Perched on the rocky shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Marquette is a town endowed with the stout optimism of its Scandinavian fathers, with the vitality of its youth (Northern Michigan University is located there), and with a respect for its history.
I love strolling through downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. Marquette takes care of its old buildings and is in no hurry to “modernize,” and the result is a thriving downtown that’s pleasant to spend an afternoon exploring.
Local people support their city, according to Mona Lang, ex. director, Downtown Development Authority. So, even though the normal juggernaut of big box stores line US-41 on the city perimeter, its downtown remains vibrant and historic. Six buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Check out the Wells Fargo Bank or the Landmark Inn or City Hall. Do NOT miss Presque Isle Park, the Sweetwater Cafe on Third Street, or Snowbound Books, or Doncker’s, an old-fashioned soda fountain, where you can order a vanilla phosphate, a strawberry soda, or an authentic double-chocolate malt. Add the incredible natural beauty of Michigan’s lakes and forests, and Marquette is a perennial favorite of the “best of…” lists. It’s an “All American City,” U.S. News and World Reports’s “10 Great Places to Retire for Winter Sports Nuts,” Historic Preservation’s “Dozen Distinctive Destinations,”Forbes’s “Best Small City to Raise a Family.”
Northern Michigan University offers a solid, no-frills education to about 9500 students. Cheerleaders, preps, or fashionistas need not apply–these students aren’t worried about their hair or their wardrobe. The school has a killer hockey team, and its Superior Dome is the largest wooden structure of its kind in the world. (It’s made of Douglas fir.)
So, if you don’t mind below-zero temperatures or six feet of snow in the winter, (and I don’t) Marquette is the place to be.