Autumn in St. Clair County: 5 things to do on the Thumb Coast this fall

The colors, the scents, the flavors — pumpkin spice, anyone? — all these and more evoke a certain magic in the air: It doesn't matter if you call it autumn or you call it fall, many will agree that it's their favorite time of year. 

With so many beautiful vistas by the lakes and rivers, the colors on the trees, and the feeling of a hometown vibe found nowhere else, the communities of St. Clair County offer a variety of fall experiences for those visiting the area — or for those looking for some fun in their own backyard.

McCallum’s Orchard & Cider Mill
5697 Harris Road, Jeddo MI

The wine bar at McCallum’s is open each weekend. (Photo: Facebook)One of the more popular orchards to visit when in the Blue Water Area is McCallum’s Orchard & Cider Mill in Jeddo. McCallum’s offers its guests a variety of activities, including apple picking, the “Kid Zone,” and, for the adults, wine-tasting events. Whatever your preference, there is definitely plenty to check out and enjoy for all age ranges. McCallum’s plans to keep their doors open until Christmas, so be sure to check out this fall's events.

November will see the return of some of the orchards' more popular attractions, including handcrafted Christmas wreaths and door decorations. Another favorite activity, hayrides and bonfires, could return soon. And the wine bar, of course, is open every weekend. One can't forget what we all go to the apple orchard for in the first place, and that's the cider and fresh doughnuts! McCallum’s is famous for their cider and doughnuts and worth the trip alone.

[Click HERE for a photo essay documenting our visit to another classic fall-time Blue Water destination: Pankiewicz Cider Mill & Farm Market.]

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
2802 Omar Street, Port Huron MI

The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest in Michigan. (Photo: Doug Coombe)The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan and the second oldest on the Great Lakes, standing tall over Lake Huron since 1829, built to guide ships safely as they enter passage into the St. Clair River. 

The lighthouse offers public tours on the weekends and, for an even more unique experience, something slightly spooky or romantic, depending on your temperament.

“Once we get a little bit closer to December, we’re going to be doing candlelight tours on Fridays and Saturdays. We don't have the whole event created yet but after taking a year off, we are back and I think it will be really popular,” says Andrew Kercher, community engagement manager for the Port Huron Museum, the organization that runs the lighthouse. “We may also have a Christmas light trolley tour combined with the candlelight tour, as well.”

Carnegie Center
1115 Sixth Street, Port Huron MI

Discovery City opened at the Carnegie Center in September. (Photo: Harold Powell)Speaking of museums, that leads us to our next location, the Carnegie Center. Also part of the Port Huron Museum organization, the Carnegie Center offers a place for the children on those rainy fall days. Yes, fall is nice, but if you are new to the fall experience, the weather isn't always a cool 55 to 60 degrees. Sometimes the weather is cold and rainy for days at a time. On those days, you can take the little ones out for some local adventures, and all under the warm, cozy roof of the museum.

Located within the Carnegie Center is Discovery City, a new playscape designed for smaller children around the ages of 3 to 12 years old. Here, they can have fun and learn at the same time. Discovery City replicates many of Port Huron’s main attractions and parks, all with their own theme. One may visit a replica of the farmers market at Vantage Point, Lakeside Beach, or even the aforementioned Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. There are also hands-on activities, including Thomas Edison-themed experiments. This is good family fun that won't break the bank, while at the same time offering fun and learning for both children and adults.

[Click HERE for a photo essay documenting our recent visit to Discovery City.]

Andy’s Wine Bar
104 Water Street, Port Huron MI

Andy Bakko photographed for a 2017 story in The Keel. (Photo: Heather Burt)After the children have had their fun and games, maybe you want to have a nice fall date night. Well, if you are into wine and food, check out Andy’s Wine Bar in downtown Port Huron. Owned by Andy Bakko, a certified sommelier, Andy’s Wine Bar offers a relaxing atmosphere and a nice selection of wines. Try their fresh fruit and gourmet cheese plate, or Andy’s Charcuterie Platter, which consists of cured meats, olives, and cheese. Both are the perfect compliment to whichever wine you choose for the evening. Whether it's one of their exclusive Michigan-made beers, a fine cognac, or a wine from their impressive selection, Andy's Wine Bar is worth checking out.

Great Lakes Pedal & Pour
Various locations, downtown Port Huron

Great Lakes Pedal & Pour launched in downtown Port Huron earlier this year. (Photo: Facebook)Last but certainly not least is Great Lakes Pedal & Pour, a new business that began pedaling around the streets of downtown Port Huron this past summer. The fall weather isn’t going to stop this new downtown attraction. From football to backyard bonfires to pedal-powered pubs, autumn is good beverage sipping weather, whether that’s hot cocoa, fresh apple cider, or, yes, even ice cold beer.

Great Lakes Pedal & Pour offers a great way to get your exercise in, see the city, chat with friends, and drink — and all at the same time. Pedal & Pour is quite literally a bar on wheels; seating up to 16 passengers, it is operated by the power of its patrons’ pedaling. Yes, you and your friends are the engine behind this fun and creative attraction. They have a radio on board with an aux cord for you to plug in your phone and play music of your choosing, fun friendly staff, and you can ride anywhere in the city that your legs can take you.

Read more articles by Harold Powell.

Harold Powell is the Community Correspondent for The Keel and owner of Phantom Pen Media offering multimedia services to individuals and organizations across the Blue Water Area. He is a current board member for the Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce and the most recent Chamber Choice recipient at the Eddy Awards. Harold is an avid volunteer for the YMCA of the Blue Water Area as well as Bridge Builders Counseling & Mentoring and in his spare time, enjoys spending time with his son, writing and listening to music, playing video games, and not folding laundry.