Things to Do in Manistee: MyNorth’s Editorial Team Hits the Streets

Tuesday, July 11, the entire MyNorth editorial team and interns drove down to Manistee to visit local shops, check out the new Next Generation Learning Center, tour the Vogue Theatre, see “The Shoe” and go fishing, of course. We had such a fun time, we wanted to share our trip with you. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Manistee.

From left: Intern Fallon Gates, Web Editor Carly Simpson and Intern Maddi Miller exploring River Street.

The Victorian homes and buildings, blooming gardens and fountain are just a few of the Insta-worthy photo opportunities you’ll find downtown.

Bonus: Downtown parking is free!

We found a spot by The Fillmore where we were meeting owner Nicole Knapp. We fell in love with the modern, industrial vibe mixed with historical photos of Manistee. And the menu, well, let’s just say we wanted to try everything. A few of our favorites: the fish tacos, slow-smoked pulled pork nachos and the dirty blonde fries. Plus, they’ve got craft cocktails, beer, wine and espresso drinks.

Moving on from the Filmore we strolled down by the Manistee River to check out the docked boats, which reminded editorial intern Kramer Schultz (an extreme fishing enthusiast) that he had forgotten his fishing license at home—we were going charter fishing later in the evening. To say he was determined to get a new one is an understatement. For those who find themselves in a similar predicament, fishing licenses are available online and at Dunham’s.

Our next stop was Snyder’s Shoes on River Street to hear the tale of the shoe of the world’s tallest man. As the story goes …

Robert Wadlow was born in Alton, Illinois on February 22, 1918. He grew at an astounding rate, reaching 6 feet tall and weighing 195 pounds by the time he was eight years old.

When he turned 20 (now over 8 feet tall) he started visiting towns and shoe stores as a representative for the International Shoe Company, who made his size-37 shoes for free.

While marching in a parade in Manistee (home to Synder’s Shoes), a blister on his foot got infected. He had an emergency surgery and blood transfusions, but the infection was fatal. He passed away on July 15, 1940.

Synder’s Shoes has one of Robert’s shoes on display and a life-size statue of Robert. You’ll have to ask the staff about how they got the shoe.

Voyaging on, we found ourselves driving down a dirt road with our guide, Tim Ervin, who was kind enough to set up this trip for us. At last, we reached the parking lot of the Little Manistee River Weir. We were greeted by Scott Heintzelman, a DNR officer, who talked about the importance of the facility, which collects eggs from salmon and steelhead to populate the Great Lakes (read Kramer’s story about the Little Manistee River Weir here). It’s also a popular spot for kayakers to put in their boats and for tubing. There’s an observation deck and easy river access.

Next up, Ironworks Cafe. Ironworks is a massive 72,000-square-foot building currently functioning as a warehouse with a cafe up front serving farm to table dishes and coffee. It’s also home to a community garden and the Manistee Community Kitchen, which is a nonprofit organization working to end hunger and obesity in Manistee County.

After checking out the cafe area, we ventured into the warehouse where we couldn’t help chuckling in mild shock at the sheer mass of the facility. The space is available for rent or sale if someone has a good idea for what to do with it. For 30 minutes, seven of us stood in a circle tossing back ideas of what the place could be made into; residential apartments, a concert venue, a space for local vendors and greenhouses—it went on. The conclusion, we’re waiting for Elon Musk to come and give us the idea of a lifetime. (If you have an idea, though, give them a call.)

Intern Kramer got his fairytale ending.

At the end of the day, Tim Ervin took us out on his boat for an evening of fishing on Lake Michigan. The water was calm and the fish were biting. It was a perfect way to end the day. (Check out river and big lake charters here.)

Find more awesome things to do in the free Benzie/Manistee Vacation Guide!

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