About the Sauna

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Marquette’s First and Finest Sauna Since 1926!

“In modern society, we build up a lot of tension trying to be successful.  Half the time, if you just sit back and relax, you’ll be successful. That’s what this place is all about – relaxation.”
– Bruce Carlson, owner Second Street Sauna

Current owner, Bruce Carlson, has owned and operated Second Street Sauna in Marquette, MI since the 1987. With a background in massage and physical therapy the sauna business was a perfect fit for Carlson who fell in love with the U.P. after serving 4 years at the previous KI Sawyer Air Force Base.
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After purchasing the Second Street Sauna, Carlson did a complete overhaul of the facilities refinishing all the sauna rooms and adding a hot tub spa large enough to hold eight. Throughout the renovation process he has proudly maintained a balance of old world sauna tradition and charm while modernizing and upgrading the facilities.

Bruce’s love and passion for the sauna tradition is shared with all who enter this relaxation sanctuary and leave rejuvenated and tension free!

“For over 20 years I would return to Second Street Sauna on every visit home to Marquette. A trip wasn’t complete without it.  Now that I live in Marquette again I’m happy to share it with my kids who request a family sauna party for all their birthdays!” – Erica McMillan

About the Sauna Facilities:

photo of private sauna room at Second Street Sauna in Marquette, MI.

Inside a private sauna room at Second Street Sauna in Marquette, Michigan. Bathtub under the stairs can be used for cold plunges after heating up!

The Second Street Sauna facilities include 4 private saunas custom designed with all cedar walls and benches. An eight person hot tub spa large enough to hold eight adults is available with a larger attached sauna room for larger parties. Each private sauna room includes:

  • a shower or footed bathtub (for cold plunges)
  • private changing rooms
  • galvanized buckets for cooling off with water
  • easy to use venting handles to control heat and vent steam onto heated rocks

* All rooms are kept clean by scrubbing and washing after each use. The ph of the hot tub is adjusted after each use and drained and refilled regularly.

Imagine… climbing the wooden stairs to a softly lit sauna loft.  It’s already heated up for you as you slide onto the warm cedar bench and pull the spring-loaded control handle to vent steam onto the hot rocks in the heater… Moments later, searing heat envelopes you and your pores respond by sweating. Contained in this salty water from your body is the release of built up toxins from the daily strains of life.  Ready for more heat? Add more steam, more sweat.  Then a bucket of cold water, and another… soon you are transported, concerns seem to float far away as your body becomes as tense as a wet noodle.  When you’ve had enough, walk downstairs carefully, the heat will leave you relaxed, and head for the shower.  After a good scrub and wash you will be a new person fresh, relaxed, and rejuvenated!

Some traditional sauna history…

View of large private sauna room at Second Street Sauna in Marquette, MI.

Private sauna room at Second Street Sauna with plenty of space and seating for large groups.

The oldest know saunas are Finnish. Historical records and evidence indicate that the Finns built the first wooden saunas in the 5th – 8th centuries.  These first rustic saunas were dug into hillsides until tools and techniques allowed for building above ground using wooden logs. Rocks were heated in stone fireplaces with wood fires.  The smoke would fill the room as the air warmed and once the desired temperature was reached the smoke was cleared and the bathers could enter.  The lingering smell of wood smoke was part of the cleansing ritual…

Traditionally families built and lived in the sauna first before building their house. Families of all ages sauna together and there are always public saunas available for community use as well.  Saunas were historically considered to be the most sacred place after the church.  In old times women would give birth in the sauna because it was a warm and sterile environment. Children were still born in saunas on occasion into the beginning of the 20th century. Ancient Finns even believed saunas were inhabited by spirits.

View from private sauna room at Second Street Sauna in Marquette, MI.

Smaller private sauna rooms feature sauna stoves in upper loft with shower and cold plunge bathtub below.

The lighting in a sauna is usually dim and many people enjoy sitting in silence, relaxing.  The temperature is generally kept between 170˚ – 230˚F.  Sometimes people make a vihta (a bundle of small fresh birch branches tied together, with leaves on) and swat themselves and their fellow sauna bathers with it.  This is done to improve blood circulation, and the birch fragrance is considered pleasing.

A traditional sauna ends with a dip in cold water such as a lake or river (in the winter they would cut a hole in the ice!) or with rolling in the snow.  Cool-off time can end the sauna experience or it can be followed by another round or two. By then even the tensest person will be jelly! After showering, it is conventional to have a beverage, most commonly a beer or non-alcoholic drink. Ahhhh…. now you’re ready for bed, sweet dreams tonight!

Sauna Fun Facts:

  • In Finland the sauna was thought of as a healing refreshment. An old saying says: “Jos ei viina, terva tai sauna auta, tauti on kuolemaksi.” (“If booze, tar, or the sauna won’t help, the illness is fatal.”)
  • Currently Finland has more saunas than personal vehicles.
  • On New Year’s Eve a sauna would be held before midnight to cleanse the body and spirit for the upcoming year.