16 Things We Are Thankful For in Our Sanctuary of the Great Lakes

Exploring your “blue space” adventure is only 5 minutes away in Alpena. Photo courtesy of Paul Gerow.

With Thanksgiving approaching this Thursday it is important to remember that there is more to this annual holiday tradition other than stuffing our faces with turkey and cranberry sauce, as fun as it is. This is the perfect time to reflect on our lives over the past year and be grateful for what we have, what obstacles we have overcome, and for what the future may bring us. 

This Thanksgiving we wanted to share everything we are grateful for that Alpena has to offer us. Everything from the beautiful nature that surrounds us to the generosity of the people who reside here. 

In no particular order:

  1. Blue Space– Living in Alpena you are never more than a 5-minute drive from a body of water! Whether it is Lake Huron, one of our inland lakes, or the Thunder Bay River; finding your “blue space” is easy in our Sanctuary of the Great Lakes. 

    Photographic proof of that 5 o’clock rush hour during an Alpena spring/summer!

  2. The 7-Minute Drive to Anywhere– It’s true, it’s a 7-minute maximum drive to anywhere within the city limits of Alpena! No traffic jams to make your work commute longer and your stress levels higher. Our main traffic hold up occurs every summer while the Canadian Geese reside here. They require walking their babies from one side of the park to the other side of the park and must cross Washington Avenue multiple times a day, hours may vary 🙂  So trade that gridlock for Geese! 
  3. Resiliency– Alpena is known as “the town that wouldn’t die” for good reason. Technically speaking, we should have died out when the lumber boom went bust in the early 1900’s, as so many other logging towns did. However, Alpena has always had a knack for reinventing ourselves to keep our economy alive and we continue to do so today in modern times. 
  4. Free Parking– Our free parking is easy to take for granted until you travel to other cities around Michigan and realize– $10 a day or more parking garages and street parking meters are the everyday norms for city dwelling residents! Take a moment to be grateful for that free parking space and knowing that you are never more than a short walk to your destination. 
  5. The Late Night Shopping– We are especially thankful during the holiday season. You’ll find some of the downtown and mall location shops staying open later to accommodate all the late evening shoppers as well as us, **ahem** last-minute shoppers and we appreciate this oh-so much!

    Rockport State Recreation Area, Designated Dark Sky Preserve. Photo courtesy of Paul Gerow.

  6. Designated Dark Sky Preserves– Dark Sky Preserve designation is no easy feat. Parks must have low-level light pollution readings to promote astronomy and go through the proper state legislation to receive this designation. The Alpena area is lucky enough to have THREE of these designated Dark Sky Preserves in Rockport State Recreation Area, Thompson’s Harbor State Park, and Negwegon State Park. 
  7. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary– Speaking of being lucky, Alpena is also home to the ONLY freshwater national marine sanctuary! Accompanying our Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center is the glass bottom boat, Lady Michigan. A one-of-a-kind Great Lakes shipwreck experience that you will only find here in Alpena, MI. 

    As the Grinch put the topper on the Christmas tree last year, everyone’s heart grew 3 sizes that night!

  8. Compassion– The spirit of Alpena residents can only be described as extraordinary. (Perhaps it is due to our uncanny ability to persevere through the toughest of times.) You will always find somebody here willing to help in times of need. Just check out the events calendar full of spaghetti and pancake benefit dinners to help those who need it, toy drives, bell ringers, and charities year-round. Our favorite for this time of year is that collective holiday spirit that permeates the air during our annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony following the holiday parade. 
  9. Art Town– We are thankful for the colorful blanket of art that wraps our town in artistic expression. It allows our imaginations to soar and our hearts to beat a little faster. Thunder Bay Theatre and Alpena Civic Theatre, our downtown murals, our abundance of art galleries and sculptures throughout the town, our Movies by the Bay, and various festivals from up and coming to our tried and true. Alpena truly is the fine arts capital of Northeastern Lower Michigan. 
  10. Four Seasons– We are grateful for never getting bored with the weather! Well, at least for the most part…we definitely get excited for the next season to approach as one comes to an end! Thank you, Mother Nature, for gracing us with warm and green summers, crisp and colorful autumns, snowy winters, and blossoming springs. 
  11. Best Collection of Lighthouses on the Great Lakes– There are 7 lighthouses in the Alpena area to greet you by land or by sea. From the oldest accessible lighthouse on the Great Lakes to the tallest accessible lighthouse on the Great Lakes, there is a lighthouse adventure around every turn. 

    Our wooden bridge on a clear, autumn day.

  12. The Covered Wooden Bridge– Gifted to the community of Alpena in summer of 2015 by local resident, Mike Kendziorski, with the help of his family, friends, and staff, this hand-hewn wooden bridge has truly become a staple in the Alpena community. It is utilized for its purpose of crossing from Duck Park to Island Park, as well as the backdrop for many wedding and senior photos, kayaking adventures, and a plethora of photography and drone footage. Alpenians and visitors are absolutely in LOVE with this bridge. 
  13. Parks, Trails, & Beaches– Alpena has such an abundance of parks, trails, and beaches in the city and county limits. Norway Ridge, Chippewa Hills, Starlite Beach, and the Alpena Bi-Path just skim the surface of the lengthy list of parks, trails, and beaches in the Alpena area. These areas are famous for bringing families together where they can leave their worries behind and just enjoy life as it unfolds. 
  14. Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan– An arts, culture, and history mecca for the city of Alpena, the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan brings the community so many educational opportunities! With a 19th-century village exhibition on the grounds and a state-of-the-art planetarium (newly renovated!). Besser Museum is a one-stop shop for going from past to future and we are very thankful to have them showcasing everything Alpena, past to present. 
  15. The Outdoor Channel– Our Sanctuary of the Great Lakes is so thankful to The Outdoor Channel for bringing in Major League Fishing (3 times) and Fishing University (4 times) to Alpena! Major League Fishing and Fishing University have promoted Alpena over these last few years as a major bass fishing destination and we were eager to accommodate and welcome all of their professional anglers and hosts. Thank you again to all who made this happen and we look forward to welcoming you back to our Sanctuary of the Great Lakes again one day! 
  16. The People– And last, but certainly not least, to all the people in Alpena who help build and maintain our infrastructure. To all the local business owners, residents, and visitors, you are all appreciated! 

What are you most thankful for living in the city of Alpena? Share your thoughts and comments on our Facebook page Alpena: Sanctuary of the Great Lakes and let us know!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Alpena Convention & Visitors Bureau
235 W. Chisholm St. • Alpena, MI 49707
1-800-4-ALPENA or (989) 354-4181
© 2014 Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, All Rights Reserved. Produced by Gaslight Media
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