Opinion — Exploring Marquette

The best places for exploring and relaxing within walking distance of NMU


EXPLORE – Marquette’s Presque Isle is one of the area’s many beautiful places for outdoor excursions. Tourists and locals alike go to Presque to walk or bike the forest trail and relax on the beach.

Hannah Jenkins, Copy Editor

Although small, the city of Marquette is a vibrant and active community, set against the beautiful backdrop of Lake Superior. Like most Midwestern towns, its people are friendly to neighbors and newcomers alike, including the many students who flock to NMU from around the country and the world. 

For someone who is new to NMU and Marquette, it might be overwhelming to consider all of the possibilities that the area has to offer. That is where I come in. As a lifelong resident of the U.P., I have been around Marquette almost since I can remember. I have developed an especially strong bond with the city since my tiny town some 20 miles away has little to offer in comparison to Marquette, forcing me and my family to “go into town” if we wanted to do anything fun.

So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite places in Marquette, all within walking – or biking distance – of NMU. 

Like many people, I never had any interest in coffee until I started college. Granted, the bitter taste can still deter me. However, I have come to enjoy a good coffee now and again as long as there are enough sugary additives involved. My coffee shop of choice is Contrast Coffee Co., located on the corner of Ohio and Third Street in Marquette’s Village. 

Contrast offers a wide variety of coffee, tea, and both sweet and savory food options. From lattes, mochas, pour-overs, teas and hot chocolate – to crepes, gourmet toasts, paninis, breakfast sandwiches and baked oatmeal – they are sure to have something to satisfy your cravings no matter your preferences. They also have a wide variety of bakery items such as cookies, muffins and bars that come in both regular and gluten-free versions. You can peruse the full menu on Marquette’s Contrast Coffee Co. website.

My go-to order is their signature Dirty Snowball, a blended iced drink with espresso, chocolate, caramel, peanut butter and milk. Along with the Pacino panini, which contains ham, salami, pepperoni, provolone, tomato, garlic aioli and spring mix. Besides the great coffee and food, my favorite things about Contrast are its close proximity to campus and its trendy yet cozy atmosphere.


If you happen to be, like myself, a proudly self-proclaimed nerd, then the Peter White Public Library is the next best place for you. Seriously though, whatever your level of nerdiness, this gorgeous and historical library has universal appeal. 

Located on the corner of Front and Ridge Street, Peter White has three stories chock-full of reading materials, computer stations, artwork, historical artifacts and study areas. On the lower level, you will find the extensive children’s area adjacent to the Marquette Arts and Culture Center, which presents art exhibits, concerts and lecture series to the public. The first or main floor contains the circulation desk, the fiction section and the “Teen Zone,” which is filled with young adult books and an exclusive study area. This floor also has several side rooms dedicated to Marquette’s sister cities in Japan and Finland, as well as the locally renowned Dandelion Cottage. Upstairs, on the third floor, are more computer stations, the nonfiction section, private study rooms and readily available historical documents for research.

Peter White is a wonderful place to study, read, gain cultural and historical knowledge and find some peace and quiet away from the busyness of college life. You can find out more about the library’s hours, events and services by visiting their website.


If you are looking for a place to relax, meet new people, do homework, score free food or go on outdoor adventures, check out the Catholic Campus Ministry Center across the street from Cohodas Hall. Open to all NMU students regardless of their beliefs, the center is a fun and welcoming hangout spot where you can connect with people from all over campus. 

One of the main events at CCM, is “Food for Thought,” a weekly gathering held on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Free dinner is provided, ranging from pizza to home-cooked specialties, followed by a talk from a guest speaker or an activity such as dodgeball. CCM also offers quiet study areas, a chapel that is open 24/7 and an endless stream of free food.

Whether you are searching for your new favorite study spot, new friends, fun activities or simply a relaxing environment amidst all the stress, the students and staff at CCM are always ready to welcome new people. For more information, visit the Catholic Campus Ministry website


In such a breathtakingly beautiful place as Marquette, there is no end to the outdoor activities and picturesque places to get lost in – hopefully, not literally. One of my favorite places to go, particularly in the fall, is Presque Isle. I still do not know why it is called that, considering it is not actually an island, but nevertheless I enjoy walking or biking the paved trail that loops through the forest like a leafy tunnel.

Presque Isle is a great spot any time of year, located right on Lake Superior, but I especially love it when the leaves change. Traveling through the woods beneath a canopy of red, orange and yellow is simultaneously soothing and awe-inspiring. It is the perfect way to let off steam from classes and work and just soak in the peacefulness and beauty of nature. There is also a picnic pavilion, a beach, a playground and an ice cream stand that help to provide the full Presque Isle experience.


I hope by sharing some of these fun and relaxing spots that I have been able to help you in your search for great places, people and activities in Marquette. Whether you prefer the outdoors or indoors, reading or biking, winter or summer, Marquette really does have something for everyone. You just have to know where to look.