Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Monroe, MI

  • Published 2022/08/08

Experience a journey across time with the best things to do in Monroe, Michigan.

This picturesque town on the western shore of Lake Erie, where the River Raisin meets the lake, is steeped in history and offers a window into the past and a route forward.

The Battle of the River Raisin, which took place during the War of 1812, was the biggest battle ever fought in Michigan.

Following President James Monroe’s death in 1817, a part of the Frenchtown community on the banks of the River Raisin was platted and called Monroe.

It wasn’t until Michigan became a state in 1837 that Monroe was declared a city.

George Armstrong Custer and several family members, including his brother Boston Custer and his wife Elizabeth Bacon, were all born and raised in Monroe.

Aside from its natural splendor, historical landmarks, art museums, a vibrant downtown, beautiful buildings, and unique events abound in this city.

Read on to learn about the best things to do in Monroe, Michigan!

Look Back on a Turbulent Past at River Raisin National Battlefield Park

Exterior of River Raisin National Battlefield Park's visitor center

Fsendek /

The establishment of River Raisin National Battlefield Park commenced in October 2010 and opened in May 2011.

Several newer National Park Service units commit to preserving, commemorating, and providing insight into the 1812 war in Wayne and Monroe counties in Southeast Michigan during January 1813.

Tecumseh’s alliance of American Indians won the battle handily, while the U.S. suffered its worst defeat.

The maxim, “Remember the Raisin,” helped sustain public support for the remainder of the conflict.

It was one of the greatest battles of the War of 1812, and just 33 of the approximately 1000 Americans that fought here survived.

Its visitor center features dioramas, life-size British, Indian, and American troops on exhibit, and a 17-minute video about the Battle of River Raisin.

The Visitor Center does not charge admission and is open year-round, every day of the week.

Have a Blast at Harbortown RV Resort

The best of our region is at your fingertips when you stay at Harbortown RV Resort!

If you want to discover an area rich in history and filled with exciting opportunities for outdoor leisure, make Harbortown your home base!

Swimming, an arcade, a mini-golf course, go-karts, and batting cages are some amenities offered in the clubhouse’s recreation facility.

At Harbortown RV Resort, we have 80 pull-thru sites that can accommodate even the largest RVs.

Whether you arrive in a motorhome or a rental cottage, you can count on finding the best camping deals in Southern Michigan near Lake Erie!

Go Fishing at William C. Sterling State Park

Welcome sign of William C. Sterling State Park

Fsendek /

A minor piece of William C. Sterling State Park lies inside the city borders of Monroe, Michigan.

However, most of the park lies in Frenchtown Charter Township. It is the sole Michigan park at Lake Erie.

Walleye fishing, three lagoons, and a sandy seashore along Sandy Creek’s mouth are all well-known draws for tourists and locals alike.

The waters of William C. Sterling State Park

Sarah Byers /

Enjoy Lake Erie shore fishing and boating from the park’s more than a mile-long sandy beach on its 1,300 acres.

Several fishing piers and kayak access sites are in and around the park.

Watching the large lake freighters from the shore is a treat for Boat Nerds.

You may see them entering the River Raisin, docked just south of the park.

Wildflowers around the lake of William C. Sterling State Park

David Lingholm /

Step Back in Time at Monroe County Museum

The Monroe County Museum occupies the former house of General and Mrs. Custer in a 1911 Georgian Post Office building in downtown Monroe.

Here, you may find one of the most extensive collections of antiquities about Southeast Michigan.

The exhibits also reflect historical materials and artifacts from the lives of Monroe County’s Civil War veterans and Native American Woodland culture, as well as information about the early French-Canadian settlers and Victoriana.

There are also displays about the early Woodland culture of Native Americans and information about the early French-Canadian settlers.

The museum’s enormous archives, a research resource for Monroe County history and genealogy, are worth a trip to Monroe.

The archives are visited by hundreds of students and scholars each year.

Monroe County has a wealth of information for genealogists, including transcriptions of vital records, obituaries, family trees, and cemetery indexes.

Take Photos with George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument

History marker and statue of George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument

Barbara Kalbfleisch /

Edward Clark Potter designed the George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument. “Sighing the Enemy” is the equestrian statue depicting a Civil War-era Custer.

Spot the lines “Erected by Michigan” on one side and “CUSTER” on the other side of the pedestal.

Although Custer was not a Monroe native, he spent a significant portion of his early years there with his family.

He attended school in the town due to that time spent there.

The two first met in their early years and were married in 1864 when he returned to marry his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth Bacon.

Statue of George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument

Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To attend the United States Military Academy and take part in the American Civil War, Custer moved away from Monroe.

He received the major general promotion because of his hard work and accomplishment throughout the war and the Union’s need for commanders.

He participated in the Indian Wars in the West after the Civil War.

On June 25, 1876, his devastating defeat and death at the Battle of the Little Big Horn eclipsed his prior victories in the American Civil War.

President William Howard Taft and the widowed Elizabeth Bacon Custer unveiled a $24,000, 14-foot bronze horse monument in Monroe in June 1910 to commemorate him.

Join Barn Owl Studio’s Wood Workshop

Rustic decor is a popular choice for interior design these days.

Customers at Barn Owl Studio may acquire a rustic chic style without breaking the bank by making their woodworking.

In addition to having a good time, the workshops allow clients to create something worth the bragging rights.

The two-hour session will enable students to participate in every element of the hands-on project after choosing a design before class.

Once the wood has been stained and sanded, you will place the decals and apply paint.

The decal may only be peeled off after a few minutes of drying, exposing a beautiful decoration ready to be exhibited!

The workshops are a terrific date idea for couples, a get-together with friends, or a chance to raise money for a good cause.

Everyone leaves with a piece of art at the end of the night, which is the most significant aspect of the event.

Catch a Glimpse of the Old Michigan at Sawyer Homestead

Exterior of Sawyer Homestead

Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Throughout Monroe’s long history, the Sawyer Homestead has played a significant role in the daily lives of its residents.

Francois Navarre, the town’s first white pioneer, lived here after buying the land from the Potowatomi Indians in 1785.

The property housed an army headquarters in Navarre before the Battle of River Raisin in 1813 by General Winchester.

The Sawyer Homestead now stands on the location of the house.

Throughout Monroe’s early history, the house and the land on which it rests serve as a reminder of a wide range of Michigan’s past.

The historic Sawyer Homestead will be included in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s historic conference guide as of May 1997.

Whether you’re hosting a private wedding reception, corporate luncheon, or dinner, you may rent out our facilities for your event.

The Sawyer Homestead benefits from the money raised.

Pay a Visit to River Raisin Marina & Campground

Port of Monroe Turning Basin lies on the north side of River Raisin Marina and Campground in Monroe, Mich.

John and Veronica run this marina & campground with the support of their three children.

To store their 50-foot sailboat in deep water, they bought the site that would become the River Raisin Marina.

Their bark, a 50-foot vessel, was acquired in 1987, and they spent five years traveling throughout the South Pacific.

They visited several exotic islands in the Pacific Ocean, such as Tahiti, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Australia.

As soon as he could, John sailed this vessel alone from Japan to Santa Barbara, California.

This spot appealed to them because they’ve been sailing for almost thirty years and have logged over 100,000 nautical kilometers.

Access to deep water (22 feet) into Lake Erie from the River Raisin is possible from this point.

At the River Raisin Marina, there are 72 deep-water wells for boaters to enjoy.

In addition, there is a launch ramp with plenty of space for vehicles and trailers to park them.

Guests of this marina & campground may enjoy a park-like environment on 28 acres.

East Elm Ave., at 2502, is directly east of I-75 at exit 14, making it easy to get there by boat or camper.

Pay Respects to Fallen Heroes at Monroe County Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Museum

Daytime view of Monroe County Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Dwight Burdette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For over 15 years, the Monroe County Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Museum have collected and displayed over 1500 genuine items from the Vietnam War Era.

