Port Huron Michigan (pop 30,000) is the town located at the southern base of Lake Huron. It is the start of the Lake Huron Circle Tour. Port Huron has a long cement walkway that stretches for miles along the Saint Clair River. There are also walking paths along the Black River which empties into the larger Saint Clair River. There are beaches at the end of many roads.
The bases of the Blue Water Bridges are also found in Port Huron. If you are planning to use the Blue Water Bridges to and from a trip to Canada or as a starting point for a drive along the lake around the thumb of Michigan, Port Huron is an interesting town to visit, eat in, swim or wade in or just enjoy the beaches. It is considered the starting point for the Lake Huron Circle Tour that is driven by many motorcycles and cars each year.
Port Huron is a river town. This means that if you head downtown there will be draw bridges. They are used often as they are the town’s major thoroughfares. Port Huron operates 2 Bascule draw bridges. The official word is that they only need to open on the hour and the half hour. This may seem to be slightly stretched to mean open on boat signal.
Here are my top ten things to do in Port Huron, MI.
1. Ride the Blue Water Trolley.
The 10 cent Trolley Ride is one of the best values in town. As one circles through the city during the hour-long air conditioned tour you find where the other places are that one wants to visit while in town. The Blue Water Trolley runs mid-June through early September.
2. Boat Night and Family Boat Night.
These two nights are when the town and the Port Huron to Mackinaw sailboat racers celebrate the start of this leg of the sailboat races. The sailboats pull into town and park three abreast along the Black River so people can see what the sail boats look like, who is working crew what sailboat and enjoy the festivities.
3. Climb up in The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse.
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The original Fort Gratiot Lighthouse was built in 1825 and was the first lighthouse in the state of Michigan. Fort Gratiot Lighthouse originally was closer to where the bridge bases are. It was poorly constructed and one September a storm came through and later in the year the original lighthouse crumbled. The current Lighthouse was constructed in 1829 and was made with a much taller with a broader base. This time the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse was placed in a more advantageous spot for ships to be able to see it from both Lake Huron and the Saint Clair River. Additional height and better lighting were added in 1862 to help with the huge increase of ship traffic. There is a great historical compilation of Port Huron history in the Port Huron: 1880-1960 (MI) (Postcard History Series)
4. Walk along the Saint Clair River Walkways.
If you park under the Blue Water Bridges take the time to visit the Thomas Edison Depot, officially known as the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Depot. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places (1977). The building is currently utilized as a tourist information center.
The first bridge span was constructed in 1937 and 1938 when it opened. The first span was renovated in 1999. The second bridge span is different from the first. Due to the first span being on the National Historic Register the second span could not look like or mimic the original Blue Water Bridge Span. The second span was constructed between 1995 and 1997. The Blue Water Bridges are lit at night for your viewing pleasure and many fishermen fish off the boardwalks both night and day.
6. Tour the Huron Lightship.
The Huron Lightship was acquired by the City of Port Huron by mandate of Port Huron residents and in 1972 became a part of Pine Grove Park. Tours are available and this is another site on the National Registry of Historic Places (1989). From 1935 until 1970 The Huron Lightship was stationed about 6 miles north of the Blue Water Bridge. There is information about the history of shipwrecks on Lake Huron in the book Tales From the Depths
7. Swim or Wade in Lake Huron.
There are several public beaches and 2 public swimming pools. There are beach areas at the end of a number of roads. The larger beaches are Lakeside with 900” of beach and Lighthouse which has strong currents. There are other beaches up in Fort Gratiot. The swimming pools are Court Street and Sanborn Pool. Both of the pool areas have toddler pools.
8. Ride a Raft in The Port Huron Float Down.
2013 Port Huron Floatdown with the Blue Water Bridge in the background
Every year the official word from the US Coast Guard is that the Port Huron Float Down is cancelled. Therefore no one is allowed to condone, sponsor, plan or promote. There is a website that is for information only. Because of lawsuit the Float Down is no longer organized. There are no safety nets. However the Coast Guard and the Police know that the Float Down will happen and that there will be people out there. The Port Huron Float Down is the third Sunday in August. Officially we aren’t there but many show up with rafts, canoes, coolers, tubes, water guns, a few thousand floaters and well, we float from Port Huron to Marysville. The “I Heart Port Huron, MI” | Michigan Love Unisex T-shirt is one of my favorites that has many symbols of the Port Huron Float Down.
9. Cool off in Knowlton’s Ice Museum.
The Knowlton Ice Museum tries to maintain and display 5000 items that were used when the ice was delivered to your door to go in the family ice box. Ice from the Upper Great Lakes was shipped all over, not just locally. This museum is the best in the US that displays this history. There are ice boxes, a restored ice wagon and more. It’s a great place to visit, still run by the family.
10. Listen to a great concert in Kiefer Park.
Kiefer Park is where the Port Huron summer concert series is held. There are great river views and good music.
Need a place to stay during your time in Port Huron? There are campsites on the water just north of town as well as hotels and motels in all price ranges and locations.