Nestled on the southern shore of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the village of Ontonagon is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
Ontonagon was first settled in the mid-19th century during the height of the copper boom in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Today, it is the county seat and only village of Ontonagon County.
It also has several historic buildings and landmarks showing the town's storied past.
While Ontonagon may be steeped in history, it's also deeply connected to the natural world.
From the towering bluffs overlooking Lake Superior to the tranquil forests surrounding the village, there's no shortage of natural beauty to explore in and around Ontonagon.
Here are the best things to do in Ontonagon, Michigan.
Enjoy a Panoramic View at the Ontonagon Lighthouse
The Ontonagon Lighthouse is a historic landmark that stands proudly on Lake Superior’s shoreline, accessible with a short trek from River Road.
Built in 1866, it was essential in guiding ships safely through the lake’s rough waters.
The lighthouse stands tall at 38 feet and is a beautiful example of a 19th-century lighthouse.
Here you can tour the lighthouse and learn about its fascinating history, including the efforts to save it from demolition in the 1950s.
One of the unique features of the Ontonagon Lighthouse is its original fourth-order Fresnel lens, which was installed in 1874 and is still in use today.
It is an impressive sight to behold and a testament to the craftsmanship of the time.
The lighthouse also provides stunning views of Lake Superior, especially during sunset, making it a perfect spot for a romantic evening stroll or a peaceful moment of reflection.
If you want to catch the sunset, see the view, or appreciate the lighthouse’s crucial role in guiding ships and keeping sailors safe on the waters of Lake Superior, visit the Ontonagon Lighthouse.
Swim at the Beach of Lake Superior
Here you can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing in the sand, all while taking in the area's natural beauty.
The stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding wilderness make this beach a gem.
One of the unique features of this public beach is its proximity to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
Enjoy a day of swimming, relaxation, hiking, and exploring the wilderness.
You will also find picnic tables, restrooms, and a playground, making it an ideal location for families with children.
The beach is also wheelchair accessible, ensuring everyone can enjoy the stunning views and peaceful surroundings.
The combination of natural beauty and convenient amenities at the beach of Lake Superior makes it an ideal spot for a day of fun and relaxation.
Learn Local History at the Ontonagon County Historical Museum
If you're interested in learning about the history of Ontonagon, the Ontonagon County Historical Museum is a must-visit destination.
The museum is home to a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the region's rich history, from the early Native American settlers to the present day.
The museum's exhibits are housed in a restored 19th-century schoolhouse at River Street, adding to the ambiance of the visit.
Here you can learn about the area's mining heritage, including the copper and silver mines that helped shape the region's economy.
One of the highlights of the Ontonagon County Historical Museum is the old-fashioned general store filled with vintage items, including toys, tools, and household goods.
It gives visitors a glimpse into life in a small town during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
If you’re looking for a unique perspective on the region's history, stop by the Ontonagon County Historical Museum.
Catch Fish at the Ontonagon Marina
Located on the southern shore of Lake Superior at 132 River Road, the Ontonagon Marina is a prime destination for fishing enthusiasts visiting the area.
The marina offers easy access to the lake's deep waters, where anglers can find a variety of fish species, including lake trout, salmon, and walleye.
The marina also provides visitors with all the amenities they need for a successful fishing trip.
You can rent boats there, while fishing gear and bait are available for purchase.
The marina also has a cleaning station where anglers can clean their catch, making preparing fish for cooking or transport easy.
If you’re looking for a relaxing day, Ontonagon Marina is a fantastic destination to cast a line and enjoy the beauty of Lake Superior.
Take Photos of the Bond Falls Scenic Site
This stunning waterfall is in the heart of the Ottawa National Forest, just a short drive from the town.
The falls are over 50 feet high and span over 100 feet wide, making them a breathtaking sight.
In addition to the falls, the Bond Falls Scenic Site offers many outdoor activities, such as fishing, hiking, and camping.
Several walking paths lead you to different viewing areas of the falls.
