You read the title right. We are suggesting the unimaginable…the unthinkable…the unfathomable act of leaving your phone at home! Or at least in your car. It’s time to discover Alpena, disconnected.
Don’t get us wrong, we want you to share your photos and tell all your friends about what a great time you had in Alpena and we want you to “check-in” at local hotspots and hangouts. However, we also want you to truly EXPERIENCE Alpena. Sometimes the only way to really experience a destination is to fully submerge yourself into it with no distractions. Go ahead and use your smartphone to double as your camera (smartphone photography can actually be quite amazing!), but make sure to turn on airplane mode and follow our lead:
Navigation: First off, stop by the Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Welcome Center to load up on maps, adventure guides, and directions from knowledgeable staff.
We are located at 420 N. 2nd Ave., nestled between the historic John A. Lau Saloon and Attractions Salon and Tanning.
Where to use your paper maps:
- Alpena Bi Path– Alpena delivers 18.5 miles of smooth pathway winding around the scenic views of the Thunder Bay River and Lake Huron. The perfect city serenity trail for phone-free walking, skating, and biking.
- Rockport State Recreation Area– The gem of the Alpena area. There really is no place quite like Rockport. 4,237 sprawling acres of land covering a vast landscape including a deep-water protected harbor, a unique series of sinkholes, an old limestone quarry filled with Devonian Period fossils, and the Besser Natural Area. You’ll have no choice but to be phone-free at this location due to poor reception all around. Perfect!
- Sunrise Coast Birding Trail– Swap out your smartphone for a pair of binoculars. There are 5 birding trail spots within the city limits and another 8 or so spots in the Alpena, Presque Isle, and Alcona areas.
- Dark Sky Preserve Parks– A telescope would be more appropriate than a smartphone for this adventure. Three dark sky parks await your full attention in the Alpena area. Rockport State Recreation Area, Negwegon State Park, and Thompson’s Harbor State Park.
- Sinkholes– Northeast Michigan has more than 200 sinkhole formations making it one of the most prolific collections of this type of geology in the world. While most are located on private land, a few great specimens are open to the public. Feel free to use GPS coordinates on this adventure to Bruski Sink, El Cajon Bay, Rockport State Park, Stevens Twin Sinks, and Mystery Valley.
- Lighthouses– 7 spectacular lighthouses dot the Northeastern Michigan landscape in the Alpena area. The tallest and the oldest accessible lighthouses on the Great Lakes are just a short drive away in Presque Isle. Some even say they are haunted by the former keepers!
- Fishing– Relive the lazy days of summer during your childhood (sans smartphone) with a hook and bobber as your feet dangle in the refreshing water. Whether it’s at one of our many inland lakes and river systems, or at the “big lake”, there is a multitude of great fishing spots within the city of Alpena.
“One look at an email can rob you of 15 minutes of focus. One call on your cell phone, one tweet, one instant message can destroy your schedule, forcing you to move meetings, or blow off really important things like love and friendship.” – Jacqueline Leo
For more ideas on things to do without your cell phone, check out this article on Huffington Post “30 Ways to do the Things You Love Without Your Smartphone“.
*Cover photo of New Presque Isle lighthouse by Sandy Blumenthal