There are some places in Michigan that are more popular than others. Every YouTube video, blog post, or article about our state mentions these same locations and ignores the vast majority of our beautiful home. There are so many towns that don’t get the publicity that they deserve and Manistee is one of them.
Located 30 miles north of Ludington, a popular summer destination, is part of the reason. Manistee is also farther north than the divided highway runs making it a bit more off the beaten path.
That being said, Manistee is also located on Lake Michigan and has 25 miles of shoreline. In recent years, Ludington has become quite congested during the summer. If you’d like to spend some time in a quaint Michigan beach town, you may want to head to Manistee instead.
Here are 8 Activities in Manistee:
This is a fun place to camp – especially if you reserve a site on the south side of the park, which has a view of Lake Michigan. The north side of the campground felt a lot more crowded. But having a campsite with a view of Lake Michigan was a real treat. We were able to enjoy the sunsets from our site without having to go anywhere. So beautiful! We will definitely be back
The park also contains the Beech – Hemlock Hiking Trail which is about 3 miles in length and is a pretty easy walk. This area has several trees which give the forest an enchanted feel. We really enjoyed starting our mornings here!
This picturesque lighthouse was moved to this location in 1927. Originally, it was built in 1872 as a replacement for the lighthouse which had burned during the Great Fire of 1871. The elevated catwalk was added to help the lighthouse keeper access it during inclement weather.
Although you can’t enter this lighthouse, visitors enjoy walking on the north and south piers to enjoy it’s beauty and to watch boats enter and exit the channel. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy a morning sunrise!
3 – Nature Trails
Manistee is a wonderful place to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of nature. It has miles of hiking, biking, equestrian, cross country skiing, and river trails. We barely scratched the surface of these while we were staying in this area. For detailed maps, check out this amazing resource from Visit Manistee County.
If you’d like to see part of our adventure in Manistee County including the lighthouse and nature trails, check out the video below!
4 – Beaches
This is a 1.5 mile walking path that follows the Manistee River. It starts near Jones Street, goes under the US31 bridge, and ends at the 1st Street Beach. The walkway has ramps on each end to make it handicap accessible and there are various sets of stairs along the way to allow you to leave the path to enjoy shopping, restaurants, and other sites along the route.
The river walk also has mileage markers and signs pointing out historical significance as well. Walkers pass by a parks, docks, and the lighthouse at one end. This is a pedestrian trail only. No bikes or pets are permitted.
6 – Self-Guided Historic Tours
As one of Michigan’s oldest cities, there is plenty of history to enjoy in the area. Manistee offers several self-guided tours for visitors to enjoy.
- West Homes Self-Guided Historic Tour – Encompasses 21 historic homes and takes 2.5 – 3.5 hours when walking.
- East Homes Self-Guided Historic Tour – Features 15 historic homes and takes 2 – 3.5 hours when walking.
- Churches Self-Guided Historic Tour – Includes 12 historic churches and 1 cemetery. It takes 1.5 hours (combination of walking and driving)
- Downtown/Commercial District Self-Guided Historic Tour – Takes you to 27 historic buildings and two bridges. It takes 2 – 3.5 hours when walking.
On our visit, we drove to where there were greater concentrations of homes and then got out to enjoy taking a closer look and reading the signs which told about the history of each house. This made the tour much shorter and less strenuous.
If you’d like to take a closer look at the Fifth Avenue Beach, the River Walk, and the Historic Homes tour you can do so in our video below!
7 – SS City of Milwaukee and USCGC Acacia, 99 Arthur Street, Manistee, MI, United States
Michigan has a rich maritime history and one great way to learn more about that is to tour a historic ship. The Milwaukee and Acacia are available to tour at various times of the year and you can even stay overnight on the Milwaukee as a bed and breakfast or attend their annual GhostShip Haunted House during October.
This Art Deco theater was built in 1938 and was ultra modern and luxurious. It was fully restored in 2012 and features two screens. The large “grand theatre” seats 187, while the smaller screen seats 45. It’s the only movie theater in the area and the venue is a unique experience for movie goers.
Manistee has a lot to offer whether you want to experience nature, history, or the beautiful lakeshore. If you’d like to visit a town that has plenty of services yet isn’t packed with summer tourists, consider adding this one to your list!