Michigan Roadside Attractions: Sea Shell City
Michigan Roadside Attractions is a periodic feature on Travel the Mitten that will explore the many interesting things that can be found on the highways, byways and back roads of Michigan, ranging from the interesting to unusual.
Few places in Michigan can claim to be the very definition of a “tourist trap” in the way that Sea Shell City can. Since the 1950s, this iconic stop just off I-75 has lured in travelers on their way to Mackinaw City with billboards highlighting their gift shop and “500 lb. man killing giant clam.”
Sea Shell City offers thousands of items for sale. In addition to shells from all over the world and in every price range, you can also find a wide selection of nautical decorations, Michigan themed items, clothing, lighthouses, bears, pirate themed items, candy, toys and more.
There are countless photo opportunities for the kids (or adults) here as well – a pirate, a large bear, and a shark’s head for starters. Outside you can let the children run free on a pirate ship themed play area.
Now, a little information about the “man-killing giant clam.” According to the sign posted here, the giant clam is the second-largest mollusk (behind the giant squid) and the largest one with another shell. This particular specimen comes from the Philippines and weighs in at 505 lbs. It notes the legend that this clam can snuff out a life, but refers to it as a vegetarian that would rather dine on algae. Rumors that divers had their arms or legs clamped down on by a clam and then drowned as result have swirled for years, but are unfounded.
If you find yourself heading north on I-75, consider stopping in at Sea Shell City for a unique experience, and perhaps the decorations or gifts you’ve been looking for! You’ll find it at exit 326, approximately 15 minutes south of the Mackinac Bridge. Check out their website and Facebook page for more pictures, online ordering and more. For a similar roadside stop in the Upper Peninsula, check out our post about Da Yoopers Tourist Trap in Ishpeming.