Category Archives: Local Fun & Food

God Rays on Saginaw Bay — Michigan in Pictures


God’s Rays over Saginaw Bay, photo by Tom Clark Awesome shot from last year on Saginaw Bay! View Tom’s photo bigger and see more in his Skyscapes slideshow. More from Saginaw on Michigan in Pictures.

via God Rays on Saginaw Bay — Michigan in Pictures

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Huron’s Drive-In Theaters


It’s widely recognized that the first drive in was Hollingshead’s drive-in opened in New Jersey June 6, 1933. It offered viewing for up to 400 vehicles and a 40 by 50 foot screen. The owner advertised his drive-in theater with the slogan, “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.” The facility only operated three years, but during that time the concept caught on in other states.

Blue Sky Drive In Caseville Michigan


The drive-in’s peak popularity came in the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly in rural areas, with some 4,000 drive-ins spread across the United States. Huron County is recorded in having two drive-in’s, the Blue Sky between Caseville and Pinnebog and the M-53 near Bad Axe.


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The Blue Sky operated from 1950 – 1977. Surrounded by farmland it offered summer nighttime movies for 300. Faced with decline in attendance the drive in showed “blue films” in the 1970’s. Remains of this theater were evident until about 2010 when land owners removed the last of the speaker stands and cement footings.


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M-53 opened in 1953 and ran until 1988. Located just west of town, its 400 spaces drew folks from all over the county.

Today there are no drive-ins in the Upper Thumb. The nearest one is the Hi-Way Drive In in Sandusky. The Hi-Way is considered the oldest continuous running drive-in in Michigan.

Port of Call – Harbor Beach Michigan


As the world’s largest man made harbor, the port of Harbor Beach is an ideal stopping point for sailors making their way up the shore of Lake Huron. With its protected port and town that’s steps away from the Marina, Harbor Beach offers sailors and boaters a  welcome break and an ideal provisioning point. If you find yourself with a few extra hours there are some great little site seeing trips that are close and interesting. Some are walking distance while some will require an Uber ride from dockside.

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Harbor Beach Light House – If you’re in the harbor on a Saturday and have $20 you can get a small 10 minute boat ride and guided tour of this Spark-plug light located at the tip of the break wall.  You can access four of the six levels of this working light and get a taste of local history. Figure taking about one hour for the entire tour. If the weather is ideal the best advice is to take your best pictures on the ride back with the sun higher in the sky. The fee covers the lighthouse trip and entry to the museum.


Grice House – The home is a prime example of a mid-19th century working home in thegrice-house-museum days before electricity. With its period kitchen, parlor, sewing room and bedroom you can imagine what life was like in the late 1800’s  There are collections and artifacts of local maritime history, history of the Great Lakes, and of early lumbering in Harbor Beach. This home was constructed in 1874 by James G. Grice, and is listed in the national Registry of Historical Places.

On the grounds there is a one room school house from the early 1900’s The school is furnished with desks, books and the stove typically found in one room country schools of that era.

The GriceHouse is a short walk from the Harbor Beach Marina on the north end of town.  Tours for the museum are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – 1-4 pm, Saturday – 10 am-4 pm, Sunday – 1-4 pm, and by appointment by calling 989-479-3363. Admission is $5.


murphy-museum-smallFrank Murphy Museum – Frank Murphy is listed as one of Michigan’s most notable and accomplished politicians. He was the Mayor of Detroit, Governor of Michigan, Governor-General/U.S. High Commissioner of the Philippine Islands, Attorney General of the United States and finally a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Born in Harbor Beach in 1890, he graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and returned to Harbor Beach to practice law early in his career. Frank Murphy was a national defender of civil rights. His was author to the dissent position of the Supreme Court in the Korematsu vs. the US case, which upheld the legality of Japanese internment camps during WWII. Murphy called the decision “legalization of racism.” A plaque highlighting his famous position is outside the museum.

The Frank Murphy Memorial Museum south of the Marina on Huron Street next to the Visitor’s Center at 142 S. Huron Avenue.  Tours for the museum are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Hours: Tues-Fri: Noon-4pm, Sat-Sun: 10am-4pm, and by appointment.  Admission: Adult: $2 / Child: $1


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Pointe Aux Barques Light House – This is well north of Harbor Beach but worth the drive.  The Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse ranks among the ten oldest lighthouses in Michigan. It is an active lighthouse maintained by the US Coast Guard remotely, located in Lighthouse County Park on Lake Huron near Port Hope, Michigan in Huron County. “Pointe aux Barques” Francois for  ‘Point of Little Boats’, a descriptor of the shallow shoals and reefs that lurk beneath these waves, presenting a hazard to boats as they round Michigan’s Thumb. This historic landmark marks the opening of Saginaw Bay. You can climb to the top of the lighthouse only on Memorial and Labor Day weekends.

Kinde Michigan – Our Bean Town


img_0337Many want to keep this place a secret. It’s a slice of a true American farming community in the Thumb of Michigan. The village was founded in the 1880’s during the regions transition from lumbering to agriculture by John Kinde. A lumber yard, general store, grain elevator and post office were established followed by a train station in 1882 by the Port Huron and Northwestern Railroad, (PH & NW).

Kinde was once renowned as the “Bean Capital of the World“. Michigan white navy bean soup has been a staple for over one hundred years in the U.S. Senate dining room in the form of Senate bean soup.  (Find the recipe in our post of Unique Michigan Foods You Have to Try) While beans are still a huge agricultural focus in the Thumb the mighty sugar beet has nudged the venerable white bean from first place.

Each year the heritage of the area rises with the Kinde Polka Fest that is held each September. Polka groups  from all over Michigan and the Midwest converge on the village for the entire weekend of music and fun.  A 5k run is held on Saturday with a Breakfast held on Sunday. Proceeds from the event go toward schorships for local students, school projects and the FFA.

img_0343Kinde offers a wonderful respite from the beach, the crowds in Port Austin or craziness of Caseville during Cheeseburger. In the center of town there is a giant water slide and miniature golf. The Wiley’s Water Slide is a cool option on a hot summer day. If getting all wet doesn’t interest you, there is an ice cream store too.

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If your more into the inside sports nearby on M-53 there is the time honored institution of Biff’s Bowling Bar.  Built in 1947 the bowling alley has been owned by the same family for three generations. Al and Kimberly Yageman brought out Al’s dad in 2003 and haven’t looked back.  The bowling alley has been highly rated online by both Yelp and Foursquare and has been noted for a great family atmosphere.  They have a full kitchen and some of the coldest beer around.

img_0342Most of the year-around folks in the Thumb consider The Pasta House a must visit. While everyone raves about their pizza this author tends to go for their signature dishes of homemade ravioli and chicken Marcela. With banquet facilities next door,  the Pasta House also draws special events, weddings and large parties.

img_0339Finally it you want a joint that is out of the ordinary head west of town to Heck’s Bar. This place is in what was once a thriving crossroads village of Pinnebog but today the Heck’s is the sole survivor. They offer one of the largest selections of craft beers in the area. They are known for their Friday fish fry and the famous Heckle burger.  The décor is a bit dated but they are working on it. The service is fast and conversation is pleasant as it’s never overly loud. It is somewhat kid friendly with families surrounding large tables with grand kids in tow.  So before you leave Kinde, come to the center of the Universe at Heck’s Bar.