Michigan’s birthplace, Sault Ste. Marie, is a land of vast natural beauty that forms the nexus between countries, lakes and cultures. The state’s first city is found on the shores of the St. Marys River – a vital waterway that connects the Great Lakes and provides an aquatic border with Canada. With a rich history comprised of Native American, French and British influences, the community affectionately known as “The Soo” offers much to see and do.
Sault Ste. Marie is home to the Soo Locks – a canal system that uses water to raise and lower ships and other vessels 21 feet between Lake Superior and Lake Huron levels. First built nearly 160 years ago to bypass rapids, the Soo Locks continue today to provide passage for more than 8 million tons of grain, coal, iron ore and other important natural resources distributed throughout the Great Lakes region. Visitors can trace that same path and explore the river aboard a Soo Locks Boat Tours vessel. Back on land, a picturesque park and informative visitor center is found at the Soo Locks complex, where maritime stories and tales of ships and shoals abound. The city offers other opportunities to explore maritime majesty, including the Museum Ship Valley Camp – a retired shipping freighter that now houses hundreds of nautical exhibits.
North American Culture
Native Americans were Sault Ste. Marie’s first residents, where they lived on the abundant foods found in the water and woods surrounding the city. Tribes from near and far found a gathering place in the Soo. Today, visitors participate in Native American culture by attending annual Pow Wow celebrations, visiting local museums that showcase Indian history, and listening to native storytellers share the lives of their ancestors here at Bahwating – the native name for Sault Ste. Marie.
The Wonder of Nature
Lake Superior, the largest lake in the United States, is a short distance from Sault Ste. Marie. This sparkling, clean fresh-water lake is enjoyed by swimmers, boaters and anglers. The beaches and parks that line the shore offer the perfect location for a leisurely walk or a bit of sun worship.
Mother Nature is also on display at nearby Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Thundering waterfalls cascade across rocks to form a picturesque backdrop for the perfect vacation photograph. The Upper Falls cover a 200-foot span and drop more than 50 feet to the river below. The Lower Falls provide a succession of smaller falls, each more beautiful than the last. The park features hiking trails, row boat rental, food and gifts for purchase, and the perfect place to explore nature.
Excitement after Dark
Sault Ste. Marie also has a lively nighttime scene that can be enjoyed both indoors and outside. Kewadin Casino offers Vegas-style gaming, concerts, lounges and dining. Visitors enjoy craft beers at Soo Brewing Company and a number of local foods, including fresh whitefish and pasties, at area restaurants. Outside, the northern skies grant visitors the rare chance to see the Aurora Borealis.