Bay port fish company

20 Things To Do Near Bay Port Michigan –  A Small Treasure Trove of Fun

In the heart of Michigan’s Thumb, where the whispers of Lake Huron’s waves reach every corner, lies Bay Port—a small town you might just miss if you drive too fast along M-25. Yet, it’s here, among the unassuming streets and the gentle lull of the lake, that you’ll find the soul of adventure beating strong. Legend has it that Bay Port’s calm was once broken by the raucous laughter of bootleggers docking in secret, and their Canadian whiskey quickly whisked away from the docks, which were hidden in fish boxes. Whether that’s a yarn spun by the locals or a piece of forgotten history, it adds a layer of mystique to this quaint Michigan town. Not to be deterred, we found plenty of things to do near Bay Port Michigan.

Historical Glimpses of Bay Port

Ora labora colony near today's bay port c1865
Ora Labora Colony Near Today’s Bay Port c1865

This small town, rich in history and mystery, traces its origins back to a time when pioneers and dreamers sought to carve out a piece of paradise on Earth. Notably, in the 1860s, a group of such dreamers established the religious utopian colony known as Ora Labora. This ambitious experiment in communal living homesteaded along the northern shores of Bay Port, aiming to blend spiritual living with the hardy realities of pioneer life. Although due to the conscription of just about all of the men, Ora Labora eventually dissolved, its spirit of community and faith in the face of adversity pre-dates the establishment of Bay Port that we experience today.

Historical Markers

Historical marker bay port fishing district
Historical Marker Bay Port Fishing District

As you wander through Bay Port, the whispers of the past are never far. The Bay Port Commerical Fishing District on Lakeside Drive stands as a living model to the town’s enduring relationship with Lake Huron, marking a history steeped in fishing and maritime life. This district, once the lifeblood of the community, reminds visitors and locals alike of the generations who have cast their nets into the vast waters, sustaining and being sustained by the lake’s bounty.

Historical marker great fire of 1881
Historical Marker Great Fire of 1881

Yet, not all of Bay Port’s history is marked by peaceful endeavors. The Great Fire of 1881, a catastrophic event that scorched the earth and sky for three relentless days, has its memories etched south of town. This devastating blaze reshaped the landscape and the community, leaving behind scars and stories of survival and rebirth.

Bay Port’s Historical Museums

The guardians of these stories, the Bay Port Historical Society, have meticulously preserved this rich history. Located at a cozy corner on Kuhl and Geiger roads, the society’s museum is a treasure trove of artifacts, photographs, and tales that knit together the fabric of Bay Port’s past. Visitors are invited to delve into the narratives that have shaped this community, from its pioneering days to its present tranquility.

Local Lore and Tall Tales

Old bay port cemetary
Old Bay Port Cemetary

Amidst the historical narratives, Bay Port also whispers tales of the supernatural. Considered one of Michigan’s most paranormally active towns, it’s a place where the veil between worlds seems particularly thin. The Old Bay Port Cemetery, with its weathered tombstones and serene silence, is a hotspot for ghostly encounters, where the spirits of the past are rumored to roam. Similarly, once a welcoming bed and breakfast, the now-closed Sweet Dreams Inn holds a spine-tingling reputation for its spooky history and spectral residents. These eerie sites offer a glimpse into the town’s darker lore, captivating the imagination of visitors and locals who dare to explore the mysteries of Bay Port.

Outdoor Adventures Around Bay Port

Fishing - things to do near bay port michigan

Bay Port, Michigan, nestled against the stunning backdrop of the Bay, is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The lake’s clear, calm waters beckon fishermen, boaters, and kayakers to explore its vast expanse, offering a sanctuary for those seeking both adventure and tranquility.

Fishing, Boating, and Kayaking

Wild fowl bay state wildlife area
Wild Fowl Bay State Wildlife Area – Michgan DNR

The heart of Bay Port’s outdoor allure lies in its access to Saginaw Bay’s rich fishing areas. Public access boat launches dot the landscape, providing seamless entry points to embark on your next aquatic adventure. These gateways open up a world of possibilities, from fishing in the bountiful waters of Wildfowl Bay, shore fishing in the many cuts and access areas to kayaking along the serene coastlines. The , with rich ecosystems and abundant wildlife, offers an immersive experience for those looking to connect with nature at its most unspoiled.

Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail

Kayaking on wildfowl bay
Kayaking on Wildfowl Bay

The “Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail” is a must-explore for kayakers. This water trail weaves around the thumb of Michigan, presenting paddlers with breathtaking scenic views and a peaceful retreat into nature’s embrace. The trail caters to all skill levels, ensuring that everyone from beginners to seasoned kayakers can find a segment of the trail to enjoy. Along the way, paddlers are treated to the stunning natural beauty of Michigan’s shoreline, wildlife sightings, and the gentle lull of Lake Huron’s waves.

Hiking and Nature Exploration

Beyond the water, the Sand Point Nature Preserve Trail Head invites hikers to wander through diverse habitats, from dense woodlands to open meadows, each step revealing the intricate beauty of Michigan’s flora and fauna. This trail, perfect for all ages, offers a tranquil escape and the chance to observe wildlife in their natural surroundings, making it an ideal outing for families or solo nature enthusiasts.

Family-Friendly Parks and Attractions

A view of bay port fish company from bc mcleish memorial park
A view of Bay Port Fish Company from BC McLeish Memorial Park

Bay Port is also home to several family-friendly parks and unique outdoor attractions. With its expansive green spaces and recreational facilities, the BC McLeish Memorial Park is a community hub for picnics, the Bay Port Fish Sandwich Festival and as a public boat launch with plenty of parking.  Similarly, south of town on M-25, the Brown Roadside Park provides a scenic spot for families to gather and picnic in a historic roadside park. In addition to its hiking trails, the Sand Point Nature Preserve serves as a sanctuary for both wildlife and humans alike, offering educational opportunities and a quiet place to connect with the natural world.

Whether you’re casting a line into the deep waters of Lake Huron, paddling along the heritage water trail, or exploring the lush landscapes on foot, Bay Port offers an array of outdoor adventures that promise to enrich your connection with nature. Each visit unfolds a new chapter in the great outdoors, inviting families, adventurers, and nature lovers to discover the untamed beauty and serene landscapes of this Michigan treasure.

Bay Port’s Local Cuisine and Dining

Bay Port, Michigan, offers a culinary landscape as rich and varied as the waters that define its borders. At the heart of this gastronomic adventure is the local specialty—seafood, with perch and walleye taking center stage. Thanks to the Bay Port Fish Company, which sits snugly along the lakeside, residents and visitors alike have access to some of the freshest catches that Lake Huron has to offer. This abundance of fresh seafood serves as a cornerstone for the local dining scene, weaving a flavor of the lake into every meal.

Bay Port Inn: A Tourist-Friendly Local Landmark

Bay port inn
Bay Port Inn

The Bay Port Inn stands as a beacon for food enthusiasts seeking to indulge in locally-inspired dishes. Its central location makes it an ideal gathering place, where the ambiance of historical significance and the promise of delicious meals merge. The Inn prides itself on a menu that features local seafood, offering patrons a taste of the lake’s bounty. Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty perch dinner or the subtle flavors of walleye, the Bay Port Inn delivers with flair and finesse.

Scenic Golf and Country Club: A Friday Night Tradition

Scenic golf & country club
Scenic Golf & Country Club

Another gem in Bay Port’s culinary crown is the Scenic Golf and Country Club, renowned for its Friday night fish fries. This weekly tradition has become a cornerstone of local dining, bringing together the community in celebration of good food and good company. Birdies Bar & Grill offer local favoriates such as hand packed burgers and homemade chips and onion rings. The fish fry offers a casual, yet deeply satisfying dining experience, with the freshest perch and walleye coated in a light, crispy batter, accompanied by all the classic fixings.

Lefty’s Drive-In: A Nostalgic Journey

For a taste of nostalgia, Lefty’s Drive-In is a must-visit during the summer season. Evoking the charm of the 1950s, Lefty’s is more than just a place to eat; it’s a step back in time. Known for their hand-packed burgers and thick, creamy shakes, Lefty’s offers a menu that’s both simple and utterly delightful. The vintage vibe, complete with classic tunes and a friendly atmosphere, makes every visit to Lefty’s a memorable part of the Bay Port experience.

Festivals and Cultural Events Near Bay Port

Bay Port, Michigan, and its surrounding areas are alive with community spirit and cultural vibrancy. This manifests through a series of events and festivals that draw both locals and visitors into a shared celebration of heritage, agriculture, and local cuisine. 

Michigan Sugar Festival in Sebewaing

Michigan sugar queen and her court.
Michigan Sugar Queen and her court.

