Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Port Austin, MI

  • Published 2021/12/02

In Huron County, Michigan, lies the small charming village of Port Austin.

Don’t let its land area fool you, though, because this place offers a few of the best outdoor experiences you’ll ever have.

For instance, Port Austin hosts the unique rock formation Turnip Rock, found on the northeast of town.

Likewise, you’ll even find Michigan’s prettiest sand beaches near Turnip Rock, too, at Port Crescent State Park.

Besides nature attractions, Port Austin also offers activities for travelers who prefer quieter activities.

You can visit the White Church Gallery and admire masterpieces from 30 Michigan artists.

Do you want to know more about Port Austin, MI? Check out this list below.

Admire the Night Sky at the Port Crescent State Park

View of Port Crescent State Park

Tim Fuller Photography /

If you’re tired of the noise and grime of the big city, go to Port Austin and check out the Port Crescent State Park, a short ride to the tip of Michigan’s “thumb.”

About three miles of the Lake Huron shoreline are available to you, making it an excellent beach for a day’s family-friendly relaxation.

On the other hand, Port Crescent State Park also offers one of the state’s seven dark sky preserves.

What are they?

View of Port Crescent State Park

ehrlif /

They are zones protected from light pollution, which means you can view the night sky in all its luminous glory.

So, bring out your binoculars and head to the park’s viewing platform for a romantic stargazing night.

Visit the Port Crescent State Park at 1775 Port Austin Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467.

View of Port Crescent State Park

Paper and Lens Co /

Grab Fresh Produce and More at the Port Austin Farmers Market

Port Austin opens its farmers market for everyone between May and October.

The market is a sprawling bazaar comprising over 100 vendors.

As you browse their stocks, you’ll find many fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, and dairy products.

Likewise, you can buy baked products, fish, flowers, and specialty foods.

After buying food, you can head to a particular two-acre site and buy souvenirs for your friends and family.

The vendors in this area sell things like antiques and unique crafts.

Visit the Port Austin Farmers Market at 17 W State St., Port Austin, MI 48467.

Splash Around at the Bird Creek Park

If you find yourself in Port Austin with nothing to do, why not make a day of it by heading to Bird Creek Park?

The seven-acre park is open for day use, and it offers several amenities to excite any tourist.

Once you get there, you can take a stroll along the wooden boardwalk that wraps around the beach.

Along the boardwalk, you’ll find picnic shelters where you can eat lunch with your companions.

These shelters also give you a terrific view of the white sand beach and the pristine blue sea.

Bird Creek Park also has a playground for your children, located near the big picnic pavilion.

Moreover, the park is an excellent starting point for kayaking to Turnip Rock, one of Michigan’s most beautiful geological formations.

Visit Bird Creek Park at 8746-8774, Lake St., Port Austin, MI 48467.

Explore the Waterfront at the Port Austin Marina

View of Port Austin Marina

haveseen /

The Port Austin Marina offers several maritime activities for interested travelers.

For instance, you can rent a boat slip for a trip along the waterfront, or you can also rent a kayak if you’re in the mood for adventure.

Moreover, the Port Austin Marina also sits a few meters away from several other hot destinations.

View of Port Austin Marina

haveseen /

You can grab a meal at the PAK Café & Beer Garden, which sits a few minutes’ walk away from the docks.

Otherwise, you can buy your outdoor gear and accessories at the nearby surf shop.

Or if you feel like going farther inland, you can simply walk toward downtown Port Austin.

Visit the Port Austin Marina at 119 E Spring St., Port Austin, MI 48467.

View of Port Austin Marina

Fsendek /

See Unique Art at the White Church Gallery

Art-loving tourists will surely appreciate a trip to the White Church Gallery, a haven for Port Austin artists and a historic building in its own right.

The gallery is located in a renovated old Methodist church, inside an abandoned 19th-century grindstone quarry.

Inside the gallery, you’ll find various works from artists all over Michigan.

These works comprise paintings, cartoons, stained glass, woodwork, jewelry, and furniture.

One of the gallery owners, Michael Zaitz, is also an artist, and you can find his surrealist works on display.

During the weekends, featured Port Austin artists hold open studios, where you can see the artists working on their latest masterpieces.

You can also buy artwork there.

Visit the White Church Gallery at 8686 Rouse Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467.

Grab a Snack at the Lighthouse Café

Walking around Port Austin should make you hungry, so end your stroll with a snack at the Lighthouse Café.

The café offers diners filling home-cooked meals with a full view of Lake Huron beach.

What can you eat there?

You can have your fill of homemade bread, burgers, sausages, and chili, among many others.

The café’s friendly ambiance will make you feel as if Port Austin has always been your home away from home.

It’s also one of the reasons travelers keep coming back to the Lighthouse Café, making it a top Port Austin destination.

After eating, you can resume your adventure by going to the nearby beach, the parks, or the pier.

Visit the Lighthouse Café at 44 W Spring St., Port Austin, MI 48467.

Chill Out at Pak’s Backyard Restaurant & Beer Garden

There are many ways to relax in Port Austin, Michigan.

However, Pak’s Backyard Restaurant & Beer Garden might be one of the best chill-out spots in town.

The place offers a variety of choices for the weary traveler.

Pak’s Backyard has a coffee bar with a full menu if you’re looking for a caffeine fix.

Likewise, Pak’s also carries a diverse selection of Michigan craft beer if you want to loosen up.

