100 things to do in Alpena, Michigan


Jamie and I have put together the following list to help those who plan on visiting Alpena (aka “The town that wouldn’t die,” “A warm and friendly port,” “Michigan’s Advenshore” — and our birthplaces) in the near future. You’re welcome.

1. Marvel at the Ice Tree. (This should only take 5 seconds.)
2. Attend a riveting theatrical performance at Thunder Bay Theatre.
3. Attend an equally riveting theatrical performance at Alpena Civic Theatre. Say hey to Carol Witherbee.
4. Steal a street sign.
5. Go in search of the phantom Broadway Deli.
6. Wander the Alpena County Library.
7. Climb on the cannon outside the Courthouse until someone kicks you off.
8. Get drunk at The Owl.
9. Get drunk at Latitudes. Say hey to Carisa’s parents.
10. Swim.
11. Royal Knight Cinema.
12. Order a soup bowl at John A. Lau.
13. Play “What’s still in business today?” at the Alpena Mall.
14. Smell ABT Co.
15. Drive down Big Gay Blvd; be sad that it’s now paved.
16. Go to Walmart; See former high school classmates.
17. Get yourself some fast cash and guns at Fast Cash ‘n Guns!
18. Get a cosmetology degree at Alpena Hollywood School of Beauty.
19. Actually, the Hollywood School of Beauty isn’t called that anymore, which is a pity.
20. Make it a special weekend! Book a pool-side room at the Holiday Inn.
21. Try and play mini-golf at Lee’s, if it’s still open.
22. Go stand where Hunan used to be.
23. Two words: DUCK PARK
24. Yell something in K-Mart. See if it echoes.
25. Get amazing deals on used books at The Book Exchange.
26. Get a coffee at DD and get a glimpse as to the coffee of the civilized world.
27. Buy lawn ornaments at Big Lots.
28. Chili Dog/Coney Island
29. Get swimmers itch at Starlight beach.
30. Go stand in the mall and remember the glory that was Camelot Music.
31. Take a figure skating lesson.
33. Watch a Wildcat hockey game.
34. Laugh at those dorks who are taking figure skating lessons.
35. Go visit Alpena General Hospital, which is now called Alpena Regional Medical Center, after being cut by a pissed-off figure skating mom’s ice blade for making fun of figure skaters. (Sorry Palin, it’s a fallacy. Figure skating moms will kick hockey mom’s asses any day of the week.)
36. Day trip! Posen Potato Festival.
37. Looking for a truly local experience? Hang out in the 7-11 parking lot.
38: Drive on US 23 during a snow storm without careening off into the bay. Fun times.
39. Collect unemployment.
40. Time to get fancy! Spend unemployment check on cocktails at “Cork and Olive.”
41. Drive 75 in a 55 zone out by the quarry.
42. Attend a performance by the Alpena High School Treble Chorus.
43. Sneak into the playground at Ella White Elementary.
44. Get some deals at the Dollar Tree.
45. Get even better deals at Quality Farm and Fleet. You need a tractor. Don’t lie.
46. Ping pong at the youth club? I think so!
47. Experience down home cookin’ at…Kentucky Fried Chicken.
48. Is it the week of the Brown Trout Festival? If it is, you lucked out!
49. I’m sure there’s a mud bog somewhere.
50. Marvel at all the orange if it’s deer season.
51. Marvel at all the orange if it’s not deer season.
52. Buy a hot pink camouflage hoodie at Glick’s. Just for the irony of it.
53. Cage fights? Christian rock concerts? Painting classes? There’s always some goings on at the Alpena County Fairgrounds.
54. Order the garlic chicken at Mandarin Garden. And then go shopping at K-Mart across the street. See #24 for extra fun ideas.
55. Um…go back to Walmart?
56. Seriously – there’s a deal to be had there. I suggest the package enhancing underwear.
57. Um….oh, I know! Jesse Besser Museum. Where the displays are so old, they’re museum pieces unto themselves.
58. Go out back to the old buildings at the Museum. Put on an old-timey dress and roll down a hill. You’re Laura Ingalls!
59. Do some meth.
60. Drive aimlessly around the Walmart parking lot, eschewing all rules of driving. Preferably not after #59, but whatever.
61. Find Jesus at a local church. There are lots.
62. One or the other Dairy Queen has to be open.
63. Kick over “McCain/Palin” signs.
64. Get a stomachache at Hungry Howie’s Pizza.
65. Try BOTH Big Boys.
66. Pretend you care about the Maritime Museum.
67. Walk out on the rock wall.
68. Freak out parents by lurking around the kiddie park.
69. Go play on the band shell. No one but skateboarders uses it.
70. Get a Slurpee. Put alcohol in it.
71. Get another Slurpee. Say hey to your friends in the 7-11 parking lot.
72. Eat your leftover garlic chicken. What – your dad ate it? Drink a beer instead.
73. Start a bad habit.
74. Buy something fancy at Myer’s Furs And Fashions.
75. Get a lotto ticket.
76. Search for grammatical errors in The Alpena News.
77. Send said grammatical errors to the editor of The Alpena News.
78. Feel smug of having completed #77.
79. Back to Walmart.
80. A night out at the Bowling Alley!
81. Go to Pizza Hut. Remember the Book-It program too fondly.
82. Watch the singing vegetable sprinklers at Neimann’s.
83. While at Neimann’s, play “Spot Hal.”
84. Roll a marble down the hallway of the Alpena Mall.
85. Go back to Walmart. You forgot cheese.
86. Find Bob. Marvel at the pretty thing he got at Meyers Furs and Fashions.
87. Look at ALL the Christmas lights. If it’s Christmas. If not, doesn’t matter – they could easily still be up anyway.
88. Take a bike ride along the bike path.
89. Count how many trucks drive by you on your bike ride playing Country music.
90. Get a car wash.
91. Apply to be a guest on “Talk of the Town.”
92. I suggest Linke’s Flowers over the other ones. But it’s your funeral, man.
93. Feel bad that the local businesses are going out of business. Console yourself by visiting Walmart again. They sell liquor now!
94. Stock up on sweaters! JC Penny is going out of business – for the fifth year in a row!
95. TP a house on State Street!
96. Challenge for you: Try to find a cast recording of a Sondheim show – without looking in the library or going online. It’s a quest of Quixotic proportions.
97. Visit the site of the former (and real) Thunder Bay Jr. High. And now you feel old.
98. Final night: Bar crawl on Chisholm street.
99. Walmart’s got a sale on windbreakers? I’m there!
100. Start a nasty, dirty rumor about yourself – and FLEE! Congratulations: You’re now a legend on the Sunrise Side.

