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Michigan’s Blue Water Area: Discover the Michigan Thumb Coast

michigan blue water area - michigan's thumb coast
Michigan’s Thumb Coast Area

With over 140 miles of shoreline, Michigan’s Thumb Coast in the Blue Water Area is a playground for nature lovers.

A handful of coastal resort communities line the shores of Lake Huron and the banks of the St. Clair River, offering plenty of trails for hiking or biking and seemingly endless beaches for relaxation and fun.

You’ll find everything from sprawling waterfront parks (perfect for watching the freighters go by) and with waterfront cafes to charming beachtowns with bustling marinas and sandy beaches.

Whether you’re looking to escape to the woods or get out on the water, there’s something for everyone on the Thumb Coast. From Algonac and Marine City to Port Austin, explore the shores of Michigans Blue Thumb Coast and discover the Great Lakes Splendor.

I’ve put together a guide to some of my favorite stops along Thumb Coast, so read on and start making plans for a pure Michigan roadtrip to one of Michigan’s best-kept secrets!

marine city michigan- michigan's thumb coast area

Things to Do in Marine City MI in the Blue Water Area of Michigan

Spot Freighters From Algonac State Park
8732 River Rd, Marine City, MI 48039

Famous for phenomenal views of freighters traveling the St. Clair River, Algonac State Park is a favorite destination in Marine City. Explore 1,550 acres of dedicated parkland, filled with riverfront views, campgrounds, and trails, including the 52-mile-long Bridge to Bay Trail.

See a Show at Riverbank Theater
358 Water St, Marine City, MI 48039

Step into the historic Marine Savings Bank Building and be transported back in time to the early 1900s. This building now houses the Riverbank Theater, the premier destination for all of Marine City’s biggest shows. Be sure to visit the sister location, Snug Theater, for more intimate plays and musicals as well.

Try a Pierogi from Helena’s Country Market
6005 Marine City Hwy, Marine City, MI 48039

For authentic Polish cuisine on Michigan’s Blue Thumb Coast, there’s no better place to go than Helena’s Country Market. Here, you’ll find Polish classics made just like your grandma used to make, all because Helena herself, who immigrated to the U.S. from Poland in the 70s, is in the back cooking up the food.

The Mariner in marine City - Michigan blue water area

Explore The Mariner
430 S Water St, Marine City, MI 48039

For a shopping experience unlike any other, stop at The Mariner in downtown Marine City. This complex was formerly a theater, but today it’s a unique venue for shops, arts, and music. Shop around cute local boutiques or listen to some live music on the stage – either way, you won’t find any other place like this in the thumbcoast area.

Have a Drink at TwoRivers Winery
218 S Water St, Marine City, MI 48039

With over 60 blends all crafted on site, it’s no wonder TwoRivers Winery is the place to relax with a high quality glass of wine. Born from a love for wine and the lifestyle of the Lake Huron coast, TwoRivers Winery presents a comfortable and relaxed environment that highlights their outstanding wine collection.

marine city fish company - Michigans thumb coast

Try The Fresh Fish at Marine City Fish Company
240 S Water St, Marine City, MI 48039

This comfortable, laid-back restaurant in Marine City is a destination for diners across the state of Michigan, who flock here for the fresh fish and amazing views of the St. Clair River. Fun memorabilia lines the walls, and there’s patio for outside dining in the summer and fall. The fish is amazing, but be sure and leave room for some German Chocolate Cake for dessert!

Michigan blue water area
Photo from Blue Water Area CVB

Things to Do in St. Clair

Grab a Pint at LaCroix’s Riverside Pub
314 Clinton Ave, St. Clair, MI 48079

LaCroix’s Riverside Pub is known in the St. Clair community as “The Hometown Gathering Place.” Here, residents gather for delicious homemade food and catch up over a few drinks. If you order their famous ribeye, perch, or cod dinners you won’t be disappointed. Otherwise, try or any of the homemade soups on the menu, or even the nachos, made with scratch-mad chips,

Appreciate Maritime Art at Cap’n Jim’s Gallery
201 N Riverside Ave Suite A3-2, St. Clair, MI 48079

This unique art gallery is one you shouldn’t miss. Home to Jim Clary’s artist proofs and remarques of maritime artworks that are all highly prized and continue to appreciate in value each day. Whether you’re an avid admirer of all things art, or particularly interested in maritime history, a stroll through the gallery will inspire you. Many of these prints are available for sale as well.

Go Boating Near St. Clair Boat Harbor
902 S 2nd St, St. Clair, MI 48079

The St. Clair Boat Harbor is one of Michigan’s top recognized recreational harbors, filled with plenty to do for boaters of all kinds. Aside from providing a place for boats to be docked with abundant resources for boating needs, many of the best and most well-loved local restaurants are just a short walk away, making this the heart of St. Clair’s riverfront activity.

michigan thumb area vacation guide

Ride a Horse at Pine River Stables Inc.
1200 Stein Rd, St. Clair, MI 48079

Whether you’re an experienced horseback rider or a novice interested in trying to mount a horse for the first time, Pine River Stables is the perfect place to experience the joy and wonder of traversing a trail on horseback. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the shore and escape into nature for a moment.

