8 Reasons To Put Alpena, MI On Your Summer Bucket List

April 11, 2024

by Visit Alpena

There are way more than 8 reasons why you should put Alpena, Michigan on your summer bucket list! We’ve narrowed it down to 8 adventures that you absolutely MUST see and do during your Alpena vacation. 


The Lady Michigan & Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center

Dive into this one and only freshwater maritime history center and explore shipwrecks lost in and around Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay, aka “Shipwreck Alley”, without getting wet! An interactive center interprets the story of nearly 200 different shipwrecks protected in our nation’s only freshwater marine sanctuary. Immerse yourself in the stories of these ships and the brave crew that sailed them. Once you have toured the maritime center, get your ticket for the Lady Michigan glass-bottom boat and set sail to view the shipwrecks up close through the boat’s window wells.

Shin-rin Yoku

The Japanese term for “forest bathing”, the act of soaking up Mother Nature. Alpena makes shin-rin yoku easy with numerous trails for you to hike and reflect on.

  • Norway Ridge – five miles south of Alpena, features 10 miles of forgiving, groomed terrain. This is a great place for a beginning trail biker or offers a peaceful ski in the winter.
  • Chippewa Hills Pathway – 20 miles southwest of Alpena, offers a more challenging terrain. Over 14 miles of hilly, heavily wooded terrain await you on this trail. Enjoy single-track bike trails or take your skis or snowshoes out in the winter months.
  • N.E.S.T. – The Northeast State Trail starts in Alpena and travels over 70+ miles along a former railroad grade to Cheboygan. The trailhead is located off Woodward Avenue in Alpena (you can park at the soccer fields). The trail is mostly flat and made of crushed limestone. Nature abounds through easy twists and turns across the northeast Michigan countryside. Jog, hike, or bike when the weather is warm, and in the winter snowmobiles are welcome on the trail.
  • Trails, Parks, and Beaches Adventure Guide

Dark Skies

  • Rockport State Recreation Area– Michigan’s 100th State Park, has over 4,237 acres of land located on the shores of Lake Huron, 11 miles North of Alpena.
  • Negwegon State Park– A hidden treasure with 10 miles of hiking trails and one of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Huron including secluded sand dunes, 20 miles south of Alpena.
  • Thompson’s Harbor State Park– located 26 miles north of Alpena on US 23 North, this natural area encompasses 5,000 acres of sand dunes, upland, and marsh, and the largest population of the State wildflower, the Dwarf Lake Iris.

Vibrant Downtown

Shopping, dining, live musicians, murals, a social district, and more! Check all of these downtown murals off your list while enjoying a beverage or two in the Social District. Photo-op mural addresses:

  • Fish mural – 109 W. Chisholm St.
  • The Wave Journey mural – 125 E. Chisholm St.
  • Heart Hands mural – 131 E. Fletcher St.
  • 12 free-standing murals at the City of Alpena boat harbor – 400 E. Chisholm St.
  • Hello Alpena lighthouse mural – 400 E. Chisholm St., Cochon Market/Marina building
  • Classic car mural – 328 S. Third Ave., on Light of Hope Clubhouse
  • Woman and Owl mural – 211 S. Second Ave., on the side of True North Threads/Galley Sweet Shop


  • Stevens Twin Sinks and Bruski Sinkhole– The 2.5-acre Bruski Sinkhole is located off Leer Rd. and the intersection of Maple Lane Rd. in Posen. Stevens Twin Sinks is a 31-acre parcel that includes 2 sinkholes separated by a fragile saddle ridge and is located across the street from Bruski Sinkhole.
  • Rockport State Recreation Area sinkholes– 13 sinkholes located in Rockport as a result of Karst topography in the area. One sinkhole is over 100 feet deep and filled with water from an underground aquifer.
  • Mystery Valley & cracks in the Earth– 76 acres and contains one of the largest Karst “collapse valleys” in the Great Lakes region. Two self-guided trails, Earthcrack Trail and Valley Trail.
  • Sinkhole Adventure Guide
  • Sinkhole exploration is self-guided, at your own risk. Venturing down into the sinkholes is NOT permitted.


  • Old P.I. Lighthouse in Presque Isle is one of the oldest surviving accessible lighthouses on the Great Lakes and local legends believe it to be haunted.
  • New P.I. Lighthouse in Presque Isle is the tallest lighthouse tower accessible by the public on the Great Lakes and includes 3 historic buildings on site.
  • Little Red Lighthouse at Alpena Boat Harbor. The only lighthouse in the City of Alpena, this steel skeletal-style lighthouse is viewable from Alpena’s boat harbor and break wall. Built in 1914 and added to the National Registrar of Historic Places in 2006.


Our Sanctuary of the Great Lakes is 66% water, making the Alpena area a prime destination for water trail enthusiasts! Quiet rivers and lakes provide a serene setting for an afternoon of gliding on the water, wildlife watching, or daydreaming. Kayak, canoe, or standup paddleboard in a variety of settings across the region including our 500-acre Wildlife Sanctuary and the Thunder Bay River. Contact Alpena Pedal & Paddle Rentals at Duck Park for your next paddle adventure!


There are more than 100 accessible bodies of water (300,000 acres of open water) in the 4-county Northeast Michigan area. Alpena serves as a base camp for your fishing expedition. Within an easy drive of Alpena, you’ll find numerous inland lakes and river systems that offer a variety of healthy fish species. Locations for trolling, fishing off the riverbank, fly fishing, fishing from a dock or canoe, a perfect reed bed for your bass boat, and even deep-water options abound in and around Alpena. Alpena Fishing Adventure Guide