The Bond Falls Scenic Site is an excellent place for photography enthusiasts.
The falls are surrounded by stunning natural scenery, and the changing colors of the leaves in the fall make for some incredible photo opportunities.
If you're looking for a quiet and peaceful place to unwind and connect with nature, then Bond Falls Scenic Site is a place you shouldn’t miss.
Take the Kids to Ontonagon Township Park
Ontonagon Township Park is a beautiful and peaceful place to spend a few days on the shores of Lake Superior.
This riverside park at 700 Lakeshore Drive covers 60 acres and features a variety of recreational facilities, including a beach, playground, and picnic area.
One of the park's highlights is its beach, a great place to relax, swim, or watch the sunset alongside the stunning views of Lake Superior and its rocky shoreline.
The park also has a playground and picnic area, making it an excellent spot for families with young children.
For those looking to spend a night or two at the park, the campground offers 44 campsites, each with access to water and electricity.
If you’re looking to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Lake Superior, the Ontonagon Township Park is the perfect destination here in Ontonagon.
Grab a Drink at Stubb’s Museum Bar
Stubb's Museum Bar is a unique restaurant that offers visitors an experience.
This cozy bar is in a former museum and has maintained much of its original decor, including antique cabinets, maps, and artifacts.
One of the main draws of Stubb's Museum Bar is the vast collection of memorabilia that adorns the walls, where you can spend hours perusing the various displays.
These displays include vintage beer cans, antique signs, and photographs from Ontonagon's past.
The bar also has an extensive collection of sporting memorabilia, including jerseys and autographed photos, making it a must-visit destination for sports fans.
You can also enjoy a game of pool, shuffleboard, or darts or relax with a drink and enjoy the company of friends.
For a unique and memorable bar experience, visit Stubb’s Museum Bar at 500 River Street.
Get a Hearty Breakfast at Syl’s Cafe
Syl's Cafe is a cozy, family-run restaurant with a warm, welcoming atmosphere and delicious food.
This family-owned and operated restaurant is conveniently located at 713 River Street.
It has an old-school charm and friendly service, making it an ideal stop for those exploring the area.
One of the main draws of Syl's Cafe is its homestyle cooking, offering a variety of classic dishes such as burgers, sandwiches, and soups.
It also has unique specialties like pastries and Finnish pancakes.
Everything is made from scratch with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, and the portions are generous.
The restaurant also caters to special dietary needs, with vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Whether you're in the mood for a hearty breakfast, a delicious lunch, or a cozy dinner, you will find something to satisfy your appetite here at Syl’s Cafe.
Play Golf at the Ontonagon Golf Course
Located at 19906 South Firesteel Road in Ontonagon, this course offers an unparalleled golfing experience amidst the tranquil wilderness of the region.
The course is a par 36, with a total length of 3,163 yards.
Its challenging layout and undulating terrain make it a fun and exciting course for golfers of all skill levels.
The course features lush fairways, well-maintained greens, strategically placed bunkers, and hazards that make every hole unique and challenging.
The stunning views of the surrounding forests and hills only add to the appeal of the course.
Apart from the golfing experience, the Ontonagon Golf Course also offers a range of amenities to make your visit comfortable and enjoyable.
A pro shop is on-site to purchase golf equipment, apparel, and accessories.
Likewise, it has a clubhouse that serves delicious food and drinks, making it a perfect place to relax after a round of golf.
With its stunning natural beauty and challenging layout, the Ontonagon Golf Course is worth a visit.
Swim at the Scenic Bonanza Falls
This beautiful waterfall is in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and offers visitors a serene setting to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.
The falls drop about 20 feet over a rocky shelf into a picturesque pool surrounded by towering trees, lush greenery, and colorful wildflowers below.
You can access Bonanza Falls via a short hiking trail, which winds through a dense forest of pine and maple trees.
The trail is well-marked and easy to navigate.
As you hike, you'll hear the sound of rushing water getting louder and louder until you reach the breathtaking falls.