The restaurant prepares various delicious meals to pair with your drinks and satisfy your appetite.

For instance, you can order smothered fries, a shrimp platter, boneless chicken wings, and some good old burgers.

Visit Pak’s Backyard Restaurant & Beer Garden at 119 E Spring St., Port Austin, MI 48467.

Paddle Out to Turnip Rock

View of Turnip Rock

Craig Sterken /

From Port Austin, you can take your kayak to reach one of Michigan’s top-ranked natural wonders, the fittingly named Turnip Rock.

The rock formation got its name because of its turnip-like shape.

View of Turnip Rock

DaltonArwady /

Once you get there, you can get off the kayak and wade through the shallow water surrounding the rock.

Take all the photos you want of this majestic work of nature.

You’ll need to bring appropriate footwear to avoid slipping on the sharp rocks.

View of Turnip Rock

Craig Sterken /

Practice Your Swing at the Bird Creek Golf Club

Port Austin doesn’t just offer water activities, but it also has an expansive golf course for landlubbers to enjoy.

This course is the Bird Creek Golf Club, a serene course that offers a decent challenge for golfers of all stripes.

The 18-hole course is open to the public daily, and you can also sign up for memberships and other packages.

Even if you’re an amateur golfer, you can still have fun walking across the sloping greens and smooth-rolling fairways.

Visit the Bird Creek Golf Club at 7850 N Van Dyke Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467.

Support Local Artists at The Cove Art Gallery

Another art gallery you can visit in Port Austin is The Cove, a co-op gallery that opened in 2013.

Five artists in Michigan’s Thumb area decided to start their gallery to sell their works since hardly any opportunity presented itself in town.

Today, The Cove features work from more than 55 artists.

It has also become the number one destination for Michigan arts and crafts.

You won’t regret buying pieces from the gallery because every artist produces high-quality work, from paintings to jewelry and glasswork.

Visit The Cove Art Gallery at 8685 Lake St., Port Austin, MI 48467.

Play Miniature Golf at Sandy Dunes Adventure Golf

If you just want to swing some clubs around, you might want to go to Sandy Dunes Adventure Golf, an 18-hole miniature golf course with full amenities.

This unique course poses tricky challenges and obstacles for players, which should make for a full day’s fun.

Likewise, you can head to the course’s game room or dairy bar for some frozen yogurt.

You can also grab some soft serve and hand-dipped ice cream there.

Visit Sandy Dunes Adventure Golf at 2755 Port Austin Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467.

Go Wild at the Huron County Nature Center and Wilderness Arboretum

View of Huron County Nature Center and Wilderness Arboretum

ehrlif /

Since 1941, the Huron County Nature Center and Wilderness Arboretum have provided shelter to all manner of wildlife and plant life in Port Austin.

The Huron County Women’s Clubs operated the center until 1991, when they formed the Huron County Nature Center, Inc.

Today, the nature sanctuary remains true to its roots, which began as untouched land in Hume Township, Michigan.

The center is open to the public throughout the year, from dawn to dusk, and they ask for zero admission fees.

Inside the center, you’ll find various native plants, animals, insects, and fungi living together in a diverse ecosystem.

You can also follow one of the center’s many well-kept trails, going through sand ridges and shallow swales.

Visit the Huron County Nature Center and Wilderness Arboretum at 3336 Loosemore Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467.

Net a Big Catch With Fish Factory Sportfishing

Of course, your Port Austin trip should involve going on the water.

There are many ways to enjoy the town’s marine areas, and one of them is taking a fishing charter.

To get the most enjoyable experience, you won’t go wrong with Fish Factory Sportfishing, one of Port Austin’s best fishing charters.

Fish Factory Sportfishing offers leisure and sportfishing trips around Port Austin and Lake Huron.

If you don’t know how to fish, you’ll learn after a trip with Captain Chris.

The company also doesn’t want you to go back on land empty-handed, so they use modern techniques to help you land a good catch.

Visit Fish Factory Sportfishing at 3379 Pointe Aux Barques Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467.

Go Kayaking With Port Austin Kayak and Bike

From Port Austin, you can venture out to Lake Huron and admire its wonderful shoreline.

The Port Austin Kayak and Bike rental service provides kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to tourists who want to explore Lake Huron.

Likewise, Port Austin Kayak and Bike has a patio for you to rest your body after an arduous trip.

Grab a drink or a meal and scroll through your photo albums while admiring the nearby scenery.

You can also buy clothes and shoes there if you want to round out your trip.

Visit Port Austin Kayak and Bike at 119 E Spring St., Port Austin, MI 48467.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse

Also known as the “Castle on the Lake,” the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse is another major Port Austin landmark.

It stands two miles into Lake Huron on a shoal, which means only experienced kayakers should go there.

Moreover, they should go there only in calm weather.

However, when you do reach the lighthouse, you’ll see a spectacular view of the blue water around you.

You’ll also get up close to the old lighthouse, which began operations in 1878.

After a fire, they remodeled the building in 1899.

To get there, you need to go down the Port Austin Reef Light Trail.

Final Thoughts

Port Austin is a paradise of marine adventure, offering activities like fishing charters and kayaking trips.

The town is also generous toward local artists, which you can support by buying their pieces at various art galleries.

So, if you want to get away from the bustle of city life, make your way north to Port Austin today!

You won’t forget it.

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