Detroit - Algonac - Lake Orion - Port Huron

Detroit - Algonac - Lake Orion - Port Huron

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Where better to begin a driving trip than in the Motor City? The home of the Motown Sound is the starting point for a 195-mile fall color route that skirts three waterways to the maritime city of Port Huron, and rolls through historic Southeast Michigan towns with connections to three pop music stars. The month of October is prime for viewing autumn hues at a variety of parks, and stopping to taste seasonal treats at cider mills along the way.

Best Enjoyed: Early to Late October
Approximate Length: 195 miles

Rev up for this tour at Detroit's Belle Isle, site of the annual Grand Prix auto race. Frederick Law Olmstead (who also designed New York's Central Park) planned the nearly 1,000-acre leaf-laden park in 1883. Located in the Detroit River between the U.S. and Canada, the island oasis is accessible by bridge.

From Detroit take a leisurely drive along Jefferson Avenue east, called Lakeshore Drive as it passes through the Grosse Pointes, with stately homes on the left and Lake St. Clair on the right. Or hop on I-94 east and take a break at a bistro in downtown Mount Clemens. Exit I-94 at Exit 236; travel east on Metropolitan Parkway/16 Mile Road to Crocker Boulevard. Turn left and travel two miles to the city on the Clinton River that was first surveyed in 1795. (If you continue east on 16 Mile Road you will come to Metro Beach Metropark on Lake St. Clair).

Continue east on I-94 to exit 243, M-29. Travel east through New Baltimore, whose first settler arrived in 1796. Now teeming with development, this area neighbors one of the largest fresh-water deltas in the world. Follow 29 around Lake St. Clair's Anchor Bay and pass through a portion of St. John's Marsh and the St. Clair Flats. Nature study, photography and non-motorized boating are allowed; watch for designated parking areas. It's a quick ferry ride to Harsens Island and the St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area; take a relaxing drive around the island escape that has attracted vacationers and hunters since the late 1800s.

Back on the mainland, continue along M-29 to Algonac on the St. Clair River, settled in 1805 and home of the Chris Craft boat building company. Stroll the boardwalk and watch giant freighters pass by. Just north of town, Algonac State Park, fronted on the St. Clair River, allows short hikes through rare lakeplain prairies and lakeplain oak savannas.

Follow M-29 to Marine City, an old shipbuilding center located on the Belle and St. Clair Rivers. Visit Lighthouse Park, home of the 1908 Peche Island Rear Range Light

Continue north to the city of St. Clair, which was visited by French voyageurs in the 1600s and settled in 1818. Enjoy the riverfront boardwalk, browse the gallery of marine artist Jim Clary, and refresh at a choice of dining spots, including the 1836 boarding house Murphy Inn on the bank of the river. This is one of the oldest operating inns in Michigan.

Stay on M-29 north to Port Huron, where the St. Clair River and Lake Huron meet. View freighter traffic from the Great Lakes Maritime Center at Vantage Point, or from the Thomas Edison Parkway, along the river near the Blue Water Bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada. Learn about the inventor's young life in Port Huron at the Thomas Edison Depot Museum, or visit the Huron LightshipLighthouse Beach and Park, and Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Michigan's oldest surviving lighthouse.

From Port Huron travel I-69 west through rolling countryside to M-19; turn left and travel south to Richmond, settled in the 1830s. Head west on 32 Mile Road and detour for cider and donuts by turning north at North Road to Blake's Big Apple in Armada, or take Armada Center Road west a few miles to Blake's Orchard and Cider Mill---two locations of the family business, growing since 1946.

Continue west on 32 Mile Road to the charming 1822 village of Romeo. Kid Rock grew up in this area of lovely Victorian homes; the Historical Society sells a Walking Tour Guide to more than 80 sites.

Take 32 Mile Road west to Rochester Road; turn right, then left and then right again to jog up to Lakeville Road. Head west on Lakeville Road to Oxford, settled in 1832. Enjoy the restaurants and shops in historic downtown buildings.

Head south on Lapeer Road/24 to Lake Orion, which dates to 1819. Just south of town, accessible from Lapeer Road, is Bald Mountain Recreation Area with 4,637 rolling acres of trails for hiking and mountain biking, and canoe-friendly lakes.

From Lake Orion travel southeast on Orion Road to the bustling city of Rochester, the hometown of Material Girl Madonna. Stroll the vibrant downtown and the Paint Creek and Clinton River Trails. From Rochester take 24 Mile Road east to Shelby Road and head north to 26 Mile Road, and Stony Creek Metropark. Continue east on 26 Mile to Earl Memorial Highway/53. Follow that south to Eight Mile Road (made famous by Eminem).

