The carefree days of your youth are alive and well in Alpena. Catching fireflies on warm summer evenings, searching for minnows with a net, reading a book under a shade tree, and watching the sunset while crickets provide background music are nostalgic experiences that we often wish we could relive. Alpena is that place where summer memories come alive as an everyday way of life, and stress floats away with the river current. Visit a downtown coffee shop to catch up on email, or disconnect to reconnect in the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes are a gift from prehistoric glacier movement, and treasures have been left behind along the shores of Lake Huron and the many inland lakes and rivers. Hunt for fossils dating back 400 million years to the Devonian Period. Rocky edges along the shorelines, Rockport State Park Recreation Area, and the Lafarge Fossil Park at Besser Museum are perfect locations for an afternoon of prehistoric adventure. Follow it up with a trip to Dinosaur Gardens to see life-size prehistoric recreations.
Use our Adventure Checklist to find your explorer’s spirit: Sanctuary of the Great Lakes Adventure Checklist
Thompson’s Harbor State Park
Located 24 miles north of Alpena on US 23 North
This natural area encompasses 5,000 acres of sand dunes, forests, upland and marsh. In Michigan, there are fewer than 50 remaining examples of “forested wet swale communities” of this quality. The area supports one of the largest known populations in the world of the federal and state-threatened dwarf lake iris, Michigan’s state wildflower. Thousands of iris shoots, and several other plant species of special concern grow in the area. Situated along seven and a half miles of Lake Huron shoreline, this undeveloped park provides a rustic retreat for hikers exploring the park’s six miles of trails. Hours of adventure can be had exploring trails, swimming in Lake Huron or playing in the sand dunes. Park at the trail-head off of US-23.
Thompson Park swimming beach offers a grassy picnic area with sandy swimming beach on the Lake Huron shore. The lake bottom is clear sand and shipwrecks is marked by a bouy off the shore. Attempting to swim out to the wrecks from shore is not recommended, but paddle craft can be carried to the waterline and launched.
One of the oldest light stations on Lake Huron is located on Thunder Bay Island Thunder Bay is the outermost island in a group of islands connected to the north point of Thunder Bay by a shallow bank of numerous rocks, most of which are submerged.
The light tower was first constructed in 1832 and was built to warn mariners of the dangerous reefs extending from the island Squatters were attracted to the federally-owned island and by 1845, a large fishing community thrived there. One hundred and sixty people lived on the island with thirty-one fishing boats harvesting twelve thousand barrels of fish each year.
Faced with government action to remove them from the island, the trespassers picked up their belongings and relocated to nearby Sugar Island, where they stayed for years. Access to the island is limited to the U S Coast Guard, U S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and members of the Thunder Bay Island Preservation Society. Contact the preservation society at (989) 356-6743.
Knockerball is a single chamber inflatable sphere with inner handles and adjustable shoulder straps. With two or more Knockerballs the experience is catapulted into rip roaring laughter, exhilarating knocks and rolls that will keep you coming back for more. Organizing a KnockerSoccer game is truly a blast but we will warn you, organized games generally break down into literal knock down chaos with the only resulting pain being from laughing so hard and having way too much fun.
Drop in times are Tuesdays from 6p.m.-8p.m., Saturdays from 4p.m.-8p.m. and Sundays from 1p.m.-4p.m. Private party packages available.
The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary preserves a national treasure, nearly 200 historic shipwrecks in and around the bay. Lake Huron’s cold, fresh water preserves many of these shipwrecks intact and in water depths ranging from a few inches to 200 feet, making the sanctuary a popular destination for divers, snorkelers and kayakers. You can explore the history and archaeology of these wrecks at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, the Sanctuary’s 20,000 square foot river front headquarters. Exhibits on Great Lakes maritime history and shipwrecks include the new “Exploring the Shipwreck Century” exhibit, a 9,000 square ft. permanent exhibit where visitors can experience elements of a traditional maritime museum combined with a hands-on discovery center featuring life-sized recreations of an historic Great Lakes schooner and shipwreck sites, artifact displays, and interactive learning stations on technology and diving. Also featuring a sanctuary store, state of the art education spaces, high-definition theater, and archaeological conservation lab, the admission-free Center is a great destination and the best place to begin exploring Thunder Bay. Please call for current hours of operation. Wreck locations are available on our web site. While visiting Alpena, you may also want to explore the Thunder Bay Sanctuary Research Collection, one of the largest archival collections of Great Lakes maritime history in existence, located at the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library. Please call for hours.
Hotel rooms, Whirlpool Suites, 2-bedroom Villas, 3-bedroom Chalets with kitchens, living rooms, decks overlooking golf course. Restaurant, Meeting Space, RV Park, Elk Viewing Carriage/Sleigh Ride Gourmet Dinner & Wine Tasting, Quilting & Scrapbooking Retreats.
Featuring challenging golf, deluxe condo-style lodging, attentive staff and our unique and memorable elk viewing sleigh/carriage ride and gourmet dinner. Par 73, 6,712 yds., slope 120 to 131. Carved from mature forests.
- Restaurant on site
- Meeting Facilities
- Breakfast available
- Near/On Snowmobile trails
- In Room Spa
- Open Year Round
The only year-round live theater in Northern Michigan. Located in a historic building in “Old Town” Alpena, the theatre provides a year-round schedule of programs, including mainstage productions, in-house and touring children’s shows and drama workshops. The theatre is committed to entertaining its audiences with high-quality productions, utilizing its resident professional company, augmented by community talent. Call the box office for up-to-date show information. Handicap accessible.
Thunder Bowl Lanes is your family fun destination spot. We offer bumper bowling, regular bowling, moonlight (blacklight) bowling, an arcade, great food and a full bar. We are a smoke free center.
If you’re looking for a little friendly competition or are just looking for a healthy social outlet we have bowling leagues for youth, adult mixed, seniors, men or women. Don’t worry about finding the time for league play, we have leagues in the morning, afternoon, evening and weekend. Whatever your schedule maybe we can find a league to suit you.
During winter hours we also offer birthday party packages, corporate parties, fundraising opportunities and private parties. Talk with us about your upcoming events and get details about having it here.
While enjoying your activities you can easily satisfy your appetite at “The Burger Shack” with a great selection of delicious food and refreshments.
The adults in your party can enjoy a cocktail while bowling or come and relax at our warm and friendly “Shooters Pub” and enjoy a full service bar.