Discover Alpena: A Pure Michigan Itinerary

 ITINERARY PDF

Located along the picturesque shores of Lake Huron, Alpena is home to stunning sunrises, small-town charm, a rich maritime history and endless outdoor adventures. With so much to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start—but whether you’re looking for a relaxing, family-friendly escape or the thrills of outdoor activities, Alpena has something for everyone.
 
Your perfect getaway awaits in northeast Michigan’s “Sanctuary of the Great Lakes.”

OUTDOOR RECREATION

Woman and man mountain biking in forest.
Biking on Norway Ridge Pathway | Photo Courtesy of Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau


With all of Alpena’s small-town charm, it’s also the perfect getaway for outdoor adventure. The Alpena Bi-Path is made of 18.5 miles of paved trails and is a perfect way to see the town and visit city parks by foot, bike or rollerblades. For a more immersive experience in the natural beauty of Alpena, there are hiking trails and single-track mountain biking trails, including the beginner-level Norway Ridge Pathway and the challenging Chippewa Hills Pathway.
 
For more trails and outdoor recreation opportunities, visit Duck Park and Island Park, which are connected via a covered bridge and both have access to the Thunder Bay River. While you’re there, you can rent bikes, stand up paddleboards, kayaks and canoes from Alpena Pedal & Paddle Rentals to explore even more of the area.
 
In the evening, go outside for a dazzling star show. Alpena is perfect for stargazing with three Dark Sky Preserves in the area, which are located within Rockport Recreation Area, Thompson’s Harbor State Park and Negwegon State Park.
 

ADVENTURE ON THE WATER

Man snorkeling over shipwreck in Lake Huron
Snorkeler Exploring a Shipwreck | Photo Courtesy of Joe Gall


As Alpena rests on the shores of Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay and the banks of Thunder Bay River—with a variety of inland lakes in between—it’s a perfect place to get out on the water and lounge on a beach. Kayak along the river or paddleboard the waters of the bay and Lake Huron. For a unique and unforgettable experience, try paddling and snorkeling over some of the pristine shipwrecks in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. If you want to see the shipwrecks with the whole family with ease, go on a glass-bottom boat tour with Alpena Shipwreck Tours.
 
Alpena is also the perfect place to spend the day—or days—fishing. From relaxing on the docks on inland lakes and rivers and deep-water fishing to fly fishing and angling over historic shipwrecks, you can find a new place to cast a line every day during your getaway. In the winter, return for fantastic ice fishing as well!
 
You can also discover a nautical experience with the Alpena Youth Sailing Club. They offer sailing lessons for families and people of all ages on Lake Huron to create an unforgettable memory.
 

HISTORIC ALPENA

Alpena Lighthouse on Thunder Bay
Alpena Light | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

 
Michigan’s Great Lakes have shaped the state’s history and culture, and that history is extraordinarily preserved and interpreted in northeast Michigan. Alpena is on the shores of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which is home to hundreds of shipwrecks. You can learn about this underwater time capsule with the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center's immersive exhibits of the ships that used to sail the region. To learn about Alpena’s maritime history outdoors, take a walk on the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail which includes a boardwalk, pedestrian bridge and informational signs along the way.

You can also tour a fantastic collection of lighthouses in northeast Michigan. Located where the Thunder Bay River meets Lake Huron, the Alpena Light—or the “Little Red” beacon—sits on a metal frame and is believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation. There are also the New Presque Isle Lighthouse, the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse and more to explore in the Great Lakes region.
 
Another must-visit attraction is the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan. Here you can experience the art, history and science of the region, as well as explore interactive exhibits like fossil hunting that the whole family can enjoy.
 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FUN

Person holding fossil over rocky ground
Devonian Fossils at Rockport State Recreation Area | Photo Courtesy of Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau


If you’re planning a day of outdoor adventure, try fossil hunting in the area. Alpena is rich with fossils from the Devonian Period that formed over 400 million years ago, especially in the old, 300-acre limestone quarry in Rockport Recreation Area. To walk amongst dinosaurs, take a scenic drive south along Lake Huron to the Dinosaur Gardens in Ossineke. Here the whole family can explore a forest filled with life-sized dinosaur replicas, play putt-putt golf and more.
 
If you’re looking for an interactive activity that takes your children back in time, Cedar Panning Co. is where they can delight in the process of panning for gems in a sluice. You can also visit Lee’s Miniature Golf, which is the state’s longest-running miniature golf establishment and is right on the coast with views of Lake Huron. After a long day, head to Downtown Scoops for a delicious waffle cone or sundae.
 

CRAFT BEVERAGE SCENE

Women sitting at table drinking wine at Thunder Bay Winery
Thunder Bay Winery Tasting Room | Photo Courtesy of Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau


From local wines to craft beer, Alpena has a variety of Michigan-made products to choose from. Thunder Bay Winery is family-owned and their tasting room is located in the historic Center Building right downtown. Try a glass or flight of their white, red, fruit and dessert wines—or try a refreshing hard cider. You can also visit Stoney Acres Winery that offers a variety of grape and fruit wines in a cozy tasting room. Don’t forget to try some of their homemade, gourmet wine truffles before you leave.
 
If you prefer a flight of craft beer, head to Austin Brothers Beer Co. While you taste their variety of classic and creative brews, try some of their pub entrees including delicious burgers, sandwiches and pizzas made with locally-sourced, fresh ingredients. 
  

WHERE TO EAT

Group of friends sharing a toast at Court Yard Ristorante & Olde Roost Lounge
Court Yard Ristorante & Olde Roost Lounge | Photo Courtesy of Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

 
Alpena has a full range of dining options sure to please any preference. The Court Yard Ristorante & Olde Roost Lounge—just a stroll away from Lake Huron—offers an eclectic atmosphere with tasty, fine-dining cuisine, as well as live music every week. At Nick’s Southside Diner, enjoy 50s-style ambiance and pick a song to play on the jukebox while you eat.
 
For vegetarian and vegan options, The Fresh Palate downtown has you covered with everything from small bites to burgers that use locally-sourced and organic ingredients. For a delicious and unforgettable breakfast, drive to Connie’s Cafe in Ossineke to try their famous house specialty: a jumbo grilled cinnamon roll.
 

WHERE TO STAY

Ossineke Beach _ MB_resize_1.JPG
Lake Huron Beach at Ossineke State Forest Campground | Photo Courtesy of Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

 
Alpena has a variety of lodging options, so no matter if you prefer a lakeside campsite or relaxing hotel room there’s something for every traveler. If you like campfires and listening to the crickets at night, reserve a campsite at Campers Cove RV Park & Canoe Livery or the Ossineke State Forest Campground—both of which are pet-friendly.
 
If you want to be downtown for convenience and walkability, there are a variety of hotels to choose from including Holiday Inn Express & Suites and mom-and-pop options like 40 Winks Motel & Vacation Rentals and Big Bear Lodge—which are directly across from Starlite Beach and the Mich-e-ke-wis Park, respectively.
 
To explore all the places to stay in Alpena, visit visitalpena.com/stay.
 

A FOUR-SEASON GETAWAY

Man cross-country skiing
Cross-Country Skiing Trail in Alpena | Photo Courtesy of Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau


While Alpena is a beautiful summer getaway, the adventure continues into fall and winter. Take scenic drives in the fall when the trees turn vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange set against the blue of Lake Huron. During winter, explore the region’s groomed trails for endless snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, as well as the many frozen inland lakes perfect for ice fishing.

 
Learn more and start planning your trip at visitalpena.com. You can also explore more with Alpena’s Adventure Guides here. For information about accessible travel in Michigan, visit michigan.org/accessibility.
 
Please refer to property and attraction websites for updated hours and availability.


ALPENA FUN FACT

The Alpena area has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of sinkholes. These natural features are created when a layer of anhydrite and gypsum dissolves away from under the ground’s surface, causing it to collapse and leaving a depression in the land. You can visit these natural wonders in lush forests and see some of the unique plant life that may grow in microbiomes at the bottom of the sinkhole—some of which are deeper than 100 feet!

Please remember to practice extreme caution when navigating the area around sinkholes. Learn more
here.