Explore the top “Must See Manistee Sights”
Each year the Manistee County Tourism Team updates their top 10 sights list. This year, we have outlined these top ten sights you will want to check out on your visit to Manistee County. Be sure to visit and share on our social channels : #MyManistee
Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse
5th Avenue Beach in Manistee, Michigan – Get Directions
Perhaps the city’s most iconic structure, the Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse was constructed off of a 1,300 foot concrete pier on Fifth Avenue Beach in 1927. The Manistee North Pierhead Light is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and has one of the four remaining catwalks on Lake Michigan.
In November 2009, the City of Manistee made an application to the United States Department of the Interior National Park Service to transfer the decommissioned lighthouse to the city. Two years later the lighthouse was transferred from the Department of the Interior to the City of Manistee and the Manistee County Historical Museum. A component of the application was a concession agreement with the Manistee County Historical Museum.
The summer of 2016 saw the Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse painted with a new sheen of white paint. It will continue to be a beacon for vessels in and out of the harbor as well as for residents and visitors of the City of Manistee. Currently, the museum is collecting donations for the painting of the interior of the lighthouse. For those who have U.S. Lighthouse Passport booklets, visit the Manistee County Historical Museum at 425 River Street to get your booklet stamped.
Scenic Air Tours of Lake Michigan
$30/person from the Manistee Airport – 2 Routes over Lake Michigan – Get Directions to the Airport
Experience the natural beauty of Manistee County’s coastline from a new perspective. The Manistee Blacker Airport Scenic Air Tour follows the rolling sand dunes along our breathtaking shoreline.
Flights are typically flown over two routes: Downtown Manistee and the Lake Michigan shoreline or the Onekama/Portage Lake area. Choose either one for $30 per person. Special flight requests are more than welcome and we will be happy to accommodate as best we can. Call or stop in for more information.
Our sightseeing flights are conducted all year round from the Manistee County Blacker Airport (by reservation late Oct – early May) and gift certificates are available. During the summer flights are available 10am to 6pm conditions allowing. You can drop in or call ahead to make a reservation.
We are located off of US-31 about five miles north of Manistee and about 1/2 mile south of the Little River Casino Resort at the Manistee County Blacker Airport.
Historic Trolley Tours
A 1-hour tour of Manistee’s history – Get Directions to the Manistee County Department Transportation
Even though street cars no longer operate in Manistee as they did throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, you will often see the vehicular version of the street car (also known as a trolley) in operation throughout Manistee touring various historic attractions. These beautifully restored Trolleys are a sought-out attraction by many visitors and residents looking to visit, learn about and explore prized historic treasurers. As you board, you will be met by friendly and knowledgeable guides dressed in period attire. Beginning on River Street, you will tour the City of Manistee which includes various historic sites, museums and beaches. You will then make your way out to the beautiful state park and rural attractions.
Once you return we encourage you to ask questions and explore some of the historic sites on your own. Many sites on the tour are open to the public. You can also look to the Historic Sites directory on page 60 for more information. The trolley tours last approximately one hour, and begin at the Manistee County Transportation Center on Memorial Drive in Downtown Manistee. For details on trolley run times call at (231) 723-6525
Listen to the dulcet sounds of the piper as the sun sets – Get Directions to Arcadia Bluffs
Picture this. You’re relaxing with friends on the patio at Arcadia Bluffs Lodge, enjoying the warm sunlight softened by the pastel hues that signal the sunset to come. As you gaze westward toward Lake Michigan, you spot the Scottish bagpiper in full regalia, and listen as he begins to play a stirring, hauntingly beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Stephen MacNeil is one of only three professional class “pipers” in Michigan and a Manistee County treasure. Inspired by his grandfather and great-grandfather who were pipers, MacNeil has been playing for about 35 years. His son, Roddy, also a piper and on a Scottish Arts Scholarship at Alma College, frequently plays at Arcadia Bluffs as well. For the last three years Roddy has also performed at sunrise on the bow of the Manistee Coast Guard Life Boat for the Tight Lines for Troops Fishing Tournament. Last year he was joined by his father and cousin, 11-year-old-Calum MacNeil who is following in his uncle’s and cousin’s footsteps.
At Arcadia Bluffs, Stephen MacNeil offers his one-of-a-kind greeting to twilight an hour before sunset on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from June through September, weather permitting. But don’t plan to hurry off after the sun sets. The magical colors of twilight will last for quite awhile, just like the memory of the MacNeil clan’s “Amazing Grace.”
Unique mineral spring water available to visitors – Get to Directions to Onekama to see the Artesian Wells
An artesian aquifer is a confined aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure. This type of well seems to defy gravity because the pressure that builds up between layers of rock gets relieved when the water finds a path to the open air. Manistee County has two popular artesian wells which have been enjoyed by locals and visitors for many years. These water sources are considered to produce some of the purest water in the county.