Travel west on Eight Mile/102 to I-75, head south to downtown Detroit and the city's tallest building. Take a glass-enclosed elevator to the Coach Insignia restaurant (reservation is required) atop the 73-story Renaissance Center for a miles-wide view of a patchwork of fall color as the sun sets on a tour worth singing about.
Lake St. Clair Metropark
31300 Metropolitan Parkway
Harrison Township, MI 48045
Toll Free: (800) 477-2757
Phone: (586) 463-4581
Over 1 mile of shoreline and a 1,600 foot boardwalk offers a wonderful view of Lake St. Clair. This 770-acre recreational facility is a haven for boaters, swimmers and fishermen. Picnicking, shore fishing, Nature Center, fitness and nature trails, boat launching area and marina. Olympic-size swimming pool. Water slide with a 120' long flume and a 17 foot vertical drop. Tennis and shuffleboard courts. 18 hole miniature golf course. Ice skating, ice hockey, ice fishing and skiing trails. Par three, 18 hole golf course. An official Michigan Wildlife Viewing Area and a certified member of the Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program.
Algonac State Park
8732 River Road
Marine City, MI 48039
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (810) 765-5605
Algonac State Park contains approximately 1,500 acres and has a half-mile of St. Clair River frontage. Home to rare habitats, the lake plain prairies and oak savannas provide places to view prairie plants, birds and butterflies. One of the park's major attractions is viewing freighters of the world along the St. Clair River frontage. Archery and trap shooting are available. The park is open all year for a variety of activities including camping and a day use area. Two campgrounds are available, the Water Front and the Wagon Wheel. The day use area has a picnic area, picnic shelter, and restroom facilities.
Peche Island Rear Range LightCoastline
Marine City, MI 48039
Phone: (810) 765-8087
One of Michigan's beautiful lighthouses. This lighthouse, now in Marine City, was originally built in 1908 off Peche Island, Ontario, at the head of the Detroit River.
Murphy Inn
505 Clinton Avenue
Saint Clair, MI 48079
Phone: (810) 329-7118
Murphy Inn is a totally restored 1836 boarding house. Today the Murphy Inn has all of the modern amenities with an Irish pub complete with dance floor and charming dining room with a fireplace to add warmth and beauty. The seven guest rooms upstairs are finished in antiques and touches of old world charm. Each room is individual but all having private bathrooms. Staying at Murphy Inn will take you back in time.
Thomas Edison Depot Museum
Thomas Edison Parkway
Port Huron, MI 48060
Phone: (810) 982-0891
The Thomas Edison Depot Museum enhances visitor appreciation for the life and genius of Thomas Edison and his boyhood home in Port Huron. The Museum is housed inside the historic Fort Gratiot depot and the exhibits portray Edison's multi-faceted story of creativity, family support, adversity, perseverance, and ultimate triumph. His successes and great contributions to society are presented through a sit-down theater experience, live science presentations, and hands-on interactives. Outside the depot, a restored baggage car rests on a spur of railroad track. Inside visitors discover a re-creation of young Edison's mobile chemistry lab and printing shop. HOURS - Memorial Day to Labor Day 7 days - 11am to 5pm, Remainder of the Year: Saturdays and Sundays 11am to 5pm.
Huron Lightship Museum
1115 Sixth Street
Pine Grove Park
Port Huron, MI 48060
Phone: (810) 982-0891
Huron Lightship Museum at Pine Grove Park, was the last lightship on the Great Lakes and is now open to the public from April through mid-December. Contact the museum for specific times and hours of operation. Lightships were like floating lighthouses anchored in areas where it was too deep, expensive or impractical to construct a lighthouse. Huron lightship was stationed at various shoals on Lake Michigan until 1935 when she was transferred to Corsica Shoals in Lake Huron. For the next 36 years she guided mariners into the narrow dredged channel of lower Lake Huron leading to the St. Clair River . Memorial Day to Labor Day open seven days - 11am to 5pm, September through November Thursday through Monday, April through May Thursday through Monday, December through March. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Day.
Lighthouse Beach and Park
Garfield and Omar Sts
Port Huron, MI 48060
Phone: (810) 984-9760
Lighthouse of the most historic parks in the area with 900 feet of waterfront and beach on Lake Huron. Close to the mouth of the St. Clair River you'll find the water clean for good swimming; however, the current is swift. You'll love the wonderful Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. Picnic areas are available in this nice family park.
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
2802 Omar Street
Port Huron, MI 48060
Phone: (810) 984-9790
