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Discovering the Nearby Towns of Isle Royale National Park and Local Delicacies

Isle Royale National Park, a rugged and isolated island situated in the northwest corner of Lake Superior, offers a unique wilderness experience for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. As the park itself is an island with no permanent residents, there are no towns, hotels, or restaurants within its confines. However, those planning a visit need not worry, as there are a number of quaint towns and vibrant cities just a ferry or seaplane ride away. These gateways are the key to finding comfortable accommodations, delicious meals, and experiencing regional culinary delights.

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Written byDustin Collins
Published onDecember 13, 2023

Discovering the Nearby Towns of Isle Royale National Park and Local Delicacies

Isle Royale National Park, a rugged and isolated island situated in the northwest corner of Lake Superior, offers a unique wilderness experience for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. As the park itself is an island with no permanent residents, there are no towns, hotels, or restaurants within its confines. However, those planning a visit need not worry, as there are a number of quaint towns and vibrant cities just a ferry or seaplane ride away. These gateways are the key to finding comfortable accommodations, delicious meals, and experiencing regional culinary delights.

Houghton, Michigan

The city of Houghton is one of the primary access points to Isle Royale, with ferry services taking visitors across Lake Superior to the park. As the largest city nearby, Houghton offers a variety of hotels and restaurants that cater to different tastes and budgets. When in Houghton, visitors should try the local pasty, a traditional Upper Peninsula dish. This hearty, hand-held pie filled with meats and vegetables is a nod to the region's mining heritage and a must-try for any food enthusiast.

Copper Harbor, Michigan

Another gateway to Isle Royale is the small town of Copper Harbor. Located at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, this scenic town provides a closer jumping-off point with a shorter ferry ride. Copper Harbor's selection of cozy inns and lodges provide a warm and inviting atmosphere for travelers. Dining options here may be limited, but the available eateries offer a taste of local flavor, with fresh catches from Lake Superior like trout and whitefish being prominent on menus.

Grand Portage, Minnesota

On the Minnesota side of Lake Superior, Grand Portage serves as an additional departure point for Isle Royale visitors. The Grand Portage Lodge and Casino is the primary accommodation and dining option in town, providing comfort and entertainment for guests. The lodge's Island View Dining Room overlooks Lake Superior and is known for its delicious walleye dishes – another Great Lakes specialty.

Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Though farther afield, Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada, is an alternative for international travelers wanting to visit Isle Royale. With an array of hotels and culinary establishments, the city is an excellent place for an extended stay. Cuisine here is a melting pot of cultures, but be sure to try a Canadian staple: poutine. This dish of fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy is indulgent and satisfying, perfect after a long day of exploring.

Tips for Foodies

While staying in these towns, look for local specialties such as smoked fish—particularly Lake Superior trout or whitefish—which are often available in local markets. Berries are also abundant in the region; don't miss the chance to sample locally made jams or desserts featuring thimbleberries, blueberries, or raspberries.

Helpful Websites for Planning Your Visit

When planning your Isle Royale adventure, remember that while the park offers an escape into wilderness, the surrounding towns provide the amenities you'll need before and after your journey. By staying in any of these towns, you can enjoy the comforts of modern accommodations and savor the tastes of the Northwoods, making your overall experience both adventurous and pleasurable.

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