While Alpena, Michigan is home to beautiful parks and sprawling beaches along Lake Huron, it also is susceptible to that ever-changing Michigan weather.
If you are visiting Alpena and wake up to a day that is filled with clouds, raindrops, or gusty winds, you may decide that you want to stay inside in order to have some fun. Fortunately, there are many things to do in Alpena Michigan while staying warm and dry!
These are some of the best indoor things to do in Alpena:
Spend an Afternoon Exploring the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center
The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center is a 10,000-square-foot facility located in the heart of downtown Alpena, so it’s impossible to miss this popular, family-friendly attraction. The heritage center is a museum dedicated to telling the story of the Great Lakes and the people who rely on these lakes in order to survive.
Throughout the center, you will be able to discover dozens of exhibits based on various aspects of life on, in or near the Great Lakes. These exhibits are designed to be not only informative but also engaging, and they are suitable for people of all ages.
Some of the most popular exhibits include the dive tubes, which allow visitors to feel as if they are swimming over a shipwreck, or the life-sized schooner exhibit, where you can experience a Lake Huron storm for yourself.
Not only is the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center one of the largest and most notable indoor attractions in Alpena, but it’s also one of the most affordable. Admission to the heritage center is free of charge, though you have the opportunity to purchase tickets for additional excursions and experiences once you arrive.
Sip Delicious Wine at Thunder Bay Winery
If you are stuck inside for the day, you might as well be stuck inside and sipping wine at the same time. One of the best places to taste the flavors of Michigan in Alpena is at the Thunder Bay Winery, which has a tasting room in historic downtown Alpena.
The Thunder Bay Winery sources its grapes from Thunder Bay Vineyards, which is located in nearby Ossineke. The first grapes were grown on this vineyard in 2004, and it quickly became known as a premier winery in Michigan.
While the tasting room is not located on the vineyard itself, Alpena locals and visitors appreciate the fact that they can go to an atmospheric destination in downtown Alpena in order to enjoy their favorite local wines.
The tasting room can be found inside the Center Building, which is an iconic building in the heart of the community. When you arrive at the tasting room, you can expect to be greeted by friendly staff members who are ready to provide you with a personalized tasting experience.
One of the things that people love the most about this winery is that they feature a wide array of wines that truly offer an overview of the best that Michigan has to offer. You will be able to try white and red wines, as well as fruit and dessert wines. There are even a few ciders on the menu, so there is something for everyone to sip and savor.
Enjoy a Dose of Culture at the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan
Located on an eight-acre campus in the heart of Alpena, the Besser Museum of Northeast Michigan is considered to be one of the largest and most comprehensive museums in Northeast Michigan.
This museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the best of art, history, and science. In addition to having interactive and engaging museum exhibits, this facility also provides visitors with the opportunity to enjoy unique experiences.
Some of the must-see attractions at this museum include:
- The full-dome Planetarium.
- The two-story Foucault Pendulum.
- The 1890s Avenue of Historic Shops.
- The Historic Village, which includes five original structures that are more than 100 years old.
- The Natural Wildlife Gallery.
In addition to these exhibits, you also will discover dozens of amazing artifacts and works of art, including masterpieces created by Dali, Chihuly, Renoir, and Warhol.
If the weather happens to break, and you are ready for some fresh air, you can head outside to the Lafarge Fossil Park exhibit. There, you can dig for fossils yourself – and if you find any, you get to keep them and bring them home. It’s the best souvenir to bring back after your trip to Alpena.
Cozy Up with a Good Book at the Alpena County Library
The Alpena County Library has long been the go-to place among local residents and visitors who want to grab a good book and read for the afternoon. However, the library has recently become an even more appealing destination, as it has undergone significant renovations, and it will be opening to the public again in mid-November 2021.
The updated, state-of-the-art facility has been redesigned in order to make it easier for patrons to find what they need and more comfortable for those who want to sit down and stay awhile. Some of the updates include:
- Improved seating areas to make all guests feel at home as they read their books or study their materials.
