Port Huron is situated at the mouth of the St Clair River, at the southern most point of Lake Huron and the eastern most point of the state of Michigan. It is connected to the Canadian towns of Point Edward and Sarnia via the aesthetically pleasing Blue Water Bridge and the St Clair subaqua tunnels. The major economic activities are paper milling, tourism and the automotive industry. The marina, historic downtown and several museums are the major tourism attractions. Thomas Edison spent his childhood in Port Huron and his life has been commemorated in one of the museums.
1.Fort Gratiot Light
The Fort Gratiot Light was built in 1829. It was the first to be built in the state and is currently the oldest surviving lighthouse in Michigan. It marks the entry of the St Clair River into Lake Huron. It was initially 32 feet high but has twice been raised and since 1862 has been 82 feet high. It is still active and the Coast Guard has a station there but it has been handed over to the Port Huron Museum. Tours are conducted in the park and the tower and there is a gift shop.
2.Blue Water Bridge
The Blue River Water bridge was first commissioned in 1928 but the Depression delayed completion until 1938. It is a twin span, arch cantilevered, steel bridge, 6535 feet long. It is an international bridge linking Port Huron, Michigan in the USA to Sarnia in Ontario, Canada, across the St Clair river at its narrowest point. The bridge was financed through bonds and a toll. In 1997, a second twin bridge was added to carry the increased traffic. The bridge won several awards for the complementary design. It is once again a toll bridge and the border posts on either side are open 24/7.
3.Blue Water River Walk
Almost a mile of waterfront property along the St Clair River was donated to the community of Port Huron. It is south of the Blue Water River bridge at the southernmost tip of Lake Huron. The community pledged to naturalize the 70 acres of riverine terrain. A breakwater of boulders was created which had two beneficial results. The plant life on shore was protected and a shallow water area was created for small marine to inhabit. A railroad dock ferry was restored and a pedestrian path laid. A maritime center has been erected in the area and regular farmers' markets are held on the site.
4.Thomas Edison Depot Museum
© Port Huron Museums
From 1859 to 1863, Thomas Edison worked as a news reporter out of the building that now houses the museum that bears his name. He also worked on trains inside the Fort Gratiot train depot. His formative years in Port Huron are mentioned in his diaries. This satellite to the Port Huron Museum was established in 2001. It chronicles his life from boyhood, through school, his scientific studies and his entrepreneurial efforts. Scenes from this era have been recreated, showcasing his adversities and ultimate triumph. A mobile laboratory and printing shop can be seen in a restored baggage car, outside the museum.
510 Edison Parkway, Port Huron, MI 48060, Phone: 810-455-0035
© Birchwood Mall
The enclosed Birchwood Mall was built in 1991 and attracts customers from the United States and Canadian sides of the St Clair River. It was designed to have five anchor tenant but currently has two – JCPenney and Target. There are more than 100 other shops selling a variety of consumer goods. The food court has a combined seating capacity of 450. The 10-screen movie theatre has recently been renovated. Outside there is an antique carousel and children's playground. The mall is open 7 days a week, from 10 am to 9 pm.
4350 24th Avenue, Box 4350, Fort Gratiot, MI 48059, Phone: 810-294-8793
6.The Knowlton's Ice Museum of North America
© The Knowlton's Ice Museum of North America
Mickey Knowlton had a passion for anything related to the natural ice industry which was once one of the 10 biggest industries in the United States. He and his wife traveled to yard sales, flea markets and auctions all over the North East to collect pertinent articles. In 2008 the 10000 square foot ice museum opened in Port Huron. It houses over 5000 pieces, including hand tools, ice boxes, the forerunners of refrigerators, and six horse drawn ice wagons. There are videos of the history of the industry and photos of ice hockey players. Each year the museum participates in the Port Huron Chilly Festival.
317 Grand River Ave. Port Huron, MI 48060, Phone: 810-987-5441
7.Art Studio 1219
© Art Studio 1219
Art Studio 1219 was established in 2005 as a non-profit making incubator for local artisans. It is an art gallery and educational facility that promotes the work of emerging and mid-career artists from Michigan. There are 160 participating artists and artisans. Group exhibitions, sales and networking with collectors are the core functions of the studio. Artists are taught how to interact with buyers and successfully run an art business. The studio offers children's classes, private art lessons and 30 rotating five-week workshops for the general public. It is open all year round.
