Port Huron Blue Water Bridge
· · ·

The Ultimate M-25 Summer Road Trip

Looking for a summer day trip, weekend getaway, or week-long adventure? An M-25 summer road trip is the perfect way to explore Michigan’s Thumbcoast this year!

Summer is a fantastic season for a road trip, especially when you want to explore several towns or cities in one drive. One of the best regions for this kind of trip is the Thumbcoast where you can take a Michigan summer road trip on M-25.

Whether for a day or a weekend, there’s plenty to explore along the Lake Huron shoreline. Here’s a possible itinerary with attractions, restaurants, and lodging along the way to help you plan your excursion.

Thanks to the Blue Water Area CVB for being 2023 #MIAwesomeList Summer Bucket List partners.

Blue Water Bridge-Port Huron
Blue Water Bridge | photo via katrin_eismann

Start Your M-25 Road Trip From Port Huron

Port Huron is the Great Lakes’ maritime capital, featuring the Great Lakes Maritime Center and the Huron Lightship. The charming downtown district has plenty to discover as well, such as unique art galleries, eateries, and shops.

Port Huron Attractions

Blue Water Bridge

If you only have a couple of hours to spend in Port Huron, you can’t miss the Blue Water Bridge. It stretches over the St. Clair River, carrying international traffic between Michigan and Ontario.

This large crossing complex features two unique spans — the 1938 original that was renovated in 1999 has three lanes for westbound traffic, while the 1997 modern addition has three lanes for eastbound traffic.

Just before the entrance to the Blue Water Bridge and toll booths, you can peruse duty-free shops. Plus, the nearby parking lot at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Port Huron and Blue Water Convention Center features Tesla Supercharger stations.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

For a bird’s-eye view of Port Huron, the Blue Water Bridge in the distance, and Lake Huron, climb to the top of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. It’s Michigan’s oldest lighthouse — built in 1829 after the first tower collapsed during a severe storm.

Originally 65 feet tall, the lighthouse was extended to 82 feet in the early 1860s. Guided tours to the top are available for most of the day — every day — from the end of May until mid-September.

Also, you can visit the gift shop and walk Lighthouse Beach around the base of Fort Gratiot Lighthouse before you leave. If you want to go for a beach swim, though, we recommend heading north on M-25 toward Lakeside Park or even farther to Fort Gratiot County Park.

Raven Cafe-Port Huron
Raven Café | photo via shanmac18

Breakfast in Port Huron

Raven Cafe

For an eclectic cafe experience, stop at Raven Cafe for coffee and a light bite to eat. This eatery is located in a historic downtown building and has two uniquely decorated floors filled with the aroma of just-baked brownies and cookies and freshly brewed coffee.

Open all day, Raven Cafe has the most diverse bar and menu of high-quality espresso and coffee you’ll find anywhere. You can order fruit smoothies, herbal teas, and other non-coffee drinks too.

If you don’t like the typical breakfast items to start your day with, you’re in luck here. The food menu includes traditional, deli-style, oven-baked, and grilled sandwiches and wraps, as well as chilies and soups, meal-sized salads, and desserts — cheesecake, ice cream, and more.

Freighters Eatery & Taproom

Located on the St. Clair River, Freighters Eatery & Taproom is connected to the DoubleTree hotel and serves a hot-and-cold breakfast buffet. But that’s not all — the breakfast menu also includes biscuits and gravy, French toast, glazed doughnut waffles, buttermilk pancakes, and more.

Port Huron Lodging

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel

Situated on the water and next to the Blue Water Bridge, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel is one of the nicest hotels in the region and is known as the Thomas Edison Inn. Many of the rooms have patios or balconies with direct views of the bridge, which is beautifully lit in blue at night.

Every room and suite has modern amenities — microwaves, mini refrigerators, and cozy bedding. The hotel has a heated pool and fitness center too.

CityFlats Hotel

Another waterfront lodging option in Port Huron, the CityFlats Hotel features boutique rooms that each have a unique, modern design. The property is located in a renovated bank building on the Black River, which connects with the St. Clair River, and has eye-catching architectural elements.

Rock Hunting At Lakeport State Park | Photo Via Leah Tennant
Rock hunting at Lakeport State Park | Photo via Leah Tennant

Stop for Play & Lunch in Lakeport

On your M-25 road trip, it will only take about 20 minutes or less to reach Lakeport from Port Huron. This village may be small, but it has a lot of character and a couple of places to check out.

Lakeport State Park

The main attraction in Lakeport is Lakeport State Park, which has two distinct sections that are separated by the village. Each section has a campground — accounting for 250 sites total.

The southern section of the park includes the day-use area, which has a beach for swimming and sunbathing. You need to walk the pedestrian bridge over M-25 to reach the beach. And, there are several areas for picnicking.

