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Small Town Profile : Marquette MI

A Special Guest Post : Joanna Black

If you're looking for a place to visit that gives you the feel of a small Northwoods town, but is a little bit bigger and has more options for shopping, dining, and leisure activities, drive northeast for a few hours and you'll end up in the delightful little city of Marquette, Michigan. Located on the coast of Lake Superior, Marquette is the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway. Whether you like to keep active on trails, play on the beaches by the lake, shop all afternoon, or sit quietly with a book and a good cup of coffee, Marquette has plenty of options to offer you.

When we first arrived in the city, I could see the horizon opening up as Lake Superior came into view. Our first stop was Iron Bay Restaurant & Drinkery, which was a cozy little spot for us to grab a few burgers while enjoying the view of Lake Superior (everything tastes better when you have a view of the water, right?). The view and the food were good enough to bring us back there a few days later, this time for salad and fish fry. If you go there, make sure to pick up one of their Guinness Cupcakes or PB cookies for dessert – you’ll be glad you did!

Marquette does have several national chain coffee shops, but if you want something to help you experience the local caffeinated flavor in a variety of ways, I recommend trying as many of the local coffee shops as you possibly can. We managed to visit 5 of the local shops, and they all had something different to offer. Regardless of what environment or type of beverage you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find a coffee shop to fit your preferences in Marquette. Velodrome Coffee Company, Dead River Coffee Shop, Contrast Coffee Co., Café Allenatore, and The Crib were the 5 that caffeinated us during our visit, each offering a unique experience.

If you’d rather rank breweries instead of coffee shops, you still have a decent selection in Marquette. Blackrocks Brewery, Ore Dock Brewing Company, and Barrel + Beam all have quality selections offered in varying atmospheres (a beautiful old home-turned-brewery, a renovated historical downtown building, and a modern farmhouse-style gathering place, respectively).

Any trip is improved by quality dining, and Marquette did not disappoint. Beyond Iron Bay, we also experienced some stellar Cajun food at Lagniappe; cozy Italian food at Casa Calabria; lunchtime salads, Indian food, and charcuterie at the Marquette Food Co-op; flaky pastries at Huron Mountain Bakery; traditional American cuisine with a unique twist at Harley’s; and the best tacos of our lives at Dia de los Tacos food truck. If you go to Marquette (or really, anytime you travel anywhere!), try as many places as you can. It’s one of the best ways to experience the culture of your host town or city!

Once you’re filled up with your preferred cuisine, head downtown to visit some of the shops of the city. There are quite a few to choose from, but out of all of them I had 2 absolute favorites. Spice & Tea Merchants is perfect if you’re a foodie or a tea connoisseur, they have an extensive collection of various products, as well as a knowledgeable and friendly staff if you have any questions. If you have a sweet tooth or want to find some souvenirs, head over to Donckers for some of cookie caramels or one of their Everything Rolls, a creation that is everything your sweet tooth could ever crave.

The city is designed for outdoors enjoyment, but since we went during the cold/drizzly season we didn’t have as many chances to explore as we would have liked to. Presque Isle was beautiful despite the chill, and a brief hike rewarded us with some outstanding views of some cliffs dropping off into Lake Superior. The lake is beautiful all year round, so even if you have to enjoy it by driving by the coast (instead of biking or walking), make sure to spend some time soaking in the beauty of the water.

I hope to return to Marquette again, hopefully when it’s warm enough to bike on the trails, enjoy some al fresco dining, and maybe even dip my toes into the beautiful lake that this town lives by.

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