The Best Complete Guide to Sault Sainte Marie, Upper Michigan

The Best Complete Guide to Sault Sainte Marie, Upper Michigan

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Guide to Sault Sainte Marie? Ernest Hemingway used to fish in the Saint Marys River close to Sault Saint Marie and claimed it was the best trout fishing he’s ever encountered. Decades later Sault Sainte Marie is still great for fishing but has so much more to offer to tourists and visitors.

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Planning a trip to Sault Sainte Marie, and don’t know where to start?

If you’re not quite sure yet how to plan your itinerary for Upper Michigan and whether Sault Sainte Marie is worth a visit then this is the post for you. This complete guide to the city will tell you all you need to know about how to get to Sault Sainte Marie, when to go and when the best time to visit is. Don’t miss out on this incredible little town.

Sault Sainte Marie History and Facts

Sault Sainte Marie is the oldest city in Michigan and one of the oldest in the entire United States. Native Americans populated the area as early as the first century. In the 1600s French missionaries began the first European settlement where the town sits today. They named it Sault Sainte Marie after the virgin Marie to represent the first city in the Great Lakes region.

Many wars were fought over the region in the 18th century due to the strategic location of the town and its abundant natural resources. Sault Sainte Marie became a significant location for fur trade which made a considerable proportion of the city’s inhabitants comparably wealthy.

The Saint Marys River is known for its treacherous rapids which used to be impassable for the many trade ships transporting goods. To surpass the 21 feet high falls cargo had to be transported via land between the Great Lakes. In 1855 the first American Lock was finally built and import and export via the water increased significantly.

Today Sault Sainte Marie has just over 14,000 inhabitants making it the second-largest city in Upper Michigan after Marquette.

Where is Sault Sainte Marie

Sault Sainte Marie is located on the North-western corner of Upper Michigan right by the Canadian border. The Saint Marys River separates Sault Sainte Marie from its twin city of the same name which lies in Canada. The river connects Lake Superior with Lake Huron and is used to generate a considerable amount of hydroelectric power. A bridge connects the two cities and marks the international border.

It takes just over 45 minutes to drive from Sault Sainte Marie to the Mackinac Bridge which connects Upper Michigan to Lower Michigan.

Why you need to visit Sault Sainte Marie

Sault Saint Marie has a unique location between Lake Superior and Lake Huron while also being right next to the Canadian border. The city is the perfect summer getaway with amazing hiking opportunities, beaches as well as historic locations nearby. Explore hidden waterfalls, try a new watersport, or take a scenic boat ride around the river and lake. There is always something to do in Sault Sainte Marie.

Only a bridge separates Sault Sainte Marie from Canada so a trip across the border is a tourist favorite. However, you do not need to leave the United States to enjoy your time in Sault Sainte Marie. There are plenty of attractions such as museums, parks, and several craft breweries on the American side to explore. The area is known for its many hunting and fishing opportunities so make the most of the great outdoors.

How to get to Sault Sainte Marie

Sault Sainte Marie has a small municipal airfield and the Canadian side has a larger regional airport with regular flights to cities such as Toronto. If you’re planning to fly to Sault Sainte Marie you should look for a flight taking you either to this airport or Chippewa County International Airport. It takes around 25 minutes to drive there from Sault Sainte Marie.

You can also reach Sault Sainte Marie via bus. Companies like Greyhound and Indian Trails have various routes available, however, most of them include multiple  stopovers. Taking a bus will be the most budget-friendly form of travel but it will most likely also take the longest.

The easiest way to get to Sault Sainte Marie is by car. You can either take a flight to a nearby airport and then rent a car on arrival or drive your own car up to Northern Michigan. This will give you considerable flexibility and let you explore the surrounding area in your own time. The Interstate 75 leads right to Sault Sainte Marie so it’s quick and convenient to reach.

How to get around Sault Sainte Marie

Although the Canadian side of Sault Sainte Marie has a public bus system, the American one does not. Nevertheless, we highly recommend either hiring a car on arrival or taking your own car to Sault Sainte Marie. Some of the most exciting things to do and popular tourist spots are located outside of the city and you’ll need a car to access them. By driving yourself you’ll be a lot more flexible and be able to enjoy the city and its surroundings. 

When is the best time to visit Sault Sainte Marie?

As is the case with most of Upper Michigan the months of June to August are the warmest and driest. This is the most popular time for tourists to visit and you’ll find that prices for accommodation and attractions will be at their highest. The area is known for its beautiful fall so why not choose to go in September or October? The weather is likely to still be good and you won’t have to worry about tourist crowds.

Sault Sainte Marie is one of the snowiest places in all of Michigan. During the winter months, there are still plenty of activities and things to do for tourists. Why not plan a winter escape and add snowmobiling, ice skating, sledding, or cross-country skiing to your itinerary?

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