Sometimes you just have to venture off the beaten path to find a well-kept secret. Alpena, Sanctuary of the Great Lakes holds many hidden treasures just waiting to be explored. Here are 5 places that you may have missed, or maybe just haven’t been to in a while. Veer off the road well-traveled this weekend and explore Alpena’s secrets!
Rockport at night by Joe Gall (@camera_jesus)
- Rockport State Recreation Area– If you consider treasure to be 400-million-year-old fossilized remains from the Devonian Period, then you are in luck! The abandoned quarry at Rockport is full of these historic treasures. Some fossilized pieces more brilliant than others, this is a real hunt for that perfect fossil from a land before our time. Rockport is also home to an old deep-water port, a bat hibernaculum, pristine beaches, and sinkholes along miles and miles of trails.
- Ghost Village of Bell– Deep within the woods of the Besser Natural Area in Presque Isle lies the ghost town of Bell. Many people who live in and around the Alpena area are unaware that this historic town even exists. You know you’ve reached Bell when you see the cemetery plots, a large remaining chimney, and a dedication plaque. Explore through this historic ghost town and admire the virgin white and red pine around you, one of only two areas in Michigan where this pine exists.
- Hemlock Hills on Mill Pond– is home to the Elowsky Grist Mill, a beautiful historic mill that was built in the late 1860s. The grounds were recently renovated and contain a beautiful five-bedroom house, a cabin, a barn, a bunkhouse, and a pavilion hall. The property is available for rent; whether you are looking for a peaceful weekend away with your family, or are looking for that unique northern Michigan wedding venue.
- Maplewood Tavern– What originally opened as a jive dance hall and turned into a bar after the end of prohibition, is now one of Alpena’s longest-standing taverns- complete with a Guinness World Record holder. Clarise, Maplewood Tavern’s most famous bartender, has the longest bartending career of 76 years! Located on French Rd., this obscure little tavern is a must-see for anyone in the Alpena area. Open seasonally.