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PORT AUSTIN, MI Visitors Guide

turnip rocks in port austin

Plan a Trip to Port Austin, MI

If you’re looking for a fun place to vacation, put Port Austin on your bucket list today.

with a seemingly endless sandy shoreline perfect for swimming and splashing

If you enjoy exploring historic lighthouses, discovering ice cream stores with authentic, old-fashioned soda-fountains, trying new craft beer offerings, sandy dunes adventures, and visiting butterfly gardens, Port Austin, Michigan is the place for you.

Read on to discover a Michigan beach vacation spot that brims with fun during the summer month and put Port Austin on your bucket list today.

Explore Port Austin, MI

You’ll want to check out Port Austin, Michigan, a summer resort-town gem located at the tip of the thumb. The coast of Michigan’s thumb area has been a favorite vacation destination for beach-goers who love the soft sand and warm waters of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

A trip to laid-back Port Austin is a step back in time: the downtown’s historic buildings still house small cafes and unique retail shops that line Lake St., the town’s main street before it dead-ends into Lake Huron.

It’s a quaint and comfortable beach vacation spot, with one of the best farmers markets in the state: the Port Austin Farmers Market brings in fresh produce from the surrounding farms and draws large crowds regularly. It’s also one of the most popular farmers markets in the state!

mini golf station in port austin

Downtown Port Austin

The popular farmers market, teeming with fresh in-season produce and homemade baked goods is a must-see for any visitor to the area.

Beaches, parks and other spots for hiking and outdoor activities, both in and near Port Austin are abundant; there’s a lot of fun packed into this little town.

The large and well-manicured Port Austin marina, complete with a public beach, walkable cement pier, and break wall that juts out into the clear blue waters of the bay are a Port Austin centerpiece.

Fishing charters are available here, too: from ice cream cones to adventure camps, there is something for everyone here.

Port Austin is both fun and naturally beautiful; a village by the bay that offers quaint, small-town charm mixed with a resort-town vibe. Don’t miss this perfect resort town at the tip of the thumb!

Port Austin Harbor

Things to Do and See in Port Austin

Beautiful Port Crescent State Park, home to endless outdoors adventures. It’s also one of Michigan’s Dark Sky Preserves, and a great place to see the northern lights.

The Huron County Nature Center, a wilderness arboretum that offer 120 acres of unspoiled woods, dunes and marshlands completely connected by a trails.

Nearby Grindstone City, a Huron County ghost town that was once the world’s largest producer of grindstones used to sharpen saws, knives and other tools.

Follow Pointe Aux Barques Rd. east out of the town and you’ll find it. You might even want to explore nearby Port Hope, a scenic Lake Huron port town. White Church Gallery, which shares the work of 30 Michigan artists.

Turnip Rock, an amazing rock formation off that coast of Port Austin accessible by kayak. You can also kayak out to the Port Austin Reef Light or follow the Broken Rocks Trail, a picturesque water trail.

Veterans Waterfront Park, featuring a small swimming beach, playground, volleyball court, picnic facilities, restrooms and a veteran’s memorial.

The scenic walkway on the breakwater offers great views of Lake Huron, Port Austin Reef Lighthouse and the marina.

Bird Creek County Park, a day-use park covering seven acres featuring a wooden walkway, picnic shelters and a wide sandy beach. Bird Creek Park is just steps from Lake St, and offers beautiful waterfront views.

Port Austin

Port Austin Weather

Caseville’s weather throughout the warm summer months, May through mid- September, is the stuff dreams are made of.

Delightfully warm summer temperatures can range from 70 F to 90 F, warming the shallow bay waters to a perfectly swim-able temperature.

family walking on beach at sunset in port austin

Port Austin Sunsets

Port Austin is set along the shores of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay. Due to its unique location near the tip of the Michigan Thumb, Port Austin’s coast is west-facing.

For visitors, that means gorgeous sunsets over the water every evening as the glowing ball of fire sinks into the lake.

If you’re in the area, head to beach in the evening and try to catch a glimpse of a stunningly beautiful Port Austin sunset.

beach in port austin with kids playing and sand buckets

Port Austin Beaches

The beaches of Port Austin, Michigan are some of the prettiest and most-swimmable in the state.

Within the Village of Port Austin, you’ll find the clean and well-manicured Village Green and Veteran’s Waterfront Park. Travel southwest along Port Austin Rd. towards Caseville (only about 20 miles away) and you’ll find Port Crescent State Park, home to some of the only sand dunes along Lake Huron.

Continue on to find McGraw County park and more beautiful Huron County Parks, complete with wide-open beach access.

You can read more detailed descriptions about these beaches in our Guide to the Best Beaches in Port Austin. We also include information on ADA accessibility and dog-friendliness.

Huron County Parks

Port Austin is located within Huron County, which owns and operates some of the most beautiful lake Huron beaches around.

These beaches include two day-use beaches: McGraw Park and Philp Park , which are simple, clean, well-maintained…and extremely convenient.