Just a short drive from Bay Port, the Michigan Sugar Festival in Sebewaing heralds the onset of summer with a sweet note. Held in early June, this festival celebrates the region’s rich sugar beet industry with an array of craft booths, a lively carnival midway, and a grand parade that sweeps through downtown. It’s a perfect blend of agricultural heritage and family fun, offering something for everyone to enjoy.

Farmers Summerfest in Pigeon

As July unfurls its warm days, Pigeon, Michigan, becomes the hub of agricultural celebration with the annual Farmers Summerfest. This event honors the heartland’s hardworking farmers with a weekend brimming with activities. From parades showcasing the community’s spirit to live music echoing in the bandshell, the Summerfest is a delightful experience. Food enthusiasts can indulge in an array of culinary delights from numerous food trucks, while those with a competitive spirit can enjoy the thrill of a tractor pull. Additionally, the Historical Museum & Woelke Research Center opens its doors for those keen on exploring their family trees or diving into the vast collection of historical artifacts and research.

Bay Port Fish Sandwich Festival

The crown jewel of the Upper Thumb’s festival season is undoubtedly the Bay Port Fish Sandwich Festival, celebrated in early August. This eagerly awaited event unites the community in a gastronomic festivity centered around the iconic walleye fish sandwich—so generously portioned, it demands to be held with both hands. The festival not only showcases the local fishing industry’s bounty but also encapsulates the essence of Bay Port’s community spirit. Visitors from near and far flock to this event, drawn by the promise of delicious food, engaging activities, and the warm camaraderie that defines this lakeside town.

Quirky Finds and Hidden Gems Near Bay Port MI

While Bay Port, Michigan, and its surrounding areas are known for their stunning natural landscapes and vibrant community events, they also harbor a collection of quirky finds and hidden gems that await the curious explorer. These off-the-beaten-path attractions offer a glimpse into the unique character and history of the region, making them a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the area’s lesser-known side.

The Thumb Octagon Barn Agricultural Museum

Just a drive from Bay Port, the Thumb Octagon Barn is an innovative agricultural architecture and history. This unique barn, with its distinctive octagonal shape, is not just a marvel of design; it’s also a museum that offers a deep dive into the agricultural practices of the early 20th century. Visitors can explore the barn and surrounding buildings, participate in educational tours, and even enjoy special events that bring the farm’s history to life. The sense of stepping back in time and the barn’s architectural uniqueness make this a fascinating stop for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike.

The Sanilac Petroglyphs

The archer - courtesy michigan dnr
The Archer – Courtesy Michigan DNR

For those willing to venture further, the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park presents an intriguing connection to the past. Hidden within the park is Michigan’s most extensive known collection of Native American petroglyphs—rock carvings—dating back hundreds of years. These carvings offer a rare glimpse into the spiritual and daily lives of the area’s early inhabitants. A visit here is not just a walk through nature but a journey back in time, where each carving tells a story of a culture long gone but preserved through these ancient artworks.

The Old Bay Port Cemetery

The Old Bay Port Cemetery holds a particularly mysterious allure among the quirky finds and hidden gems near Bay Port, Michigan. As one of the oldest and, some might say, creepier graveyards in the Thumb area, it whispers tales of the past, with each gravestone telling a story of life and legacy. For years, this historical site was surrendered to the elements, its paths overgrown and markers obscured by nature’s relentless march. Yet, it remained a captivating site for those drawn to such places’ serene beauty and historical significance.

In recent years, a remarkable transformation has occurred thanks to the dedication of local volunteers. Recognizing the importance of preserving this link to Bay Port’s past, community members have come together for an annual cleanup effort, breathing new life into the cemetery. 

The Last Step of the Famous Bay Port Hotel

Img 3053
The Bay Port Hotel

Nestled along the quaint quiet of Ceder Street lies a relic of the past that continues to captivate the imagination of locals and visitors alike—the last remaining vestige of the once-famed Bay Port Hotel. This historical marker and solitary stone, which served as the step into the grand hotel, whispers tales of opulence, tragedy, and mystery.

The last trace of the bay port hotel
The Last Trace of the Bay Port Hotel

Established in 1886 and standing proudly until its closure in 1907, the Bay Port Hotel was not just a place of lodging but a monument to the lavish ambitions of its era. With 117 heated rooms, bowling alleys, pool tables, a casino, and even a barbershop, the hotel was a beacon of luxury sitting on the shores of Saginaw Bay.

