Lake Michigan Shore Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Lake Michigan Shore Trip Guide

Pretty small towns, sandy beaches and rolling dunes await visitors to the southeast side of Lake Michigan.

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  • 1
    Thrills abound at Saugatuck Dune Rides.
    Thrills abound at Saugatuck Dune Rides.
  • 2
    Shoppers delight in St. Joseph's boutiques and galleries.
    Shoppers delight in St. Joseph's boutiques and galleries.
  • 3
    Blueberry pavlova at Bentwood Tavern in New Buffalo
    Blueberry pavlova at Bentwood Tavern in New Buffalo
  • 4
    Oink's Dutch Treat in New Buffalo
    Oink's Dutch Treat in New Buffalo
  • 5
    Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor
    Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor
  • 6
    Old Boys' Brewhouse in Spring Lake
    Old Boys' Brewhouse in Spring Lake
  • 7
    Holland's Window on the Waterfront Park bursts with color during its spring tulip display.
    Holland's Window on the Waterfront Park bursts with color during its spring tulip display.
  • 8
    Take the Lake Express ferry to Muskegon.
    Take the Lake Express ferry to Muskegon.
  • 9
    The lakeside Captain Lou's serves pub food and cold beer in a laid-back setting.
    The lakeside Captain Lou's serves pub food and cold beer in a laid-back setting.
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    The coal-fired S.S. Badger ferries between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
    The coal-fired S.S. Badger ferries between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Where to start The most accessible section of this shore extends from the Indiana line 175 miles north to Ludington. 

Worth noting A yearlong state-park vehicle permit ($30.50 online or at any park entrance) is the cheapest way to experience some of the best beaches, protected in more than 30 state parks. (517) 373-9900; michigan.gov/dnr

Southern shore

From New Buffalo to St. Joseph, enjoy sandy beaches and easy access to inland fruit farms and wineries. 

What to do

Hickory Creek Winery Lush flowerbeds greet visitors at this quality-over-quantity spot offering dry wines. Sample up to five for $5, then stroll through the vineyards. See reviews and ratings. (269) 422-1100; hickorycreekwinery.com

Lemon Creek Winery and Fruit Farm In Berrien Springs, visitors purchase a $5 keepsake glass and sample any five of 26 wines, including Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. Also enjoy you-pick apples, berries and peaches. (269) 471-1321; lemoncreekwinery.com

Warren Dunes State Park Dunes rise as much as 260 feet above the lake in Sawyer to provide great views and frame busy beaches (arrive early on weekends to claim a spot). The park is a popular hang gliding site. See reviews and ratings. (269) 426-4013; michigan.gov/dnr

Where to eat 

Bentwood Tavern Dine on a pretty lakeside patio at this New Buffalo favorite. The menu features steaks and seafood (and burgers), plus seasonally inspired desserts. (269) 469-1699; bentwoodtavern.com

Milda’s Corner Market This Lithuanian deli and market has a cultlike following. The deli serves soups, sandwiches and kugelisa casserole of potatoes and bacon. Imported goods stock the market. (269) 469-9880; milda.us 

Oink's Dutch Treat Kitschy pig and ice cream decor fills the building, and 50-plus flavors (like Cotton Candy Confetti and Marion County Blackberry) fill the coolers. See reviews and ratings. (269) 469-3535

Redamak’s It’s the place to go in New Buffalo for burgers. Fresh beef ground on-site and, yes, Velveeta cheese turn simple into wonderful. Expect a wait. See reviews and ratings. (269) 469-4522; redamaks.com

Rosie’s A homey New Buffalo diner serves classic breakfast dishes, including eggs, hash browns, and biscuits and gravy. (269) 469-4382 

Soe Cafe This chic Sawyer restaurant serves simply prepared, from-scratch dishes. (269) 426-4878; soe-cafe.com

Where to stay

Gordon Beach Inn The historic Union Pier inn has 20 rooms with private baths, an art gallery, beach and the popular seafood spot Timothy’s Restaurant. From $110. (269) 469-0800; gordonbeachinn.com

Harbor Grand Hotel The 55-guest-room New Buffalo boutique hotel encourages indulgence. We love the 24-hour Ben and Jerry’s ice cream delivery, free beach towels and beachside lounge chairs, and breakfast-in-bed service. From $179. See reviews and ratings. (888) 605-6800; harborgrand.com

For information: Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce (269) 469-5409; harborcountry.org

Click ahead for the St. Joseph and Holland areas.

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