The northern section includes a playground and a camp store that sells logo clothing, souvenirs, beach gear, toys, and food — pizza, nachos, ice cream, and slushies.

Lakeshore Smokehouse

If you’re ready for lunch when you stop in Lakeport, you can eat and play at Lakeshore Smokehouse. It offers a unique outdoor dining experience near Lakeport State Park.

You can order brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, specialty sandwiches, St. Louis-style ribs, smoke-fried chicken wings, campfire nachos, poutine, and baked mac and cheese.

With 6 acres of land, the restaurant has sprawling gardens — including a fairy garden — and a pavilion for live music performances during the summer.

Lexington-M25
Lexington | photo via discovertheblue.mi.thumbcoast

Walk Onto the Water in Lexington

Known for its Music in the Park series on Fridays and the annual Lexington Beach Festival, Lexington is a charming beach town that’s great for discovering unique dining and shopping opportunities. Here are two must-see places as you’re passing through.

Harbor Breakwall Walk

Lexington’s waterfront Tierney Park offers more than just a sandy beach with shaded picnic tables and a volleyball net. It’s also adjacent to a breakwall that extends into the harbor. Walking on the cement pathway kind of makes you feel like you’re walking on the water and has breathtaking views.

3 North Taphouse & Eatery

For food and drinks in downtown Lexington, head to 3 North Taphouse & Eatery. Since September 2021, 3 North Vines —a vineyard and winery located about 2 miles from town — has been serving its wines in this urban, industrial-style taphouse and eatery.

Along with the winery’s varieties, you can order its own hard ciders, beers, and craft sodas. You can even get flights or samples of the drinks. The food menu includes locally sourced salads and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Port Sanilac Harbor-M25
Port Sanilac Harbor | photo via discovertheblue.mi.thumbcoast

Take in the View in Port Sanilac

Continuing your M-25 summer road trip, you’ll come to the maritime village of Port Sanilac. This 150-year-old treasure on the Lake Huron shoreline features scenic beaches and several shipwrecks from as early as 1864.

One distinct attraction is Raymond Hardware, the oldest continually operating hardware shop in Michigan. There are several antique shops and other attractions too.

Port Sanilac Lighthouse

A historical landmark, the Port Sanilac Lighthouse has a rich history. This white brick tower has been guiding mariners along the Lake Huron shore since 1886.

It’s only open for public tours during the summer, allowing visitors to climb the 50 steps for amazing views of the shoreline. If the lighthouse isn’t open during your visit, you can still observe and take photos of the tower from behind the fence.

TIP: Walk onto the nearby breakwater for an even more picturesque view of the lighthouse and water.

Sandbar Studio of Port Sanilac

If you love handmade art, the Sandbar Studio of Port Sanilac offers unique, one-of-a-kind art pieces and gifts made by local artists. There are plenty of lovely lake-themed items, repurposed wood art, jewelry, and more.

Aside from the merchandise, the Sandbar Studio has ice cream in the back, which is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day. Plus, the store owners are very helpful and friendly.

Jellystone Park at North Port Huron

If you’re traveling with kids and want a place to stay midway through your M-25 road trip, Jellystone Park at North Port Huron in Carsonville — a little north of Port Sanilac — has everything that families need — tent and RV sites and cabins.

On top of that, there are tons of resort-like amenities — a pool, a swimming beach, mini golf, boat rentals, fishing, an obstacle course, and more. You could easily spend a day here before continuing your summer road trip.

Harbor Beach Lighthouse
Harbor Beach Lighthouse | photo via maiden.mich

Explore the Shipwrecks in Harbor Beach

Perfect for family recreation, Harbor Beach is known for its shipwreck history and for having the biggest freshwater man-made harbor in the world. The harbor offers opportunities for boating, scuba diving, swimming, and fishing.

Judge James H. Lincoln Memorial Park

Connecting to the Harbor View Trail, Judge James H. Lincoln Memorial Park is a beautiful place to spend an hour or two. It has a huge grassy area, picnic tables, and grills, as well as a sandy swimming beach.

The best part, though, is Trescott Street Pier. From this 1,015-foot pier, you can watch freighters passing by in Lake Huron and see Harbor Beach Lighthouse in the distance.

At the end of the pier, you may be able to see the shallow-water shipwrecks within the breakwall. You can rent kayaks nearby, launch them from the north side of the park, and paddle over the shipwrecks for a closer look. HB Jet Ski near the entrance of the pier offers an alternative — Jet Ski rentals.

Harbor Beach Lighthouse

While you can see Harbor Beach Lighthouse from Trescott Street Pier, you can get a closer look on a guided tour. The tours are available during the summer on Saturdays and include a boat ride with information about the Harbor of Refuge, the breakwall, and the 1885 lighthouse’s history.

