In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. – Albert Camus
Living in northern Michigan means getting creative when it comes to winter activities or you will be spending the better part of a year inside your house. With spring patiently waiting around the corner, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Furthermore, some of the mountains of snow have begun to melt and you can almost feel the warmth from the sunshine.
Now is the perfect time to begin venturing back out to your favorite hiking spots and warm weather attractions. Tawas, on the East side of the state, is a great place to start. Whether you are looking for a day trip or a place to let the kids run, the Tawas area has plenty to do for just about everyone.
Founded in 1854, Tawas was the first city located along Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron, north of Bay City. It remains a beautiful beach town with a quiet atmosphere that draws people in with its easy charm. As a city perched along so many bodies of water, it only makes sense that visitors do a little fishing.
The Singing Bridge has plenty of opportunities to fish. The bridge is nothing more than an overpass above the East Branch of the Au Gres River, but the opportunities there abound. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Public Access site allows for visitors to walk and fish along a concrete railed boardwalk that stretches down the river. It also leads down to a beachfront area on both sides of the river fronting Lake Huron.
The main target species is the lake run rainbow trout, which is also known as the steelhead. Additionally, the steelhead is known as one of the most attractive game fish species in Michigan. Spending a day at the Singing Bridge allows for a nice opportunity at a great trophy. You don’t have to be an expert fisherman to have a successful day. All you will need for your chance at a trophy steelhead is a rod, a reel, a small treble hook, a bobber, and salmon spawn bags (which can be purchased at any local sporting goods store for around $2.00).
Fishing might not be your favorite attraction, but the Tawas area has other outdoor activities when cabin fever has set in. Along the Singing Bridge, you can walk down to Lake Huron and take a sandy stroll along the shore. Or take the River Road Scenic Byway for some beautiful views and a hike at the Iargo Springs. This roadside attraction has amazing overlooks of the Ausable River from the observation deck.
Next, venture down the nearly 300 steps that lead to the cold water streams which formed from underground springs. A boardwalk leads you through the area with viewing platforms and benches where you can take in the scenery. It is the perfect place to take a crisp spring walk and enjoy a little time outside. This area is also the trailhead for the Highbanks Hiking Trail if you are feeling more adventurous and aren’t afraid of a little mud and slush.
With little ones in tow, it may be difficult to do much hiking. Gateway Park, situated along Lake Huron, offers a playground and a pavilion with grills to enjoy a picnic next to the shore. Another attraction is the fishing pier and boat launch for some more great local fishing. If you enjoy bike riding, there is a fully paved, non-motorized trail that is 13.5 miles starting from Alabaster Township and winding its way to Tawas Point State Park. About 1.5 miles from the Singing Bridge, there is also a trailhead that will take you to the bike path.
The Tawas Point State Park is worth the stop. There are 183 acres along Tawas Bay that make up the park. This is often referred to as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” Sandy shores make for gorgeous beach walks. The lighthouse represents a “true Victorian-era style station built on the Great Lakes.” You can walk the grounds of the lighthouse and read its history as you explore the area.
While you are in town, stop at one of the local restaurants for a great meal and maybe even a craft beer. Mr. Jack’ss (yes, with a second s) has a great menu and a handful of Michigan craft beers on tap. The walls are filled with TVs broadcasting any game that happens to be on that day. You can also find great eating at Augie’s On The Bay, which sits waterside. G’s Pizzeria also has a variety of delectable, cheesy dishes. You can find delicious Mexican food and a cocktail at Mangos Mexican Cuisine and Tequila Bar.
Meanwhile, if the spring air gets too chilly, there are also plenty of places to do some shopping. East Tawas has O’Connor’s, which carries everything from clothes to furniture. The Ben Franklin store has a wide variety of toys and Michigan items as well as arts and crafts. You will find great shopping at Windjammer Gifts. Of course, don’t forget to stop in at the Village Chocolatier. Here you will find incredibly decadent sweets for an amazing treat as well as a beverage bar.
If you are in Tawas City you have to stop over at Twisted Twinz Emporium. There is a wide array of unique items that are handcrafted from local artists. They have everything from clothing and jewelry to home accessories. Many of which are made from upcycled items. You can ask the twin sisters that own it just how they came up with the unique name. Hint: It involves tornadoes.
Michigan has so many great little beach towns that give way to vast sprawling forests. Aside from the amazing outdoor activities, the rich history and quaint towns make for perfect weekend trips. The Tawas area is a great place to shake the winter blues and reintroduce yourself to the sunshine.