The Getaway
Things to Do in the Soo: Both Sides of the Border

Nestled on the border between the United States and Canada, Sault Ste. Marie, affectionately known as "the Soo," is a place where cultures merge, history is alive, and nature's beauty is on full display. This picturesque region, with the St. Marys River coursing through it, serves as a gateway to outdoor adventures, rich Indigenous history, and engineering marvels like the famous Soo Locks. Whether you're drawn by the call of the wild, the allure of history, or the simple pleasure of exploring new places, Sault Ste. Marie on both sides of the border promises an unforgettable experience. From the rugged beauty of Lake Superior's shores to the vibrant stories of the First Nations and European settlers, every corner of the Soo has a story to tell. Let's embark on a journey through 15 must-visit attractions in Sault Ste. Marie, ensure your itinerary is packed with the best the area has to offer.


01 Soo Locks: Engineering marvel

Sault Ste Marie are Twin Cities on the Michigan/Ontario Border on the Eastern Tip of Lake Superior

The Soo Locks aren't just a feat of engineering; they're a vital waterway for maritime traffic, connecting Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes. Watching massive freighters navigate these locks is a spectacle you won't forget. The visitor center offers a closer look at how this complex system works, making it a must-see for anyone interested in engineering or maritime history. The locks play a crucial role in the economy, allowing ships to bypass the rapids of the St. Marys River and transport goods efficiently between the Great Lakes.


02 Indigenous cultural experiences

Sault Ste. Marie's Indigenous cultural experiences are profound and enlightening. From attending a pow wow to exploring Indigenous art, these activities offer a glimpse into the rich history and vibrant culture of the First Nations people. It's an opportunity to learn, respect, and celebrate the traditions that have shaped the region. These experiences provide a meaningful connection to the land and its original stewards, offering insights into their wisdom, resilience, and spirituality.


03 Agawa Rock Pictographs

An ancient Indigenous pictograph is painted on a rock face on a cliff at the side of Lake Superior in the provincial park.

Nestled within Lake Superior Provincial Park, the Agawa Rock Pictographs are a sacred site, offering a connection to the past. These ancient paintings, created by the Ojibwe people, depict animals, humans, and mythical figures, providing insight into the spiritual beliefs of the region's Indigenous inhabitants. The journey to view these pictographs is an adventure in itself, involving a hike through beautiful terrain and along the lake's edge. This site is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes region.


04 Tower of History

Climbing the Tower of History rewards you with panoramic views of Sault Ste. Marie, the locks, and the surrounding landscapes. The tower also houses exhibits on the area's early missionary and Native American history, offering a comprehensive look at the Soo's past from a breathtaking vantage point. The observation deck is the perfect spot to capture photographs of the expansive views, making it a favorite among visitors. The exhibits inside provide a detailed narrative of the area's development, from its earliest inhabitants to its growth as a modern city.


05 Museum Ship Valley Camp

View of the Sault Ste Marie waterfront with the Museum Ship Valley Camp in the foreground and the famous Tower Of History in the background. ehrlif /

The Museum Ship Valley Camp, a retired freighter turned museum, houses exhibits on maritime history, including artifacts from the Edmund Fitzgerald wreck. Exploring this ship gives you a sense of life on the Great Lakes and the dangers faced by those who navigated these waters. The museum offers an immersive experience, with detailed exhibits on the shipping industry, the ecology of the Great Lakes, and the stories of ships lost to their depths. It's a poignant reminder of the power of nature and the bravery of those who work on these waters.


06 Rotary Park tranquility

Rotary Park is a peaceful retreat by the St. Marys River, perfect for a quiet afternoon. Whether you're picnicking, watching the river flow, or simply enjoying the tranquility, this park is a reminder of the Soo's natural beauty and a perfect spot for relaxation. The park's location offers stunning views of the river and the passing freighters, providing a unique backdrop for your leisure activities. It's an ideal place for families to gather, with ample space for children to play and adults to unwind.


07 Historic Water Street

Walking down Historic Water Street is like stepping back in time. The street is lined with homes of early European settlers, each telling its own story of missionaries, fur traders, and the development of Sault Ste. Marie. It's a picturesque stroll through history, with each building offering a window into the past. This area highlights the blend of cultures that have shaped the Soo, from Indigenous peoples to European settlers, each leaving their mark on the city's architecture and heritage.


