bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

Two days in Sault Ste. Marie, MI–Big Trip #1

We visited Sault Ste Marie in May 2016 during Big Trip #1.

sunset on st marys river

After Houghton, we had a few days of play in our schedule before we were due in Traverse City, so after extensive googling and debating we decided to spend part of that time in Sault Ste. Marie. That’s pronounced “soo saint marie.” We loved our campsite–another sweet waterfront spot–and the locks and shipping lanes were super neat, but there’s not much else to get excited about in Sault (pronounced “salt” in the AirstreamDog household where we like to intentionally mispronounce words).


sault ste marie freighter
dog running by river
airstream rainbow by river
airstream rainbow

There are two RV campgrounds on the St. Mary’s River, which, as the Great Lakes Waterway connector between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, sees an average of ten thousand freighters pass through per year. We wanted a front-row seat to the boat show, and based on slightly better reviews on Google and RV Park Reviews, chose a waterfront (but sewerless) spot at the fairly empty Aune-Osborn Campground. Bugsy got to splash around in the river a bit, and we humans enjoyed watching and listening to the ships. The boat horns tooted through the night, which might bother a sensitive sleeper, but the exciting novelty of honking freighters right outside my window outweighed any annoyance, for me.

dog by st marys river
sault ste marie river sunset

Eating and Drinking

On the way to Sault we stopped for coffee and sandwiches at Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore in Munising, MI. The food was good enough and the shop was cute–but best of all, parking the rig on the street out front was easy.

In Sault, we visited Lockside Brewery and Soo Brewing Company. J wrote about them here. Lockside has wifi and food, if you’re in need of a place to camp out for a bit and get some work done.

sault ste marie ontario barrelhouse

When we went to (spoiler alert) Canada, to the town right across the river in Ontario also called Sault Ste. Marie, we had a cocktail and appetizer at The Barrelhouse tapas restaurant. There was a pretty lively after-work crowd to give the place some energy, and the food and drink were quite tasty. We were surprised at the quality because (spoiler alert) the rest of the town was depressing. There is a brewery with a taproom in Canadian Sault, but it was not open, and a brewery without a taproom that couldn’t sell us a pint, but could sell us a bottle of not-great pale ale to smuggle back to the States.


sault ste marie ontario

Bugsy went to her first foreign country! We were excited to take her to Canada just to say she’d been to another country, but Canadian Sault does not have much going on. We walked along the river and down the main drag of shops and it was dead. Nothing was open, no people were around… and then it started raining. So we didn’t stay on the Canadian side for very long. The friendly staff at the tourism office showed us some hiking not too far from town, so that might be something fun to do if you find yourself in Canadian Sault. Remember, if you want to take your dog across the border to Canada, you’ll need to print out proof of rabies vaccination. Canadian Border Service didn’t care to see it, but the US official did when we came back across.

canadian soo lock
international bridge sault ste marie lock tour
sault ste marie steel mining
st marys river freighter

The best thing to do as a tourist in Sault Ste. Marie (Michigan), in my opinion, is do a lock tour by boat. The Soo Locks were built to send ship traffic between the Atlantic and Lake Superior without requiring portaging around the falls on the river at Sault. We took a late afternoon tour with Soo Locks Boat Tours, up through one of the big US locks and back down through the smaller Canadian lock. You’ll get cool views, a history lesson, an up-close look at a steel mining operation, and info on any freighters passing by. Apparently the tour company offers free kenneling at the dock if you need it for your pup; Bugsy stayed at home in the Airstream while we cruised.


5 responses to “Two days in Sault Ste. Marie, MI–Big Trip #1”

  1. […] she loves birds and squirrels). We also brought her vaccination history in case we popped up to Canada–and made sure her Bordetella was current (even though we don’t board her at home) in […]

  2. […] about the the wonderful Upper Peninsula and enjoyed each additional place we stopped in the state: Sault Ste Marie, Mackinaw City, Traverse City, and Grand […]

  3. […] down the busy shipping lanes of the Mississippi. We loved the sights and sounds of the boats at our Sault Ste Marie campground, so were particularly excited about our front-row seat on the Mississippi. […]

  4. […] make sure you know the rules for entry into the foreign country, and reentry back into the States! We took Bugsy into Canada in 2016, and the rules at that time were: Canada didn’t care, but on our way back into the […]

  5. […] it’s so exciting to see the big ships go by, but that’s why I liked our campsites in Sault Ste Marie and Memphis so much. Fun fact: some big ships don’t ever leave the Great Lakes! They’re […]

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