A Casino Lover’s Guide To Vacationing In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Written By Drew Ellis on June 6, 2022
Upper peninsula casino guide, Mackinac Bridge

The Upper Peninsula takes its fair share of jokes during the winter, but there’s not many better places to be during the summer.

With 10 different casinos around the northern part of the state, it’s easy for Michigan casino goers to plan a lengthy trip in the U.P.

But, the land has a lot more to offer than slot machines and table games.

Any outdoor attraction you can think of is covered, and you can find some of the best food in the country. You can literally spend all summer finding new things to do.

That’s where PlayMichigan comes in to help.

We’ve got a rundown of all the casinos, what they offer, and what local entertainment and dining options are available. We also mixed in some diamonds in the rough that require a little journey outside the gambling halls.

If you’ve got some time away from work during the summer, let us be your guide through the U.P.

*Casinos listed around the perimeter of the U.P if you head west after leaving Mackinac Bridge.

Kewadin Casinos Manistique

Location: 5630 W, US-2, Manistique, 49854

Gaming: Slots, Virtual Table Games

Local Attractions: Get a view of the beautiful lakeshore sites on the Manistique Boardwalk near Lakeview Park. Included in your walk, you can get a closer view of the Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse, or plan a stay at the campground. Also pop by the Schoolcraft Tourism & Commerce Center to check out the Paul Bunyan Statue. The Manistique Railroad Car Ferry Dock Remains are temporarily closed, but still a visible historic viewing site near the Manistique River. If you’re willing to make a short 20-minute drive Northwest, you can see Kitch-iti-kipi, Michigan’s largest natural freshwater spring.

Local Eateries: Manistique is no stranger to welcoming food. The “40” Bar & Grill, TAP21, and Wheaty’s are all local favorites. Also consider Clyde’s Drive-In Restaurant, a Manistique staple since 1949. If in the mood for a café, Manistique has you covered with Three Seasons Café and Cedar Street Café & Espresso Bar.

Days Needed To Explore: 1-2

Island Resort & Casino

Location: W 399 US-2, Harris, 49845

Gaming: Over 1,200 slots, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Poker, Let It Ride, Spanish 21

Casino Site Features: 326-room hotel, RV Park, Sweetgrass Golf Club, Sage Run Golf Club, Island Showroom, Club Four One, eight restaurants

Local Attractions: Get a little historical background at the Potawatomi tribe at their Heritage Center near the resort. You can also stop over at Northern Sun Winery and Vineyards. If the local golf scene isn’t of interest, there’s plenty of kayaking options closer to the coast.

Local Eateries: Harris has most of its dining options right there at Island Resort & Casino. Just down the road on M-41, Powers offers up some more local appeal options like Wilson Creek Café, Sidetracks, or Nutter’s Sports Bar. Four Corners Bar & Restaurant isn’t far away either, sitting 10 miles away in Carney.

Days Needed To Explore: 2-3

Northern Waters Casino

Location: N5384 US-45, Watersmeet, 49969

Gaming: Over 600 slots, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette

Casino Site Features: 132-room hotel, Lac Vieux Desert Golf Course, two restaurants, spa

Local Attractions: A short trek about a mile north will take you to Bass Lake Township Park where you can get some beautiful views and peaceful scenery. About 12 miles north, you can see Bond Falls, one of the many great falls in the U.P. South of the casino, you can visit the Ottawa National Forest Visitor Center to plan some picturesque hikes or OHV (off-highway vehicle) rides.

Local Eateries: If you don’t mind taking a short trip south to the northern tip of Wisconsin, you can find a lot of different dining options. The Bear Trap Inn, Lanny’s Fireside, and Asana Suka are all highly-rated stops. If you want to keep things local, Little Pigs Bar-B-Q offers a real home cooking touch to hickory smoked BBQ.

Days Needed To Explore: 1-2

Ojibwa Casino Baraga

Location: 16449 Michigan Ave, Baraga, 49908

Gaming: More than 300 slots, Blackjack, Roulette, Let It Ride, 2 Deck Pitch, Craps

Casino Site Features: 40-room hotel, two restaurants, bowling alley

Local Attractions: If needing a break from the casino action, head to Ojibwa Campground a little northwest of the gambling action. There, you can get a great look at Sand Point Lighthouse at the Ojibwa Marina. Baraga State Park offers up beautiful views along Keweenaw Bay and is a great hiking and kayaking spot. ORV trails are also an option at the park.