1219 Military Street, Port Huron, MI, 48060, Phone: 810-984-2787
8.Port Huron Museum
© Port Huron Museums
The Museum seeks to tell the stories of Michigan and the Great lakes through the lives and experiences of local people. Natural history, marine lore, fine art and local legends are brought to life through exhibits, programs, field trips and events. The headquarters of the museum are housed in a 1904 Carnegie Library. It has a number of satellite venues, including the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and the Thomas Edison Depot Museum. The Huron Experience is a passport to enter all the venues. Events include Edison Heritage Tours and Overnight in the Lighthouse Festival.
1115 Sixth Street, Port Huron, MI 48060, Phone: 810-982-0891
9.St. Clair Tunnel
The St Clair tunnel is in fact two separate tunnels built under the St Clair River, linking the USA and Canada. The first tunnel was built in 1891 for standard gauge locomotives to be pulled by steam engines. It was dug out by hand and was the first full-sized subaqua tunnel to be built in North America. Electric engines were introduced in 1907. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993. In 1995, a larger tunnel was built alongside the old one in order to make room for the large double stack shipping containers that needed to be transported.
© Raven Café
There is an creative energy about the Raven Café. The aroma of fresh-roasted coffee and oven-baked pastries fills the air. The interior walls of the double-story open plan brick building are covered in artwork and posters. The staff are actors and artists and the clientele are an eclectic mix of business people and artistic types. There is a wide selection of soups, salads and sandwiches to choose from. The bar serves craft beers and colorful cocktails. The mezzanine area is lined with books and overlooks the river through stained-glass windows. Patrons' doodles and napkin wisdom have been collected and displayed in the gallery of Coffee Table Tales.
932 Military St., Port Huron, MI 48060, Phone: 810-984-4330
11.Palms Krystal Bar Restaurant
© Palms Krystal Bar Restaurant
This restaurant is one of the three remaining Chicken in the Rough franchise stores. The other two are across the St Clair River on the Canadian side of the border. Palms Krystal Bar Restaurant opened in 1936, the same year as the franchise started. By 1950, the franchise was an international organization with 250 franchised stores. Each franchise owner had autonomy as long as they sold chicken. Besides the chicken entrees, Palms Krystal also serves steaks, burgers, seafood, salads and soups. Diners can choose to sit down to eat or to order take-outs.
1535 Pine Grove Avenue, Port Huron, MI 48060, Phone: 810-985-9838
12.Fuel Woodfire Grill
© Fuel Woodfire Grill
Mike Taylor, owner and founder of Fuel Woodfire Grill saw a gap in the restaurant market in Port Huron and filled it with his smokehouse cuisine. He started with a 75 seat restaurant and within the year had the opportunity to expand into the space next door. The building is a late Victorian brick building in the middle of historic downtown. In keeping with the name of the business, the décor involves fuel pumps and service station memorabilia. Menu items include BBQ plates and Hearty Entrees. Anything containing pork or chicken can be substituted with a vegetarian option.
213 Huron Ave, Port Huron, MI 48060, Phone: 810-479-4933
13.Freighters Eatery & Taproom
© Freighters Eatery & Taproom
Freighters is one of six restaurants in the Meritage Hospitality Group. Each establishment complements its locale. Jared Beach spent his boyhood in Port Huron where he developed a passion for food and food gardening from time spent with his grandfather. He left home to work in the hospitality industry in Detroit and Chicago and has chosen to bring that experience back home. The restaurant is open 7 days a week for a la carte lunch, breakfast and dinner. Private functions are hosted in collaboration with the Hilton Hotel. Three local companies have partnered with Freighters to do deliveries.
800 Harker Streetport Huron MI 48060, Phone: 810-941-6010
13 Best Things to Do in Port Huron, MI
- Fort Gratiot Light, Photo: scottshoots/stock.adobe.com
- Blue Water Bridge, Photo: SNEHIT/stock.adobe.com
- Blue Water River Walk, Photo: Foap.com/stock.adobe.com
- Thomas Edison Depot Museum, Photo: Port Huron Museums
- Birchwood Mall, Photo: Birchwood Mall
- The Knowlton's Ice Museum of North America, Photo: The Knowlton's Ice Museum of North America
- Art Studio 1219, Photo: Art Studio 1219
- Port Huron Museum, Photo: Port Huron Museums
- St. Clair Tunnel, Photo: bouybin/stock.adobe.com
- Raven Cafe, Photo: Raven Café
- Palms Krystal Bar Restaurant, Photo: Palms Krystal Bar Restaurant
- Fuel Woodfire Grill, Photo: Fuel Woodfire Grill
- Freighters Eatery & Taproom, Photo: Freighters Eatery & Taproom
- Cover Photo: Wally Stemberger/stock.adobe.com