Kayak the Blueways of St. Clair – Pine River Paddles
902 S 2nd St, St. Clair, MI 48079

Rent some kayaks by the hour from the St. Clair Marina and coast along the Pine River. Start where you rented the kayaks and explore your way around the 8.4 mile stretch of water available to you. Stop for a picnic at “Turtle Beach” during lunch and enjoy the amenities there, including a picnic shelter and portable toilet, before finishing up the last leg of the trip.

Things to Do in Marysville

Admire Cars at the Wills Sainte Claire Automobile Museum
2408 Wills St, Marysville, MI 48040

When we think about Michigan’s auto industry, we think about Henry Ford, but there were other influential people making their mark in the field at the same time. C. H. Wills was one such person. His vision for the design of the perfect stylish automobile lives on today at the Wills Sainte Claire Automobile Museum, where car enthusiasts can admire his work.

Dine at Junction Buoy
1415 River Rd, Marysville, MI 48040

There’s no better place in Marysville to dine than at Junction Buoy. This restaurant located right on the riverfront means you can watch Great Lakes freighters travel the St. Clair River as you dine on delicious food. There’s no better spot in town to relax, eat, and admire the awe-inspiring ships that cruise the Great Lakes.

Book a Tee Time at Marysville Golf Course
2080 River Rd, Marysville, MI 48040

If you love golf, Marysville Golf Course is sure to please. With 18 holes to play, this full-sized course is a high quality golfing experience with stellar views of rolling green hills adjacent to the St. Clair River. There’s simply no better place for riverfront golfing.

Michigans blue water area
Photo From Blue Water Area CVB

Educate Yourself at Marysville Historical Museum
887 E Huron Blvd, Marysville, MI 48040

Located in what used to be Marysville’s City Hall, the Marysville Historical Museum now serves as an education establishment, showcasing local history and a way of life belonging to a bygone era. Explore every room, each one dedicated to different areas of interest, including ships, automobiles, local history, and more.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Marysville City Park
867 E Huron Blvd, Marysvill, MI 48040

Marysville City Park is a popular place for people to get outside without leaving town. 58 acres of land are dedicated to outdoor fun, including a splash pad, picnic areas, playground, a boat launch, beach, and more. Check out the summer music series at the amphitheater or explore the full-sized Detroit Edison Company train engine and coal car that are permanently stationed here.

ultimate guide to port huron michigan

Things to Do in Port Huron

See the Blue Water Bridge
1410 Elmwood (entrance on 10th Ave.), Port Huron, MI 48060

The Blue Water Bridge, like Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, is a vital link that connects the United States to Canada. Since its construction in 1936 visitors have marveled at and traveled across the bridge, making this gateway to our northern neighbor a must-see of anyone visiting Port Huron.

Learn at the Port Huron Museum
1115 6th St, Port Huron, MI 48060

The Port Huron Museum is home to a collection of learning institutions, including the Carnegie Center, the Huron Lightship Museum, the Thomas Edison Depot Museum, and the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. With something new to see and learn at each location, spending a day museum-hopping offers peak edutainment value.

Michigans's blue water area- discover the blue thumb coast

Climb Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
2802 Omar St, Port Huron, MI 48060

Book a tour at Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Michigan. With an impressive height of 82 feet and a history dating as far back as the 1820s, this structure is sure to delight any history buffs or maritime enthusiasts.

Go Ship Watching at the Great Lakes Maritime Center
51 Court St, Port Huron, MI 48060

Sitting at the junction of the Black River and the St. Clair River, the Great Lakes Maritime Center has the best views of the water and the ships that traverse it. See everything from massive freighters to tiny sailboats pass by as you admire maritime artifacts that teach you about the history of sailing on the Great Lakes.

Take a Ride with Huron Lady Cruises
102 Huron Ave, Port Huron, MI 48060

Enjoy a romantic night on the water as a couple or a fun-filled voyage for the whole family with Huron Lady Cruises. Book a sightseeing cruise, dinner cruise, or have a private catered party complete with a full bar aboard a U.S. Coast Guard-inspected vessel.

lexington harbor - michigan thumb coast area

Things to Do in Lexington

Watch the Sunrise Over Lexington Harbor
7411 Huron Ave, Lexington, MI 48450

Lexington Harbor is one of two harbors in Sanilac County, but one of the most beautiful on all of Lake Huron. Watch as the sun rises over the water and showers the harbor in morning light. Then spend the afternoon at the adjacent beachfront park complete with a play area and a picnic area.

