Lake Michigan is a popular destination among lake lovers in the Great Lakes region, and there's no denying that it's beautiful to see in person. With that being said, some towns and cities offer better views of the lake than others. The thing is, that not everyone would expect that one of those places would be an abandoned 19th-century town - and certainly not one in this good of condition.

The Fayette Historic Townsite is a destination that's nary on a traveler's list if they're even aware of its existence. However, visiting this historic location is akin to taking a stroll back in time during a period when industrial means were once part of the history of Lake Michigan. And, if nothing else, it's a great place to walk around on a sunny day, especially for the vantage point from which visitors can see the lake.

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The Abandoned Town On Lake Michigan's Northern Shore

The unique thing about Fayette Historic Townsite is that it's not only a completely intact ghost town, but it's also a state park. The town was able to preserve the integrity of this industrial town and it's now open to visitors who come to explore its history as well as the northern shores of Lake Michigan. The site itself is surprisingly large and is home to a slew of historical reenactments that have drawn visitors from all over for decades. The town is so large, in fact, that it boasts its own small harbor, known as Snail Shell Harbor. This all ties into its industrial history, as the town was once an industrial community responsible for the manufacturing of charcoal pig iron. This went on from 1867 until 1891 when the need was no longer prevalent and the town was eventually abandoned.

The town's historic buildings have been lovingly restored and now make up a collection of 20 that are open to visitors. The visitor center is also open and provides visitors the chance to learn about the history of this iron-producing lakeside town, as well as offering both self-guided and guided tours (more on that later).

  • Historic Events: Every second Saturday of August, the park puts on reenactments that include period-accurate displays, music, and food in celebration of the once-bustling iron town.

While the town's history is impressive on its own, what's equally as impressive are the surrounding views that visitors will have when visiting this living museum. With all 20 buildings lining the strip of land that reaches out into Lake Michigan, there are many vantage points from which to take in the sights around this gorgeous shoreline.

Visiting The Fayette Historic Townsite

  • The historic village is located within Fayette Historic State Park.
  • A Recreation Passport is required to visit the state park, and information & prices can be found on the website here.
  • Recreation Passports are valid for one full year.
  • Both Michigan residents and out-of-town residents are permitted to purchase Recreation Passports.

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Other Things To Do Within The Park

While touring the village at Fayette Historic Townsite may only take several hours or less, there's plenty to do within the park itself. The northern shore of Lake Michigan is arguably the most beautiful part of the lake, and visitors who pay for a Recreation Passport should not pass up the chance to explore it in full. Camping is a popular activity on the shores of the lake, and regular tent camping, as well as cabin lodging, is available. Those interested in making their way to the park from the water will also be happy to know that boats are permitted in the harbor for a fee.

Those who only plan to spend a day visiting the park will be happy to know that there are plenty of hiking trails to explore, as well. Various trails wind their ways through lush forests and take hikers past scenic overlooks, such as Big Bay de Noc and Snail Shell Harbor, from which the limestone cliffs can be seen. The curved hook-like peninsula of the area means that hiking is a breeze, and many of the trails interlock with one another to make for an easy day of navigation, as well.

State Park Information

  • Park Hours: Daily from 8 AM - 10 PM, with only registered campers permitted in the park at 10 PM.
  • Campsite and harbor slip reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
  • Recreation Passports are required for entry into the park.
  • Pets are permitted with the use of a six-foot leash in state parks.

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