Midway along US-2’s route across far northern Michigan, Escanaba (pop. 12,616)—with picture-perfect placement where the Escanaba River pours into the Little Bay de Noc—was born in typical UP fashion, out of the country’s insatiable need for timber and ore. At one time its docks contributed to the largest ore-shipping operation of its kind in the United States, work that continues today as Escanaba feeds the steel mills of Indiana, across Lake Michigan. To get a feel for lake life, head to the renovated 1867 Sand Point Lighthouse (906/789-6790, $3) along the lushly landscaped waterfront. The annual UP State Fair, held here the third week in August, is great fun.