A tour by thumb of Michigan, from family-friendly restaurants to historic lighthouses

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Michigan is home to 14 billion trees that dazzle the state in fall. The green transition from color shows is in full swing in the state. While most can look north, towards the upper peninsula to see special places to look at, citizens can find the same amazing views in the Michigan thumb.

On a rare fall day when the temperature was 70 degrees, the reds of the sugar maples and the yellows of the oaks were fully visible.

The main road to Michigan’s thumb is on the M-53, which extends north into Port Austin. Originally established in 1919, it was later built to carry more traffic north in the 1920s.

One of the first stops is Country Smoke House. It’s hard to miss the big cow just off the main road.

A company by generations that proclaims a diverse range of homemade meats and spices – has just one piece of the original building still installed after the 2019 fire.

“We planned to build another addition here in 2019, and then the business burned to the ground,” said Steve Francis, owner. “I had a heart attack. My dad died. My whole world has collapsed, but we got it back where it should be and we’re back in business. “

The aim of the restaurant is to bring the flavor of the North to the South.

“We make beef bacon, beef turkey, smoked rabbit, smoked duck, pulled pork,” Francis said. “Everything is made here at home. I want them to know that you are buying real. There is no pony show here. Years ago, every market had a grocery store, it had a sausage shop on the corner. it already does. Nowhere.

“So we’re trying to bring it back to life and encourage the next generation to do so.”

STILL: Belle Isle Conservatory will be closed by 2024. Due to dome refurbishment?

Driving further north leads travelers past harvested cornfields and leaves that take on a deeper color.

Halfway up is Port Austin and Veterans Waterfront Park. The break wall built next to it runs roughly half a mile along Lake Huron.

Most shops in the city are closed at this time of the year. But at least one was open. The Port Austin Dime Store, a hometown hub for 52 years, is experiencing a seasonal post-pandemic business boom.

“Covid helped us in a strange way because people refused to go to Mackinac or Traverse City and were trying to find a small town,” said Scott Kasper, store owner. “And that’s who we are, and we’re glad we’re still undiscovered.”

The journey home takes people from the M-53 to the US-25, which includes a series of stops along the shores of Lake Huron.

This includes the Fort Gratiot lighthouse in County St. Clair. It was built in 1825 and is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan. It served as a lighthouse that safely guided ships between Lake Huron and the River St. Clair.

Much of the region is closed for winter, including the lighthouse. However, you can still visit this historic landmark until December.

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