15 Best Things to Do in Iron Mountain, MI

Iron Mountain, MI
Amanda Oldham / shutterstock.com

Iron Mountain, Michigan, is one of the largest cities in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is the county seat of Dickinson County.

It was named a Michigan Main Street community and served as the gateway to Michigan's Upper Peninsula from Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

There were town settlers in 1879, and Iron Mountain was named for its nearness to a bluff deeply stratified with iron ore.

This mountain town's population increased after the discovery of this valuable iron ore in its vicinity.

Residents incorporated Iron Mountain as a village in 1887 and then as a city in 1889; as of the 2010 census, the city's population is 7,624.

Iron Mountain has a lot of attractions: green forests, flowing rivers, abundant wildlife, downtown charms, sports events, festivals, sightseeing areas, shopping and dining opportunities, and more.

The city is full of history, with a special focus on the town's mining origins, and has a ton of recreational offerings throughout the seasons.

If you want to explore further what Iron Mountain has for visitors, check out this list of the best things to do in the city.

Visit the Immaculate Conception Church

Front View of Immaculate Conception Church
Andrew Jameson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Immaculate Conception Church is a beautiful structure built in the Italian Revival Renaissance Style with a distinct hexagonal bell tower and stained glass windows.

It was named a Michigan State Historic Site in 1979 and put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

In 1890, Italian immigrants came to work in Iron Mountain's mines and constructed a frame church close to the current church's site, known as 'The Italian Church.'

The original church burnt down in 1893.

Front View of Immaculate Conception Church
Andrew Jameson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In April 1902, Father Giovanni Sinopoli di Giunta quickly organized a community in Iron Mountain to fund the building of a new structure, even drawing up the plans himself.

The priest and his dedicated parishioners raised four thousand dollars, and workers started to build the church even while toiling at their jobs in the area's iron mines.

Within five months, this lovely house of worship came into being, created by many hearts and hands.

This church remains a reminder of the pride and goodwill of the Iron Mountain Italians towards their neighbors.

Front View of Immaculate Conception Church
Andrew Jameson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marvel at the WWII Glider and Military Museum

Even if you're not a history buff, you're sure to find something fascinating at this military museum.

As the name implies, the museum holds a collection of Model CG-4A gliders that Ford Motor Company built for the US army: more gliders than any other company in the nation built during World War II.

There are vintage newspapers, photographs, documentaries, and a film that will walk you through the building of this glider in nearby Kingsford and personal stories of glider riders and pilots in action during the war.

More aircraft are also on display, some replicas and some refurbished, along with ¾ size models.

Also on display are Nazi Germany relics, a collection of war photographs, restored war-era vintage vehicles, and an extensive array of military uniforms from the Civil War to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Finally, there are Military and General plaques honoring those who served and a name display of those whose donations and talents went towards the conservation and establishment of the museum.

Admire the Cornish Pumping Engine and Mining Museum

Among many engineering marvels, this museum holds the Chapin Mine Pump Engine, built in 1889.

It is the largest ever steam-driven pumping engine that was built in the United States, and History Channel officially named it one of the World's Biggest Machines.

Among its titles are a National Historic Site, a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, and a Michigan Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Iron Mountain's Chapin Mine was one of the wettest mines that worked in a cedar swamp, and the Chapin Mine Pump Engine helped solve this problem of mining for ore in this location, increasing productivity and reducing mishaps.

The museum also has the most extensive collection of underground mining equipment displayed in the state of Michigan.

Here you will see ore cars, tuggers, scrapers, drilling equipment, jackhammers, pumps, skips to transport ore, man cars to transport miners, a steam boiler, and more artifacts.

Get to know the mining history of Iron Mountain as you explore the museum grounds.

Walk Around Iron Mountain City Park

Take a breather and gain relaxation at this beautiful wooded park in the city.

Have tons of outdoor recreation at this 69-acre piece of land with extensive amenities and something for everybody to enjoy.

Spread out a picnic and socialize at the wide picnic areas complete with grills, let your kids spend their energy on the playground with its sandboxes and swingsets, and take a wildlife hike on their walking trails.

If you're a sports enthusiast, there are several recreational facilities: bocce ball courts, a soccer field, two tennis courts, a skateboard park, or a snow sliding and a cross country skiing area for winter.

Learn to play bocce ball, a very popular sport in Iron Mountain, and maybe even watch residents have their competitions.

You will also find an enclosed deer habitat for petting and feeding these gentle animals.

The park is a popular hub of local activities and a good spot to spend downtime in Iron Mountain.

Read at Dickinson County Library

Perhaps you want to accomplish vacation reading while taking a break from exploring.

In that case, the Dickinson County Library is here for your literary needs!

This library was erected on a grant from Andrew Carnegie in 1902, stipulating that the library and its branches would continue in perpetuity to serve the county's needs.

