Cheboygan Opera House
403 North Huron St Cheboygan, MI 49721
Sault Saint Marie & Cheboygan
Home to Breathtaking Waterways and Rich History
FIRST STOP, SAULT SAINT MARIE:
Host Tom Daldin drives to the northeastern end of the UP to visit scenic Sault Saint Marie, a town with many claims to fame. Having been established in 1668, Sault Saint Marie bears the title of ‘oldest city in the Midwest.’ It’s also home to the Soo locks. Visitors in every part of town can see the giant freighters passing through from the beautiful, tree-lined streets downtown.
Those interested in eating great food as well as taking in the sights can head downtown to Karl’s Cuisine, where every meal is made from scratch. Everyday, Chef Karl and his wife, Paula, bring food from simple to spectacular, making it good for the soul while making sure it’s still good for you. Restaurants like theirs, which nurture customers as well as the community, have earned Sault Saint Marie the title ‘Best Food town in the Midwest’ this year.
For art lovers, deeper into town is an art gallery, which upholds the mantra of ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. For 30 years, owner and artist, Greg Steele, has been showcasing his creative handiwork. What others discard, he turns into unconventional art. Visitors will be fascinated by his ability to take the simplest materials—such as radio dials, gears, pieces of copper, old cameras—and craft them into something new.
Sault Saint Marie’s connection to the water surrounding it is unmistakable. Nowhere is this more evident than by The Soo Locks, the busiest waterway in the world. Giant ships come from all over the world to pass through them, and more cargo goes through the Soo Locks than the Panama and Suez Canals combined. For those wanting to get a closer look, tours of the freighters, such as the 500 feet S. S. Valleycamp, are available, giving a real sense of what it was like to live on a giant freighter. On the S.S. Valleycamp, you can see the perfectly preserved upper deck and then descend into cargo bay, which has been turned into a maritime museum with cool exhibits—such as a life boat from the Edmund Fitzgerald.
History buffs have many places to visit in Sault Saint Marie. The town has its share of beautiful historic churches from the 1800s, which were built out of sandstone that came from the canal. There’s also the city courthouse, which still has its original stone and oak. Another notable site is Sault Saint Marie’s hydroplant. At a quarter of a mile in length, it holds the title of the longest hydroplant in the world. If you want to get a bird’s eye view of the entire town and the canal, head up to the Tower of History. At 210 feet in height, this observation tower grants visitors an unparalleled perspective of all Sault Saint Marie has to offer.
For a perfect way to end the day, take a twilight walking tour at the city park. Led by longtime residents, Jim Cooley and his wife, Mary, these tours act as reminders that Sault Saint Marie is a place where you can take in the smell of the cedars, hear the ships, and listen to the wind off the lakes. Discovering this town is an experience to be savored, not rushed.
CHEBOYGAN: LOGGING TOWN TURNED HIDDEN TREASURE
Formerly known as one of the greatest logging towns in the Midwest, Cheboygan is now a haven for people who love to live and play by the water. Located at the tip of the Lower Peninsula, just east of Mackinac City, Cheboygan is a town that stays rooted in its history while reinventing itself in the present.
Tom’s first stop is the Cheboygan Opera House, home to not only great performances but also great history. The opera house has been burnt down twice in the past, but each time, the town’s dedicated residents have resurrected and reconstructed it into the venue that it is today. Though the exterior has been modernized, the townspeople kept its interior authentic to what it would have looked like when it was originally built in 1877—stepping inside its doors is like stepping back in time.
For a daily dose of art, stop by the Gildner Gallery, where’s there’s a vast array of art to take in—from acrylics, to mixed media pieces, to watercolors. Located on top of The Coop Flower Shop, the gallery is a welcoming place for art and artists of every variety, and its owner, Ann Gildner is always on the lookout for artists that offer new and original works.
Right off Mullett Lake, just outside of Cheboygan is Tom’s last stop and one of Northern Michigan’s hidden treasures known as the Hack Ma Tack Inn. Along with so many sites in Cheboygan, the Inn has its own colorful history. The Inn was originally constructed as a hunting and fishing lodge in 1894, but was eventually transformed into a gourmet restaurant and inn. What has stayed constant are the beauty and lushness of the grounds surrounding it as well as its constant stream of visitors. After partaking of a delicious meal, those interested in exploring can visit its bell tower, take in the hand-crafted décor (such as carved fish and canoes) made by local artists who were deeply involved in the Inn’s creation, or even head to the dock to enjoy a quiet walk by the lake.