Houghton and Hancock are a pair of small towns in the Upper Peninsula of the state of Michigan, and home to Michigan Technological University and Finlandia University. Although separated by a canal, they are connected into a single community by a unique lift bridge.
The two main routes into Houghton and Hancock from the south are US-41 and M26.
Travelers coming from Green Bay or the central or eastern Upper Peninsula will likely travel on US-41. You'll know you've arrived because you'll suddenly find yourself surrounded by large modern university buildings, sprawling parking lots, and fraternity houses; you're on the campus of Michigan Tech. Keep driving to reach downtown Houghton, where the architecture transforms into old red sandstone buildings lining the tightly-packed small town business district overlooking the canal. US-41 then crosses the lift bridge into Hancock, which climbs the ridge on the north side of the channel.
Those arriving from central Wisconsin, Minnesota, or the Western UP will take M26. The first thing you will see will be the Walmart on the right, and an eroded cliff on the left. Like US-41, M26 crosses the lift bridge.
Houghton-Hancock are very small cities and are easily accessed by foot, although some streets can be very steep.
Neil's Cab (+1 906-482-5515) operates a few taxis in the area and the City of Houghton operates a shuttle service .
Another taxi service is Copper Country Limo, featuring airport and local transportation. This is a smoke free service. They do local and long distance with a stretch limo also available. Serving the University and Airport. (+1 906-370-4761 or www.coppercountrylimo.com)
For exploring the area, a personal car would be best. Car rentals area available at the airport.
The road names can be confusing as the same road can have different names in different areas. Coming into Houghton, US-41 is called College Ave after Michigan Tech, and then changes to one-way Shelden Ave in downtown Houghton, crosses the bridge, and splits into two different directions of M-26 and US-41. The Yooper Loop is a rather challenging piece of road on the south side of the lift bridge, where Memorial (US-41), Montezuma, and Shelden meet. Go slow, but don't stop and remember to check your blind spot if you need to go onto M-26.
- Portage Lake Ship Canal bisects the two cities. Running along Portage Lake and the canal is a rails-to-trails pathway which caters to bikes, rollerblades, runners/walkers, as well as snowmobilers. The canal itself resembles an arctic fjord, with steep slopes on either side.
- The Portage Lake Lift Bridge is a unique bridge acting as the gateway to the Keweenaw Peninsula to the north.
- 1 Michigan Tech University. Starting in 1885 as a mining college, Michigan Tech has expanded to all facets of engineering and sciences.
- 2 A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum. One of the great North American mineral museums.
- [dead link] Rosza Performing Arts Center. A modern theater featuring plays, performances and speakers nearly every weekend.
- Winter Carnival. Occurs in early February each year. Huge snow statues, fried twinkies and giant snow speakers courtesy of the fine young minds at MTU.
- Quincy Mine. A remnant of the mining era of the past, this is the best place to learn how the mining was done and a tour of the mine is available.
- 3 Finlandia University (formerly Suomi College). The Upper Peninsula's only private university. It is a very small campus with around 600 students enrolled.
- 4 Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw.
Houghton-Hancock is mostly known for its cross country skiing. 4 local cross country trail systems groomed for both skating and striding are in the area. Mt. Ripley is open to downhill skiers and snowboarders, and is owned by Michigan Tech. Downwind Sports and Cross Country Sports are good places to rent equipment and ask about trails and waterways.The Breakers and McLain State Park are the closest access sites to Lake Superior. Swimming anywhere on Portage Lake can be refreshing in summer, as is canoeing or kayaking. Fishing is a popular activity both on Portage lake and the many nearby lakes.
Houghton is also the home port for the Ranger III, a 125 passenger National Park Service ferry ship that takes passengers to and from Isle Royale during the summer months.
There are five screens in the Rogers Cinema 5 theater, which is located in the Copper Country Mall.
- Rogers Cinema 5. Five screens located in the back of the Copper Country Mall on M-26.
- Copper Country Community Art Center, ☏ . Has unique arts and crafts for sale and changing monthly art exhibitions, 126 Quincy Street in Hancock
- Rhythm Skate Shop. A beautiful new shop in downtown Houghton on Shelden Ave catering to skateboarders and snowboarders.
- Copper Country Mall (Located on M-26 going South from Houghton.). Has a number of national chain stores, although there is a fairly high vacancy rate.
- [dead link] North Wind Books of Finlandia University. Unique and hard to find books as well as FU merchandise.
- Michigan Tech Bookstore. And University Images, The bookstore is located in the Memorial Union Building on Tech's campus and University Images is located up the hill at the Student Development Complex
- Downwind Sports. Hiking and camping equipment and rentals
- Cross Country Sports. Specializes in bikes, skis and other outdoor equipment.
- [dead link] The Bike Shop. Bike shop in downtown Houghton specializing in all types of bike and related goods. They also carry disc golf supplies.
Pasties are the most famous food in the Copper Country but there are a number of restaurants offering unique and high quality foods.
- 1 Victoria's Kitchen, 518 Shelden Ave, Houghton, ☏ . It features fare inspired by Finnish cuisine and Lebanese dishes. The quality can range from outstanding to middling. Prices are reasonable--a full breakfast is under $2 in many instances. Friendly, fast service. Super breakfast and lunch food, vegetarian options, very friendly staff.
- 2 Suomi Restaurant, 54 Huron St, Houghton, ☏ . A little hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant with the best breakfast in town. Be prepared to wait on weekends as it is quite busy and the kitchen sometimes gets backed up. Has a neat selection of Finnish dishes.
- 3 Roy's Pasties and Bakery, 901 W Sharon Ave, Houghton, ☏ . Pasties and other delicious baked goods.
- Studio Pizza and Ice Cream, 426 Quincy St, Houghton, ☏ . Great pizza and Jilbert's ice cream. Also has local art on display.
- 4 Library Restaurant and Brewpub (down the hill from Shelden Ave at the stoplight). Good beer and food, but the service is notoriously slow. The menu is more extensive than many other restaurants in Houghton.
- Pilgrim River Steakhouse — Pilgrim River (just east of Houghton along 41). Expensive, good place for celebrations or when your employer or interviewer is paying.
The Upper Peninsula has a long drinking tradition, and the neighborhood bar is common here.
- Keweenaw Brewing Company (on Shelden Ave in downtown Houghton, look for the reddish purple overhang). Tap Room: M-W 3PM-10PM; Th-Sa 11AM-11PM; Su noon-8PM. Great place to meet people during the day with an interesting environment. Some of the best beer in the midwest.
- 1 Downtowner Lounge (At the end of Shelden Ave in Houghton right before the bridge.). Fun bar. If it's open, go on the deck outside for a great view of the lift bridge.
- Uphill 41. Located right before downtown Hancock after you cross the bridge. This is Houghton-Hancock's finest dance club.
- Ambassador, ☏ . The best homemade pizza around.
- Douglas House Saloon, 517 Shelden Ave, ☏ . A favorite dive bar for students known affectionately as "The Dog". Great for cheap beer, free popcorn, darts and pool. $.
- Best Western - Franklin Square Inn, 820 Shelden Avenue, ☏ . Houghton, MI 49931. Great views of the bridge and Mont Ripley.
- 1 Holiday Inn Express, 1110 Century Way, ☏ . Houghton, MI. Newer hotel, decent continental breakfast.
- Ramada - Hancock, 99 Navy Street, ☏ . Hancock, MI. Although located to the west of the bridge, turn right at the end of the bridge onto M-26 and then take the first right. The signs should be noticeable if you're looking for them. Nice place, good restaurant and bar in the hotel.
- Budget Host Inn, ☏ . 46995N US Highway 41, Houghton, MI. Located on US-41 in Pilgrim before Houghton. Very cheap and you notice it, but it gets the job done.
- 1 Portage Lake District Library.
- Isle Royale. Beautiful hiking on a pristine island in Lake Superior. The Ranger III ferry departs from Houghton for around $100 roundtrip.
|Routes through Houghton-Hancock|
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