Should my husband suggest a spur-of-the-moment return trip to Sault Ste. Marie, I’d say yes in a heartbeat. Our previous summer vacation on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula included a couple of days in this wonderful place – the oldest city in Michigan – but left us both wanting more.
We stayed at the Askwith Lockview Motel on West Portage Avenue just across the street from the Soo Locks - arguably the most impressive attraction here. The motel is right in the heart of town, so we could walk to most of the sights.
The first evening here we visited the park surrounding the locks (admission is free) and stood in one of the visitor stands. Our jaws dropped at the sight of seagoing vessels bigger than football fields making navigating the St. Mary’s River that connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron.
We’d made reservations with Soo Locks Boat Tours for an 8am cruise the following day that would take us on a four-hour voyage into Lake Superior and past several lighthouses. That's a bit early for me to crawl out of bed, but since breakfast was included, I figured it was worth the effort – and I was right. Despite chilly weather, I stayed topside, looking at lighthouses, freighters, the Algoma Steel plant and more.
Back on land, we headed to the Tower of History in downtown Sault St. Marie. An elevator, plus a short two flights of steps, brought us up 200 feet to the top of the open-air tower, from which we had a bird's eye view of the Soo Locks and a panorama of about 1,200 square miles around. The view included the Museum Ship Valley Camp, a steam powered Great Lakes freighter built in 1917 that's now home to maritime exhibits.
Then it was off to the Lockview Restaurant, part of our motel, for dinner. The menu "guaranteed" that the whitefish had been swimming in the lake no earlier than the night before, so it was a no-brainer for me. My husband, who can take fish or leave it, went for a plain old BLT sandwich. For the record, the whitefish, broiled in lemon pepper, was to die for.
Next day, we walked through few downtown shops, purchasing the requisite T-shirts and gifts for the grandkids, then made our way to Whitefish Point and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum which commemorates, among other things, the mysterious sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, popularized in the ballad by Gordon Lightfoot.
Dinner was at Moloney's Irish Pub, an interesting-looking place on Portage Avenue. I stuck with whitefish - a broiled fillet with mashed garlic potatoes for $12.99 - and my husband tried a clam basket ($9.99). The whitefish here, though didn't seem as fresh, and most of his clams tough to the point of being inedible. As a bar, this place is great, but when it comes to eating, our money’s on the Lockview.