Michigan’s Upper Peninsula might seem rural, flat and cold to us Southern Californians, but that assessment couldn’t be more wrong. After two weeks in the ‘big city’ of Marquette during our Bible of Bike Tests, Marquette is now on all of our radars as a place worth visiting. We have enjoyed perfect dirt, prime weather for riding and a tapestry of colors from the foliage season. The people are friendly, the town has plenty of food and bars for post-ride libations and between the three local trail networks, the riding never gets boring. For an overview of what Marquette has to offer head to the Travel Marquette Website. Here is a list of our favorite places that should not be missed.
Where To Stay
Staybridge Suites Marquette: The extended-stay hotel offers sizable rooms with kitchenettes and full refrigerators. Three nights a week, the hotel hosts a social hour in the lobby with free drinks and food for guests. There is also a full breakfast bar if you don’t want to cook your own meals. The hotel is walking distance from a few bars and diners, and downtown is a mile away. There are also free laundry facilities and a workout room. The hotel is less than a mile ride to the singletrack access trail or a 5 minute drive to the main trailhead, making the Staybridge a central location for both night life and riding.
Landmark Inn: The historic Landmark Inn in downtown Marquette boasts views of Lake Superior from its top-floor bar. Unlike the Staybridge, the Landmark Inn caters towards short-term visits. It is easy to walk downtown and the hotel itself has three restaurants and bars in the building. Sign up for the mountain bike package to get a tour of the local trails and the local beer.
Forestville Trailhead Camping: If you’d rather sleep outside than inside, there is a 25-spot campground adjacent to the South NTN trailhead. The campground is first come, first served, $15 per night with a limit of seven nights and a central fire pit.
Where to Eat and Drink
Delft Bistro: The Delft Bistro is a casual dining experience that has taken over a historic theater originally opened in 1914. The chef, who has worked in Colorado and downtown Chicago, is now bringing quality ingredients and a seasonal menu to Marquette. The menu features everything from sandwiches to larger entrees, with gluten-free and vegan options throughout. If you are in the mood for a film also, the Delft still features movies.
Elizabeth’s Chophouse: For fine dining in Marquette, Elizabeth’s Chophouse is the place to go. With fresh seafood, high-end steaks and a Certified Executive Chef, the locally owned restaurant is an escape to a quiet white tablecloth dining experience more often found in big cities. Located in the center of downtown Marquette, it is easy to access and the full bar and exceptional service will have you staying late.
Mountain Biking is Big Business in Small Marquette
Digs: Digs takes its own spin on the American pub scene with a rotating menu, a full bar and local beers. Open until 2 a.m. and with meals such as the kimchi rice balls or the temple runner burger, Digs is sure to impress deep into the night.
Blackrocks Brewery: The Blackrocks Brewery has good beer and employs many mountain bikers, along with sponsoring the local trail networks. If you are looking for information and a drink, this is the spot.
Blackrocks Brewery: Beers for Mountain Bikers
Steinhaus: The Steinhaus is Marquette’s classic German restaurant. Open seven days a week for dinner and brunch on the weekends, the Steinhaus serves traditional German dishes such as jager schnitzel and kasespatzle. Staying true to its roots, the Steinhaus also has multiple German beers on tap and a full cocktail list.
The Border Grill: Marquette’s local Mexican restaurant, the Border Grill uses fresh ingredients to make everything from scratch. Ideal for grabbing a quick bite to eat, the Grill is open for lunch or dinner and is conveniently located near the South NTN trailhead.
The Pasta Shop: Just like it sounds, The Pasta Shop is Marquette’s local Italian eatery. All pasta dishes come with garlic bread, and there are also sandwiches, salads and soups for something smaller.
906 Bar and Grill: The 906 is a classic sports bar. Burgers, sandwiches and beers are the fare of choice and if you want to catch your favorite sporting event, the 906 is sure to have it on.
Outlanders: For something quick, Outlanders makes fast food to order and carry out. The extensive menu has vegetarian and non-veg options, is affordable and perfect for a quick lunch or dinner.
Up North Lodge: Just outside of Marquette, in Gwinn, the Up North Lodge has your barbecue needs covered with fall-apart ribs. If ribs don’t strike your fancy, the lodge has a full menu from appetizers and salads to local fish, steaks, pasta and sandwiches. Kid-friendly and mountain biker friendly, the Up North Lodge is not to be missed for a hearty meal to fill you up after a ride.
The Marquette Food Co-Op: The downtown Marquette stop for organic produce and local ingredients, the Marquette Food Co-Op has all of your grocery needs covered, plus a deli with healthy, made-to-order meals and on-site seating.
Aubree’s Pizza: Aubree’s pizza is a family-owned restaurant focused on spreading the gospel of good pizza across Michigan. With a solid tap list and a TV in every booth, this pizza joint is as good a place to get some grub as it is to watch Sunday Night Football.
Harley’s Restaurant: Located inside the Ramada Inn, Harley’s restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is lead by Executive Chef Angela Varner, who went to college in Marquette and later graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. With local craft beer, a wide selection of wine and classic american cuisine, Harley’s is an easy choice that’s close to town.
Where to Ride
South Trails: The South NTN Trails are your best bet for an all-day session. With close to 30 miles of singletrack spanning from rolling beginner trails to full-on technical trails and freeride lines, there is something for everyone. Plus you can connect with the singletrack from town and ride it all the way to the main trailhead, avoiding the main highway. Although if you are looking for a more direct route, the road is faster and has a paved path that follows it to the trailhead. Oh, and the South NTN Trails has an amazing interactive map that…why is it cool?
Bible Basecamp: The Noquemanon Trail Network
Harlow Lake: If big rock slabs and technical climbs and descents are your thing, Harlow Lake is the spot. Littered with steep rollers and close to 15 miles of trail, the network is non-stop tech that will keep you occupied for just as long as the 30 miles of the South Trails. Not to mention, the trails top out at multiple overlooks with beautiful views of Lake Superior, Harlow Lake and the surrounding mountains.
North Trails: With just over 10 miles of trail, the North NTN Trails offer more cross-country and beginner terrain than can be found at the other two networks. With more point-to-point trails than loops, the North Trails are perfect for a leisurely ride that hits many different lookouts along the way.