Like the Stonington Peninsula, the Garden Peninsula is a quiet, peaceful point of land, filled with little-used blacktopped roads perfect for biking, and a handful of sleepy farms and orchards. The main road down the peninsula is M-183, accessed off U.S. 2. As it traces the east shore of Big Bay de Noc, M-183 passes through the tiny hamlet of Garden. Along with a few shops, it’s home to a commercial fishery at the end of Little Harbor Road, where you can buy some fresh catch.
By far the peninsula’s most notable attraction—and rightly so—is the 711-acre Fayette Historic State Park (13700 13.25 Lane, 906/644-2603, state park vehicle permit required). If you make time for just one stop in this part of the U.P., make it this outstanding state park. Once the site of a large smelting operation, Fayette’s limestone furnaces converted raw iron ore from U.P. mines into pig iron that was loaded onto barges bound for Escanaba.
In the 1880s, stinky, industrial Fayette boasted a population of 500, and its loud, hot blast furnaces cranked away seven days a week. By 1891, nearby forests that fueled the furnace were all but depleted, and more efficient steelmaking methods came into vogue. The furnace shut down, and the town died with it.
Nearly a century later, Fayette was reborn as a wonderfully restored historic site and state park. Today, Fayette is surely one of the nation’s most scenic ghost towns, its dozen limestone buildings tucked along the sheer white bluffs and deep, clear waters of Snail Shell Harbor. Start at the visitors center, which gives a good historical overview and features a helpful scale model of the village. You can wander in and out of the hotel, opera house, homes, and other buildings, some intact, some more decayed.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel