Escanaba is a city in the Upper Peninsula region of Michigan. Escananba's population is 12,616, making it one of the largest cities in the Upper Peninsula. It is located on the Bay of Green Bay, part of Lake Michigan, and the region is considered one of the best freshwater fishing spots in the state. Escanaba also boasts an impressive restaurant scene, a historic downtown, and excellent shopping. It's home to Michigan's only annual State Fair.
Although Escanaba is sometimes overlooked in favor of other Upper Peninsula destinations, it has plenty to offer travellers. The best time to visit Escanaba is in the summer, when visitors can stroll the historic downtown, explore the beautiful Ludington Park, and get out on Lake Michigan for some boating, fishing, or watersports. Escanaba is part of Delta County, which has 211 miles of coastline -- more than any other county in the continental United States. Escanaba is located on the Little Bay de Noc, a narrow, deep inlet off the larger Bay of Green Bay. To the east lies the Big Bay de Noc, a much larger, more remote body of water. The Bays de Noc are recognized nationwide for their fishing opportunities, and several professional fishing competitions have been held in the area in recent years.
In addition to fishing, visitors are also drawn to Escanaba for its beautiful downtown, which offers great shopping opportunities. Ludington Street, downtown's main thoroughfare, terminates at Ludington Park, a mile-long public park on the shore of Lake Michigan. Ludington Park offers plenty of recreational opportunities, and features a swimming beach and historic lighthouse. Escanaba also has an impressive number of restaurants, including a number of upscale establishments. There is also a growing microbrewery scene, as has been the trend in much of the Upper Peninsula. Every August, Escanaba hosts the UP State Fair, Michigan's only state fair. Escanaba is located within an easy drive of several other Upper Peninsula destinations, including Munising, Marquette, and Mackinac Island.
Escanaba is located at the confluence of US-2 and US-41 in the south-central Upper Peninsula. Although driving is the easiest and most common way to reach Escanaba, the city is very isolated from the rest of Michigan. It is roughly a 7 hour drive from Detroit. The closest major city is Green Bay, Wisconsin, which lies approximately 2 hours to the south, while Milwaukee is about 3.5 hours away.
Even though Escanaba's climate is much warmer than other parts of the Upper Peninsula, driving in the winter can still be treacherous and might not be safe for inexperienced winter drivers, so visitors should be cautious of the weather forecast when making plans.
Escanaba is served by the Delta County Regional Airport (ESC), which features daily round-trip flights to Detroit. Less than an hour away is KI Sawyer International Airport, which serves Marquette and offers daily flights to and from Detroit, Chicago, and (as of March 2017) Minneapolis. When arriving by plane, it is important to plan to rent or borrow a car, since the UP is very remote and the Escanaba area does not have adequate public transportation for tourists. There are car rental kiosks at the Delta County Airport.
Escanaba is served by Indian Trails Bus Lines , which operates a daily intercity bus service between Hancock, Michigan, and Milwaukee. Greyhound also offers daily service to Escanaba.
Downtown Escanaba is very pedestrian friendly. Most of the shops, restaurants, and sites are along the wide, 1.5 mile Ludington Street, which stretches from Lincoln Road to the Lake Michigan shoreline. Along the lakeshore, Ludington Park is also very walkable. Any other destinations will likely require a car, however. The Delta Area Transpit Authority (DATA) runs a limited bus service, but it is mainly utilized by locals and does not serve most tourist destinations.
- Downtown Escanaba. Downtown Escanaba is a 1.5 mile stretch of Ludington Street, which runs from Lincoln Road in the west to Ludington Park and Lake Michigan to the east. The street is very wide and pedestrian friendly, with ample free parking. Along both sides of the street are specialty shops, restaurants, bars, antique stores, and a variety of other small businesses.
- Ludington Park. Ludington Park surrounds Escanaba's natural harbor. It features a mile of Lake Michigan shoreline, as well as Sand Island, which is connected by bridge to the mainland. On Sand Island, there is a public bath house and swimming beach. The park also features a bike path, tennis courts, and a gazebo and picnic areas. It is adjacent to the Escanaba Marina, the Historical Society Museum, and the Sand Point Lighthouse.