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40 Comments

  1. Beautiful. Don’t forget a fun night at the Plaza Pool!

    • You know… Hollywood School of beauty still has it’s name… it is now by fast cash… we have two beauty schools.. Alpena Beauty Academy is where the old Hollywood School of Beauty was. And Quality Farm and fleet is no longer now it is Tractor Supply. :)

  2. Hot damn. Thanks, Jillian!

  3. forget plaza pool, how bout sneaking in and taking a swim in the pool at the holiday inn?

    102. Marvel at how far the water level has dropped since you used to live there.

    103. Dance to thug life and Michael Jackson at Sneakers on a saturday night.

    104. Think about how fat “so and so” has gotten since you’ve last seen him or her.

    • love the 101-104…lol

  4. I can’t believe we left out Sneakers.

  5. I also can’t believe we left out the following: Wendys, Mike’s hardware, Besser, and Lalonde shoes.

    brett’s #104 is my favorite thing of all time. and so true.

  6. Jamie: Lalonde shoes has merged with Master’s shoes! I know – my world was shaken when I learned of this, too.

  7. Great list! Is there really a Fast Cash & Guns? Because if there isn’t, I sense a business opportunity.

  8. 105. Volunteer at the Obama office next to the State Theater and meet Justin, the Chicagoan who is helping us. We’re not so backward here….and we are scared to death of Sarah Palin!

    106. Go to the State Theater and see the hand-drawn movie poster.

    –alas, there is no Linke’s Flowers–it burned down, remember?

    107. Again with the State Theater–dodge the yellow caution tape around many of the seats. Very sad.

  9. Thanks. You brought back so many memories. Good and Bad. Loved it.

  10. Thanks for the memories, here are few more I thought of.

    1. Go to Players and see who is sitting at the same bar stools as when you left town 7 years ago. It is a great bar though.
    2. Go to one of those late night breakfast places after the bar (I forget what they are called) Old Town Cafe?
    3. Tuskys, can 10 people even fit in that place?
    4. Go to Norway Ridge, see how many old people are cheating on their spouses in the parking lot at 2 am.
    5. The Court Yard, prime rib and bread, yumm!
    6. The 19th hole, remember when that place used to be cool, basketball hoop, video games. We used to have crazy hockey parties there when we were kids.
    7. 10th Ave, AKA the “Pump” is always good for some oldies and live music. Refer to # 1 also.
    8. Take a road trip to Bogarts, haha. The farmer’s hang out as I remember.
    9. Go to the old folks bars, Jonesey’s, Blue Bird
    10. JJ’s is great for a high school reunion. Man, I see everyone in there when I go home.