The oldest operating lighthouse in the Great Lakes established in 1825 and rebuilt in 1829 and 1861, was the first lighthouse on Lake Huron and is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Michigan. It helps keep watch over Lake Huron at the entrance to the St. Clair River. The 86 ft light stands above the lake level in a conical stone tower, overlaid with red brick that has been painted white. The keeper's cottage and fog whistle house are red. Tower climbs and tours are available during business hours, weather permitting. Must wear closed-toe shoes. See the Port Huron Museum website for information on group overnights in the restored Duplex building for 20+ people!
Blake's Big Apple
71485 North Avenue
Armada, MI 48005
Phone: (586) 784-9710
Apple and pumpkin picking, train or hayrides, Barnyard Funland and animal farm, and cider & donuts. You pick pears, strawberries, asparagus, raspberries and tomatoes. Country store and farm market. We also feature dwarf fruit trees, landscaping trees, shrubs & flowers. Haunted barn and mazes. Christmas tree lot. Family owned and operated since 1946. Enjoy a relaxing and entertaining day in the country. Group tours available. Open June thru Dec.
Blake's Orchard & Cider Mill
17985 Armada Center Road
Armada, MI 48005
Phone: (586) 784-5343
Apple and pumpkin picking, train or hay rides, Barnyard Funland and animal farm, and cider & donuts. You pick strawberries, asparagus, raspberries, pears and tomatoes. Haunted barn and mazes. We also feature dwarf fruit trees and thousands of Christmas trees. Wreaths, living trees and gift shop. Enjoy hot chocolate and fresh baked goods. Christmas trees mid November thru Dec 23. Enjoy a relaxing and entertaining day in the country. Group tours available. Open daily 8am to 6pm from June thru Dec. U-pick fields close at 5:30pm.
Bald Mountain Recreation Area
1330 E. Greenshield Road
Lake Orion, MI 48360-2307
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (248) 693-6767,4570,7-153-10363_56074_56111-233458--,00.html
This 4,637 acre recreation area has several picnic areas, a modern shooting range, large hunting areas, several fishing lakes, two trout streams, a sandy swimming beach and 15 miles of marked hiking and biking trails. Immensely popular for its eight miles of groomed x-country skiing trails and snowmobiling, sledding and ice fishing. The picturesque park area has some of the steepest hills and most rugged terrain in southeastern Michigan.
Stony Creek Metropark
4300 Main Park Road
Shelby Twp, MI 48316
Toll Free: (800) 477-2757
Phone: (586) 781-4242
Scenic 4,461 acre park with hilly terrain is enhanced by the beautiful 500-acre Stony Creek Lake. Nature Center, picnicking, swimming, disc (Frisbee) golf course, boat launch and fitness trail. Ice skating, ice fishing, tobogganing, snowboarding and x-country skiing. Paddleboats, kayaks, rowboats, bicycle and canoe rentals. 6,921 yard, 18 hole, par 72 public golf course. Fishing pier accessible to the physically challenged. A paved 6.2 mile Hike-Bike trail. Over 10 miles of paved roadway provide scenic drives in all seasons and the fall color is particularly beautiful. Our golf course is a certified member of the Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program.
Coach Insignia
200 Renaissance Center
71st and 72nd Floor
Detroit, MI 48243
Phone: (313) 567-2622
The second-highest restaurant in the United States. Contemporary steak house, Coach Insignia offers breathtaking views from the top of the GM Renaissance Center, featuring elegantly delicious cuisine and a world-class wine list (one of Michigan's largest) to accompany the panoramic view of Detroit and Windsor.

GM Renaissance Center
East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, MI 48243
Phone: (313) 567-3126
The GM Renaissance Center is the place to be in Downtown Detroit. Visitors can enjoy convenient shopping, enhanced parking, fine dining, 1,100 seat Food Court, relaxing spa services, first-run movies, a top notch fitness facility, outdoor and indoor concerts, the new Detroit RiverWalk, professionally guided tours and exciting special events. The GM Showroom, a 44,000 sq.ft. interactive showroom features; Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC vehicles and specialty cars. The professionally guided one-hour tour takes visitors through the landmark GM Renaissance Center and outlines the rich history that General Motors shares with the city of Detroit. The tour concludes with a glass elevator ride to the Coach Insignia restaurant located on the 72nd floor of the Detroit Marriott Hotel for a 360-degree view of two countries. November 24, 1971, Henry Ford II, announced plans for the Renaissance Center. Construction of the Ren Cen began, May 22, 1973. Project architects were by John Portman & Associates. Formal dedication was held on April 15, 1977. May 16, 1996, General Motors announced the purchase of the Ren Cen for its global headquarters.