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49 Fun Must-do Adventures for Families in your Sanctuary of the Great Lakes!

Posted on March 30th, 2017

Shin-ga-ba Shores Playground

There are plenty of things to keep your family busy while you visit Alpena: Sanctuary of the Great Lakes. From Exploring the great outdoors, to experiencing interactive indoor activities, you won’t have time to be bored. Here’s our list of the top 49 family fun adventures (in no particular order). 

1.) Explore a one-of-a-kind play fort with totem poles at Shin-ga-ba Shores playground in Ossineke.

2.) Test your skills on the challenging and entertaining vintage course at Lee’s Miniature Golf; Michigan’s longest running mini-golf course. Can you master the Chip Shot? 

3.) Put on your water sandals and shorts and head down to Duck Park on the Thunder Bay River and kayak through the 444-acre Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary for a blissful afternoon. 

4.) Get engaged in an entertaining story hour at the Alpena Co. George N. Fletcher Public Library

5.) Stop at Downtown Scoops for a scoop of your favorite flavor of ice cream in a delicious handmade waffle cone, or get a root beer float with Alpena’s Stoney Acres Shipwreck Soda. 

Cedar Panning Sluice

6.) Learn how to use an outdoor sluice and pan for gemstones at Cedar Panning. Take home whatever you uncover, from real gemstones to arrowheads! 

7.) Hunt for fossils from the Devonian Period at Rockport State Recreation Area. Bring a bucket- you can take up to 25 lbs. home! 

8.) Climb the tallest accessible lighthouse in Michigan, the New Presque Isle Lighthouse, and get a spectacular panoramic view of both Grand Lake and Lake Huron sparkling under blue skies. 

9.) Walk the breakwall at the Alpena boat harbor and watch the ships come in. Stop and play on the playground toys at the Kiwanis Kiddie Park on your way out. 

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Heritage Center, courtesy Barry Schatz

10.) Take a leisurely stroll along the hand-hewn timbers of the covered bridge connecting Duck Park to Island Park, and escape into the serene wildlife of this 17-acre nature preserve. 

11.) Test out your sea legs on a life-sized recreation of the historic 19th Century Great Lakes wooden schooner at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center

12.) Glide over the inland waterways or adventure out on the big lake on Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP). Available for rent at the Performance Locker

13.) Rent a small motorboat from Fletcher’s Landing or Jack’s Landing and cast a line into the Fletcher Floodwaters; where the casting and reeling is fun and the fish are plenty. 

14.) With a name like Knaebe’s Mmmunch Krunchy Apple Farm, you are sure to have some good fall family fun! Who’s up for a pony ride, or a try at the Mac’n’Squasher apple slingshot

Tractor pancakes at Nick’s Southside Diner

15.) Breakfast is a favorite at Nick’s Southside Diner, an authentic 1950’s box car diner, where you can request your pancakes in fun shapes like bunnies or tractors. 

16.) Get up close and personal for a photo op with giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Ossineke.

17.) Rainy day blues? Head over to the Thunder Bowl Lanes for some family fun with glow bowling

18.) Get your Laser Team Challenge on! The 90-year old National Guard Armory building sets the stage for fun with 3 floors and 45,000 square feet of challenge space. 

19.) Enter the annual 4th of July Cardboard Boat Regatta at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Heritage Center, or Sandcastle Contest at Starlite Beach. 

Jumping into Ocquoec Falls, courtesy Trina Gray

20.) Put on your water shoes and wade in the water at Ocqueoc Falls. Ocqueoc is the Lower Peninsula’s largest waterfall, and is also the only universally accessible waterfall in the United States. An ideal destination for everyone! 

21.) Stop into Bob’s Bullpen Comic Shop in downtown Alpena and get your comic book or graphic novel fix. While there, check out the professional work artist Bobby LeFevre has done for TMNT and Transformers! 

22.) Stroll the cobblestone streets on the historic avenue of replica shops at the Besser Museum of Northeast Michigan and pretend you are living in 1890’s Alpena. 

