8 Reasons to Explore & 11 Places to Stay In Port Austin Michigan

Looking for a fun place to vacation, explore and play. Stay in a town on the beach where you can see both sunrise and sunset from the same spot.  Do you have a boat? How about bringing your boat to a world-class protected freshwater harbor? This port is where you can walk to town for groceries and supplies for your Great Lake cruise. We also look at places to stay in Port Austin Michigan.

If this type of town appeals to you, you should visit Port Austin, Michigan. A summer resort-town treasure perched at the tip of the thumb. Beachgoers like Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay’s smooth sand and warm waters go to Michigan’s thumb region as a favored vacation spot.

Port Austin, Michigan, should be on your trip itinerary if you appreciate touring historic lighthouses, discovering new ice cream, sampling a natural, old-fashioned phosphate soda, sipping a craft beer, or visiting a butterfly garden. 

Learn about a Michigan beach vacation destination brimming farmers’ fairs and local events throughout the summer months. It will likely place Port Austin on your itinerary for a future visit. It could be the spot for you and your significant other to share a great gift for each other.

#1 What is Port Austin Mi Known For?

It’s a charming lakeside holiday destination with one of the state’s largest outdoor farmers’ markets. Each stall at the market is stocked with fresh in-season produce, flowers, and homemade baked goods. You can also find, fresh fish, smoked jerky, and tons of crafts and vintage ware. This is a must-see for any visitor to the area. In addition, the Port Austin Farmers Market draws big crowds every Saturday morning, brings in fresh vegetables from nearby farms.

A journey to a relaxed environment in Port Austin transports you back in time. Several of the downtown’s historic structures dating back to the 1800s lumbering era. Today, they are home to modest cafés and one-of-a-kind retail businesses that line Lake Street, which leads to the harbor and the state docks on Lake Huron.

The large and walkable Port Austin State Harbor, complete with a large pier to venture out into the lake that juts out into the bay’s clear blue waters, is a Port Austin centerpiece. Also near the harbor is Bird Creek County Park, known for its boardwalk-lined beach and splash pad for the kids. 

Port Austin Is Close to Fun Local Attractions To Explore

Turnip Rock

The Huron County Nature Center is a 120-acre natural arboretum with pathways that connects pristine woodlands, dunes, and marshlands.

Port Crescent State Park is nearby, and it is home to one of Michigan’s most extensive beaches and one of the state’s Dark Sky Preserves.

Grindstone City, located just east of Port Austin, was the site of one of Huron County’s original enterprises. The quarry used to be the world’s most significant manufacturer of grindstones, which are used to sharpen saws, knives, and other equipment. The little town is also home to White Church Art Gallery, which offers over 30 Michigan artists. 

Turnip Rock is a spectacular rock structure off the shore of Port Austin that is only accessible by kayak. However, if you have the skills and calm weather, you could head out to the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse or paddle the Broken Rocks Route, a scenic water trail.

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Port Austin’s Seasonal  Weather

Port Austin is never too hot or chilly because Lake Huron is just north. The lake acts as a weather barrier. (However, a tornado did pass over the southern side of town in 2021.) The town’s weather is deliciously warm throughout the mild summer months, from May to mid-September. From 70 F to 90 F, warming the shallow bay waters to a perfectly swim-able temperature.

Winters are generally mild too. With temperatures averaging 20F to 40F when snow is on the ground. Each February, the town gets together for a weekend of fun during their annual POrt Austin Winter Carnival. 

Port Austin Sunrises and Sunsets

Port Austin is set along the extreme northern edge of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay. However, due to its unique location near the tip of the Michigan Thumb, Port Austin’s coast is direct to the north. This means visitors who are early risers enjoy a sunrise from the harbor or beach and witness a gorgeous sunset over the water from that very same spot in the evening.   

Port Austin Beaches

The beaches around Port Austin, Michigan, are among the most beautiful, and their shallow waters with no undertow mean it’s safe for kids.

The Veteran’s Waterfront Park is situated in the Village of Port Austin. The park has a small swimming beach, a playground, a volleyball court, picnic areas, bathrooms, and a veteran’s memorial.