- Sand Point Lighthouse, 16 Water Plant Road, ☎ (906) 789-6790, . Built in 1867, the Sand Point Lighthouse is a symbol of Escanaba's importance as a shipping and fishing port. The lighthouse was in operation for over 100 years, before being discontinued in 1985. It is now owned by the Delta County Historical Society and is open to visitors.
- Bonifas Fine Art Center, 700 1st Avenue S, ☎ (906) 786-3833, . The Bonifas Fine Art Center features several art galleries with rotating displays, as well as a theater. The center puts on several performances and special events throughout the year, including the annual Waterfront Art Festival in August.
- UP State Fair, 2401 12th Avenue North, ☎ (906) 786-4011, . Michigan's only state fair since 2010, the UP State Fair is held annually at the 120 acre Escanaba Fair Grounds. The fair takes place over a period of 6 days in mid-August, and features carnival rides, games, food, livestock, performances, and concerts. Tickets can be purchased at the gate, and free parking is available.
- Island Resort and Casino, W 399 US-2, Harris, MI, ☎ (800) 682-6040, . A large Native American-owned casino located 14 miles west of Escanaba in the town of Harris. The casino also features a hotel, spa, four restaurants, and entertainment facilities which often host well-known local and national musicians. A complete schedule of events can be found on the casino's website.
Because the Escanaba area is fairly flat, it doesn't have the hiking options of other Upper Peninsula destinations (particularly in comparison to the Keweenaw Peninsula and the Marquette area), but there are a few well maintained trails that may be of interest to those looking to get out in the woods. The trails around Escanaba tend to be pretty short and gentle, so they are great for inexperienced hikers or those only looking for a quick trip.
- Peninsula Point Lighthouse Interpretive Trail, 8181 U.S. 2 (19 miles south of Rapid River on Co Rd 513), . This one mile trail follows the tip of the Stonington Peninsula, which separates Little Bay de Noc from Big Bay de Noc. Hikers will experiences the cliffs and rock formations along the shoreline, as well as undisturbed forest land and beautiful views of Lake Michigan. The trail ends at the historic Peninsula Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1865.
- Maywood History Trail, (5.5 miles south of US-2 on Co Rd 513), . Part of Hiawatha National Forest, the Maywood History Trail is situated within a 200 year old Hemlock forest. The trail is short (only 0.9 miles), but explores several Native American sites as well as the foundation of an old hotel. Interpretive markers and photographs are placed along the trail to help tell the story of this unique region on the shore of Little Bay de Noc.
- Days River Trail, (3 miles NW of Gladstone via US-2 & Days River Rd), . This trail follows the Days River, a secluded, scenic river north of Gladstone. The trail in its entirity is 9 miles, and ends where the river meets Lake Michigan on Little Bay de Noc. Also used for biking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.
Fishing is by far the biggest attraction for people who visit Escanaba. The climate is much warmer than in other parts of the Upper Peninsula, and the extensive coastline and natural abundance of fish in the Bays de Noc combine to make the Escanaba area a fisherman's dream. Additionally, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources aggressively stocks sport fish in the Bay of Green Bay, which means that there is no need to worry about over-fishing or endangering that native species. Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Perch, and Chinook Salmon are just some of the fish that you'll find in the Bays de Noc. The following listings provide gear, guides, or charter trips for those looking to take advantage of the fishing opportunities in Escanaba.
- Blitzkrieg Sportsfishing, ☎ (906) 399 9011, . Offers Walleye, Trout, and Salmon fishing throughout the summer and fall seasons. The 26 foot charter boat is based in Escanaba, but launches from three ports on the Bays de Noc.
- Delta Dawn Charters, ☎ (906) 396-4001, . Offers fishing expeditions in the Little Bay de Noc, Big Bay de Noc, Bay of Green Bay, and the open waters of Lake Michigan. Departs from any of three ports in the region and offers flexible packages to suit guest needs.
- Fishing Fever Charters, ☎ (906) 446-3227, . Fishing Fever offers Walleye fishing expeditions on the Little Bay de Noc from May 15 until the bay freezes in early winter. Also offers Salmon fishing and charters out of other ports in the Upper Peninsula.
