finnish foods like pasties and pulla bread. The Festival of Treasures is a lively taste of Scandinavian traditions.

I hope these ideas provide a good overview of top things to experience in Houghton and the surrounding Keweenaw Peninsula area. Please let me know if you need any other Michigan travel tips or recommendations!

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