Since I am still on furlough, I decided to use this down time to visit a friend in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It still amazes me that as a Michigander, just by driving five hours or less can get you across the Mackinaw Bridge. After I met my friend in the quaint town of Manistique, we discussed several breweries and restaurants that we absolutely HAD to visit during our stay in Marquette. Afterwards, we built a fire and relaxed so we could be up early and energized for the adventure ahead of us.
The next morning, we made the 1.5 hour drive from Manistique to Marquette, Mi. Marquette is home to Northern Michigan University, and is by far the most interesting town in all of U.P. Sure, nature is fun, but I would like to enjoy nature when I can also still visit a local brewery or find a bite to eat. Marquette is known for their iron ore loading docks, which spans 1200 feet long, 75 feet high, and 60 feet wide. The city of Marquette became the main shipping port for the delivery of iron ore. Fun Fact: During the American Civil War, the bulk of the iron ore used by the Union Army came out of the city of Marquette.
Over the years, Marquette has become famous for not only it’s rich history, but by the beautiful parks and hiking areas. At Presque Isle Park, locals and tourists alike climb the black rocks that are staggered around Lake Superior. During the summer months, the black rocks are filled with people, who are eagerly awaiting to jump off the 25-30 ft cliffs. Hiking trails, scenic views, and beaches are just a couple of the activities that Presque Isle Park has to offer.
After attempting to jump off of the black rocks, we decided to try one of the famous breweries that is named after Marquette’s history, Ore Dock Brewery. We were greeted with a lovely outdoor patio that was attached to the inside of the brewery, similar to a garage door. I tried their Bum’s Beach wheat beer, and ordered a couple of their new hard seltzers to go.
It was perfect timing because Ore Docks Brewery just announced that they have teamed up with Alliance Beverage to represent them in Beer City USA. With this addition, they are now available to expand their Superior sourced craft beer statewide! Be on the look out for their beer in a local bar/shop near you!
Our next stop, we decided to check out this cute Patisserie called, 231 West. This little pastry shop creates unique and specialty desserts, sandwiches, soups, and salads. 231 West collaborates with Velodrome Coffee, a local coffee shop in Marquette that provides 231 West with their very own special coffee blend. Some of these desserts almost looked too pretty to eat! I ordered the Night Rider, which consists of a Velodrome Coffee Brulee, Brownie Cake, Chocolate Sponge, and Dark Chocolate Mousse.
After waking up from our chocolate coma, we woke up with a thirst for coffee. I had heard amazing things about a local coffee shop called, Contrast Coffee. A local coffee shop owner in Muskegon raves about it every time he goes to the U.P. So, I figured this guy knows his coffee, so I should check it out. Turns out, he wasn’t wrong! Contrast Coffee has several coffee shop locations throughout the U.P. They are located in Iron Mountain, Iron River, Marquette, and in Ironwood.
Once inside, I could not decide what to order. Typical. So, I opted for buying two bags of coffee, so I wouldn’t miss the U.P. when I was home. The two bags were the Brazil and the Dark Side, signature blend. The Brazil had notes of green apple, toffee, chocolate, and citrus. The Dark Side had tasting notes of smokey, chocolate, and a full-bodied flavor. After deciding on two bags of coffee, the barista informed me that you can also order bags of coffee on their website! Noted. After staring at the menu for what felt like forever, I decided to order their Lavender Honey Latte and their Hibiscus Tea. I am not one to drink really sweet coffee drinks in the morning. Just had me a cup of coffee with a little bit of cream, and I am good to go.
The Lavender Honey Latte was very light in sweetness, but very flavorful. Not only does Contrast Coffee offer a variety of delicious coffee drinks, but they offer a variety of breakfast and lunch crepes, sandwiches, salads, and teas. 100% would recommend this place for your coffee fix. Please, skip the Starbucks and support local.
In the Governor’s first phase of opening Michigan, the U.P. and the Traverse City area were the first to open in the state. Bars and restaurants were able to open, as long as they followed state issued restrictions and guidelines. This was my first time being able to sit outside at a coffee shop in the past 4 months. Besides feeling a little bit of panic at first, my anxiety started to melt away as if there wasn’t just a huge pandemic that swept through the U.S. With that in mind, when deciding to travel during this pandemic, please remember to always use hand sanitizer, wear a mask inside, and stay 6 ft away from others.
I look forward to bringing you new experiences, and new foodie ideas as restaurants and bars start to re-open in West Michigan. We will all be on this awkward journey together. Cheers!