The sight of the cascading water against the rocky backdrop is truly awe-inspiring and worth the trip to this secluded corner of Michigan.
From the bright green foliage of summer to the stunning fall colors and the frozen winter landscape, Bonanza Falls is a year-round attraction that will take your breath away.
Buy Fabulous Artworks at Nonesuch Gallery
Nonesuch Gallery is a hidden gem in the quaint village of Ontonagon.
The gallery is a non-profit organization run by local artists who showcase their art pieces, featuring an extensive collection of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, pottery, and jewelry.
The exhibits constantly rotate, so you're guaranteed to find something new each time you visit.
The Nonesuch Gallery is not just a place to admire beautiful artwork.
It's also a hub for creativity and community.
Likewise, it often hosts workshops, classes, and other events for people of all ages and skill levels.
The gallery also has a gift shop where you can purchase unique and beautiful souvenirs to take home.
To explore Ontonagon's creative side, visit the Nonesuch Gallery at 638 River Street.
Catch a Show at the Ontonagon Theatre of Performing Arts
If you're looking for entertainment in Ontonagon, the Ontonagon Theatre of Performing Arts should be on your list.
This historic theater opened its doors in 1908, beautifully restored and updated to showcase a variety of performances.
There's always something happening here, from plays and musicals to concerts and comedy shows.
One of the most impressive features of the Ontonagon Theatre of Performing Arts is its acoustics.
The space was designed to be a "whispering theater," meaning that even the quietest sounds can be heard from every seat in the house.
Catching a performance in the Ontonagon Theatre of Performing Arts at 311 North Street will highlight your trip here at Ontonagon.
Take Home a Unique Souvenir at Living the UP Dream, Inc.
The shop is found at 201 River Street.
It is known for its extensive collection of locally-made products, including handmade jewelry, pottery, clothing, home decor, books, and maps containing the history and culture of the area.
All products sold at Living the UP Dream are sourced from small businesses and artisans in the area.
It helps boost the local economy and showcase the talent and creativity of the region.
The shop also strongly advocates for sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
Its products are made from recycled materials or produced using environmentally-friendly methods.
Living the UP Dream is the shop for you if you want a unique and meaningful souvenir from the Upper Peninsula.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Hike at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a natural wonderland in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, just 27 minutes from Ontonagon.
The park is the largest state park in Michigan, covering 60,000 acres, and offers a range of outdoor recreational activities.
One of the park's highlights is the Summit Peak Observation Tower, reachable with a scenic drive through the park, followed by a short hike on a paved trail.
The tower is 50 feet high and offers panoramic views, making it a popular spot for photography and sightseeing.
On a clear day, you’ll see for miles in all directions, taking in the stunning scenery of the park and beyond.
The park also offers plenty of other activities for outdoor enthusiasts.
Hike miles of trails, fish in streams and lakes, camp in rustic cabins or campsites, and even ski and snowshoe in the winter.
The park is also home to abundant wildlife, including black bears, wolves, and bald eagles, making it a unique destination for nature lovers.
Whether looking for fantastic views or a fun time with outdoor activities, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a great place to visit nearby Ontonagon.
Tour the Iconic Old Victoria Historical Site
The site is a restored 19th-century copper mining town that gives visitors a glimpse into the life of the miners and their families who lived and worked in the area over 150 years ago.
It offers a rare opportunity to step back in time and explore the region's history.
Take a self-guided tour of the town and discover several restored buildings, including a church, a schoolhouse, and a general store.
You can also see the mine ruins and the tramway transporting copper ore to the nearby Ontonagon River.
You’ll even have the rare opportunity to pan for gold.
Purchase a bag of sand and search for small nuggets of gold that have been added to the sand.
Visit the Old Victoria Historic Site, a unique and educational destination.
Whether you want to explore the great outdoors or learn about the region's rich history, the small village of Ontonagon has something for everyone.
The vibrant arts and culture scene in Ontonagon is another reason to visit.
Discover the best things to do in Ontonagon, Michigan!