Local Eateries: Irene’s Pizza can fill those needs for a little grease, or you can stop by Lucky 7 Restaurant for a few more options. Baraga Drive-In gives the old-fashioned vibe if that’s what you’re in to. Otherwise, you can hop across the bay to stop by Skipper’s Bar and Grill or the Nite Owl Café in L’Anse.

Days Needed To Explore: 2-3

Ojibwa Casino Marquette

Location: 105 Acre Trail, Marquette, 49855

Gaming: More than 500 slots, Blackjack, Roulette, Let It Ride, 2 Deck Pitch, Craps, Poker

Casino Site Features: Concert Hall, two restaurants

Local Attractions: Marquette isn’t lacking in things to do, as it’s the most populous city in the U.P. Presque Isle Park is one of the top draws with wooded trails, lakeside clips and plenty of picnic facilities. Don’t forget to snap some photos at Sunset Point, Black Rocks or the Presque Isle Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse. There’s many more hiking trails and parks to go around, including Sugarloaf Mountain, Hope’s Falls and Dead River Falls. If you need a break from nature, consider De Vos Art Museum, Shiras Planetarium or Marquette Maritime Museum. You can also stop by Northern Michigan University and the Superior Dome to see where Steve Mariucci and Tom Izzo grew into local coaching legends. If all that isn’t exciting enough for you, head to Lakenenland Sculpture Park for a look at scrap iron sculptures.

Local Eateries: The son of a Yooper, I’ve made my fair share of stops at Casa Calabria in Marquette for a great steak dinner. But, Marquette has all your food needs covered. Iron Bay Restaurant & Drinkery, Steinhaus, The Vierling, Digs Gastropub and Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eater are all popular stops. If you really want something local, head to Vango’s Pizza & Cocktail Lounge for some cudighi. If you are looking for pasties, stop by Jean Kay’s Pasties & Subs.

Days Needed To Explore: 3-4

Kewadin Casinos Christmas

Location: N7761 Candy Cane Ln, Christmas, 49862

Gaming: Slots, Blackjack, Let It Ride, Virtual Table Games

Local Attractions: Though you may be in Christmas, for a real holiday feel you’ll want to make the five-mile trip south around South Bay and head to Munising. Munising offers a lot of great activities, including Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours, Pictured Rocks Cruises, the Riptide Ride, Bay Furnace Ruins, San Point March, Tannery Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Alger Falls or Munising Bay. There’s also Miners Castle Point for a glorious, elevated view of the coast. You can also enjoy a handful of different lighthouses around the bay. During colder months, you can enjoy Ice Cave Tours or partake in the ice climbing wall at The Curtains. Needless to say, you have a lot of options on your plate.

Local Eateries: Christmas does have a few nice dining options to consider, including Foggy’s Steakhouse and The Duck Pond. Over in Munising, Tracey’s, Eh! Burger, Pictured Rocks Pizza, Driftwood Deli or Dogpatch Restaurant cover a wide range of dining options.

Days Needed To Explore: 2-3

Bay Mills Resort & Casino

Location: 11386 W Lakeshore Dr, Brimley, 49715

Gaming: Around 700 slots, over a dozen table games

Casino Site Features: 144-room hotel, Sunrise View RV Park, Wild Bluff Golf Course, multiple restaurants

Local Attractions: While Bay Mills has its own attractions, Brimley Beach and Brimley State Park offer something for those looking for some fresh air while in the area. Camping is an option right next to the beach. Don’t forget to stop by the Wheels of History Museum for a look back at what life used to be like. Mission Hill also provides a 3.6-mile scenic hiking trail around Spectacle Lake and Monocle Lake.

Local Eateries: Pickles is often busy, as it’s a popular destination, but it’s worth the trip. Many local casino-goers recommended the Bar & Grill near Bay Mills for your next adventure. Jack’s Grub & Pub, Cozy Inn and Sacy’s Restaurant are also cozy local stops where you can grab some great fish, or whatever else your heart desires.

Days Needed To Explore: 1-2

Kewadin Casinos Sault Ste. Marie

Location: 2186 Shunk Rd., Sault Ste. Marie, 49783

Gaming: Over 800 slots, Blackjack, Poker, Craps, Roulette, Let It Ride

Casino Site Features: 319-room hotel, 30,000-square-foot convention center, DreamMakers Theater.

Local Attractions: Right at the very top of the U.P., Sault Ste. Marie is your place for a lot of history. You can stop by the Sault Historical Sites, the River of History Museum, the Tower of History, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, the Chippewa County Historical Society, or the Museum Ship Valley Camp. Of course there are the Soo Locks and all they have to offer, including the Famous Soo Locks Boat Tours and Soo Locks Park. Between that and waving to Canadians across St. Mary’s River, you can also pop over to Lake Superior State University.

Local Eateries: The Wicked Sister, Lock View Restaurant, Karl’s Cuisine and The Antler’s are popular local stops with wide-ranging menus. The 1668 Winery & Lockside Brewery provides a lot of outdoor seating to view the Soo Locks.

Days Needed To Explore: 2-3

Kewadin Casinos Hessel

Location: N 3 Mile Rd., Hessel, 49745

Gaming: Slots, Virtual Table Games

Local Attractions: Just a few miles south of Kewadin Casinos Hessel, you can find a world of outdoor activities in Cedarville. A trio of nature preserves are all within short distance and sitting on the southern coast of the U.P. Les Cheneaux Golf Club isn’t far off, as are canoe and kayak tours at Woods & Waters. Marinas and campgrounds are also available around the area. If you are seeking some educational stops, visit Les Cheneaux Historical Museum or Les Cheneaux Maritime Museum.

Local Eateries: Ang-Gio’s Restaurant can fill all your Italian needs while visiting Cedarville. NibbleLungen provides some Mediterranean options, while also providing a hardy breakfast menu. Snow’s Bar & Grille is also a local favorite in Cedarville. If you want to dine in Hessel, you can give The Restaurant at Les Cheneaux Culinary School a try.

Days Needed To Explore: 1-2

Kewadin Casinos St. Igance

Location: 3015 Mackinac Trail, St. Ignace, 49781

Gaming: Slots, Blackjack, Poker, Craps, Roulette, Let It Ride

Local Attractions: You don’t need to look far for some outdoor ideas. Kiwanis Beach sits right on the coastline near the Mackinac Bridge. You can jump on one of the many ferry options to head out on the water, or take a stroll down the beach to see Wawatam Lighthouse or St. Anthony’s Rock. There’s even parasailing options if you’re up for a little bit of a thrill ride. You can head indoors to Ford de Buade Museum or the Museum of Ojibwa Culture. A visit to St. Ignace is also not complete without a stop at The Mystery Spot.

Local Eateries: There’s plenty of dining options with great views, leading with Mackinac Grille & Patio Bar, right near the lighthouse. The Gangplank, Village Inn Restaurant, MI Patio and The Galley are other well-received options along the coast. Driftwood Restaurant & Sports Bar is just a little further north of the others, but still worth the trip.

Days Needed To Explore: 1-2

Other Stops To Mix In

Obviously Mackinac Island and the Mackinac Bridge bring their own attractions, but here are some other gems in the U.P. to consider for your next trip.

Tahquamenon Falls: A series of falls on the Tahquamenon River, just before they empty into Lake Superior. They are the largest waterfalls in Michigan. Located at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Luce County, the falls are a little over an hour from Bay Mills, Kewadin Manistique, Kewadin St. Ignace and Kewadin Sault Ste. Marie.

Oswald’s Bear Ranch: Over two dozen rescued bears can be viewed in enclosed habitats at this spot in Newberry. As part of Luce County, it’s about an hour from Bay Mills, Kewadin Manistique and Kewadin St. Ignace.

Garlyn Zoo: Located in Naubinway on the southern coast of the Upper Peninsula, the 30-acre zoo is home to over 450 animals. It sits just 35 miles from Kewadin St. Ignace.

Whitewater Rafting In Iron Mountain: A real big outdoor thrill can come from whitewater rafting and Iron Mountain offers a lot of tour options. Iron Mountain sits about 40 miles northwest of Island Resort & Casino.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park: Located in Ontonagon, the Porcupine Mountains are a group of small mountains near the shore of Lake Superior. It is just about an hour from Northern Waters and from Ojibwa Baraga.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of PlayILottery.com. He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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