Fayette historic state park is truly something to behold. Once a bustling company town at the tip of the Garden Peninsula, the well-preserved buildings have now been standing for nearly 150 years, and it’s a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.
After the iron operation that created the town shut down in the late 1800’s, Fayette passed through several phases before being snatched up by the State of Michigan and turned into an awesome state park. The park rests on one of the most scenic parts of Lake Michigan’s shoreline (think huge limestone bluffs and rocky beaches) and there’s a nice campground right there for those who wish to stay a while. It’s one of the finer points of the Upper Peninsula.
And if you’re hungry (or thirsty) while in the area, Sherry’s Port Bar is a neat little family friendly spot for a meal or a beer. I’ve heard they have a good all-you-can-eat whitefish fish fry on Friday’s during the summer season, and it’s within walking distance of the Fayette campground.
My wife and I drove over to Fayette with our daughter this summer. It was only my second visit to the place, the first being a sixth grade field trip over twenty years ago, so my memories of the place were a little fuzzy. Fond, but fuzzy. So here’s how it went down…
We breezed through the admissions area (thanks to our Michigan recreation passport), parked in a spacious parking lot and made our way down a little hill into the main welcome center. Guided tours go out every half hour, I was told, and the next one would be starting in about five minutes.
A few minutes later, we were being led through the town by an enthusiastic college student who seemed to have a pretty comprehensive knowledge of the place. She was super friendly and gave a short but informative tour that ran through the entire history of the town, from it’s beginnings in 1867 as a company town to it’s present date status as a state park.
After the tour we were free to roam about the town on our own. We spent an hour or so poking our noses into well marked historic buildings and reading interpretive signs about the town’s past, but could have just as easily spent half a day here. There’s a scenic overlook trail, a souvenir shop that sells ice cream, and plenty of open space near the harbor that would be a great place for a picnic, tossing Frisbee around or just hanging out for a while.
We had packed a lunch but left it in our car, so we ended up dining at a picnic table alongside the parking lot. Next time we’ll definitely bring our lunch down near the water. Also on our next visit, we’ll probably try to allow a whole day just for the Garden Peninsula. In addition to Fayette, there are art galleries, wineries and a cool little harbor at the very tip of the peninsula (More write ups on all of this to come) so it’d be easy to blow a day here and enjoy every minute of it.
Want to see more photos of Fayette? (Including shots from the scenic overlook trail) Click here to visit my Facebook page then browse to the “Fayette Historic Ghost Town” album. (You’ll need to “like” the page if you haven’t already.)
Bottom Line: The historic ghost town of Fayette is definitely one of my “must see” things in the U.P. It’s cool even if you’re not a history geek, trust me. And the scenery is awesome.
Other things to note: Open daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. mid-May through mid-June and Labor Day through mid-October; 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. mid-June through Labor Day. And it looks like some of the trails are available for cross country skiing in the winter.
Location: To see Fayette’s Location on my Map of the Upper Peninsula, click here.