08 Whitefish Island's natural beauty

Whitefish Island River Viewpoint in Sault Ste. Marie, CANADA. High quality photo

Whitefish Island, once a traditional fishing and gathering place for the Anishinaabe people, is now a beautiful natural area teeming with wildlife and flora. The island's trails offer serene walks with stunning views of the St. Marys River and the Soo Locks. It's a place where history and nature converge, offering visitors a peaceful escape and a chance to learn about the area's Indigenous heritage. The island is a testament to the efforts to preserve natural spaces and their historical significance.


09 Kayaking on St. Marys River

Kayaking at sunset on a calm lake in Northwest Ontario, Canada.

Kayaking on the St. Marys River offers a unique perspective of Sault Ste. Marie. Paddling these waters, you'll see the city from a new angle, enjoy the peaceful flow of the river, and maybe even spot some wildlife along the shore. This activity is perfect for those looking to connect with nature and experience the Soo from the water. The river's calm waters are suitable for kayakers of all skill levels, making it an accessible adventure for everyone.


10 Hiking the Sand River Trail

The Sand River Trail in Lake Superior Provincial Park is a hiker's dream, with cascading waterfalls and lush forests. The trail's beauty lies in its accessibility for all skill levels, making it a perfect day trip for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty of the Soo. Along the trail, hikers are treated to the soothing sounds of rushing water and the chance to spot local wildlife in their natural habitat. It's an invigorating experience that highlights the pristine wilderness of the area.


11 Bathtub Island's hidden gem

Bathtub Island is a natural wonder within Lake Superior Provincial Park, known for its shallow, warm water pool. This hidden gem is a bit of a trek to reach but offers a unique and refreshing swimming experience in one of the lake's most scenic spots. The island's secluded location makes it a peaceful retreat, perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy nature's tranquility. Its crystal-clear waters and picturesque setting make it a favorite among photographers and nature lovers alike.


12 Gros Cap Bluffs sunset

Watching the sunset at Gros Cap Bluffs is an experience that encapsulates the beauty of the Soo. The bluffs offer a stunning backdrop as the sun dips below Lake Superior, painting the sky in brilliant hues. It's a moment of pure tranquility and beauty, offering a perfect end to a day of exploration. The area's rugged landscape and the vastness of the lake provide a sense of awe and wonder, reminding visitors of the natural beauty that surrounds Sault Ste. Marie.


13 Lake Superior Coastal Drive

Michigan Scenic Drive. Coastal highway along the Keweenaw Bay of Lake Superior at sunset in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The Lake Superior Coastal Drive is an adventure in itself, with breathtaking viewpoints, pristine beaches, and charming local eateries along the way. This scenic route showcases the rugged beauty of the lake's coastline and the small communities that call it home. The drive is a journey through the heart of the Great Lakes region, offering a glimpse into the area's history, culture, and natural splendor. Along the way, travelers can stop to hike, swim, or simply enjoy the views, making it a versatile and enjoyable experience for all.


14 Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site

The Sault Ste. Marie Canal, part of the area's extensive waterway system, offers a glimpse into the region's industrial past. The recreational locks and historical exhibits provide an interesting look at how the canal has shaped the city and its development. This site is not only significant for its historical value but also for its role in facilitating trade and travel between the Great Lakes. Visitors can learn about the engineering challenges overcome to construct the canal and the impact it has had on the region's growth.


15 Local fudge delicacies

No visit to the Soo is complete without sampling the local fudge. This sweet treat has become a staple of the area's culinary offerings, with shops boasting a variety of flavors. It's a delicious way to end your exploration of Sault Ste. Marie, offering a taste of the region's hospitality and craftsmanship. The tradition of fudge making in the area is a nod to the Soo's history as a tourist destination, with each batch crafted to perfection and serving as a sweet souvenir of your visit.

Sault Ste. Marie, straddling the border between two nations, offers a rich tapestry of experiences that blend nature, culture, and history. Whether you're marveling at the engineering feat of the Soo Locks, immersing yourself in Indigenous culture, or exploring the natural beauty of Lake Superior's shores, the Soo invites you to create memories that will last a lifetime. With each attraction offering its unique charm, Sault Ste. Marie stands as a testament to the beauty of exploration and the endless stories waiting to be discovered.


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