Wine Country Tour
Showy as an Easter parade, spring marches along the southern Lake Michigan shore and inland across orchards and vineyards.
Apple and cherry trees bloom soon after breezes blow warm and long before crowds converge on this popular summer vacation area. Stroll Lake Michigan beaches, tour area wineries and explore still-sleepy hamlets in the perfect weather.
In late spring, white and pale-pink blooms seem to bow the branches of trees striping the hillsides around St. Joseph (60 miles southwest of Grand Rapids). From this pretty port, our 160-mile drive takes you through corridors of blossoms to friendly main streets and other spots where you'll want to linger.
Memorable vistas spread from almost every corner in downtown "St. Joe," perched on a bluff high above Lake Michigan. You'll find boutiques and coffee shops amid the stores and businesses lining the brick streets.
Ship captains and lumber barons built many of the Victorian homes in surrounding neighborhoods. Now, vacationers and second-home owners relish the bluff-top views. Steep steps descend from downtown to Silver Beach, where 10 volleyball nets stand ready. You can meander out onto parallel breakwaters that jut 1,000 feet into the lake to twin lighthouses. From there, watch legendary sunsets splash across the sky.
Drive south six miles on Business-94 West/Red Arrow Highway. Continue south 10 miles.
Warren Dunes State Park
Mountains of golden sand rise 240 feet above Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes State Park. On weekends, kids cure a winter's worth of cabin fever crunching up Tower Hill, the tallest dune, then tumbling back down.
Windsurfers' colorful sails glide on lake breezes over waves that curl toward shore. On the park's north end, hiking trails wind through forests of budding hardwoods.
Continue south and west two miles on the Red Arrow Highway to Sawyer, then southwest 12 miles to New Buffalo.
Harbor Country: Sawyer to New Buffalo
Sawyer is the northernmost of a collection of old resort towns that string like pearls along the Red Arrow Highway to New Buffalo near the Indiana state line. Nostalgic restaurants, offbeat galleries and intriguing antiques shops line the road, named for a World War I Army division from Michigan.
Watch for signs, or you might miss the little towns hiding between the highway and the Lake Michigan shore. In Sawyer, Harbert, Lakeside and Union Pier, more antiques dealers fill converted cottages, vintage brick storefronts and cavernous warehouses. Fuel up with limpa or other freshly baked breads and cakes at Harbert Swedish Bakery. In New Buffalo, the main street slopes gently toward the lakefront and marina.
East five miles on US-12.