The city that overlooks the beloved Thunder Bay of Lake Huron, Alpena, Michigan, is one of those picturesque places where nature, history, and eclectic culture combine. Alpena is not as heavily populated as most people expect. Nevertheless, you could spend days exploring all the sights and things to do in Alpena MI. If you’re looking to create a fun-filled itinerary, we’ve pulled together a list of the best things to do in Alpena below.
The 5 Best Things to Do in Alpena MI Outdoors
1. Go on a shipwreck tour of Thunder Bay
Getting out of Thunder Bay is something every tourist should do at least once. If you manage to make your way into Alpena before autumn, look into Alpena Shipwreck Tours. This tour will have you boarding the Lady Michigan to head to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Beneath the water lies the watery graves of multiple historical ships, many of which are visible from the surface. The Lady Michigan has two expansive glass-bottom wells so passengers can see the Thunder Bay shipwrecks as the boat travels over them.
2. Play a few rounds of mini golf at Lee’s Miniature Golf
Lee’s Mini Golf is one of the oldest and most treasured miniature golf courses in the state. This mini-golf course is planted within viewing distance of the lake, which lends this picture-perfect element to every uniquely challenging shot. The course is well-maintained by its owners and boasts many of the vintage elements that were implemented when the course first opened.
3. Pan for gemstones in the rough at Cedar Panning
Ever wondered what it would be like to pan for gemstones? If so, visiting Cedar Panning is undeniably one of the best things to do in Alpena MI this weekend. Cedar Panning has a fully operational sluice box where you can use a pan for prospecting for crystals, gemstones, or even interesting rocks in the flowing water. Pick up a handmade wooden treasure box to contain your finds at the gift shop on your way back home. You can even have your newfound treasures transformed into jewelry at certain times.
4. Visit the Middle Island Light Station
The Middle Island Light Station is a historic lighthouse situated on Lake Huron, and it is open to the public for tours. While a handful of lighthouses exist in MI, this light station offers the best views due to its height and placement. The views from the top of the lighthouse are nothing short of breathtaking. And if you go during a guided tour, you can get the inside scoop on the shipwrecks that have occurred in the area and the lighthouse’s history as you take in the view.
5. Spend the day at Starlite Beach
Starlite Beach is a massive stretch of beach found on the shores of Lake Huron. The beach is large enough that you could easily set up your sunning spot without being crowded at all on most days, and the gently sloping shoreline is always a good place to get your feet wet on a hot day. While you could get lost for hours catching some rays and splashing at Starlite, several stores and restaurants are nearby within walking distance as well.
What to Do in Alpena MI Indoors or Through the Winter
1. Get tickets to the Alpena Civic Theatre
The Alpena Civic Theater is a favorite stopping point for entertainment when the weather gets cold. You can catch live shows at the theater in a multitude of genres from music to comedy. Many of the plays are modeled after truly classic storylines, like Little Women and All My Sons. However, the theater frequently hosts more contemporary entertainment, including local comedians and musicians.
2. Head to Laser Team Challenge
If you’re all for laser tag but bored with the typical setups, you’ll have a blast at Laser Team Challenge. This laser tag establishment is in the historic National Guard Armory building downtown. Therefore, you and your team will have access to over 45,000 square feet of play space in a three-story building. Plan your attacks in everything from office spaces and stairwells to balconies.
3. Explore artwork at the Art in the Loft at Gallery 109
Situated on North Second Avenue, the Loft at Gallery 109 is a true feast for the eyes if you love fine art. Gallery 109 houses a collection of artworks by numerous artists, many of which are nationally renowned.
4. Plan a stay at Thunder Bay Resort in the winter
The Thunder Bay Resort is a popular place throughout the year, but when the snow falls, the resort becomes a winter fairytale. You can take an elk-viewing tour in a horse-drawn carriage across the 350-acre property. When you’re ready to head back to your lodging suite, settle in for a gourmet-level dinner and try half a dozen wines from some of the top vineyards in Michigan.
Are you looking for the best restaurants in Alpena, MI?
No worries—we’ve got you covered with all the best eateries in the area! Alpena is one of the best places to find good food because there is such an eclectic, delicious variety. Be sure to look for:
- JJ’s Steak and Pizza House with everything from hoagies and pizza to a juicy steak cooked just right
- The Courtyard Restaurant with its seasonal menu that changes with every season
- Mango’s Tequila Bar and Mexican Restaurant with all the favorite Mexican dishes you could ask for
- The Black Sheep Pub for the best, most authentic English shepherd’s pie you can eat
- John Boy’s for the best crab rangoon you’ll ever taste
- Red Brick Tap & Barrel is one of the fanciest options in town, offering delicious Metro-Detroit food.
- The Fresh Palate is an Alpena Staple, offering locally sourced health conscious fare.
- Looking for the best lunch in town? The Blue Moon Cafe has you covered!
Start Your Journey with a Stop at the Best Dispensary in Alpena
Neighborhood Provisions is a recreational and medical cannabis dispensary located in Alpena, MI. We welcome every tourist to the neighborhood and do our best to make them feel just like our best buds. Our menu is stocked daily with top-shelf cannabis flower from the best cultivators in the state and so much more. Be sure to take a few minutes to explore our menu where you can order your picks for delivery or pickup.