Port Huron - Sandusky - Imlay City

Give a thumbs up for pure Michigan color. The cool, crisp air and colorful roadside show staged by changing leaves makes early to mid-October an ideal time for a driving tour through the Thumb of Michigan's "mitten." This easy, 130-mile square trip skirts the Lake Huron shore and takes you across farmland and country roads to orchards, cider mills, pumpkin patches and small towns and museums just right for exploring on a quiet afternoon.

Best Enjoyed: Early to Mid-October
Approximate Length: 130 miles

This land, once thick with forests, turned to farming after logging and a tragic fire in 1881 fire wiped out the timber. But long before lumberman discovered the riches of the region the French established an outpost where Lake Huron and the St. Clair River meet. In 1686 they built Fort St. Joseph, the site of present day Port Huron, to protect the upper Great Lakes from the British. The Americans built Fort Gratiot on the same spot in 1814.

Spend some time at Port Huron's waterfront, where freighter traffic passes between the U.S. and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, beneath the twin spans of the Blue Water Bridge. Stroll the riverfront and enjoy the Thomas Edison Depot Museum, where the young inventor once worked, or the Huron Lightship Museum, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bramble at the Port Huron Museum, and 1829 Fort Gratiot Lighthouse.

Head north on State Route 25 and catch glimpses of the changing colors of Lake Huron. If it's the weekend make a short detour west on Norman Rd. to Wildcat Rd., then turn north to Wood's Edge Herb Farm for organic herbs, perennials, soaps, gifts and, the annual Folk in Fall music festival. Back on M-25 and heading north stop at Lakeport State Park and ponder why the sailors called Lake Huron "the Sweet Sea." Just north of the village of Lakeport take Harris Rd. west to McCallum's Orchard & Cider Mill for seasonal treats.

Continue north on M-25 to the charming waterfront city of Lexington, first settled in 1838. The harbor welcomes pleasure boaters who join landlubbers at downtown shops, galleries and eateries. Still north on M-25, just before you reach Port Sanilac, pay a visit to the Victorian home of Dr. Joseph Loop. His 20-room mansion has been preserved largely intact with original furnishings, and is the centerpiece of the Sanilac County Historical Museum & Historical Village, a 7-structure complex that includes a pioneer log cabin and small dairy industry museum.

Autumn in Michigan.In and around the town of Port Sanilac you can find the work of local artists at shops and galleries. Stop in at Michigan's oldest operating hardware, Raymond Hardware, established in 1850, not long after the first settlers arrived in the area. Port Sanilac also boasts a photogenic brick lighthouse(now privately owned) that dates to 1886.

From Port Sanilac head west on M-46 and you'll pass Michigan's oldest active drive-in theatre, the Hi-Way. Showing movies since 1947, the Hi-Way Drive-In is open on weekend evenings into late October. Continue on M-46 through Sandusky, where antique hounds will want to stop and browse, then continue to M-53 and turn south to Marlette, called "Heart of the Thumb" for its central location. Follow M-53 south and enjoy the scenic farm buildings and unfolding acres of fields rimmed by patches of orange, red and yellow.

Travel M-53 south to Imlay City, "Gateway to the Thumb." Stroll the Historic Downtown Depot District and visit the historical museum, located in the train depot.

Just south of Imlay City hop on I-69 and travel east toward Port Huron. At Exit #189 detour north on Wales Center Rd. to Lapeer Rd. Within a short drive you can enjoy a hike on 2 miles of trails at the Pine Grove Nature Center. Then experience rural life of years prior to 1945 at the St. Clair County Farm Museum at Goodells County Park.

For another short but scenic detour catch Duce Rd. north to Imlay City Rd. and find parking for the Wadhams to Avoa Trail. At this section of the hiking/biking path you can cross the 640-foot long trestle, which dates to the late 1800's, for wonderful views of autumn colors from 60 feet above Mill Creek.

Jump back on I-69 and travel about nine miles back to Port Huron. After a day of cruising the countryside, find a spot overlooking the St. Clair River and let the freighters and waterway scenery roll past you.

