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Related Member: The Livery, Howard Johnson, ARS Gallery, Arts and Culture Center, Best Western, Comfort Suites - Benton Harbor, Comfort Suites - Stevensville, Curious Kids' Museum, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, Inn at Harbor Shores, Krasl Art Center, Benton Harbor Arts Association, Silver Beach Carousel, SpringHill Suites, Super 8, Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area, Berrien County Historical Association, Courtyard by Marriott, Dr. T.K. Lawless County Park, tru by Hilton, Hampton Inn & Suites
Winter in Downtown St. Joseph

Oftentimes, we all need a breather. It can take many forms — a wine tasting with friends, a meal out with your family, a solo walk along the beach and so on. These little breaks allow us to return to our daily lives refreshed after some self-care. Why should that time only last a few hours? Thousands of people come to visit Southwest Michigan annually for their vacations. Even if you live here, you could benefit from being a tourist in your own region. Looking for a weekend out or a break during the week? Look no further. Here’s your guide to vacationing right down your road with our Southwest Michigan winter staycation ideas.

A group of people cheese tasting.

What is a staycation?

A staycation isn’t just a funky word, it’s an invitation to let loose and treat yourself to a few relaxing days filled with your favorite hobbies — without having to fork over your wallet. 

Book a few nights where someone else cleans the mess

It’s hard to relax at home these days. Your kitchen table might double as your desk, your kids are asking to go outside when they get home from school, and don’t even think about all the cleaning you’ve been meaning to do. Sometimes, it’s nice to get away and stay where someone else makes the beds and cleans the bathrooms. Southwest Michigan has several hotels to flock to. Better yet, you don’t have to worry about the long drive and constant, “Are we there yet?” from the backseat (hopefully). 

Though the charm of Southwest Michigan doesn’t change, our hotel options have. We have several newer hotels in the area, many of which offer breakfast with your stay. Some even have connected suites so the kids can stay in their own room but you can still keep them out of trouble. Depending on where you stay, you’ll have access to onsite restaurants, stunning views, art galleries, spas, trails, bike rentals and more.

Book your stay now!

hotel pool

Hotels with Swimming pools

Since it's too cold to take a dip in Lake Michigan, you and your kids can always make a splash in a hotel pool!

The following hotels have onsite pools: 

  • Best Western 
  • Comfort Suites - Benton Harbor
  • Comfort Suites - Stevensville 
  • Country Inn & Suites
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites
  • Hampton Inn - Stevensville
  • Hampton Inn & Suites - Benton Harbor
  • Hilton Garden Inn - Benton Harbor/ St. Joseph 
  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites - St. Joseph 
  • Howard Johnson
  • Inn at Harbor Shores
  • SpringHill Suites
  • Super 8
  • tru by Hilton

Scallops at the Bistro

Grab a bite to eat

Speaking of food, take a breather from your kitchen on this staycation. Try exploring the many food establishments at your disposal in our area. There is cuisine for everyone, including barbecue, classic American eats, seafood and farm-to-table meals. If you have a staple favorite nearby, indulge! Just make sure to jump out of your comfort zone and go somewhere new, too. Not to overwhelm you, but you can’t go wrong with the food here. Here are a wealth of options

Several of our restaurants have igloos and warm outdoor seating options, so you can still enjoy the fresh air and a view, too.

A person skiing at Swiss Valley Ski Snowboard Area.

Staycation ideas for the family

Sometimes it’s hard to find something everyone will like. Not here! There is plenty of room to roam, and plenty to do across it. 

Play in the snow outside

You can build snow castles at the beaches, fat tire bike several trails, watch the stars at Dr. T.K. Lawless International Dark Sky Park, run on the snowy dunes or hike — and that's just the start of it. Explore the fresh-air hotspots with our trail guides and park guide. When you’re ready for something extreme, stop by Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area to hit the slopes. Or race down the 400-foot, icy tubing lanes under the night sky at Five Pines.

Kids playing at Curious Kids

Explore our history and culture

If outdoor recreation isn’t your thing, no worries. Your local corner of the mitten has several tours and attractions for history buffs and curious souls. ARS Gallery & Culture Center in the Benton Harbor Arts District is just one place of many where you can find curated gallery exhibits showcasing national and regional talent, plus fun classes. The Arts District is also home to delicious restaurants, The Livery brewery, entertainment, sculptures and murals. Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph offers rotating galleries, sculpture tours of the area, plus classes and take-home art kits for you and your children. 

The History Center in Berrien Springs can give you some background information you might not know about the area you live in. It is home to the 1839 county courthouse, the oldest of its kind in Michigan! Speaking of history, stop down by the Silver Beach Carousel. Here, you’ll find artifacts from Silver Beach Amusement Park. This isn’t the original carousel, but this decade-old version is magnificent and features replicas of six of the horses from the 1910 original. The hardest thing is picking which of the 48 hand-carved figures and two chariots (one is handicap accessible) to ride while listening to the band organ play the happiest music in Southwest Michigan.

Other local favorites to take the kiddos include Curious Kids’ Museum Discovery Zone and Eden Springs Park with its December holiday train rides. If you’re still in search of something up your alley, visit our tours & attractions page for more options. 

Perhaps you plan to see a play, give one of these art classes a crack or visit a museum. While you’re at it, play some Creative Connections. Visiting any of the participating places will earn you a stamp. Read more about the prizes for the levels at the link above. This game is played through May 5, 2023.

A cocktail at Journeyman Distillery

Staycation ideas for adults and couples

Are you going on a solo staycation? Getting some time away with your significant other or some close friends? Hit the Makers Trail and visit some of the 30-plus local wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries. You can also download a free Makers Trail passport online to gather a few stamps from September to April each year. Collect 10 stamps by visiting 10 makers and you’ll win $15 toward any Makers Trail destination. Ten more stamps get you a Makers Trail t-shirt and 30 earns you a Makers Trail hoodie. To learn more and plan your route, visit the website above.  

Start planning your perfect staycation

Leave the planning to us! Enjoy this detailed Culture and Romance Tour through Southwest Michigan. If you still need some ideas while planning your staycation, check out our itinerary page! We have 12 itineraries that are geared towards specific plans. Whether you want to bring along your dog, focus just on food or simply get some fresh air the whole time, we have an itinerary for you. 

What are you waiting for? Get planning!

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