Take the kids to Bird Creek Park on the other side of the harbor and let them play in the splash pad. Travel seven minutes southwest along Port Austin Road towards Caseville to locate Port Crescent State Park, home to some of Lake Huron’s only dunes.

Continue to find Jenks McGraw, Oak Beach, and Philp County parks. Each with facilities and wide-open beach access.

Explore, Eat and Imbibe in Port Austin 

Lighthouse Café

Don’t miss these favorite Port Austin gallery’s cafes and pubs:

Lighthouse Cafe – A welcoming breakfast and brunch restaurant located at the water’s edge where M-53 (the major route from Bad Axe, MI) terminates. Home-cooked meals are available, as is a view of the water.

PAKS Backyard – A quaint and cozy cafe with a beer garden that is a favorite summer destination. It has a beautiful perspective of the bay and allows you to observe the kayaks as they travel to and from Turnip Rock.

Shops & Galleries in Port Austin

The Cove – A few years ago, local artists got together and created one of the finest art galleries in the state. Located steps away from the Port Austin Farmers Market. It’s a great place to find a unique piece for your cottage or Michigan-themed art collection. 

Port Austin Dime Store – Travelers have stopped by for souvenirs and other beach goods for years. It still sells everything from homemade fudge to beachwear and is a great place to get some Port Austin stuff.

Port Austin Kayak and Bike – If you’re visiting Port Austin, start here and choose between renting a bike or a kayak. This location provides all you need to explore Port Austinreferring. Everyone in the business is informed and eager to assist you in locating the best hiking trails, water trails, and biking routes. They’ll also talk about the neighboring Pinnebog River and the Thumb Heritage Water Trail.

Explore Nearby Huron County 

Grindstone General Store – This 134-year-old ice cream shop has continued to provide the biggest scoops of ice cream in the whole state of Michigan. 

Harbor Beach – This peaceful lakeside community near Port Austin has one of the best citywide trail systems, including the paved Harbor View Trail and the Backus Nature Trail for hikers and bikers alike. It is also a stop on the Thumb Heritage Water Trail, a 103-mile water trail that winds along Saginaw Bay.

Kayak to Turnip Rock – For those wondering, no, you can’t walk to Turnip Rock. It is not accessible by land. Instead, you must take a kayak out to this unique rock formation in the extreme northernmost tip of Michigan’s Thumb. The best local tip is to start your paddle during a calm morning and be back in time for lunch. You can rent kayaks at PAKs or put your own at Bird Creek County Park.

Knoblock Riding Stable – Spend the day riding the trails at these riding stables located outside of Port Austin.

Butterfly House – Walk a meandering route surrounded by gorgeous plants and flowers while learning about many distinct types of Michigan butterflies. The Butterfly House comes to life in early summer and remains open until the butterflies are released to travel south in early autumn. This is also a great place to park for the Port Austin Farmers Market. 

Lighthouses of Michigan Upper Thumb

Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse

Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse – Located in Port Austin, the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse is one of Michigan’s oldest working lighthouses. Pointe Aux Barques translates to “Point of the Little Ships,” a reference to the shattered pebbles and boulders along this stretch of Lake Huron’s shoreline. The US Coast Guard maintains this operating lighthouse in Lighthouse County Park, a wonderfully stunning location to explore.

Port Austin Reef Lighthouse – The Port Austin Lighthouse is located several miles off the coast of Port Austin. You can take a boat tour of this historic lighthouse on a rocky reef in Lake Huron. The light is now automated and fully operational.

Places To Stay in Port Austin Michigan –  Hotels, Motels, and Inns 

Port Austin, Michigan, has 11 hotels that provide a variety of lodgings. There is lodging for a long weekend to a month of vacation, ranging from romantic rooming at bed and breakfast to comfortable cottages and beachside apartments. As a year-round attraction, we sought the best places to stay in Port Austin, which big travel websites sometimes overlook. In addition, port with Austin provides a tranquil break from the summer hordes during the offseason.

Credits: Cover Photo by Brad West on Unsplash

21 thoughts on “8 Reasons to Explore & 11 Places to Stay In Port Austin Michigan

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