Swing your vehicle into the parking lot and you’re greeted with a 180 degree vista of Lake Huron’s sparkling Saginaw Bay.

The wide beaches are spacious and comfortable: bring your cooler, stick your toes in the and enjoy a lovely beach day.

Oak Beach County Park, features swimming, fishing and 55 RV and tent campsites as well as a convenience store.

kayaks in port austin

Explore Port Austin and Huron County

Port Austin

Downtown Port Austin is a living history center: small boutiques, cafes and local businesses line Lake Street, the town’s main thoroughfare.

As far as shoreline communities go, this is pure Michigan small town heaven, and a fun spot to spend an afternoon exploring.

Don’t miss these favorite Port Austin spots:

Lighthouse Cafe – A friendly breakfast and brunch spot located where M-53 ( the main road from Bad Axe, MI ) ends at the water. Home-cooked meals and a view of the water, too.

Paks Backyard – A cute and comfortable cafe and beer garden that is a popular spot all summer long.

Port Austin Dime Store – For years, vacationers have visited this fun little spot for souvenirs and other beach trinkets. It’s still brimming with everything from homemade fudge to beachwear, and is a perfect spot so pick up a little bit of Port Austin swag.

Port Austin Kayak and Bike – Stop here first if you visit Port Austin, and decide between a bike rental or kayak…or maybe pick both. This spot has everything you need to explore Port Austin by wheel or water.

Everyone in the shop is knowledgeable and happy to help you find the best hiking trails, rock trail or bike route. They’ll also share interesting info about the nearby Pinnebog River and the Thumb Heritage Water Trail.

Turnip Rock in Port Austin

Explore Huron County

Grindstone General Store – This historic ice cream store is 134 years old – and has continued to serve the largest scoops of ice cream quite possible in the entire state of Michigan. Visit near dusk and catch glimpses of the deer that populate the pretty, wooded area.

Harbor Beach– This quiet, lakeside community not far from Port Austin boasts one of the best citywide trail systems including the paved Harbor View Trail and the Backus Nature Trail for hikers and bikers alike, and is also a stop on the Thumb Heritage Water Trail, a 103-mile water trail taht winds along Saginaw Bay.

Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse – Located not far from Port Austin near historic Huron City is the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses in Michigan.

Pointe Aux Barques is French for “Point of the Little Ships,” a testament to the broken rocks and boulders along this part of the Lake Huron coastline. This active lighthouse maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, in Lighthouse County Park and is a simply beautiful spot to explore.

Kayak to Turnip Rock – For those wondering, no, you can’t walk to Turnip Rock. You must take a kayak, paddleboard or other watercraft out to this stunning rock formation in the middle of Lake Huron.

It’s a 3.5 mile journey both ways, but this uninhabited tidal island is worth the trip. Visit Port Austin Kayak for kayak rentals, maps and more great information.

Horseback riding in Port Austin

Things to do in Port Austin

With the sandy dunes of Port Crescent State Park and the many beaches and county parks, you’ll never run out of beach in Port Austin.

If you decide to venture beyond the sandy shoreline, here are so fun things to do:

Knoblock Riding Stable – Stop by these riding stables just outside of Port Austin and spend the day riding the trails.

Butterfly House – Learn about several different species of Michigan butterflies while walking a winding path surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers. The Butterfly House comes alive in early summer and is open until the butterflies are set free to migrate south in early fall.

Port Austin Reef Lighthouse – The Port Austin Lighthouse is located 2.5 miles off the coast of Port Austin. You can take a virtual tour of this historic lighthouse that sits above a rocky reef in Lake Huron, which is still fully operational.

Historic Garfield Inn in Port Austin

Where to Stay in Port Austin

Hotels, Motels and Inns in Port Austin

Beachcomber Motel and Suites – Set right on shores of lake Huron, this cozy and retro motel is conveniently located right nest to the waterfront park, break wall and harbor.

The Garfield Inn – Built in the mid-1800’s, this stately manor was once a private home visited frequently by former President James Garfield. Now a luxurorius inn, this elegant residence features six rooms for lodging and includes three acres of country landscaping with a beautiful Victorian styled garden for rest and relaxation.

Lakeside Motor Lodge – Choose from lakeside cabins and motel rooms in downtown Port Austin.

Port Austin Vacation Rentals

There are a wide variety of vacation rentals in the Port Austin area, where you can find a private beach to enjoy the waters of Saginaw Bay, or you can choose cabins or privately-owned rentals both waterfront and in-town.

If you are looking to rent a cabin in Port Austin, try these links:

  • Airbnb
  • Dale’s Lakefront Cottages
  • VRBO
ultimate guide to Caseville michigan

Explore Nearby Caseville, MI

Caseville is just a short drive down the M-25 highway from Port Austin, and it’s a beautiful drive.

Although heavily dotted by private homes and cottages, it’s still easy to see the water along this coastal drive. There’s many roadside parks, too, to pull in for a picnic or bit of beach respite.