Summer staycation: Festivals, fun keep families entertained all season long

Blue pools invite people in at the YMCA, rain or shine.
Now that spring has sprung, good weather and good times in the Port Huron region are right around the corner.

There is always plenty to do near the water, and this spring and summer will be no exception.

Start designing your plans by checking out some basic information and park amenities, fees and events at


Knowlton's Ice Museum offers history of ice cutting in the region.Looking for a unique place to explore? Why not stop by Knowlton's Ice Museum in downtown Port Huron? The museum focuses on when cutting ice was a key part of keeping the lakes and rivers open through the winter. You'll find lots of unique tools and stories, and see stories from the 1800s and early 1900s come to life.


Love solving puzzles? Why not check out The Hallway Escape. The Port Huron escape room has been thriving since it first opened just a couple years ago. The expanded business features several solvable puzzles, and recently opened a Sunken Freighter Room.


Not sure what else to do? Besides exploring downtowns across the region, visitor's can stop into the YMCA to shoot hoops or swim, catch a movie at Sperry's or maybe a show at one of the theaters in Port Huron or Marine City.


If it's festival's you're looking for, plan to visit one of these fun events that will bring summer to the forefront.


Port Huron

May 25 and 26: The Feast of the Ste. Claire

For the history buffs, the Feast of St. Claire will once again celebrate the pageantry, history and flavor of Michigan from 1750-1840.

In its 39th year, the popular living history reenactment recreates the four periods of early Michigan: the Native Americans, the French, the British, and the American eras.

Aside from the battle reenactments, there will be demonstrations of everyday life in the 18th Century; and cooking and crafts will highlight the event. A fife and drum corps, colonial singers and balladeers, and many other presentations will also be present.

June 7-9: Art on the River

Art on the River is a three-day celebration of art, music and fun!” says Citizens for a Vibrant Community President Trina Avedisian.

A dance party will kick off the celebration on June 7, with many artists and crafters selling goods and items on June 8 and 9. Need gifts for birthdays or the holidays?

“Many people do a lot of their shopping for these occasions at the event,” says Avedisian.

Saturday night, Derek St. Holmes (former lead guitar and vocals for Ted Nugent) will rock the crowd. There is also a children’s tent sponsored by Home Depot and Andy Bakko from Wolverine Market will be serving craft brews, wine and spirits in the beverage tent.

“What's not to like?” says Avedisian. “Oh! And a view second to none in Kiefer Park along the St. Clair River!”

July 12-14: Blue Water SandFest

One of the most popular summer events, the Blue Water Sand Fest, takes place July 12-14, at the Fort Gratiot Light Station County Park, just north of Port Huron. The festival features the sixth annual Michigan Sand Sculpting State Championships, one of the top sand sculpting events in the country.

“In just a few years, The Blue Water SandFest has been recognized with seven top awards including 10 Best by USA Today,” says Bill Knight, president of the Sand Lovers, LLC, which also helps run the event.

“Nowhere else in Michigan or even the Midwest can you experience sand sculptures of this caliber.”

Besides the sculpting contests, the festival includes live music, sculpting demonstrations, food, a kid zone, beer garden, and more.

July 17-20: Blue Water Festival

Right after the Blue Water SandFest is the highly anticipated Blue Water Festival, centered around the kick-off of the 2019 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race on Saturday, July 20.

Starting Wednesday, July 17 with the Rotary Parade and finishing with the race on Saturday, visitors and guests swell the area in order to celebrate all things Blue Water.

The Blue Water Festival features unique events such as a silent disco, fireworks, and Boat Night; a carnival with fun, food and other family-friendly activities.

Hotels and Dining

While the City Flats Hotel is not quite open, it will be ready for guests this summer. Visit However, a couple of the restaurants have already opened in the space at the Michigan National Bank Building at Black River and Military Street.

The Kitchen is already making waves with its café atmosphere and scratch baked goods like breakfast bagels, scones, and wood-fired flatbreads. The menu can be viewed here:

Another restaurant, Fair Weather Grill, serves up burgers, kabobs, and hot dogs, and bottled beverages.

The Vintage Tavern serves up locally sourced, upscale casual dining in a restored (and perhaps haunted!) turn-of-the-century building in the heart of downtown Port Huron.

The Raven Café serves up soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts; as well as high-quality coffees and espressos and spirits.


Other hotel options include:

Doubletree by Hilton,,

Best Western Blue Water Bridge

Marine City

Walking through downtowns like Marine City visitors will discover many great locations.Robert Ahee, the owner of Back Porch Antiques/The Candy Jar, says there are a ton of great things to do and see in Marine City.

“Marine City has eight antique stores, and two candy stores, a popcorn store, vintage market, and several stores to complement the antiques store,” he says. “We have a new hotel, a bed and breakfast, several awesome restaurants and not to mention the view along the river.”

He also mentions that there are two live theaters, with a Titanic exhibit at the Mariner theater; and other great stores and shops.

“I recommend anyone who comes here should put a whole day aside to come here, since there is lots to do and see,” says Ahee. “I love this city.”

Over at the Riverbank Theater, owners Kathy Vertin and her husband Tom are in the midst of their seventh season of live entertainment.

“Yes, we have just launched our seventh season at Riverbank Theatre and it is packed with exciting musicals and hilarious plays,” she says.

  1. says that visitors to Marine City should look into some of the packages the theater and some of their community partners are offering, which include stays at the new Inn on Water Street.

“Our new Inn on Water Street, which opened in April of 2018 offers a Stay, Play, & Dine Package that includes a night in one of the King Balcony rooms that overlooks the St. Clair River, dinner for two at The Inn Kitchen, (our on-property restaurant featuring modern American cuisine) and tickets for two to the show. All for just $265.”

Vertin also recommends a weekend wine package called Wine Down Weekends.

“Our chefs prepare a four-course themed dining experience you won't soon forget. Wine expert, Holly Kourson, of Woodberry Wines pairs wines from the region and brings extensive knowledge that is fun to share.”

  1. says that the kitchen at the Inn has received great reviews, and that they serve seasonal farm to fork, grass-fed Michigan beef.

“Our chefs are graduates of The Culinary Institute of Michigan and take pride in crafting meals that are memorable. We have an extensive beverage program including craft beers and cocktails, and a great global selection of wines. It is truly a high-end experience in a casual, laid back atmosphere. We have live entertainment most weekends as well.”

Pop into the Sweet Tooth to satisfy those sweet cravings and to soothe the summer heat.


May 25, 8-11 p.m. Laith Al-Saadi: The American Idol favorite and Michigan Native will perform at the Lexington Village Theater.

June 8: Annual Fun and Mutt Strut: Games, raffles, arts & crafts, bounce houses, and more All proceeds go to the no-kill Humane Society.

Visit the Blue Water Winery to sip award-winning wines, get some grub at the Village Pub, and stay at the Cadillac House for a charming small-town experience.

St. Clair

In St. Clair, visit the Murphy Inn, one of the oldest operating inns in Michigan. They offer karaoke, private rooms, and is accessible by land or sea.

June 8: Summer Wine and Beer Fest: From 7-10 in Riverside Park in Algonac, sip on brews and enjoy the season. Celebrate on social media with the hashtag #StClairBeerAndWineFest #SCBAWF2019. For more information, visit

June 22, 4:30 – 11 p.m.: The Official 5th Annual St. Clair Chamber of Commerce St. Clair Beer & Wine Fest. Not to be confused with the previous event. This event takes place at the Riverside Plaza Courtyard. Purchase of ticket includes: 15 beverage tickets: each ticket gets you a 3 oz. sample of your choice; a keepsake event glass; live music entertainment.;cornhole; Jenga, and other activities.

July 26-28: St. Clair Riverfest: Spin Doctors and Blue Oyster Cult will rock this festival ahead of the 25th Annual St. Clair River Classic. Information can be found at


No matter where you plan to hang out this summer, there is definitely a lot to do with friends and family.