"Vacation in Huron County"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, August 2, 2013

Let’s go on vacation! Why?

We are always on vacation in Huron County or just about anywhere in the Thumb, especially in the summer.

Visitors travel here from all over the state, country and some from other countries to enjoy what many of us have nearby all summer long. If we do go on vacation, we can stay close enough to sleep in our own beds.

Locals and visitors enjoy views of Lake Huron’s azure blue water all along our shoreline. Beaches offer swimming, kayaking or lying on a blanket to sunbathe. Great restaurants are waiting to feed everyone who steps inside, and after a good meal it’s time to look for the ice cream parlor.

You can visit a different one each day of your vacation and not run out of new places to find ice cream. All you need do while in the Thumb is look for a long line of people and chances are you’ll approach a smiling face asking, “Have you decided on a flavor?” Some parlors build cones so high you can hardly eat it all and 90 percent of patrons wind up wearing samples on their clothing.

No, eating ice cream after dinner is not the only thing to do after dinner (just my favorite). You can take in a movie, play, concert, festival, or tavern; perhaps enjoy a sunset cruise on the lake or join those at a bonfire on the beach. There is always something to do for any age group. Visit one of the many day parks, play miniature golf, climb a rock wall, take a boat ride or go fishing in a creek or river. For serious anglers, charters are available all along the shoreline.

Many charter boats also offer sightseeing cruises to lighthouses or a venture offshore to an island. Last summer, I took a charter out to Charity Island for a step back in time. My captain, Tom Carriveau, knew exactly how to pick his way into the island’s harbor, which takes a bit of maneuvering. We docked up at an old-fashioned dock and a pleasant woman met us and offered a quick golf-cart ride to our destination.

We explored the partially restored Charity Island Lighthouse (Pat climbed to the top) and toured the newly built adjacent home that provides its own electric power. Tables were set up under cover nearby for refreshments and enjoyment of the dinners offered. The island outing is especially entertaining for botanists and bird watchers because of the large variety of rare plants and birds that gather there.

The trip to the island takes planning: call Captain Carriveau at 989-550-1234 to arrange a tour or for a reservation for a dinner cruise on a larger vessel. My family and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

Other destinations in the Thumb could be Grindstone City where grindstones were actually cut from shale. The area was a boomtown in the 1800s with more than 500 residents. About 3,000 tons of grindstones, some weighing as much as 7,500 pounds were manufactured annually until the advent of synthetic wheels that used metal, resins and various aggregates. Many quarry’s remain in the area; reminders of the past industry.

Harbor Beach has long boasted of having the “World’s Greatest Man-Made Harbor” with the largest inland breakwall.

Its history is full of exciting tales of rescues. In 1883, the local press reported 1,022 ships had found refuge during the shipping season. Boat trips to the restored lighthouse, which marks the entry to the harbor, are available. Dockage and ramp facilities are offered and a campground is within walking distance of the harbor. A Coast Guard Station serving the Lake Huron Thumb area is adjacent to the harbor. For information on activities contact the Chamber of Commerce at 989-479-6477.

An unusual destination to visit in the Thumb is the Octagon Barn in Tuscola County’s village of Gagetown just south of Huron County. Built in 1923, it stands four stories high and has an interior space of 8,600 square feet. During August, the Friends of the Octagon Barn host a variety of activates full of fun for the whole family. Call 989-665-0081 for additional information.

Another unique destination to visit is the Petroglyphs Historic State Park, located in Sanilac County just south of the Huron County line. The 240-acre park contains Michigan’s only known American Indian rock carvings dating back more than 1,000 years. Contact the DNR’s district office at 989-856-4411. They can also provide information on other state parks in the Thumb area.

Have a great vacation — right here in the Thumb!




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