For my next trip, I will be visiting Iron Mountain!
November 28, 2016 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Hey MeFi! I have travel coming up in January to Iron Mountain, Michigan. I am a special snowflake while traveling and thus somewhat nervous about smaller cities, and this seems to be the smallest that work has ever sent me to by a lot. Please help me enjoy Iron Mountain! Details below the fold.

I will be in Iron Mountain for about 24 hours. I will have a car. I have not booked a place to stay yet and if anyone has recommendations for places to stay or to avoid, that would be great.

Other stuff:

Food. I am a vegetarian with gluten and soy allergies. I need to be able to ask questions about what's in anything I eat. I do well with tacos, Indian food, and little hippie cafes. A quick yelp search did not leave me optimistic. Are there restaurants there that will be safe for me, or should I plan to hit a grocery store and cook? Where is a good local grocery store?

Tea. Is there a good place to get a cup of tea? Local is awesome, Starbucks or Caribou is fine.

Environs: what's cool to check out in January in Iron Mountain for a person who doesn't move around easily? Any museums or local art stuff? Should I know anything about social attitudes in the town or larger area? I am from the upper midwest and have lived in the northeast, so I know to be careful about winter. Are there moose in the area, or other wildlife concerns?
posted by bile and syntax to Travel & Transportation around Iron Mountain, MI (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've done a couple quick stays in Iron Mountain as overnight stops on my way to other Upper Peninsula destinations. My usual hotel is the Country Inn and Suites, which was perfectly adequate. It's near the main drag and was clean and comfortable, and that was about the extent of my expectations!

I can't remember eating there, but as a mostly-vegetarian I've found options generally limited up that way and prepare for this by packing way too many roadtrip-friendly snacks. I can usually scrounge up a vegetarian pasty so I can check that off of my UP-to-do list, but gluten-free would be a whole other thing.

I love driving in northern Wisconsin and the UP since it's so beautiful -- I love the area and look forward to visits! But it's also mildly terrifying, and if you're departing from the home base in your profile, your route is probably similar to the one I take. It's just out of my comfort zone, being very rural and isolated, and I felt like deer were just waiting along the side of the road to jump out in front of me.

My last trip up there was in October, and the political signage was as Trump-centric as you can probably imagine. Plan for little to no cell phone reception for spans of time (for me that means having printed directions and an actual old-fashioned map!), and have some winter survival stuff on hand. This story is my favorite UP travel cautionary tale!
posted by kittyb at 2:08 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was born and raised in Iron Mountain! After finishing my undergraduate degree at Michigan Tech I got the heck out of there, but I've been back enough to see what has changed or has been added.

I agree with kittyb that the Country Inn and Suites is just fine, and I have stayed quite a few times at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites right next door. Both of these hotels are relatively new and are still in good shape. They are also right next door to the local bowling alley, although I do believe you can still smoke inside...

For food choices that you listed, I would take a stab at the Carlos Catina, which has pretty decent Mexican food I would have killed for while growing up there. Spiros is a decent grill pub where I thought some of the salads looked fairly good last time I was there; it's also small enough where you could get your questions answered without too much fuss. For coffee, tea and other treats I would check out the Moose Jackson Cafe - I always liked the people who work there and they could answer other questions you might have about the local non-chain food scene. Your closest, good-sized grocery store will be Super One Foods which is right on the main drag (actually, most things will be!).

Lastly, finding stuff to do in town that doesn't involve skis, guns or snowmobiles in January can be tough. The town and surrounding area are historic hotspots for iron and copper mining, and there are some really good museums run by locals who know their stuff. However, these will all be closed when you are there. There has been a movement to restore the old Braumart Theater, which may have something going on when you are in town. I haven't checked it out myself, but there is a local art gallery right next to the Ace Hardware store which may have interesting stuff and/or people to see and talk to. If you are trying to kill time, the Dickinson County Public Library is a good resource for finding things to see, as well as seeing some local art and historic displays put together by staff.

Social attitudes were always a bit to the right of what I find comfortable, but I never found myself forced to talk politics. All these places are within 5-10 minutes of each other - just pay attention to how fast the speed limits change as you move in and out of the center of town. Never saw any moose, but there are so many deer in town it can be surprising even to those familiar with the U.P.!
posted by seraphim5 at 4:22 PM on November 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

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