    I tell you one thing, I do miss the quite at times, living here in DC. Hope you all are well.

  11. May I add a production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” at ACC…Dec. 18-20! I am directing! I’ll NEVER volunteer again! Smiles!

  12. Go Deering…dont get caught

  13. in case you dont know what deering is…its where you go to random houses with christmas deer in their front yard and put them in sexual postions…you have to have some creativity with it

  14. Amanda S. That is fantastic. How did I miss all the fun?

  15. You make Alpena sound like America’s epicenter of frivolity. Your list has convinced me to return to the Sunrise Side for my class reunion — my 45th.

  16. Video Rentals at Kurvans?

  17. I think the Kurvan’s is gone. At least the one by your former house in Alpena by the mall. It’s now a tragic wedding shop.

  18. Yes it is closed both of them…it sucks because the one out on M-23 had amazing cookies that were the size or your head for cheap.

  19. I LOVED stumbling across your list. Kudos to a great job on it. I think we could definitely come up with 200 things easily. Had to forward it to my friends who escaped from Alpena while they still could. I’m headed up to Alpena to visit my family for the 4th of July. Boy I can’t wait to run into old classmates at Walmart! (very sarcastic smile) Thanks for the laugh today.

    Also…
    #108. Try and find people that still have a full set of teeth.

  20. What about Lud’s?

  21. […] related stories, see 100 Things to Do in Alpena, MI — which happens to be my no. 1 visited post on this here […]

  22. Lud’s is gone also and recently i found out the family dollar closed not that I am going to miss items that are priced more than $1

  23. Just reading this again. I still love it. Makes me want to visit. For real!

  24. Take your picture at the 45th parallel.

  25. Both Lud’s are closed? I remember catching Indian Trails on State St. Haven’t been back much in last 15+years. Miss my TBJHS years!

  26. LInkes has been going for years.

  27. you should also add this
    #109 Steal the flags on top of Neimens

  28. I love this list!! I left Alpena 12 or so years ago and not that I want to move back but this brings up some great memories! Thanks!

  29. Take a ride on the Stepanski’s pontoon ?

  30. I think the most fun I had was taking three drunk flyboys behind the cement plant for snipe hunting…I wonder if they ever found thier way back to thebase,ha,,Thats what they get for being nasty!

  31. Once upon a time I was riding my bike around Sunrise School and came around a corner to find a group of kids smoking pot in the trees. So, you know, there’s always that.

  32. This is very funny.
    You can now add to the sad list that number 101 should be drive to Dunkin Donuts in anticipationa nd hope of fantastic coffee to be utterly disappointed that they are now out of business. Follow up by going accross street to Big Lots and crying.

  33. Cute, but I was thinking about taking a vacation to Alpena and now I’m not.

  34. Absolutely hysterical. A little sad at times. Found your Blog as I was attempting to find something for my eleven year old to do on a Sunday.
    You should certainly add, Northern Lights Arena to this list! Marvel at the Bay on a beautiful Autumn Day..ride your bike on the miles of bike paths around Alpena, visit Cabin Creek Coffee Shop, walk to the Market Place, grab an ice cream cone at Downtown Scoops..and in reference to Thunder Bay Theatre, Rocky Horror starts on October 20th..sure to be worth a visit to Alpena now….

  35. Omg, yes, omg! No trip to alpena is complete with out a visit to the best Chinese, Chee ping y’all! The pier, savalot, old ripely street station!? Wtf do these place not exist anymore!? Lol

  36. What about. Limbing onto the high school?

  37. Still laughing my ass of.. Great list!!! Didn’t grow up here but have been here 16 years… I have never heard of ” deering” to funny… I’ll have to add that o the bucket list…. Thanks for the laughs.. Alpena sure has changed…

  38. #101. Wait at the light at M-32 and the road between Home Depot for hours.

    #102. Laugh at the Alpena mall.

    #103. Sell puppies in the Walmart parking lot.

    #104. Laugh at the Alpena mall again.

    #105. Go to McDonald’s (won’t be that hard to find.)

    #106. Get free stuff at the Concerts In The Park.

    #107. Smell Abitibi.

    #108. Play “Find A Car Dealership!”

    #109. Wait for the pins to be hit my the pendulum at Besser Museum.

    #110. Walk to Grass Island.


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