Practical Tips for Visitors Coming to Bay Port Mi

Visiting Bay Port, Michigan, offers a unique blend of natural beauty, historical intrigue, and small-town charm. To ensure your trip is as enjoyable and smooth as possible, here are some practical tips for travelers planning to explore this delightful corner of Michigan’s Thumb region.

Best Times to Visit

Bay Port and its surrounding areas shine brightest from late spring through early fall. The summer months, particularly from June to August, offer warm weather that is ideal for exploring the outdoors, engaging in water activities, and attending local festivals. Early fall brings a splash of color to the landscape, making it a perfect time for hiking and photography. If you aim to catch specific events like the Bay Port Fish Sandwich Festival or the Michigan Sugar Festival, planning your visit around these dates can add a special highlight to your trip.

Local Accommodations

While Bay Port itself is quaint, nearby towns such as Caseville, Pigeon, and Sebewaing offer a range of accommodations, from cozy bed and breakfasts to lakeside rentals. Booking in advance is advisable, especially if you’re planning to visit during peak festival times or the summer months when the area sees an influx of visitors drawn to the beauty of Lake Huron and the charm of local events.

Wildfowl Bay Lodge: A Gateway to Natural Beauty

Nestled just off the scenic M-25, Wildfowl Bay Lodge emerges as a welcoming retreat for nature lovers, anglers, and families looking for a peaceful escape. Operated with a personal touch that only a family-owned lodging can offer, the lodge prides itself on providing clean, affordable, and pet-friendly accommodations. This makes it not just a place to stay but a cozy home away from home for both you and your furry friends.

Prime Location for Outdoor Enthusiasts

For those drawn to the allure of the great outdoors, the lodge’s proximity to both Wildfowl Bay and Saginaw Bay is nothing short of perfect. These waters are a haven for fishing enthusiasts, offering bountiful catches and serene environments. Boaters and kayakers will find easy access to explore the bays’ expansive beauty, while wildlife observers can delight in the diverse species that call this region home.

Planning Your Stay

Given the popularity of the area for its natural attractions and the lodge’s reputation for affordability and hospitality, it’s wise to plan your visit in advance. Contacting the lodge directly at +1(989)-550-0778 will provide the most current information on availability, services, and any specific policies or recommendations for making the most of your visit, including shore fishing access and other outdoor activities.

Transportation Tips

Having your own vehicle is the best way to explore Bay Port and its environs, as public transportation options are limited. This allows you to discover hidden gems at your own pace and venture into the picturesque countryside. If you’re flying in, the closest major airports are in Flint and Detroit, from where you can rent a car for the scenic drive to Bay Port.

Shopping and Souvenirs

The overflow attic gift shop
The Overflow Attic Gift Shop

For those looking to take a piece of Bay Port home, local shops and markets offer plenty of options. The Overflow Attic, a treasure trove of antiques, collectibles, and unique finds, is perfect for visitors searching for memorable souvenirs or gifts. Whether you’re looking for vintage decor, local handicrafts, or something quirky, you’ll likely find it here.

Local markets are also great places to sample and purchase regional products. Memorial weekend sidewalk sales, fresh, locally caught fish, handmade goods, and artisanal treats, these markets showcase the best of what Bay Port and its surrounding communities have to offer. They provide a wonderful opportunity to support local artisans and producers while finding something special to remind you of your visit.

Final Thoughts About Things To Do Near Bay Port Mi

Bay Port, Michigan, is a treasure trove of natural beauty and rich history, offering a serene escape on the shores of Lake Huron. From the mysterious tales of the Old Bay Port Cemetery to the inviting charm of the Wildfowl Bay Lodge, this quaint town captivates all who visit. Whether you’re drawn to outdoor adventures, local folklore, or simply the tranquility of lakeside sunsets, Bay Port provides a unique blend of peacefulness and exploration. The nearby towns of Port Austin and Caseville offer more room to explore.

We invite you to share your Bay Port experiences or tips in the comments and spread the word on social media. Help others discover the serene beauty and unexpected delights of this charming Michigan town, where every visit promises new stories and cherished memories.

Discover the Hidden Gems of Au Gres and Omer, Michigan

Michael Hardy

Michael is a travel writer and local historian. His work can be found on a number of websites and print publications.

View all posts by Michael Hardy →

Discover more from Better By The Lake

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading