Ossineke State Forest Campground

16 Things to Do to Celebrate the End of Summer in NE Michigan

It's always a bit sad when the summer begins winding down. Yes, we're excited for some of the routines and fun the school year brings. However, we also know winter is around the corner. Even if you enjoy winter immensely, you can't argue that summer is an incredible time of year in NE Michigan. Although the height of summer is no longer here, there are still some fun things you can do to celebrate and enjoy this time of year.


  1. Get active and enjoy the outdoors! From biking, to hiking, to kayaking, to ORV/ATV riding – whatever way you enjoy getting outside, do it! Maybe you’ve been wanting to go fishing or Stand-Up Paddle Boarding and you haven’t taken the time to do so yet this summer; here’s your chance! If you are already actively engaged in the outdoors, find a new trail you’ve never explored and check it out! To check out the activities and trails NE Michigan has to offer, head to the Summer Activities page on the NE Michigan website. Select your activity of choice, and find a new place to adventure. If you are interested in finding outfitters or rentals, check out the Outdoor Gear and Outfitters page to learn about your options.

  1. Walk the Mackinac Bridge. This iconic event showcasing the beloved Mighty Mac is attended by thousands of people. Don’t let the crowds scare you away, though. It’s your only chance all year to have the opportunity to walk the Mackinac Bridge. If you are a regular bridge walker, maybe up your game and become a double crosser this year. If you’ve always wanted to walk the bridge but you never had anyone to go with, join the NE Michigan Local Meet-Ups Fall Series. We are meeting at Indian Pathways Park in Mackinaw City at 6:30am for a 7am start. The first 5 people to show up will receive a NE Michigan Nalgene bottle. Head here to RSVP.


  1. Enjoy a sunrise. Celebrate the beautiful Sunrise Side of Michigan by catching a sunrise. The sun is starting to rise a little bit later this time of year – making it more appealing to get up in time to watch it. Need a fun idea on where to watch the sunrise? Check out Oscoda Beach Park in Oscoda. Don’t forget to grab a coffee from Sunrise Kava Café afterwards. Hit up the pier at Blare Street Park in Alpena. If you are looking to grab some caffeine post-sunrise, check out Cabin Creek Coffee in Downtown Alpena. Catch the sunrise from North Bay Park in Presque Isle. It provides fabulous views of Lake Huron, as well as the 1870 lighthouse.


  1. Go camping one last time. Whether you enjoy a modern campground or a rustic state forest campground, there are plenty of options to choose from around NE Michigan. Ossineke State Forest Campground has great sites with views of the water! Oscoda County Park in Mio is near the Mio Dam Pond – with convenient options nearby for kayaking or canoeing on the AuSable River. Alcona Park is also a great option with a variety of sites available – including some cabins with beautiful water views! It is located on the AuSable River floodwaters above the Alcona Dam. For additional campground locations, check out the Camping page on NE Michigan’s website!

  1. Check out the Labor Day sale at XC Ski Headquarters. No, it’s not quite winter yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start getting excited about it. Whether you are into cross-country skiing or are simply an avid outdoors person, you will find a great selection at the XC Ski Headquarters Labor Day Sale in Roscommon.


  1. Attend a NE Michigan Local Meet-Ups Fall Series Event. The NE Michigan Local Meet-Ups Fall Series events are geared for the young & young(ish) professional crowd. However, if you are young at heart, you are welcome! Use these events as an opportunity to meet new people, make new connections, engage in some fun outdoor activities, experience NE Michigan, and possibly even win some swag! Come to one event, all of the events, or any event of interest to you. There are 2 events in each of the 11 counties that comprise the NE Michigan region. Check them out and RSVP to join the fun and meet new people.

  1. Watch Fireworks over Labor Day Weekend! There are a number of places celebrating the end of summer with fireworks. Find a nearby location and join the celebration. Thunder over Waters is a great option in Waters, south of Gaylord. This is a full-day celebration starting with a pancake breakfast and ending with fireworks at dusk. Come for all or part of the festivities.


  1. Get your craft show game on. If you are into craft shows, art fairs, supporting the work of local artisans – or even tasting the food available at these events, you are in for a treat! Harmony Arts & Crafts Show in Harrisville is huge event, showcasing something for everyone. Not too far away, Shoreline Park in Tawas City is hosting the Annual Labor Day Arts & Crafts Show. If you are not headed to the coastal towns over the Labor Day weekend, Northland Brewing in Indian River is hosting their final Indian River Night Bazaar.


  1. Attend a Bicycle Trails Planning Workshop for your county. Are you an avid biker? Or do you enjoy biking the trails and pathways in your community? Northeast Michigan Council of Governments is updating the MDOT Active Transportation Plan for the NE Michigan region. Check out the Public Workshops in each county to look at bike maps, share your experience, and provide ideas to speak into this project. These events are being held in September. Check the NE Michigan Regional Calendar to find the event for your county! For more information about this project, learn more here

  1. Buy some local produce at a Farmers Market. The end of summer is the perfect time to shop at a local Farmers Market. The gardens and fields have been growing all summer long to produce their fall harvest. The Cheboygan, Atlanta, and West Branch Farmers Markets all offer great produce and local crafts options. To find other Farmers Markets near you, check out our Farmers Market page on the NE Michigan website.


  1. Look for Elk in Pigeon River Country. Did you know Pigeon River Country State Forest is home to the largest wild elk herd east of the Mississippi? And it’s right here in your backyard! The Pigeon River Discovery Center has some great information on where to go to find the elk. It may take some patience and a few tries, but what an incredible experience it is to view these majestic animals! Fall is also the time they begin bugling, so keep your ears open (as well as your eyes!).

  1. Go stargazing while the temperatures are still mild. Although there are plenty of amazing places to stargaze in NE Michigan, the region is officially home to 3 Dark Sky parks: Negwegon State Park, Thompson’s Harbor State Park, and Rockport Recreation Area. Learn more about them and plan a trip to watch the night sky! Who knows, maybe you’ll catch the northern lights, as well!


  1. Enjoy a picnic. Although the season is definitely beginning to shift and change, there are still some days with lovely weather. Enjoy a picnic lunch! Find a park, state park, or beach – or simply find a picnic table at one of the biking trailheads along the North Central State Trail or North Eastern State Trail. Some of these trailheads are located near downtowns and can be enjoyed even while on a lunch break! There’s nothing quite the same as enjoying your lunch outside in the sunshine. Whether you are working or off for the weekend, there are options for everyone.


  1. Pick out some new books for the winter slow-down season. Everyone knows winter is a time for hibernating. This often means finding things to do indoors – and it is a great time to read! Hidden Nook Booksellers in Grayling, Plot Bound Books in Gaylord, and Parallel Books and Gifts in Alpena are wonderful options for grabbing your next page-turner.


  1. Book a glass bottom boat tour (or another boat tour!). Nautical North Family Adventures in Cheboygan and Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary both offer glass bottom shipwreck tours! Nautical North also has a few other boat tours available, as well. Check them out and book a tour before the end of the season!


  1. Walk or bike around town. That’s right. It may not be National Bike to Work Month, but biking or walking around town or to/from work is a great way to enjoy the last of the beautiful weather, notice the changing leaves, and get some exercise! Leave a little early and take time to slow down, get some steps, and enjoy the end of summer.