Most states in our country have small towns tucked away from the hustle and bustle of state capitals and big cities. In Michigan’s greater Detroit area, Port Austin fits the bill. We found a bunch of things to do in Port Austin. This harbor town is two hours from Detroit in a straight drive up M-53 to the tip of the Thumb of Michigan.
Things To Do In Port Austin Mi This Weekend
Port Austin is Close to Metro Detroit But with A Northern Michigan Feel
This budding artist colony nestled between farms and pasture land to its south and Lake Huron’s expanse to its north. As a result of this unique position, the town offers breathtaking sunrise and sunset views over the big lake. With a small year-round population of just over 600, it’s a summer destination with cottage owners and weekend tourists seeking the cool breezes of Lake Huron. At the same time, the parents take the kids out to enjoy the numerous sandy beaches throughout the area.
Boaters and cruising sailors carefully motor past the rocks and the iconic Port Austin Lighthouse to utilize the strategic port to stock up on groceries or make repairs before heading to Canada’s Georgian Bay or the pristine waters of the North Channel.
Port Austin and Grindstone City are a Budding Artist Colony
This historic and unique town embraces visitors and its community with activities that allow everyone to get out and fellowship with one another, forming lasting bonds. There is an “Art in The Park” event every Labor Day weekend, and the White Church Gallery is minutes away in Grindstone City.
During the summer, the town holds a weekly farmers market full of fresh veggies and produce accompanied by arts and crafts. No need to ask for directions as it’s located downtown, one block from the harbor. The locals much anticipate this laid-back event which serves as both a marketplace and a social gathering.
The newest event to hit the town has been the Porchfest. Here famous and not-so-famous music groups perform folk, country, jazz, and even a little rock. Participants stroll from house to house and take in each entertainer. The event is held each June, and we will update our readers with dates as the event gets closer.
Port Austin Is Great For Sea Kayaking
The outdoor enthusiast will find no shortage of things to do in Port Austin or places to explore in Huron County. Turnip Rock is at the foremost of many beautiful sites. Only accessible by water, the 5-hour kayak round trip is the best way to experience this natural treasure. The 2 hours heading out seem shortened by the anticipation of seeing something so marvelous, and the 2-hour paddle back allows ample time to explore the rocky shore and let the experience sink in.
If you’re a fisherman, the Port Austin harbor is home to several charter boats that specialize in finding the numerous Lake Trout, tasty Walleye, and Steelhead Salmon that are out in the big lake.
Of all the unique things to do In Port Austin, there are numerous activities to engage in, including those that cater to SCUBA and snorkeling enthusiasts. The nearby waters at the tip of the Thumb host an entire underwater park that is home to various shipwrecks from the 19th century.
During the summer months, it is common to see scuba divers and snorkelers exploring the area. The wreck of Jacob Bertschy, which sank during a storm on September 3, 1879, is a must-visit for snorkelers. This 139-foot-long steamer currently rests in 8 feet of water southeast of the Grindstone City Harbor. It is a perfect shore dive for beginners and snorkelers, and many game fish can be spotted in the area.
On the other hand, if you feel the need to stay dry and hit the links, head just south of town to Bird Creek Golf Club and test your skills at the “best greens in the Thumb.”
If putting is more your style, Port Austin has several classic mini-golf attractions for the kids and the popular Sandy Dunes Adventure Golf, which claims the only waterfall in the Thumb. Horseback riding is available for kids aged 8 and up at the Knoblock Riding Stables, and the stable offers Pony rides for the little ones.
The Tip Of The Thumb As A Foodie Destination
The Upper Thumb offers some of the region’s finest home-cooked and Great Lakes fare. With over twenty restaurants, grills, and pubs, there is a choice for just about every taste. Outstanding establishments include the epicureanism of The Farm Restaurant, the classic dishes of The Bank 1884 Food and Spirits, and breakfast at the Lighthouse Café.
For those who like a sense of history, venture to the reopened Garfield Inn. James Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, did not build or own the landmark 1850s Inn but was a relatively frequent visitor. A few minutes from Port Austin in Grindstone City are the dueling ice cream shops of the Grindstone General Store and Rybak’s Ice Cream.
Enjoy A Wild Beach At The Site Of A Ghost Town
If you like to enjoy the great outdoors, Port Crescent State Park is the perfect place. The park offers excellent scenery on 640 acres with 3 miles of sugar sand beach. Find the quiet by relaxing among the dunes and enjoy a good book. The park is located on the site of an 1860s lumber town that has long since faded away. Some remnants of the original town of Port Crescent are still seen in
the park, such as the chimney base from the salt works and lumber mill. Much of the park literally resides on a ghost town. The park supports canoeing on the gentle Pinnebog River with rentals nearby. For those who want to venture on foot, there are seven miles of dunes and woods trails for hiking. Other amenities include hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, and birding.
Port Crescent State Park has been designated as one qualified to be listed as Dark Sky Preserve. With little light pollution from nearby metro areas, this park is a haven for astronomers each summer.
Port Austin is Family Friendly
Port Austin is an affordable resort town with a budding artist colony in a family-friendly atmosphere. We found 11 marvelous hotels in Port Austin, Michigan, that big travel sites overlook. Visitors can find numerous places to stay in. Lodging is available on the waterfront overlooking the famous Broken Rocks, a favorite of kayakers. Or check out the cozy knotty pine cabins in town and near the shops.
Couples can also experience the romantic and classic touches of several Bed & Breakfasts in town. Camping is also available at several commercial, county, and at Port Crescent State Park campgrounds. Port Austin is a place to call home or to spend a long weekend.
Final Thoughts About Things to Do in Port Austin
Port Austin is a small town with a big heart. It offers visitors a variety of things to do, from outdoor activities to cultural attractions. Whether looking for a relaxing vacation or an action-packed adventure, you will surely find something to enjoy in Port Austin.
Here are a few of my favorite things to do in Port Austin:
- Kayaking to Turnip Rock: This iconic rock formation is a popular destination for kayakers. The paddle is about 2 miles each way, and the views from the rock are incredible.
- Visiting the Port Austin Farmers Market: This market is held every Saturday from May to October. It’s a great place to find fresh produce, baked goods, and other locally made goods.
- Hiking at the Huron County Nature Center: This nature center has over 5 miles of trails that wind through forests, wetlands, and prairies. It’s a great place to see wildlife and enjoy the outdoors.
- Exploring the Port Austin Lighthouse: This historic lighthouse is located on the tip of the Thumb. You can climb to the top for stunning views of the bay.
- Attending the Port Austin Porch Fest: This annual event occurs in June. It features live music, food, and drinks on porches all over town.
No matter what you choose to do in Port Austin, you will surely have a great time. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!
Related Links About Things To Do In Port Austin Mi
- Golfing in Port Austin Michigan
- Port Crescent – Lumber Era Ghost Town Site
- Port Austin History Center
- My Experience with Cruising to Charity Island
- Tin Can Tourists at Port Crescent State Park
- Michigan’s Dog-Friendly Camping Sites