In addition, you get to learn about life as a lightkeeper as you stroll through the living quarters. You’ll have numerous opportunities to take photos too, so don’t forget your camera.

Sandmann’s Grocery

If you want a picnic experience while you’re in Harbor Beach, stop by Sandmann’s Grocery for a range of homemade options that you can enjoy at Judge James H. Lincoln Memorial Park.

The menu changes often and may feature double bacon cheeseburgers, hot chicken or beef sandwiches, corned beef and cabbage entrees, and a variety of soups. You can even get desserts that are freshly packaged from the local Pat’s Bakery — doughnuts, pies, and turnovers.

Pointe-Aux-Barques-Lighthouse-Port-Hope
Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse | photo via maiden.mich

Climb the Lighthouse in Port Hope

You’ll pass through Port Hope while driving north on your M-25 summer road trip. This charming town, which is nicknamed “The Little Town with a Big Welcome,” is situated just before the Thumbcoast begins to curve west.

The town comes to life during the 4th of July Festival with a flea market, a parade, antique tractors, steam engines, and a generous fireworks display. But, that’s not the only attraction in town.

Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse

Port Hope is home to the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse — one of the oldest light towers in Michigan. This tower is 89 feet tall and has an 1857 keeper’s house attached.

The house has been turned into a museum that you can explore while learning about the lighthouse’s history. Or, you can climb the tower. If you want to explore both the museum and tower, you can get the discounted combo admission.

TIP: The Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse grounds host the Heritage Festival every summer with live music, various vendors, food, and more.

Buck’s Port Hope Diner

Specializing in fresh specials and soups made daily, Buck’s Port Hope Diner serves breakfast and lunch.

Some options on the lunch and burger menus include the Big Buck double-decker cheeseburger, a spicy buffalo chicken sandwich, a Reuben, a Mediterranean chicken pita, and a Michigan salad with chicken.

Turnip Rock-Port Austin-Kayak
Turnip Rock | photo via shesoutwandering

Explore the Outdoors in Port Austin

When your M-25 road trip reaches the tip of the Michigan Thumb, you’ll come to the beach community of Port Austin. Known for having unforgettable sunrises and sunsets, this village has a little bit of everything for all kinds of travelers.

Attractions in Port Austin

The Village Green

To look through a variety of exceptional shops, head to The Village Green. This spot has transformed an underutilized, vacant lot in the heart of Port Austin into a community gathering place for unique shopping, cultural programs, and public events.

The popup shops are located next to the Port Austin Farmers Market, which hosts about 10,000 visitors some Saturdays. And if you have an electric vehicle, you can charge it at the Level 3 charging station here.

Turnip Rock Tour & Kayaking

For an adventure on the water, consider taking a boat tour or kayaking excursion to Turnip Rock. This natural phenomenon stands just off the shore of the Pointe aux Barques Peninsula. The kayaking journey requires paddling the 7-mile Turnip Rock water trail.

Grindstone General Store, Grind Stone City - Things To Do In Port Austin
Grindstone General Store | photo via @detroit.girls.eat

Port Austin Restaurants

Grindstone General Store

Shopping and kayaking can work up a sweat in the summer heat, and the Grindstone General Store has all of the ice cream that you need to cool off. In fact, this historic 1886 general store serves the biggest cones in the Michigan Thumb.

From Mother’s Day weekend to the end of September, you can choose between homemade and Stroh’s hand-dipped ice cream. You’ll also find fresh fudge, jellies and jams, and Sanders products. While you’re here, you can peruse the arts, crafts, and gifts made by local artisans as well.

Bird Creek Farms

If you need something more substantial than a frozen dessert, get a farm-to-table meal at Bird Creek Farms. This family-friendly restaurant is open all year and has an eclectic environment.

Everything on the seasonal menu is made with local ingredients, many of which are sourced from the working farm. From hometown burgers to traditional beef Wellington, there are options for all appetites. And, you can dine on the patio and porch during the summer.

PAK’s Backyard Beer Garden & Cafe

A waterfront restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, PAK’s Backyard Cafe & Beer Garden offers a phenomenal dining experience in an energetic setting.

The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, chicken tenders, chicken wings, seafood tacos, and fresh salads. Additionally, the restaurant is a great place to have a Michigan craft beer with your meal.

Next to the restaurant is Pak’s Coffee Bar, which serves fresh-brewed coffee, cold coffee, espresso drinks, and specialty coffees.

Lodging in Port Austin

Port Crescent State Park Campground

If you plan to stay in Port Austin, the modern campground at Port Crescent State Park is a convenient choice. It’s located just outside of downtown, and it has 20 and 30-amp sites, waterfront views of Saginaw Bay, and three ADA-accessible sites.

On the other hand, you could reserve one of the park’s two geodesic domes in the center of the campground. Each dome can accommodate up to four people and has air conditioning.

