Celebrate SpringAhh, spring. That beautiful time of year when the world becomes green again, animals (and people) come out of hibernation, and our local parks fill with all ages enjoying the fresh air, beautiful flowers and chirping birds.

In Southwest Michigan, we celebrate spring like no other season. Here are a few of our favorite things to do:

Watch the Blossomtime Festival Grand Floral Parade: This local tradition on the first Saturday of May features more than 100 units and attracts 200,000 spectators along the Main Streets of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. Come wave at two dozen queens riding on blossom-decorated floats that represent their communities. Applaud the incredibly spirited marching bands, motorcycle drill team, costumed characters and much more as they entertain the crowds (keep an eye out for Silver Beach Center’s Splash).

Take a walk through the flowers at Fernwood Botanical Garden: Fernwood is beautiful all year round but is especially enthralling in the spring when the first of the flowers bloom. The trails vary in length from .04 miles to .6 miles, so there is a path for any level of physical activity. If you’re up for it, follow the Wilderness Trail to see the St. Joseph River.

Curious KidsEat lunch at the Mason Jar Café: Enjoy eclectic, organic food at the popular Mason Jar Café. Once asparagus is in season, you’ll find it on the menu in a variety of ways. On the first warm days of spring, sit outside on the patio and enjoy the view of the Benton Harbor Arts District.

Splash in the Whirlpool Compass Fountain: This downtown St. Joseph attraction, located below the bluff, opens for the season the first week in May. When the weather heats up, wear your swimsuit and play on the splash pad right by the shores of Silver Beach. Make a stop at the Silver Beach Center and enjoy two of its attractions – the Curious Kids’ Museum Discovery Zone and the Silver Beach Carousel.

Sip wine at Gravity: Wine tasting through the countryside is amazing any time of year, but spring brings the additional bonus of driving by picturesque orchards filled with pastel blossoms before you reach your destination. Plan an afternoon of tasting wine and snacks on Gravity’s beautiful deck overlooking the vineyards and a private lake. Be sure to say hi to the winery’s dog Ollie (and taste the wine named after him).

paddle12Go stand-up paddle boarding along the Paw Paw River: Starting in May, the Third Coast Surf Shop sets up shop along the Paw Paw River with kayak and stand-up paddle boards available for rental. Paddle along the easy, slow moving river and enjoy exploring all the plant life blooming on its shores. If it’s still a little cool, no worries as you’re unlikely to fall in and get wet.

Eat dinner at local favorite Grande Mere Inn: Sitting atop the Covert Ridge in Stevensville, Grande Mere Inn serves up a classic menu along with a beautiful view of Grand Mere State Park and Lake Michigan. Sample one of the brews made in house (your choices will change with the seasons) and enjoy a breathtaking sunset by one of the large picture windows. After dinner, take a couple minutes to enjoy the view from benches on “Pete’s Patio” behind the restaurant.

There are plenty more activities to keep yourself busy. Check out our website for more ideas for hiking, dining or fun events to plan your stay around.