These include everything from newspaper clippings and magazine articles to personal letters and dioramas of local service members.

On August 27, 1994, the city of Monroe added a Cobra Gunship at the memorial location.

This two-person craft often served as a backup to the Huey gunships during their numerous sorties over South Vietnam.

On May 17, 1987, the city unveiled the “Living Memorial” and the “Killed in Action/Missing in Action” memorials to commemorate those killed or missing in action.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Heck Park began with this.

The building’s entrance and restrooms are both wheelchair accessible.

There is plenty of room to park. However, contributions are always welcome.

Catch Performances at River Raisin Center for the Arts

River Raisin Centre for the Arts’ mission is to assist local arts groups by presenting high-quality performances, teaching art, and promoting art education.

A group of community leaders established the River Raisin Centre for the Arts (RRCA) in 1987 as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.

The founders’ vision was to turn the historic Monroe Movie Theater, built in 1938, into an arts hub in the heart of Monroe’s historic downtown.

The organization aims to teach, inspire, and enhance Monroe and the surrounding towns as the leading regional arts center.

The River Raisin Center for the Arts offers a variety of dance and theater programs, as well as a variety of musicals and holiday performances you may enjoy with the whole family.

Renting the theater is also an option.

Exercise and Get Active at Munson Park

Munson Park, the largest park in the city, provides ample green space for various outdoor pursuits.

It lies next to the Monroe Custer Airport on the city’s western outskirts.

The park features a walking trail around the park and biking and hiking trails through the meadows and forests.

There are also several sports fields for adults and children, including softball, baseball, and soccer.

They include a massive play structure for children to run and play on natural prairie grass and native woodland areas.

There are also community gardens and a skate park.

It’s situated adjacent to a small airport, so anyone there at the right moment may see helicopters and small planes take off and land.

Race with Your Friends at Go Karts Plus

Go Karts Plus in Monroe is a great place to try something new if you’re adventurous.

It’s one of the best things to do in Monroe if you visit with your family or friends.

There are plenty of lanes available.

Take a spin on the go-karts, putt-putt, batting cages, arcade, and more at this fun family entertainment facility!

Go Karts Plus is an ideal location for birthday parties, school activities, and group outings.

Unleash Your Inner Sherlock at Monroe Escape Rooms

Look no farther than Southeast Michigan for a new family-friendly activity.

Monroe Escape Room will test you and your pals as you try to escape.

The facility has four different puzzle rooms, each with a different theme.

No matter what themed room you choose, you’re sure to have a great time and take home a lot of fantastic memories.

Players must focus and solve all the riddles to complete the game in the allotted time.

Using your wits and quick response are the only skills required.

Try to solve the game and escape within 60 minutes!

Go Antique-Hunting at Serendipitous Vintage

Located at 403 East Front St. in downtown Monroe, Serendipitous Vintage is a unique vintage shop.

There are items for men, women, and children from the 1940s through the 1990s.

Glassware and housewares from the past are also on display.

Records, cassettes, 8-track tapes, VHS, CDs, and DVDs misplaced are all part of this collection.

Serendipitous Vintage also features toys from a bygone era Great assortment of rock t-shirts.

We’re the place for you if you’re a fan of all things retro.

See the Bonsai Nurseries at The Flower Market

You may find one of Michigan’s largest bonsai nurseries at The Flower Market.

It offers bonsai trees, terrarium plants, cactus, succulents, houseplants, and various containers and materials.

In its gift store, you’ll find everything from ceramics and garden art to fairy gardens and terrariums.

While you’re here, stroll around the serene outdoor bonsai garden and lush greenhouse.

You may also meet our resident greenhouse kitties.

If you’re planning an occasion like a wedding or funeral, The Flower Market is a full-service florist and can help you out.

Final Thoughts

Monroe’s historic attractions make it both a national and international draw.

Aside from its rich history, its natural resources like Lake Erie and the River Raisin offer a lot of family fun.

Try the best things to do in Monroe, Michigan; you’re in for a treat!

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