With so much to explore along the beautiful blue water coastline, Port Huron, Michigan makes the perfect summer destination for families. From outdoor adventures to kid-friendly museums and restaurants, our family had a blast spending two days in Port Huron this summer.
2 Day Itinerary in Port Huron
Traveling with kids is all about balance – mixing in favorite activities for the kids (mine are all about mini-golf) and fun for the parents (hello, hiking trails).
Here’s what our family of four fit into two full days of fun in Port Huron:
What We Did
- Hiked the Pine River Nature Preserve
- Played mini-golf at Saw Mill City
- Took a horse-drawn carriage ride with Majestic Heart Carriage Ride
- Went on a Scallywag Photo Scavenger Hunt
- Visited Lighthouse Park & Beach
- Explored Port Huron museums
- Strolled along the Blue Water River Walk
- Skipped stones at Lakeport State Park
Where We Stayed
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Port Huron
Where We Ate
- Freighters Eatery & Taproom
Pine River Nature Preserve
Just outside of Port Huron, the Pine River Nature Preserve in Goodells makes an excellent spot for a picnic lunch with plenty of shaded picnic tables.
Pro Tip: For healthy eating on a road trip, pack lunches in reusable containers for your first day. That way, you’ll have empty containers to use for snacking later in the trip too!
At the Pine River Nature Preserve, the nature center building is open Monday – Friday during the day and the trails are open every day from dawn to dusk.
After lunch, we enjoyed a 1.5-mile hike on the Pine River Way trail and discovered a couple of memorable treasures along the way. First, in the river, we found tons of stones for hopping across. Nice and shallow with cool, refreshing water on a hot day.
We also came across the accessible treehouse on the trail. Built high up around existing trees, it has a great view of the forest from the open balcony. Plus, the crushed gravel trail from the parking lot to the treehouse makes it accessible for wheelchairs.
Saw Mill City
Our next adventure took us to Saw Mill City, which is connected to the Port Huron KOA campground. If you enjoy camping, this would be a great place to stay with plenty of fun activities for the whole family.
Which activity would you choose here? Saw Mill City has a mini-golf course, bumper boats, go-karts, a basketball challenge, and a water balloon game.
Our kids are currently huge mini-golf fans, so we grabbed our putters and neon-colored golf balls and hit the course. Our favorite holes were the one that went through a mini cave and the final hole into an open mine shaft.
Majestic Heart Carriage Rides
Next, we made our way to downtown Port Huron for a horse-drawn carriage ride. Our 20-minute ride along the Thomas Edison Parkway was beautiful with views of the St. Clair River and the Blue Water Bridge.
Did you know that Thomas Edison spent his childhood growing up in Port Huron? This was news to me! There are several local places in Port Huron named after Edison, a statue in his honor, and the Thomas Edison Depot Museum – more on the museum in a bit.
At the end of the carriage ride, getting to pet our sweet horse was another highlight.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Port Huron
After a full afternoon of adventures, we checked into the DoubleTree Hotel, which has a fantastic location right on the St. Clair River next to the Blue Water Bridge.
Pro Tip: Splurge for the waterfront view at the DoubleTree, it’s definitely worth it!
With comfy guest rooms, modern decor, a fitness center, pool and hot tub, business center, and banquet rooms, the DoubleTree Hotel serves as a great resource for family trips, weddings, or business travel.
Our hosts at the DoubleTree Hotel and Blue Water Area CVB graciously left some goodies for our family to enjoy! Pool toys & snacks for the kids and tasty local wine from Vinomondo Winery for the grownups.
Freighters Eatery & Taproom
Conveniently connected to the DoubleTree Hotel, Freighters Eatery & Taproom is an excellent restaurant for family-friendly dining. After our busy afternoon, being able to easily walk to dinner within the hotel was much appreciated.
Freighters serves classic American fare with lovely views of the water either indoor or outdoor on the patio. The Mesa Chicken Wrap was scrumptious and I was able to substitute potato chips for a side of green beans. My husband’s turkey burger and fries were tasty too.
Plus, Freighters has $5 kids’ meals! My oldest ordered grilled chicken, fries, and apple juice. My youngest had grilled cheese, fruit cocktail mix, and milk.
One of the best parts was watching the freighters sailing by on the river while enjoying our dinner at Freighters. Definitely a fitting name for the restaurant.
Scallywag Scavenger Hunt
After dinner, we went on the Scallywag Photo Scavenger Hunt. Walking around the hotel and Bridge to Bay Trail was perfect for getting familiar with the local area and exploring the interesting monuments along the river.
We found most of the items on the scavenger hunt except for the last few which require walking further down the river trail.
Check at the DoubleTree front desk if you’d like to try the Scallywag Photo Scavenger Hunt yourself! For older kids or groups, it would be fun to split into groups and race to see how many items you can find within a specific time limit.
Our evening ended with another family favorite activity – swimming in the hotel pool. The DoubleTree’s heated indoor pool was the perfect temperature for a comfortable swim.
