Rushing waterfalls, majestic forests, rocky coastlines and picturesque lighthouses help make Sault Ste. Marie a magical place. The 130-year-old city, which sits on the northeastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is an idyllic setting for meetings and events. Here are some of the city’s top spots to explore.
Sault Ste. Marie might be a small town, but Kewadin Casino, Hotel and Convention Center can comfortably accommodate large groups. The facility offers a 319-room hotel and more than 30,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including its 5,000-squarefoot Grand Ballroom and its 1,500-seat DreamMakers Theater. When your guests are ready to cut loose, the casino’s 37,000-squarefoot gaming floor awaits. The theater often hosts marquee acts, and the indoor pool and spa are available when it’s time to unwind. The on-site DreamCatchers Restaurant offers a full menu.
Lake Superior State University has two facilities with meeting and event space. The Walker Cisler Student and Conference Center offers five rooms that are named after the Great Lakes. The largest is the Superior Room, which can accommodate up to 300 guests for a seated dinner and up to 400 for a cocktail party and overlooks the St. Mary’s River. The other rooms can be combined into one large space.
“We also have the Anchor Room that can accommodate up to 50 guests, and the Galley, the student dining area, that can be utilized,” says David Roland Finley, the interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “It can host up to 300 guests seated and up to 400 standing.”
A five-minute walk away is the newly renovated R.W. Considine Hall, which once served as a soldier barracks. It features the Commons and Café area, which can host up to 200 guests seated and up to 300 standing. Ten classrooms can seat from 24-80 guests for breakout sessions, and the LaJoie Boardroom can host up to 32 guests seated. Catering for both facilities is done in-house.
Built in 1927, the Ramada Plaza Ojibway is the oldest hotel in Sault Ste. Marie. It’s also the only one in town with a view of the Soo Locks. The Ramada offers 71 guest rooms and a casual setting, including an indoor, heated pool, a sauna, and a fitness center with free weights and cardio machines.
Four boardrooms overlook downtown. Three can be combined into one large area that can accommodate up to 250 guests. The fourth boardroom can host up to 50 guests. “Groups love the atmosphere and food,” says General Manager Joanie Grove. Catering is done in-house.
The Holiday Inn Express Sault Ste. Marie has 97 guest rooms and a conference room that can accommodate up to 30 guests both seated and standing. Groups must provide their own caterer. For recreation, there is an indoor pool, a hot tub and a small fitness center. “We also provide passes to LSSU’s workout area next door,” says Assistant General Manager Toni Porcaro.
For an elegant setting visit Freighters Restaurant, which overlooks the Locks. Freighters offers three banquet rooms, the largest of which is the MacArthur Room, which can accommodate up to 50 guests seated and up to 75 standing. The Portage Room can accommodate up to 40 guests seated and up to 60 standing, and the Osborne Room can host up to 25 guests seated and up to 40 standing. The three rooms can be combined into one large space, and groups can rent the entire facility.
The 1668 Winery and Lockside Brewery makes its own wine on-site. “Groups really enjoy the wine selection and casual setting,” says Manager Tara Andrzejak. Favorite entrees are the chicken marsala, prime rib and hand-tossed pizzas. A semiprivate art gallery with a deck in the back can host up to 20 guests seated and up to 30 standing.
Some 350 hunted animals hang on the walls at The Antlers. “It’s definitely a unique atmosphere,” says General Manager Chris Szabo, who is also a co-owner with his wife, Cathy. One banquet room can accommodate up to 65 guests seated and up to 70 standing. Groups can rent the entire facility, which offers a casual, family atmosphere.
Soo Locks Boat Tours are one of Michigan’s top attractions. The company has grown from just sightseeing cruises in the Locks to dinner, luncheon, lighthouse, charter and sightseeing cruises, says Vice President Steve Welch. The Soo Locks Boat Tours, which started sightseeing boat tours in 1934, has five vessels, each of which can accommodate up to 150 passengers. The cruises last anywhere from two to fourand-a-half hours.
“Guests are astounded at the variety of things they see,” Welch says. Live narration explains the Soo Locks’ history and operation. It also provides insights into passing lake freighters and ocean ships, the International Highway Bridge and railroad bridges, hydroelectric plants, ship repair facilities, St. Mary’s Rapids and more.
An offshoot of Bird’s Eye Outfitters, Bird’s Eye Adventures offers adventure lessons and trips, including stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and hiking. “We also sell and rent high-quality outdoor apparel and equipment,” says owner Ken Hopper. “After their excursions, groups can return to the facility and have semiprivate events for up to 30 guests seated and up to 70 standing.” Catering is done in-house.
Lake Superior State University Arts Center Gallery exhibits works by local and regional artists as well as students. “We have oil paintings, watercolor paintings, ceramics, sculptures, sketches and a 5x7 show in which we use artists from all over,” says Director Sharon Dorrity. “We also have 34 lithographs [by artist Emil Weddige] in which the art forms are printed on stone slabs. We’re like an artistic hub.”