The Thumb Road Trip
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8 Best Summer Things to Do in Michigan’s Thumb & Bay Area

Whether you live in the Thumb or Bay area, or you’re looking to venture east for a Michigan summer getaway, you’ll want to explore all the great summer things to do in Michigan’s Thumb & Bay area!

Summer Michigan Road Trip Around The Thumb
Photo courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Experience Native American History at Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park

Tales of Michigan history are often filled with stories of fur trappers and pioneers or inventors who created the assembly line that would change the world. However, Native American history has long played an important role in the region, and the petroglyphs at Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park offer an awe-inspiring look into ancient life in this region.

Visitors can travel to Cass City and schedule a guided tour to see these stone carvings for themselves. In addition to gazing in wonder at the carvings, you also can embark on a gentle hike on a mile-long trail that will lead you past a historic logging camp and a 100-year-old white pine tree.

Take a Tour of the Flint Murals

The Flint Mural Project began in 2019 with a goal of having artists around the city create 100 murals by the end of 2020. Not only did these imaginative artists meet their goal — they exceeded it.

This summer, visitors can travel through downtown Flint and discover more than 160 murals that depict what life is like in this thriving urban area. Not only will you be impressed by the diversity that is depicted in the mural and amazed by the bright, moving colors that are used throughout them, but you also will have the opportunity to discover the best-hidden gems that downtown Flint has to offer.

The mural tour will take you through the heart of the city, allowing you to discover the locally-owned restaurants and shops that make this city what it is.

Note: Want to spend more time in Flint? We recommend kayaking the Flint River National Water Trail for a unique Michigan thing to do!

Exploreflint Mural Cat Dog
photo via @exploreflint

Visit the Port Austin Reef Light

Like many other Michigan lighthouses around the state, the Port Austin Reef Light canceled all of its 2020 tours due to the pandemic. However, this summer, it is open for visitors again, and now is the perfect time to explore one of the most unique lights along Michigan’s shores.

The Port Austin Reef Light is distinct because it does not sit on the mainland. In fact, it is located almost a mile away from the shore at the entrance to Saginaw Bay. This light was built in the middle of the 19th century, and it continues to serve as a navigational tool for boaters who want to avoid the dangerous reef in the area.

Known to locals as Port Austin’s ‘Castle on the Lake,’ this tour is not to be missed by anyone who is interested in the history of the Thumb.

Pick Flowers at Fick Farms in Lapeer County

There’s nothing quite like a Michigan summer spent on the farm, and Fick Farms is perhaps the most iconic farm in Lapeer County.

Not only does this farm host regular farmer’s markets for local growers to sell their freshest fruits and vegetables, but it also has a U-pick flower patch where guests can gather their own blooms to create a colorful bouquet.

In fact, many local brides have found that this is the perfect place to create a wedding bouquet that they will hold when they walk down the aisle. 

Fickfarms Wanderinweili
photo courtesy of @wanderingweili

Meet the Candy Man in Marine City

Located on the shores of the St. Clair River, historic Marine City is home to many attractions and points of interest. None, however, are quite as delicious as The Sweet Tooth — the nostalgic candy shop that is situated on the riverfront.

The Sweet Tooth is run by a friendly man who is known to both locals and visitors as The Candy Man, and he makes it a point to have every type of confection you could imagine in his store. In fact, there are candy bits and pieces available from every decade — beginning in the early 1900s and continuing through modern day.

It’s not only kids that can’t resist the treats in this shop, but also the adults who are delighted to find their favorite candy bar from their youth.

Watch Both the Sunrise and the Sunset in Huron County

Michigan is famous for its freshwater coastline, but there is only one place in Michigan where you can enjoy both a sunrise and a sunset over the water — and that’s in the Thumb.

Situated at the tip of the Thumb, Huron County boasts several parks and beaches where you can experience sunrises and sunsets.

There’s nothing quite like arriving at the beach in the early morning hours in order to watch the sun creep up above the water line and staying until dusk, when the sun fades away on the other side of the peninsula, pulling shades of lavender and rose along with it.

Lake Huron Beaches In Michigan

Step Aboard the U.S.S. Edson in Bay City

History buffs who are exploring the Thumb and Bay Area will not want to miss the opportunity to tour the U.S.S. Edson, which is docked on the Saginaw River in Bay City.

The U.S.S. Edson is a decommissioned naval destroyer, and visitors are able to tour it seven days a week during the summer months. 

Feast on a Thanksgiving Dinner This Summer in Kawkawlin

If you drive through Kawkawlin, it’s impossible to miss The Turkey Roost — it’s the pink restaurant located in the center of town. Founded in 1955, this restaurant has long been famous for its delicious turkey dinners.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t have a full Thanksgiving meal in the middle of the summer — you are going to need your stamina to keep exploring this wonderful state.

Thanksgiving Dinner Everyday At The Turkey Roost In Kawkawlin Michigan
photo courtesy of @austinh_88

More to Explore During Summer in Michigan

Whether you want to take a road trip around Michigan’s thumb or you’re looking to set up camp for a few days, there are so many great things to do in Michigan’s Thumb & Bay area.

Tell us what your favorite summer things to do in East Michigan are!

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