On the Sunday evening that we visited, a handful of other families and groups were swimming, but the pool and hot tub area were big enough that it didn’t feel crowded.
With a full day of adventures, everyone slept hard that night. And the next morning, the kids convinced us to go for another dip in the pool. Gotta take advantage of those pool days when you can!
Breakfast at Freighters Eatery & Taproom
When you book a room at the DoubleTree, there is an additional fee for breakfast, which is served at Freighters.
The restaurant-quality breakfast was worth it for our family and was definitely a step up from the complimentary continental breakfasts we’ve had at other hotels.
We all chose the buffet which had plenty of options: sausage, bacon, potatoes, pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal and milk, fresh fruit, and baked goods. Great way to start the morning!
Port Huron Museums & Parks
On our second day in Port Huron, we set off to explore the local parks and museums.
Did you know that Port Huron museums have free admission in 2022? Thanks to a grant from the City of Port Huron and generous corporate sponsorships, you can visit several educational museums at no charge.
If you visit a Port Huron museum, consider leaving a donation to help provide additional funding for these local gems.
Thomas Edison Depot Museum
Located right outside the DoubleTree, we stopped by the historic Grand Trunk Railroad Depot that has been transformed into the Thomas Edison Depot Museum.
As a young adolescent Edison worked as a newspaper boy and rode the train from this very same station from Port Huron to Detroit, earning money to buy materials for his experiments.
Inside the museum, we enjoyed several interactive displays about the life and inventions of Thomas Edison, like using a hand crank to power a miniature neighborhood.
One highlight for the kids was walking around inside a historic railroad car which is accessible from inside the museum.
Lighthouse Park & Beach
Looking for Michigan’s oldest lighthouse? We found it here in Port Huron! Built in 1829, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is still in operation today.
For a bird’s eye view, you can take a tour and climb to the top of the lighthouse.
The kids were more interested in the playground area, so dad went with the kids while I walked around reading about the informational markers about the lighthouse’s history.
With beautiful blue waters and a combination of sand and stones on the shoreline, Lighthouse Beach was just stunning.
Lighthouse Beach is a lovely spot for playing in the sand and enjoying the water view. However, there were warning signs posted for strong currents here being near where the St. Clair River meets Lake Huron.
For a more kid-friendly swimming area, check out Lakeside Park, another Port Huron beach a little farther north, which has a splash pad as well.
Lunch at Casey’s
For lunch, we dined in the outdoor beer garden at Casey’s, a local favorite and family-friendly restaurant.
Our sunny summer day turned a bit windy and cloudy during lunch, but I can never resist eating al fresco when I have the chance.
Pro Tip: Get the breadsticks and ask for them to be cut into smaller pieces as our server suggested. A great option for families!
The Asian Chicken Salad and the Caesar Wrap were solid choices for the grown-ups and our kids enjoyed chicken fingers, fries, and mac and cheese. Everyone agreed the breadsticks were their favorite part of lunch.
Huron Lightship Museum
Next up, we visited another free Port Huron museum, the Huron Lightship Museum. Again, donations are always welcome even though admission is currently free in 2022!
Have you heard of the term lightship before? I hadn’t and learned that lightships served as floating lighthouses in locations where a traditional lighthouse couldn’t be built.
Retired in 1970, the Huron Lightship was the last operating Great Lakes lightship and now is open for self-guided tours by the public.
Inside, we had a blast wandering through all the different sections of the ship. It felt quite roomy in spots like the kitchen area with a full table and chairs. Other areas had tighter quarters like the small bedrooms and the vertical ladder climb up to the ship deck.
Once on top of the ship deck, the view of the river and the Blue Water Bridge was spectacular.
Blue Water River Walk
Our next plan was to walk and let the kids ride their scooters along the water on the paved Blue Water River Walk. As a shoreline restoration project, the Blue Water River Walk has transformed a 1-mile stretch of former wasteland into thriving habitats for fish and wildlife.
However, after two full days of exploring, both our boys fell asleep on the short drive to the Great Lakes Maritime Center, where the trail starts.
Instead, we drove around for a bit to let them rest and went to the end of the Blue Water River Walk at the Wetlands County Park.
These urban wetlands were alive with birds chirping and frogs croaking. It was very encouraging to see an active natural area in a more industrial setting.
At the end of the trail, we got to walk through an interesting tunnel filled with colorful murals painted by local artists.
Lakeport State Park
As a nature-loving family, we enjoy checking out the nearest Michigan State Park on our travels, so our last stop was Lakeport State Park.
From the day-use parking lot, there is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the highway to the beach area. Walking over the bridge above the speeding vehicles below was exciting and only a teensy bit nerve-racking.
The Lakeport State Park beach is a dream for rock collectors, like our children. We enjoyed spending some time searching for unique rocks and trying to skip stones across the water.
Experience the Beauty & History of Michigan’s Thumbcoast
All in all, our family had a wonderful time exploring the natural beauty and historical significance of Port Huron. Take some time to make fun family memories as you learn and play in Michigan’s Thumbcoast this summer!