- Updated children’s spaces so that all children feel excited about their trip to the library.
- Designated teen spaces so that young adults have a place where they can feel confident and secure as they study and make friends.
- Dedicated space for historical archives, allowing Alpena locals and travelers to get the information they need about the local community.
In addition to finding books, videos, and games at the library, you also can check out the events calendar to see if there is anything happening while you are in Alpena. The library constantly hosts community events that allow people to come together in order to explore their passions or learn something new.
Catch a Show at the Alpena Civic Theatre
What began as a group of volunteers who wanted to put on shows for the community has grown into a movement in Alpena, and the Alpena Civic Theatre is living proof of its success.
For more than 50 years, the Alpena Civic Theatre organization has been working together in order to produce plays and other performances for the people who live in Alpena to enjoy. However, word has gotten out about these talented and dedicated individuals, and now, the Alpena Civic Theatre is a tourist attraction in its own right.
Located on River Street in downtown Alpena, this theater has hosted more than 200 performances over the past five decades. Not only have these performances been enjoyed by locals who want a night out in their own town, but they also have been frequented by school groups, tourists, and others from around the state who simply wanted to see one of their shows.
Nearly every month, the theater has a new show to put on, which means that there is always a new way to be entertained in the city. Even if you have been to Alpena before and have seen one of the Alpena Civic Theatre shows, you will still be treated to a unique performance the next time you are in town.
See If You Can Get a Strike at Thunder Bowl Lanes
For a timeless activity on a chilly day in Alpena, consider playing a game – or two – of bowling at Thunder Bowl Lanes. Thunder Bowl Lanes is located in the heart of Alpena, and it has long been considered a community gathering spot among the locals. However, travelers are always welcome, especially when they are looking for a fun way to spend some time indoors in Alpena.
While this bowling alley is known for its competitive leagues, it also has plenty of opportunities for open bowling. In fact, there are open bowling hours nearly every day of the week, making this a great option if you need a last-minute activity to add to your itinerary. Bumper bowling is available, so don’t be afraid to bring your youngest bowlers along with you for the experience.
In addition to featuring dozens of lanes, this bowling alley also has a restaurant on location, known as the Burger Shack. This spot is more than just a concession stand, it’s known for serving up delicious hand-tossed pizzas and flame-grilled burgers.
Shooter’s Pub is also located in the bowling alley and is an ideal spot for adults to grab their favorite drink to celebrate their scores.
Experience Fine Art at Art in the Loft
Sometimes the best way to spend a day indoors is by surrounding yourself with fine art at a local art gallery. Art in the Loft, however, is so much more than just an art gallery where you can see the work of local artists on display.
This downtown Alpena business is dedicated to providing local residents as well as visitors with an opportunity to learn more about art and to experience the process of creating art for themselves.
Art in the Loft is best described as an art center. Not only does it feature a 7,000-square-foot open loft gallery, but it also has space in the facility for people to take classes. Within the gallery itself, you will be able to discover the work of local, national, and regional artists.
Art in the Loft allows artists of all styles to display their work in the gallery, so on any given day, you may see the work of a potter as well as the work of a photographer. There is even a dedicated exhibit for an up-and-coming artist, which gives aspiring young people the opportunity to display their work.
Some of the classes that you can take at this facility include wine and painting classes and culinary art classes. The gallery also hosts community outreach efforts, such as gingerbread house contests and community mural projects that allow the people of Alpena to connect with one another through art.
More to Explore in Alpena
While the weather will surely pass and the sun will soon shine again in Alpena, you don’t need to worry about being bored in the meantime.
There is plenty to see and do indoors in Alpena for people of all ages – including a visit to the best Alpena Michigan restaurants – which means that any disappointing rainy day can quickly be transformed into an opportunity to make memories in this fabulous Up North city.