This branch of the library in Iron Mountain is an iconic installation, a guardian of local history that holds a great array of photographs and documents on Iron Mountain and the Menominee mountain range.

It is an iconic font containing old books, manuscripts, and texts on famous personas, with a genealogical society meeting every month.

There are features in this library, such as author talks, literary lectures, book launches, reading programs for every age, book clubs, and a wealth of others.

The library also has digital resources like historical DVDs and documentaries, ebooks, and an impressive Internet database.

Peruse at the Menominee Historical Range Museum

The Menominee Range Historical Museum has been called one of the best-kept secrets of Iron Mountain.

It is a collection housed with over 100 exhibits showing life on the Menominee Iron Range from the later 19th century to the earlier 20thcentury.

Upon entering the museum, a country store will welcome you, and you will see its stock of long-ago necessities from the turn of the 20thcentury.

Other displays include a Native American diorama, a trading post, a real estate office, a trapper's cabin, lumberjack tools, and early area historical relics.

There are preserved areas of everyday 1900s life such as a dentist's office, a doctor's office, a pharmacy, a watchmaker's shop, and a barbershop.

Find relics such as early musical instruments, a hand-cranked washing machine, a folding bathtub, mechanical banks, and many things that flesh out your journey into this era of history.

Catch a Show at Braumart Theater

Kick back and watch a show unfold before your eyes when you drop by the Braumart Theater.

It is the oldest theater in Iron Mountain and popularly known as the 'finest amusement house in Milwaukee.'

Their mission is to develop the theater into a dynamic center for the cultural arts, embracing arts and artists, giving educational, cultural, and economic stimulus for the city, and providing a social and cultural gathering place for the entire community.

Watch ballets, classic movies, holiday music, cultural festivals, live band concerts, scientific displays, traditional dancing, local artists, and more at the theater.

There is also a special series for your kids featuring talk shows, games, and animations.

It's a beautiful and historical theater with admirable architecture and a great environment, and you'd do well to have a family night out at this celebrated venue.

Hang Out at Sol Blu Lounge and Taproom

Socialize and meet your friends at this atmospheric bar in downtown Iron Mountain.

The building has an interesting history: it was made out of native red sandstone from a quarry and was originally part of a business block in 1891, and in 1990 it was sold to Iron Mountain for use as a city hall.

What was once a bank vault is now a storage room lending character and a backdrop to the lounge's performance stage, and the taproom blends the historic and the modern in a unique combination.

Sol Blue Lounge and Taproom has been running strong since 2001, with its unique brews and spirits, signature cocktails and combinations, and spirited entertainment.

Enjoy a cocktail with good company, relish a cold beer on tap, and have a slice of the regional favorite pizzas served at the lounge.

Watch Green Bay Packer games in high definition with the company of a lively crowd, or enjoy the signature live music with fantastic acoustics that is a trademark of the lounge.

The venue also offers great discounts for veterans and special packages for private parties, so don't forget to check out their special happy hour prices.

Sightsee at Millie Mine Bat Cave

The Millie Mine is an abandoned iron mine that is now home to one of the largest breeding and hibernating bat colonies in North America – over a million bats are known to reside in this cave.

It has spectacular sunset views, terrific biking trails and benches where you can sit for bat viewing, and steel guards to prevent accidents.

Around the place are lovely scenic views over Iron Mountain, walking trails, observation decks, and comprehensive educational markers about the bats.

The best time to view the bats entering and leaving the cave is from April to May or from September to October at dusk.

See them fly quick and silent around the scenic and windy overlook, and if you're lucky, there will be a cloud of them flying all over the trail.

Here, you will appreciate the bats and their life cycles and how the ecosystem benefits from their presence.

Have a Getaway at Pine Mountain Ski & Golf Resort

This resort is a prime spot for some of the best-curated ski runs in the Midwest for all levels of skiers and snowboarders and holds one of the highest points for ski jumping.

It holds the record for the world's greatest jumping hill and the tallest jump in the World Cup, and here you can see some of the world's most daring jumpers compete.

It is known historically as 'giant Pine Mountain' and is a place of competition for the continental cup.

Have a great time hitting the slopes and watching athletic events unroll as you enjoy the breathtaking mountain view.

In addition to skiing, the resort also holds Timber Stone Golf Course, an award-winning 18-hole course ranked one of the best in Michigan and among the top resort courses in America.

Timber Stone Golf Course features a lovely harmonization of nature and golf, with courses laid out among pines, lakes, streams, and mountainous terrain, offering challenges to golfers at every level of ability.

Have a memorable time at this pristine vacation spot, and let the resort meet your needs for an energetic and relaxing getaway.

Pay Respect at the Upper Peninsula Veteran's Memorial

Atop Pine Mountain, this solemn tribute graces the slopes, dedicated to members of the armed forces.

