Marion’s Dairy Bar: Ice Cream on the Sunrise Side

Ice Cream Sunday - Photo Credit - Marion's Facebook page

Michigan Ice Cream Treats at Marion's

It’s National Ice Cream Month, and what better way to celebrate on a HOT summer day than to read about a great ice cream parlor in Michigan, and then head out for an ice cream cone of your own! Guest Blogger Tim Chilcote shares the memory of a trip on the sunrise side of Michigan.

Next time you’re on Michigan’s sunrise side, grab an ice cream cone at Marion’s Dairy Bar and take a walk along the East Tawas State Dock. In fact, make a special trip—eating ice cream along Tawas Bay is a favorite pastime of locals and tourists, and reason enough to visit the Lake Huron coast.

Marion's Ice Cream Parlor in Michigan - Photo credit - Tim Chilcote

Marion's Ice Cream Parlor in Michigan

Marion’s is a throw-back—the bar is adorned in Coca-Cola artifacts and old-time soda fountain decorations, and has comfy 1950’s style booths. Marion’s has a fantastic view of the bay, and their unwavering small-town charm has made them an East Tawas institution. When I suggested as much to head scooper, Marty Brummeler, he said simply, “If this place stays the same, that’s all I can control.”

Flickr photo credit - Dave Peterson

Tawas Point Lighthouse

I met Marty while I was living in Tawas Point Lighthouse as part of the Michigan DNR’s volunteer keeper program. It was Mother’s Day, and Marty, his wife Natalie, and their three-year old son were peeking in a window of my temporary residence. After giving them a tour to the top of the lighthouse, Marty invited me and my wife for an ice cream cone.

Marty, who used to run a soda fountain in Holly, spent the last 10 years living in Athens, Georgia, where he worked in real estate. He returned to Michigan this summer to run the family business, driving home to Michigan with, as he put it, “All we could fit in a Budget truck.”

Head scooper at Marion's - Photo credit - Tim Chilcote

Head scooper at Marion's

When my wife and I visited in early May, Marion’s had just opened for the season, and Marty was training two new hires. As they made their first cones he joked, “If you don’t do this one right, you don’t get the job.” There was a southern charm present in his humor, as he teased the girls that they would have “Popeye forearms” by the end of summer.

Storefront of Marion's Ice Cream Parlor in Michigan - Photo credit - Tim Chilcote

Storefront of Marion's Ice Cream Parlor in Michigan

Marion’s does all their business over a 100-day season, and when business is at its peak, Marion’s makes homemade waffle cones non-stop for 12 hours a day. “My wife, Natalie, is a really good waffle cone maker—a hot commodity during the summer rush.”

My moose tracks waffle cone was fantastic, and expertly scooped by Marty himself. The waffle cone exceeded all expectations—sweet and al dente. When we visited the weather was cold and rainy, but the ice cream still managed to inspire a walk on the dock.

What the heck, it’s summer, or at least we can hope. Like Marty said, “It’s ice cream, it’s fun.” And though I sure didn’t need it, I had to try one of their authentic chocolate malts for dessert.

You can “like” Marion’s at facebook.com/marionsdairybar, and be sure to visit if you’re driving up M-23 this summer. Marion’s is located at 111 East Bay Street, East Tawas, Michigan—right across the street from the water.

View Marion’s Dairy Bar: Ice Cream on the Sunrise Side in a larger map
Tim ChilcoteTim Chilcote, writer and Great Lakes enthusiast, lives in Ann Arbor and blogs at Great Lakes Guru. Follow him on Twitter @TimChilcote.

  • http://www.damnarbor.com Ben Connor Barrie

    Awesome article Tim. With the heat we’ve been having lately I could really go for a cone.

  • Janet Lixey Hughes

    Marion’s dairy bar is my favorite ice cream place in the whole world. I have been going there for 50 plus yrs. There is something special about going there on a hot summer evening, waiting in line talking to old friends and meeting new people visiting for the first time. I wish I was there right now, getting a malt and walking around the town I love.

  • antonio brown

    i try to get a cone at less two time a mouth there so good

  • Dorothy Foley

    Nowhere else can you get a great Blue Moon ice cream in a blue chocolated dipped with sprinkles waffle cone! A kid’s delight!

  • http://www.dinemichigan.com Dine Michigan

    It Sounds like Dine Michigan needs to take a trip to Marion’s Dairy Bar as we are sending writers to the North East side of the state very soon! Thanks for the great suggestion.

  • Cathy Anklam

    I used to work at Marions, a long time ago, and loved making their homeade waffle cones. The aromas of the waffle cones are enough to get you in the door!

  • Judy Sharma

    Marions Dairy Bar! Wow, the memories. Hang out for all the kids after school with soda’s and malts and cones and looking for your favorite friends. Holding hands with your boy friend and then strolling out on the dock. It has never changed for the worse BUT only gotten better. Just driving by makes our mouth water for the waffle cones filled with the raspberry swirl ice cream that seemed so big that you wanted to share it. Yes, do stop by our town of East Tawas and enjoy all they have in this quaint small American town. Just don’t forget to take a stroll out on the dock AFTER getting that old time malt or creamy ice cream in a giant waffle cone. It’s like going back in time. My first visit was in 1957 and I have been going there ever since because I love our town.

  • Donald Dale Milne

    Great recommendation: I stop in nearly every time I’m in Tawas for the day. Whether you stay indoors for the old-style booths and decor, or walk down to the dock with the cone, it’s fun either way.

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