St. Clair Shores, Michigan
Published: Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Nestled along the banks of the beautiful Lake St. Clair, St. Clair Shores is often called the “Gateway to the Great Lakes” and the “Boating Capital of Michigan.” The boating business here is flourishing with boat sales, service centers, and four full-service marinas concentrated along Jefferson Avenue between Nine and Ten Mile roads in The Nautical Mile.
St. Clair Shores enjoys a long and colorful history. As early as 1710, French settlers inhabited the area and called it “L’anse Creuse.” In 1804, federal surveyors almost wrote off the land that is now St. Clair Shores as a hopeless mess of mud, mire, and sinkholes.
During the early 19th century, industrious French trappers and farmers traveled by way of Quebec to settle here and, by 1925, St. Clair Shores emerged as the largest village in the United States. During prohibition, big-time racketeers and bootleggers called the Shores their hangout. The most popular roadhouse for gambling and liquor was Blossom Heath, which is now a premier banquet center located in The Nautical Mile.
In 1951, St. Clair Shores incorporated as a City. Boating and other water sports quickly developed into the most significant recreation and business operation in the Shores, making the City the Boating Capital of Michigan.
Over the years, The Nautical Mile earned the reputation as a “destination” for boaters on and off Lake St. Clair. Their motto “Boat. Dine. Shop.” says it all.
Nautical Mile Marinas
After a perfect day of cruising or fishing on Lake St. Clair, ranked by Bassmaster Magazine as “one of the best smallmouth bass fishing lakes in the world,” it’s time to dock your boat in one of the Shores’ five marinas and discover The Nautical Mile.
Blossom Heath Harbor
The City-owned Blossom Heath Harbor rents a limited number of transient boat wells during the summer. Boaters have access to the Beachhouse at the Blossom Heath Park, renovated in 2020, including a roof deck with breathtaking views of Lake St. Clair. (586.445.5350 • www.scsmi.net)
Family-owned and operated since 1934 and the first boat and storage facility in the Shores, Miller Marina is a full-service marina offering fuel dock, repair and service, and transient boat wells. Clean showers and restrooms are also open during hours of operation. (586.771.9000 • www.millermarina.com)
Safe Harbor Jefferson Beach Marina
Traveling south, you’ll find Safe Harbor Jefferson Beach Marina. Established in 1968, they can accommodate yachts as large as 125 feet in length. Transient slips also include complimentary WiFi, shore power and freshwater hookups, and slip-side parking. (586.778.7600 • www.shmarinas.com/locations/safe-harbor-jefferson-beach)
Emerald City Harbor
Founded in 1959, Emerald City Harbor celebrates over 60 years of boating excellence. They offer summer dockage with a gas dock and pump-out facility as well as a marine store, a gazebo, and a picnic area. (586.772.4200 • www.emeraldcityharbor.com)
Trader Todd’s Marina
Formerly Harbor 9, Trader Todd’s Marina is the newest addition to The Nautical Mile marina family and is dedicated to providing comprehensive harbor services in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. They are also home to the Nautical Mile Yacht Club. (586.776.5650 • www.tradertoddsmarina.com)
Nautical Mile Restaurants & Shopping
After securing dockage for your boat, it’s time to relax, dine, shop The Nautical Mile, and have some fun! You can select from a smorgasbord of restaurants ranging from casual fine-dining to kid-friendly fare. Three waterfront restaurants dot the shoreline, offering dine-in and dockside boat service.
Mike’s on the Water
With over 68,000 lobster rolls sold since 2013, Mike’s on the Water is “hands down” the best place for cool, comfortable, casual, and cozy dining. Mike’s also features “Michigan’s only rooftop food truck!” (586.872.2630 • www.mikesonthewater.com)
The WaterMark Bar & Grille
Located in the Safe Harbor Jefferson Beach Marina, The WaterMark Bar & Grille offers a variety of items for any craving. Menu selections include surf, turf, pizza, salads, and pasta. It’s all about music, food, and friends. (586.777.3677 • www.watermarkbarandgrille.com)
Brownie’s on the Lake
Live entertainment with dancing nightly both inside and outside, and with one of Lake St. Clair’s best views, marks the standard at Brownie’s on the Lake. They also offer three bars: an outside tiki bar, a covered waterfront room bar, and inside at the main bar for Nautical Mile’s best happy hour. (586.445.8080 • www.browniesonthelake.com)
Just a short walk from the marinas, boat visitors will find additional food selections for every taste from sushi to Coney Island-style hot dogs. Choices such as Detroit’s Finest Family Dining, Fishbone’s Rhythm Kitchen Café, Mastro’s Ice Cream, Nautical Deli, Pat O’Brien’s Tavern, Pegasus Taverna, Ram’s Horn Family Restaurant, Steve’s Backroom, and Dragon’s Landing Brewery stand ready to welcome you to the Shores.
Visit Gift’s Afloat on The Nautical Mile if you’re looking for a unique shopping experience. From collectibles, nautical-themed decorations, and gifts, they specialize in everything “nautical.” Gift’s Afloat is also easily accessible by water. (586.777.8300 • www.giftsafloat.com)
While you’re on The Nautical Mile, take a stroll down to Blossom Heath Park (10 Mile and Jefferson) and check out The Farmers’ Market on the fourth Sunday of the month from June through September. Spend an afternoon shopping locally-sourced farm-fresh produce and enjoy live music entertainment.
If you’re anxious to stretch your legs with a round of golf, then “Uber” over to the St. Clair Shores Golf Club on Masonic Blvd, just west of Harper Ave. The City-owned, 18-hole golf course was designed in 1973 by golf course architects W. Bruce Matthews and Jerry Matthews (past president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects). The course is designed to appeal to golfers of varying ages and abilities and is one of the busiest 18-hole municipal courses in the state. The St. Clair Shores Golf Club rests on approximately 100 acres with four sets of tees measuring from 4,848 yards (forward tees) to 6,015 yards (back tees). Call 586.294.2000, ext. 1, or go online at www.scsgolf.com to reserve tee times.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of many city-sponsored and Nautical Mile events in 2020 for the safety of the residents and visitors, the following St. Clair Shores traditions will be back for 2021:
- The 2021 Memorial Parade - the largest parade in the Midwest (May)
- The Music on the Lake Concert Series - move to the beat while anchored off of Veterans’ Memorial Park. (Every Wednesday evening from June to August)
- 2021 Fireworks Extravanganza - watch in awe at the spectacular fireworks display from your boat on Lake St. Clair. (June)
- 2021 Aquafest on The Nautical Mile - music, dancing, food, pony rides, ultimate air dog shows. (August)
- Activities at Nautical Mile restaurants and bars year-round.
- And many, many more family-friendly events to come in 2021!
For the latest information on festivals and activities, check the City of St. Clair Shores online at:
NOTE: In case of an emergency on Lake St. Clair, boaters can notify U.S. Coast Guard Station St. Clair Shores, located behind Blossom Heath Park. They serve as the primary unit for warm weather search and rescue and law enforcement serving Lake St. Clair. (586.778.3320)
This article first appeared in the Summer Issue (Jul/Aug) 2020 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.