It honors every member of Michigan's 15 counties who fought in the United States Armed Forces and laid down their lives doing so.

This memorial honors the fallen from several armed wars, including the Korean War; World Wars I and II; wars fought in Europe, Vietnam, Japan, and Lebanon-Granada; the Middle-Eastern wars; and others, where veterans gave their lives for the country.

Here you will see five white pillars marking the military branches of defense, markers etched with names in granite, and commemorative plaques.

A flag sits in the memorial's center, and at the base of the flagpole is a time capsule to be opened on July 2106, a hundred years after the memorial's dedication.

Don't forget to purchase significant items and memorial bricks to continue the memorial's supportive upkeep.

Honor the Upper Peninsula veterans and remember their sacrifices at this noble monument.

Relax at Lake Antoine Park

If you're in the mood for a lakeside hideaway, look no further than this 748-acre attraction by the water featuring a small island, a handful of bays, hiking pathways, and forested hills.

The campgrounds have picnic and grill areas, a potable water filling station and a sanitary station, hot showers with running water restrooms, and even a wi-fi café, so you rest assured of a comfortable stay with your loved ones.

The shores of the lake make for a fantastic campground with eye-pleasing views, and the waters are great for swimming, tubing, paddleboarding, and water-skiing.

Cast a line and go fishing, take a boat out on the lake, or rent a bike and wander the trails.

If you feel like getting active, there is a volleyball court, a basketball court, horseshoe pits, and a disc golf course around the area.

Take your entire family to this park and find an array of lakeside activities perfect for a weekend camping trip.

Go Rafting With Northwoods Adventures

Northwoods Adventures, located in Iron Mountain, is your one-stop source for thrills and incredible Michigan rafting adventures.

It offers a range of exciting whitewater raft trips, rentals for stand-up paddleboard and inflatable kayaks, and cabin rentals with access to fishing and hiking trails.

One of their most adrenaline-inducing tours is their half-day trip down the Menominee River, where guests are greeted with rapids and a downstream escapade.

You will ride through exhilarating waters, have a blast as you go over falls, splash, and paddle with your companions, and have good-natured fun on your river journey.

The guides on your trip are experienced in safety and life-saving techniques, know the river like the back of their hands, and will always help you choose the experience that suits your needs.

With Northwoods Adventures, you are in for an exciting splash with one of the best rafting and whitewater guides in the state!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Watch Wildlife at Fumee Lake Natural Area

Located 10 minutes from Iron Mountain is this 1800-acre natural wildlife area with several unique features.

It is a tranquil natural place with hundreds of acres of lake surrounded by hundreds of acres of land, preserved by the City of Norway and the Fumee Lake Commission.

It has various hiking trails that vary in level of terrain and fitness and five miles of untouched shoreline described by local fishermen as very remarkable and unique.

Learned educators use Fumee Lake Natural Area as a prime example of an ecological study.

This area has been home to rare and threatened birds species, such as the bald eagle, the nesting eagle, the common loon, and 40 more species of birds and waterfowl.

It is also home to rare species of plants and wildflowers like the walking fern, the marsh grass of Parnassus, the purple cliffbrake, and 17 species of orchids.

Natural modes of recreation await visitors: you can pursue hiking, birding, biking, and nature photography in the first three seasons, as well as snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Fumee Lake Natural Area is available for all four seasons and open to visitors curious about nature and eager for outdoor recreation.

Admire Nature at Spread Eagle Barrens Natural State Area

On the outskirts of Iron Mountain, 15 minutes from the city proper, is another lush natural haven worthy of a visit.

It is a mosaic consisting of six varied communities established to protect the Pine Barrens area.

Spread Eagle Barrens Natural State Area has not been used for human development since the 1990s, so anyone who visits it will observe a true untouched ecosystem.

It is a 7,400-acre upland barrens of undulating land with clear lakes, the wild Pine River forking through its acreage, and dirt roads with ample parking and accessibility.

It is a lush landscape dominated by red pine, jack pine, scrub oak, and quaking aspen, with sandy soils supporting rich grasses.

The area supports over ten bird species: winter wren, northern raven, clay-colored sparrow, eastern bluebird, mourning warblers, common nighthawk, etc.

It supports mammal species like black bears, coyotes, red foxes, white-tailed deer, fisher badgers, and other wildlife.

It also has good access for hiking, picnicking, and biking and is overall an excellent nature spot for the whole family to enjoy

See the marvels of this preserve along the Pine River and view nature face to face in the wild outdoors.

Final Thoughts

This gateway to Michigan's Upper Peninsula is an ideal destination for your sightseeing needs.

If you're planning a holiday to Iron Mountain, take this list along to check out what you can do there.

At the heart of iron ore country, this city presents a host of outdoor adventures and fascinating history to all who visit.