The historic port city of Alpena is nestled between a lush green forest and a vast blue bay. Miles away from the weight of the world, a community founded on the fishing and timber industry, Alpena is now the place where history and heritage meld with relaxed outdoor adventure.
Alpena is known as the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes for its pristine natural landscape and insulation from the hectic life stress endemic to metro areas. To-do lists fade away with the rising sun in this charming small town.
Alpena and the surrounding area boasts more than 100 miles of groomed trails for hiking, biking, bird watching, and wildlife observation. More than 300,000 acres of open water, 1,000 miles of shoreline, 7 lighthouses including the tallest and oldest accessible lighthouses on the Great Lakes, more than 50 parks, and 43,000 acres of State forest land offer endless opportunities for sailing, fishing, exploring, swimming, and easing into the sounds of wind through the pines and waves meeting the shore. Tour the 18.5 mile accessible Bi-Path, winding through forests, along miles of Thunder Bay River, through quaint neighborhoods, past public art installations, and through the vibrant downtown district, with galleries, boutique shopping, farm-to-table food, microbrew, hard cider, ice cream and locally-vinted wine. Kayak at the 500-acre Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary, and lazily float around the reeds viewing painted turtles, otters, swans and Great Blue Heron.
Alpena is headquarters to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the United State’s first freshwater marine sanctuary. This underwater park protects a nationally significant collection of more than 100 shipwrecks in northwestern Lake Huron. Learn more at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. Enjoy a Stand Up Paddle Board outing to shallow wrecks and snorkel over the remains of impressive ships that helped build the nation. Or, hop on Lady Michigan, Alpena Shipwreck Tours’ glass-bottom boat, where you can see the wrecks through viewing wells, without getting wet. While you learn about the historic significance of these vessels, the breeze peels back layers of stress to leave you revived and refreshed when you arrive back on land.
The adventure continues after dark as Alpena is centrally located to 3 Dark Sky Preserve Parks, where light pollution is extremely low. This dark backdrop brings into focus the stars, planets, moon, and Milky Way in pure grandeur. Thompson’s Harbor State Park is one of the few remaining examples of ‘wet forested swale communities’ in Michigan, includes sweeping sand dunes, and supports one of the largest populations in the world of the threatened dwarf lake iris, Michigan’s state wildflower. Rockport State Recreation Area features a deepwater port, ghost village, shipwreck, rugged biking and hiking trails,12 sinkholes, and a 300-acre abandoned limestone quarry where visitors can collect up to 25 pounds of fossils from the Devonian Period. Negwegon State Park is mysterious, remote and pristine; allowing visitors to step back to a time when Northern Michigan was an undeveloped lumber reserve. All three parks are hotspots for viewing the night skies, as well as for discovering their individual uniqueness.
Whether you’re enjoying Alpena’s premier fishing that has been featured on international television, or watching a concert in the park; the surrounding natural beauty breathes life back into your smile. In Alpena you are reminded about what matters most in life–time spent with people you care about. You are invited to escape the stress of life and relax, restore, and rejuvenate in Alpena, Michigan; the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes.
Begin your adventure at VisitAlpena.com