Old Facefull: Old Facefull has quenched the thirst of many visitors for over 80 years. It is located at the end of 13 Mile Road at Lake Michigan near Pierport, north Onekama.
Portage Point Well: Located at the corner of M-22 and Portage Point Drive, this well is often seen with bikers enjoying a water break on their cruise up this scenic highway.
Little Manistee River Weir
Manistee County’s DNR operated fish harvest facility – Get Directions to the Weir
The Little Manistee Weir is an egg-take and salmon harvest facility which is operated by the Fisheries Division-Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The weir is used to block fish on the Little Manistee River in the spring and fall of the year. Steelhead eggs are taken in the spring and chinook salmon eggs are taken in the fall at the Little Manistee weir. The eggs taken at the weir are sent to State Fish Hatcheries where they are raised and stocked all over Michigan. Eggs are also supplied to several other states. This is also a great spot to drop into the Little Manistee River for a gentle tube or float down to Old Stronach Bridge. The float takes about two hours and is a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike. When the salmon are running you will have them swim right up alongside your boat.
Perhaps Manistee County’s most unique attraction – Get Directions to the Arcadia Overlook
As you are driving north through Manistee County on the beautiful Scenic Highway M-22, you will find yourself “on top of the county” when you reach the Arcadia Overlook (known by some as “Inspiration Point”). When you travel through the quaint town of Arcadia, you will find yourself at zero elevation, right on the water. Within minutes you will feel your ears pop and hear your vehicle kick into overdrive as you make your way up the 370′ climb to the parking area at the Arcadia Overlook. Now, if that isn’t enough of a view for you, hopefully you have your walking shoes on.
Climb 120 steps (a little over 80 vertical feet) and you will find yourself perched on the highest point in Manistee County. As you reach the top deck, you will be rewarded by a view that takes your breath away. As you gaze south towards Arcadia, you will see the piers in Arcadia and Onekama. On a clear evening, you will be able to see all the way back to the Manistee Harbor and the glowing beacon found in the North Pier Lighthouse.
This rest area & scenic overlook is visited by tens of thousands of travelers each year looking to pause, reflect and enjoy the simple beauty of Manistee County’s natural landscape. There are also picnic tables and charcoal grills available for use so you can take in the landscape while enjoying time with family and friends.
Be sure to bring some spare change and take advantage of the observation telescope located at the top to get a better view of the world below.
Big Manistee River
The county’s wide, smooth river is great for outdoor recreation – Explore the Big Manistee River
Originating in the center of the State of MIchigan and flowing through the Manistee National Forest, the Big Manistee River empties into Lake Michigan at the City of Manistee. The river is wide and smooth flowing and some parts have tighter navigation and fast switchbacks which may take you a little off guard, but this is a great river for the casual paddler. You will also find an abundance of rope swings and great sand bars at which to stop and socialize. Camping is allowed 200 feet or more from the river, in addition to designated campgrounds and primitive campsites. (Camping is not allowed on the islands.)
Marilla Museum and Pioneer Place
Experience one of Manistee County’s unique museums – Get Directions to the Marilla Museum
Located at 9991 Marilla Rd., Copemish in the former Marilla Schoolhouse, visitors will find the musum at the corner of Marilla and Bigge Roads. The Marilla Museum & Pioneer Place includes a trapper’s log cabin; log house from Yates; a barn with farm machinery; 1800’s kitchen; living room; bedroom; and school room; 100 year old hand woven quilt; original post office boxes from the Marilla Post Office formerly housed in the Brimmer Store; theater curtain painted by a Marilla school teacher; WWI and WWII artifacts and records; 1800’s township seal and a diorama/model of the Marilla area as it was in the 1920’s. Call for tour information. The Museum is open the last Saturday of May through October from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. For additional information/tours contact Jan Thomas, at 231-362-3430.
“Little Mac” Suspension Bridge
A great asset and cool sight to see while on the Manistee River Trail – Get Directions to the Little Mac Suspension Bridge
Once you are on the Manistee River Trail you will quickly see the famed suspension bridge which crosses to the east bank of the Manistee River. This unique bridge is referred to as the “Little Mac” Suspension Bridge. Once you cross the bridge, you should consider continuing east towards Seaton Creek Campground. You will be able to check out the Hodenpyl Dam, which is a great sight tucked away in the heart of the Manistee National Forest. This is also a great time to refill the water bottles at the Seaton Creek Campground (it is the only place to fill up with potable water on the hike, so it may be a must if you do not have any water purification gear with you.)
Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse
Scenic Air Tours of Lake Michigan
Historic Trolley Tours
Little Manistee Weir
Big Manistee River