- Into The Wild Fly Fishing Guide Service, 1309 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 280-4983, . Into The Wild offers guides and charters across the Escanaba area's inland streams and lakes. Unlike the charters on Lake Michigan, Into The Wild specializes in fly fishing, especially for Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Chinook Salmon.
- Walleye's Choice Charter Service, ☎ (906) 428-1488, . Charter service which specializes in Walleye fishing. Also operates a fishing and tackle shop and online catalog.
Downtown Escanaba has a wide variety of specialty stores, antique shops, and other locally owned businesses for visitors to experience. In addition to the downtown shopping district, Escanaba also has a commercial strip on Lincoln Road which includes a Walmart, Kmart, JCPenney, Walgreens, and more.
- Beaten Path, 1015 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 789-6220. An outdoor recreation shop, offering bicycles, snow and skateboards, and particularly disc golf gear.
- Canterbury Books, 908 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-0751. Locally owned bookstore with a wide selection of local authors and regional history, as well as national titles.
- East Ludington Gallery, 1007 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-0300, . This gallery sells the work of local artists, including paintings, jewelry, baskets, pottery, and more.
- Pink Sugar Co, 1615 Ludington Street # B, ☎ (906) 789-4338. A women's clothing boutique with handmade jewelry and gifts.
- Positively!, 1212 Ludington St, ☎ (906) 789-2228, . A shop specializing in trinkets, gifts, and local souvenirs and t-shirts.
- Record Rack, 1212 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-4005, . A vintage record store, also sells video games and movies and has a "Rock n Roll Museum" display of autographs and music memorabilia.
- Sayklly's Confectionery & Gifts, 1304 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-1524, . A well known, locally owned candy shop with two locations in Escanaba. Also sells UP themed gifts and souvenirs.
- Treasure Chest, 923 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 789-0080. Antique store with a wide variety of trinkets and vintage toys, gadgets, and memorabilia.
- Victorian Gift House, 2120 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 420-5242, . A large shop that sells gifts, jewelry, home decor, candy, clothing, and more.
- Wishful Thinking, 919 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-4394. This shop mostly sells home decor, but much of it is antique or vintage themed. Also some trinkets and souvenirs.
Escanaba has a exceptional number of restaurants for visitors to choose from, and most are extremely affordable. Owing to the importance of fishing to the region, it's always easy to get locally caught whitefish, walleye, and trout. Friday Fish Fries are very popular in the Escanaba area, and are a great way to experience local dining. Escanaba's culinary scene is also influenced by its history of Swedish, Norweigian, Italian, and Cornish immigration. Foods like pasties, potato sausage, and cardamom bread are widely available and are evidence of the impact these groups have had on the region.
- Applewood Eatery and Espresso Bar, 1703 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-6477. A modern farm to table lunch and dinner restaurant with fair prices and an espresso bar. Also serves craft beer and wines.
- Bobaloons Cafe, 1700 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 789-6169, . A popular small, affordable takeout restaurant offering sandwiches, hotdogs, salads, falafels, soups, and other lunch items.
- The Buck Inn, 6696 US-2, ☎ (906) 786-7453. A hunting lodge themed steakhouse and restaurant. Well-known for their Friday Fish Fry, serving locally caught fish
- Crispigna's, 1213 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-1213. An upscale, locally owned Italian restaurant. Also serves pizzas and cocktails.
- Ludington Grill, 1110 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 553-7778, . Located in the historic State Bank building downtown, the Ludington Grill serves fresh-caught Lake Michigan fish and local meats, as well as beer, wine, and spirits.
- Rosy's Diner, 1313 Ludington Street, . A breakfast destination popular with locals. Rosy herself is a colorful but friendly woman who runs the restaurant. Cash only.
- Stones Coffee House and Deli, 1222 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 789-1390. A quaint downtown cafe which sells baked goods, lunches, smoothies, and coffee.
- Swedish Pantry, 819 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-9606, . A popular downtown restaurant featuring Swedish cuisine. Especially well-known for their breakfasts and eclectic decor.
- The Stonehouse Restaurant, 2223 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-5003, . Often chosen as among the best restaurants in the Upper Peninsula, the Stonehouse is a formal dining establishment with prices way below what one would expect to pay in a major city. Reservations recommended.
- Pacinos, 2635 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 789-0712, . Pacinos is an Italian and American steakhouse, located in the Pioneer Inn & Suites hotel. It is also an upscale, but relatively affordable, dining option.
- Hereford and Hops, 624 Ludington Street #501, ☎ (906) 789-1945, . Hereford and Hops is both a steakhouse and microbrewery. Patrons can grill their own steaks as well as order from the menu. The restaurant also features the "other grill," which is a Mongolian style experience.
Escanaba's climate is very similar to that of the Traverse City area, which lies just across Lake Michigan. Therefore, like Traverse City, Escanaba's climate is well suited to growing wine grapes. There are two wineries in the Escanaba area, and several more within a short drive. In addition to wineries, Escanaba is home to two microbreweries and a number of other drinking establishments.
- Ernie's Irish Pub, 1322 Ludington St, . Local Irish-style pub with a selection of local beers, as well as dinners, pizzas, and daily drink specials.
- Leigh's Garden Winery, 904 Ludington Street, . A winery located in Downtown Escanaba featuring a variety of local wines, a tasting room, and special events throughout the year.
- Hereford and Hops, 624 Ludington Street, . A restaurant and microbrewery located in Escanaba's downtown. Several standard beers and seasonal specialties.
- Northern Sun Winery, 983 10th Rd, Bark River, MI, . Local winery located just outsie of Escanaba, featuring very picturesque vinyards and an old-fashioned cottage tasting room.
- Upper Hand Brewery, 3525 Airport Road, . Upper Hand Brewery is a division of the larger Bell's Brewing Company. They make local beers, which are sold around the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin. The brewery features a taproom and patio for guests to enjoy their brews, but does not currently offer tours of the brewery itself.
- Comfort Suites, 3600 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-9630. Hot breakfast, indoor water playground, pool, whirlpool, tanning salon, free wifi, and business center.
- The DeGrand House, 1925 5th Avenue South, ☎ (906) 786-6420, . Historic bed and breakfast located near Ludington Park and a few blocks from Downtown Escanaba. Features 3 full beds and 2 twin beds, as well as breakfast and the usual accommodations.
- Econo Lodge Escanaba Hotel, 921 N Lincoln Road, ☎ (906) 789-1066. Budget hotel. Continental breakfast, business center, free wifi, sauna. Pet friendly.
- Hiawatha Motel, 2400 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-1341. Small, budget motel. 20 rooms, airport shuttle, cold breakfast. Pet friendly. Located near downtown.
- House of Ludington, 223 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-6300. Historic hotel built in 1864, located just a block from Lake Michigan. Features cozy, old-fashioned rooms, two dining rooms, and a bar and grill. Popular Friday Fish Fry.
- Magnuson Grand Pioneer Inn and Suites, 2635 Ludington Street, ☎ (906) 786-0602, . Free breakfast, indoor pool, wifi, business center. Pacinos Steakhouse is located inside the hotel.
- Quality Inn and Suites, 2603 N Lincoln Road, ☎ (906) 789-1200. Hot breakfast, wifi, airport shuttle, pool, whirlpool, and five business rooms.
- Sunset Lodge, 6386 N 11th, ☎ (906) 786-2804, . Offers free high speed internet, light breakfast, cable TV, and a fish cleaning station. Pet friendly.
There are several destinations within a short drive of Escanaba that may be of interest to visitors.
- Gladstone is a town just 7 miles north of Escanaba. They have a pleasant city park on Lake Michigan, a lighthouse, marina, and several dining options.
- The Garden Peninsula is about 40 miles east of Escanaba. It is home to a winery, several small towns, a campground, the historic Fayette State Park ghost town, and great views of Lake Michigan.
- Kitch-iti-kipi (officially called Palms Book State Park) is Michigan's largest natural spring. It's located 52 miles east of Escanaba near Manistique and is a popular attraction for locals and tourists both.
- Iron Mountain is located less than an hour west of Escanaba. Among other things, it's home to one of the largest ski jumps in the U.S., as well as an underground mine tour.
- Other destinations within a short drive of Escanaba include Marquette, Munising, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Green Bay, Wisconsin.