Plus, staying at Port Crescent State Park gives you the opportunity to explore the many trails and enjoy some of the best stargazing in Michigan.

Little Yellow Cottages

A favorite in Port Austin, the Little Yellow Cottages were built in the 1930s across from the marina, pier, and beach. Each of the six cottages is suitable for up to six people and has a screened-in porch and air conditioning. And, picnic tables, chairs, a grill, and a fire pit are located outdoors.

85ten Boutique Hotel & Events

For modern, upscale accommodations, 85ten Boutique Hotel & Events provides the most intimate experience in Port Austin. The hotel is located downtown, featuring luxurious rooms and upscale bathrooms that are professionally designed. A thoughtful breakfast is served every morning as well.

Caseville County Park
Caseville County Park | photo via @jamck1

End Your Road Trip Around Michigan’s Thumbcoast in Caseville

Rather than end your M-25 summer road trip in Port Austin, consider ending your drive in Caseville. Much like at the Tip of the Thumb, this waterfront city provides awesome views of the sunrises and sunsets over Saginaw Bay.

Also, the city is home to one of the most popular Michigan beaches and the Cheeseburger in Caseville Festival, which is held every summer.

Caseville Things to Do

Caseville County Park

Caseville County Park offers the best camping and swimming in the city. In fact, this 40-acre park is known for its wide, sandy beaches and exceptional swimming conditions. Since the area gets more wind than other spots on the Thumcoast, you can rent equipment for kiteboarding or windsurfing.

Along with beaches, the park has a picnic area and a playground. And, the campground has 65 water and electric sites, 65 sites with full hookups, and 72 RV sites. The Caseville Pier is only steps away, offering a platform for fishing.

Shipwreck Distillery

Opened in 2018, Shipwreck Distillery is a locally owned and operated distillery that specializes in producing handcrafted whiskey. You can’t miss it on Caseville Rd because a shipwreck is parked right beside the distillery’s sign.

In addition to trying Shipwreck Distillery whiskey, you can try its vodka, gin, and rum. Also, there’s food — po’ boys, cheeseburgers, flatbread pizzas, subs, and more. You’ll even find baked goods, produce, gift baskets, locally made products, logo merchandise, and more in the shop.

Baywatch On The Beach Grill, Caseville - Port Austin Restaurants
Baywatch on the Beach Grill | photo via @takeamegabite

Restaurants in Caseville

Shakers Ice Cream Parlor

On M-25 after Caseville County Park and the bridge, you’ll see Shakers Ice Cream Parlor on the left. It always has dozens of flavors — some of which are unique. Picnic tables are in front and around the side for you to rest while enjoying your frozen treat.

Baywatch on the Beach Grill

A beachfront restaurant that everyone will love, Baywatch on the Beach Grill is located in a small white building with pink trim at Caseville County Park. The menu usually includes classic burgers, sandwiches, and more. The dining patio is vibrant with colorful umbrellas, creating an island vibe.

Caseville Hotels & Lodging

Bella Vista Inn & Sunset Bay Resort

The only full-service resort in Caseville, the Bella Vista Inn & Sunset Bay Resort is located off M-25 before you get to downtown. This year-round family resort has a variety of rooms, suites, penthouses, and deluxe chalets.

During your stay, you have access to more than just the beach. The resort has a swimming pool, bonfire pits, and summer events as well.

Fox’s Lodge at Oak Pointe

Offering upscale accommodations for couples and families alike, Fox’s Lodge at Oak Pointe rests on a 30-acre wooded area. Since it’s slightly farther inland than other hotel options, it has a more tranquil setting.

Some of the warmly decorated rooms have canopy beds and whirlpool tubs. The cottage has a beautiful terrace and a library, and a continental breakfast buffet is served in the mornings.

NOTE: Fox’s Lodge underwent a refresh with a 2023 reveal.

Port Sanilac-M25
Port Sanilac | photo via discovertheblue.mi.thumbcoast

Explore the Thumbcoast on a M-25 Summer Road Trip

With so much to explore on the Thumbcoast in the summer, you can plan the ultimate M-25 road trip from Port Huron to Caseville. From lighthouses, beaches, and parks to amazing structures and shopping opportunities, there’s something to do for all ages.

2 Comments

  1. I am excited to go to Port Austin with my husband for him to see if the cabins he and his siblings went with his father, aunts & uncles & cousins after his mother passed away. He hasn’t been there since the summer of 1966-1967?? He also mentioned he remembers as a child how big the Turnip Rock was and would love yo see that again too.

  2. The last picture in your Thumb Coast must visit is a picture of Reemarkables in Port Sanilac. Behind it is a hidden outdoor bar called Allibar. There’s a gate on the left side to access it. It has live music on the weekends and is a fantastic place to check out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *