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Marquette’s Fourth of July Sensory-Friendly Laser Show

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A Superior Adventure

Head to Marquette for world-class outdoor fun.

Rushing natural waterfalls, grand rock formations, sweeping postcard-perfect vistas and lush, dense forests — all right in our backyard.

No need to drive across the country: A six-and-a-half hour drive from Metro Detroit (or a quick flight to Sawyer Regional Airport), Marquette is the majestic land of beauty, history, nature and a vast playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Most Michiganders know it as a stunning winter wonderland, but it’s prime for four-season fun — especially a last-minute family trip. Tucked into Michigan’s forested Upper Peninsula on the shores of Lake Superior’s clear waters, Marquette offers 350 miles of some of the U.S.’s best hiking and biking trails, plus 83 miles of shoreline, 150 streams, more than 300 lakes for fishing, kayaking, sailing, exploring plus golfing and chasing the elusive Northern Lights. 

Named after French Jesuit missionary and explorer Jacques Marquette, the village of Marquette was established in 1849, and is today home to Northern Michigan University and was the film location for Otto Preminger’s 1959 movie, Anatomy of a Murder (starring James Stewart and Lee Remick), based on an actual shooting at a local bar in Big Bay. In addition to its natural surroundings, Marquette’s charming and historic downtown is a destination for peak shopping, dining, local award-winning craft breweries and inns for unwinding and trading tales of your day’s adventures. It also pays homage to the rich mineral deposits, dense forests and maritime markers that have helped to shape its history.Below, a few not-to-miss itineraries and the summer’s festival lineup. For more details, info, trail maps and more, visit travelmarquette.com

DAY TRIPPING

Go Chasing Waterfalls

Marquette County is home to many natural wonders, including more waterfalls than any other county in the state of Michigan. Family- and often dog-friendly falls like Yellow Dog Falls — featuring more than seven drops of varying distance within a mile-long walk — and Warner Falls — a short fanning drop that pours into a swampy creek — continue to be fan-favorite sights. Keep an eye out for a glimpse of the several species that call these natural wonders home. 

Hit the Water

Home to more than 300 lakes and 150 rivers and streams, Marquette County is the ideal spot to make a splash. Take to the water and spend a day kayaking at Marty’s Cove, with views of the historic Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, or around the Black Rocks and sandstone cliffs of Presque Isle. Grab a pole and rent a charter with Great Ideas Charter or a guided fishing trip with Black Shadow Guide Service, or head to the Lower Harbor to reel in one of the many species of fish, including Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Lake Trout and Whitefish. And though it’s a 40-minute drive from Marquette, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of Michigan’s most-visited geological sites — stunningly vibrant streaks of color are ingrained in the rock formations that line Lake Superior. Pictured Rocks can be seen by boat tour or hiking trails, but kayaking to the site is a wondrous sight.

Take to the Trails

Whether a beginner or expert cyclist, hit the backroads and cruise along the endless bike trails that Marquette County has to offer. With routes such as the 47-mile Iron Ore Heritage Trail along the scenic Iron Range that connects five towns across the county, and the Morgan Creek Loop, riders can coast through the scenic area to see the culture and history the Upper Peninsula area has to offer. Designated as a bronze-level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (one of just 27 ride centers in the world and only seven in the Midwest), these routes throughout the county are the perfect outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy.

Summer Events

Not just overflowing with water and outdoor experiences, Marquette County is home to a thriving cultural scene. Here, a summertime lineup of local celebrations and events.

Marquette Fourth of July Sensory-Friendly Laser Show (July 4): The largest architectural laser show in North America, it gives residents, visitors, children and those with sensory sensitivities a comfortable opportunity to participate in Fourth of July celebrations and witness the night sky light up above the picturesque Lake Superior. 

Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival (July 19-21): The only event of its size and scope on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, this festival features traditional music with performances of bluegrass, old-time, Cajun, Celtic, acoustic blues and folk styles. 

Blueberry Festival (July 26): This longstanding event celebrates the start of blueberry season with vendors, live music and endless blueberry bliss at the all-day event in downtown Marquette. Snack on blueberry pizza, beer and, of course, fresh-picked blueberries. 

Art on the Rocks Festival (July 27-28): This two-day juried exhibition between Marquette’s historic downtown and the Cinder Pond Marina on sparkling Lake Superior has rapidly become one of the area’s finest and most competitive art shows. More than 140 artists and roughly 10,000 people flock to Marquette for the event each year.  

25th Annual ORE to Shore Bike Epic (Aug. 9-11): Venture to the Upper Peninsula region to witness Michigan’s largest (and the third-largest in the country) point-to-point mountain bike event. The long-distance 48-mile course takes riders through some of the most beautiful sights in the area, giving them a final chance to drift through the crisp summer air of Michigan before the fall season. 

Marquette Area Blues Fest (Aug. 31-Sept. 2): As August ends and September rolls around, avoid the end-of-summer blues at the treasured concert series at Mattson Lower Harbor Park. Featuring world-class musical talent, artist workshops, local food vendors and a beverage tent stocked with many of Marquette's best-crafted brews.

  • Kayaking Presque Isle
  • Cliff jumping at the Black Rocks of Presque Isle
  • The rocky shore and clear blue waters of Lake Superior
  • Marquette’s Fourth of July Sensory-Friendly Laser Show
  • The historic Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. Photo by Snehit Photo.
  • Downtown Marquette
  • Hiking the Yellow Dog River
  • Marquette’s Landmark Inn
  • Thomas Rock trail, with scenic overlooks
  • Kayaking Presque Isle. Photo by Liam Kaiser.