23.) Catch a live performance at Alpena’s professional Thunder Bay Theatre, and enjoy one of their musicals, comedies, or children’s theater productions. 

Alpena County Fair

24.) Take a spin on a carnival ride, then pet a pig and watch turkeys strut in the animal barns at the AlpenaCounty Fair in August.

25.) Grab a bucket and sand tools and build a sandcastle in the sugary smooth sand at Starlite Beach

26.) Climb the hand hewn stone steps of the 30 ft. tall Old Presque Isle Lighthouse and take in the view from the top. Keep an eye out for the ghost that is said to keep the light burning. 

27.) Visit Camper’s Cove RV Park & Canoe Livery. Rent paddle boats for simple water fun on Lake Winyah, or take a relaxing trip down the Thunder Bay River in one of their canoes or kayaks. 

28.) Wander through a forest with over 26 life-size dinosaurs at Dinosaur Gardens Prehistoric Zoo in Ossineke. Don’t leave without climbing into the belly of the brontosaurus. 

29.) Race on the longest go kart track  in Michigan at Arzo Sports & Fun Park, or launch into outer space on the Spaceship Simulator. 

30.) Dive the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay without getting wet from aboard Lady Michigan,  Alpena’s glass bottom boat. 

Bell Bay

31.) Skate! Roller skate, ice skate, glow skate- it’s all about gliding at Northern Lights Arena! Check out their events calendar for skate schedules. 

32.) Hike along the Sunrise Coast Birding Trail hot spots and see if you can identify a Bufflehead or a Grasshopper Sparrow. 

33.) Get Crafty at Cobbygoose– the place to paint and more! There are so many fun possibilities; you’ll have to check it out for yourself. Or make your own perfume or nail polish at Soaps & Such in Downtown Alpena. 

34.) Grab a blanket and enjoy an outdoor cinema under the stars with the family at Summer Movies by the Bay

35.) Lace up your adventure shoes and discover the hidden world of Geocaching in the Alpena area. 

36.) Take a trip to Bell Bay beach and skip rocks across the Lake Huron Waves. 

37.) Roast marshmallows over a fire by one of the many lakes while you listen to the soothing waves and watch the stars come out. 

38.) Sit on a nearby park bench and watch the Second Avenue Bridge (once voted the most beautiful bridge in America) open up over the Thunder Bay River to let boats pass through. 

Make a Splash Fish Mural

39.) Visit Stoney Acres Winery and pick out delectable handmade chocolates and delicious caramel corn for the kiddos while sampling local wine

40.) Walk through the downtown Pocket Park off Chisholm Street and take a family photo in front of the Make a Splash fish mural! 

41.) Rent bicycles for the whole family from Friends of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary or Performance Locker. Explore the city along Alpena’s 18.5 mile Bi-Path and Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail. 

42.) Climb into the reading tree nook at Blue Phoenix Bookstore and flip through your favorite Dr. Suess. 

43.) Take a tour of the city on the Trolley. Hitch a ride between 15 different stops around town that will take you to shops, beaches and parks, and get you there in style! 

44.) Drop by the Art in the Loft Gallery or Thunder Bay Arts Gallery, both in Downtown Alpena, to admire works by local artists. Check out their workshop and events schedule for a variety of fun activities for all ages. 

45.) Grab some popcorn and kick back for a flick on the silver screen at one of Alpena’s two movie theaters

46.) Pick out your favorite flavors of handmade brats at Nowicki’s Sausage Shoppe and grill out at one of Alpena’s city parks. 

47.) Take the kids to the Alpena Farmers Market and let them choose their own favorite fruits and vegetables.

Rockport State Recreation Area, courtesy Paul Gerow

Check out their events schedule for fun kid activities! 

48.) Swing by Blair Street Pier and take a stroll out on the wooden boardwalk for a breathtaking view of Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay. Even better, do it early and see what this “Sunrise Side” buzz is all about! 

49.) Hike to the limestone pile at Rockport State Recreation Area for remarkable views of Lake Huron. Wait until after dark for an incredible stargazing adventure at their newly designated Michigan Dark Sky Preserve. 

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