Relax and Play at Lakeview Hills Golf Resort
6560 Peck Rd, Lexington, MI 48450

Lakeview Hills Golf Resort boasts two golf courses, making it a popular destination for avid golfers. While this is one of the top golfing destinations in the area, it’s also a gorgeous wedding venue for those looking to get married along the Lake Huron Shore.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Scoops of Lexington, FKA Temptations Ice Cream Parlor
5717 Main St, Lexington, MI 48450

Located on the property of The Lexington House, Scoops of Lexington is the premier destination for ice cream in downtown Lexington. From hand-dipped ice cream, old-fashioned milkshakes and malts, and homemade waffle cones, there’s a hand-crafted chilly treat for every taste. This is another favorite stop in the Michigan blue water area.

Go Wine Tasting at 3 North Vines
5940 Peck Rd, Croswell, MI 48422

Take a day trip to Croswell to visit 3 North Vines, a lovely vineyard on Michigans thumbcoast. As you try some new wines, sangrias, or ciders and relax, you’ll realize why this venue is a highly popular wedding destination. For a more casual environment with the same high quality experience, visit 3 North Lexington Taphouse & Eatery in downtown Lexington.

Cross the Croswell Swinging Bridge
Maple St, Riverbend Park, Croswell, MI 48422

In nearby Croswell, the Croswell Swinging Bridge claims to be the longest of its kind in Michigan. Cross the bridge over the Black River as the wind gently swings the bridge underfoot. It’s a thrilling experience, with plenty of natural beauty around to ground you, even while suspended on this historic swinging bridge.

port Sanilac - Michigan's thumb coast

Things to Do in Port Sanilac

Port Sanilac Lighthouse
85 S Lake St, Port Sanilac MI, 48469

The Port Sanilac Lighthouse is one of many important historical lighthouses in Michigan. This one in particular has been around since the late 19th century and continues to operate today, guiding the ships in Lake Huron around Michigan’s thumb.

Explore History at Sanilac County Historical Village and Museum
228 South Ridge St, Port Sanilac, MI 48469

Home to more than a dozen historical buildings spread across 10 acres, the Sanilac County Historical Village and Museum is a popular destination for history buffs. See interesting historical and cultural artifacts as you learn about the way of life on the thumbcoast pre-modern era in a fun and unique way.

Find Fresh Food at Port Sanilac Farmers Market
228 South Ridge St, Port Sanilac, MI 48469

If you’re in town for the season, the Port Sanilac Farmers Market is the perfect place to find locally grown produce and plants. Hand crafted items are also sold at the farmers market, meaning you could find the perfect hidden gem item or a handmade good to take with you when you go.

Dive Shipwrecks with Four Fathoms Scuba Diving
7320 Main St, Port Sanilac, MI 48469

Four Fathoms Scuba Diving challenges the truly adventurous to take the plunge below Lake Huron’s surface and explore the world beneath the Great Lakes. Specializing in introducing divers to shipwrecks, participants are brought to the bottom of the lake to see the ships that now lie at the lakebed. This is one of my favorite things to do in Michigan’s Blue Water Area.

Have a Meal at The Stone Lodge
156 South Ridge Rd, Port Sanilac, MI 48469

One of the best restaurants in Port Sanilac, The Stone Lodge, is waiting for you. After a long day exploring town, unwind with a delicious homemade meal. Plus, with its diet inclusive menu, including gluten free and vegan options, there’s something for everyone at the Stone Lodge.

harbor beach- michigan thumb coast

Things to Do in Harbor Beach: Michigan Blue Water Area Must-Visit

Visit Harbor Beach Lighthouse
1 Ritchie Dr, Harbor Beach, MI 48441

Built in the 1800s, the Harbor Beach served a vital role as a lifesaving station and was one of the busiest of its kind on Lake Huron. While the port is less busy today, the light is still operational and anyone interested in lighthouses, their role on the Great Lakes, or maritime history should visit it.

Hike Brian Backus Nature Trail
1255 Pierce Rd, Harbor Beach, MI 48441

Take a trek through the Brian Backen Nature Trail and enjoy the great outdoors. As you enter from north park, a covered bridge will welcome you to the trail. Whether you take a walk around the trail or spend the afternoon just relaxing in the gazebo, there’s no wrong way to use the space.

Rent a Ride at HB Jet Ski
One Trescott St, Harbor Beach, MI 48441

Rent a jet ski on Michigan’s Blue Thumb Coast at HB Jet Ski of Harbor Beach. Located in Lincoln Memorial Park, visitors are able to rent jet skis to ride in the harbor. This is the perfect way to spend a hot summer day in Harbor Beach.

Unwind at Smalley’s Bar & Grill
130 S Huron Ave, Harbor Beach, MI 48441

If you’re looking for a small local bar to eat, drink, and socialize, then Smalley’s is the place for you. Unwind after a day full of activity and have a pint or two as you dine on reasonably priced bar favorites. It’s a simple, yet great way to end a day.

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About the Author-

Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor for mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.