Blue Water Bridge
I-94 & I-69
Port Huron, MI 48060
Blue Water Bridge is a major international crossing over the St. Clair river at the southern end of Lake Huron. Located between Port Huron, Michigan and Point Edward, Ontario connecting both Interstate 94 and Interstate 69 with Highway 402 it is one of the fastest links between the Midwest and Ontario as well as the Northeast United States. For specific information on acceptable US border entry documents go to http://www.travel.state.gov/
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.
Port Huron Museum
1115 Sixth Street
Port Huron, MI 48060
Phone: (810) 982-0891
As one of Port Huron's finest cultural attractions, the Museum has been collecting, preserving and presenting the Blue Water Area's art and history through exhibitions and special programs since 1968. We invite you to enjoy a day at the Port Huron Museum. With three locations for you to explore. We offer the Thomas Edison Depot, Huron Lightship and our main museum The Carnegie Center. You'll leave with a passionate taste of history and memories you won't soon forget. Visit our website for detailed site information and hours of operation.
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!
Wood's Edge Herb Farm
6171 Hewitt Rd
Jeddo, MI 48032
Phone: (810) 327-6183
We carry a full line of naturally grown culinary and medicinal herbs. Whether it's potted, dried, fresh or you've gone out to one of our lush gardens and "picked your own" we're a must stop when you're in the area. We also offer garden tours by appointment. We have twenty acres of gardens, woods and ponds for your viewing enjoyment. Take time to stop in an visit our "one of a kind" gift shop including herbal bath products, tea blends, dried herbs and much more. Saturday & Sunday 9am-5pm.
Lakeport State Park
7605 Lakeshore Road
Lakeport, MI 48059
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (810) 327-6224
Lying along Lake Huron, Lakeport State Park provides southeast Michigan residents access to the Great Lakes. The park has two distinct units separated by the village of Lakeport. A total of 250 sites are divided between the two campgrounds. All sites have a picnic table, fire circle, electricity, modern toilet/shower buildings along with several pull-through sites and camp pads for ease of leveling campers. Metal detecting area. Lakeport State Park has a camper cabin located on beautiful Lake Huron. The camper cabin is ideal for families looking to enjoy a camping experience but don't have a tent or a camper. The cabin sleeps six, has two bedrooms, each with its own set of bunk beds, and a full-size sleeper sofa located in the living room/kitchen area. All three rooms are equipped with electric heat. The living room/kitchen is equipped with a refrigerator, microwave and movable counter/cabinet unit for storing dishes and supplies. Outside, the cabin has its own fire circle, picnic table and grill.
McCallum's Orchard, Cider Mill & Sandy Shores Winery
5697 Harris Road
Jeddo, MI 48032
Phone: (810) 327-6394
McCallum Orchard offers apples, cherries, peaches, plums, raspberries, grapes, pumpkins, donuts, jams, jellies and cider. It has a real farm atmosphere perfect for families. Open 8 to 5 daily. Winery now open.
Sanilac County Historic Village & Museum
228 S. Ridge Street / M25
Port Sanilac, MI 48469
Phone: (810) 622-9946
This historic village and museum home are located on the 1853 estate of Dr. Joseph Loop which boasts 16 historic buildings on a 10-acre campus. The country doctor’s 20-room Victorian mansion is the cornerstone of the village that includes the Platts' General Store circa 1900, the 157-year-old Huckins one-room schoolhouse, the 1883 Banner Pioneer Log Cabin, The Decker Log Barn, The Deckerville train depot, a Victorian church relocated from Forestville, a 1937 hunting cabin by a WW2 Navy Cross recipient, and what is probably the state’s last remaining historic Barn Theater. Extensive Victorian gardens are the envy of local horticulturists and important permanent exhibits include a marine shipwreck room, a separate dairy industry museum, along with old-time carriages, military and native American exhibits. Annual events include Victorian dinners, wine-tasting, school tours, craft fair, musical concerts, Native, Voyageurs and Settlers Days, Civil War Days, and participation in the Blue Water Antique Yard Sale Trail. The Loop-Harrison mansion, Victorian church and Huckins Schoolhouse available for rental for weddings, showers, meetings, funerals, lectures and personal parties.
Port Sanilac Lighthouse
Lake Street
Port Sanilac, MI 48469
Phone: (810) 622-8818
Built in 1886, this lighthouse originally burned kerosene, but was electrified in 1929. It is now a private residence, but the light remains an active aid for navigation.
Hi-Way Drive-In Theater
2778 E. Sanilac Road (M-46)
Carsonville, MI 48471
Phone: (810) 657-6684
We are one of the oldest operating drive in's in Michigan. We have a nice safe environment for people of ages to enjoy. We have a concession stand serving pop, popcorn, hot dogs and many more snacks. Ticket prices are $8.00 for adults and $6.00 for children under 12.
Imlay City Historical Museum
77 Main Street
Imlay City, MI 48444
Phone: (810) 724-1111
Imlay City Historical Museum was established in 1978, to showcase our past. Our Historical records showcase Imlay City, Townships of Imlay, Attica, Arcadia, Goodland and many surrounding areas.
Goodells County Park
8345 County Park Drive
Goodells, MI 48027
Phone: (810) 989-6960
Goodells County Park features 327 acres of scenic beauty for visitors enjoy. Exhibit barns, the St. Clair County Farm Museum and Historical Village including the Murphy/Ryan Farmhouse, Lynn Township School and the CC Peck & Company Bank, all icons of the 19th century Americana. The park also features a beautiful Butterfly Garden, a Nature Center, Community Building, pavilions, children's playground, walking and bike paths. The new Splashpad (currently under construction) features playfully moving water, controlled by computers and propelled by hydronic jets or gravity. The Splashpad is barrier free and universally accessible for people of all ages and physical abilities. Come and enjoy!
Wadhams to Avoca Trail
Avoca, MI
Phone: (810) 989-6960
The Wadhams to Avoca Trail is a non-motorized trail open year round. Walkers, hikers, bicyclists, and horse riders are now enjoying many improvements that have been made to the Wadhams to Avoca Trail within the past year. The centerpiece of the trail is the 640-foot long Mill Creek Trestle. Built in the late 1800's, the 60-foot high trestle has been decked and railed to provide safe access for walkers and bicyclists. Four overlook areas have also been installed on the trestle so the trail users can enjoy the beautiful views up and down Mill Creek.