There is always something new to see, experience, learn and taste in the Benton Harbor Arts District. When I moved to Southwest Michigan several years ago, there was a solid core of arts organizations in the district. Over the last few years, the area has increased its appeal with a variety of other businesses and restaurants. Moreover, it is just around the corner from the Harbor Shores Golf Club which hosts the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship every other year.
A great way to get familiar with the Arts District is to attend one of the Art Hops organized by the New Territory Arts Association. Quarterly, local businesses, restaurants and galleries invite the public to celebrate art and local artists in this walkable downtown setting. Art Hops are free, family-friendly and open to everyone. Many of the participating organizations provide light refreshments for guests.
In the fall, join the New Territory Arts Association to experience and enjoy local art, music and food at Artoberfest. This rain-or-shine afternoon and evening family festival takes place at the corner of 5th and Park Streets near the Livery Microbrewery.
History, Shops, Arts & Classes:
- 3 Pillars Music: Features a wealth of vinyl records, new and used instruments, musical accessories, turntables, amps and speakers.
- 210 Water Street: This is a great opportunity to meet local artists working in their studios.
- ARS Gallery & Culture Center: While in the Arts District, you will probably notice a number of orange metal sculptures located on rooftops and walkways. These sculptures were created by Michigan-based artist John Suave for the “I Am The Greatest Project,” an ARS youth program inspired by boxer Muhammad Ali. The gallery features exhibits of both local and national artists, outreach programs, language and cultural classes.
- Aveline Gallery: Features a wide range of local artists and their work.
- The Citadel Dance & Music Center: Dedicated to performing arts, this organization is devoted to developing the skills and character of individuals through dance, performance, music and vocal lessons.
- The Collective: Yoga, meditation, workshops, strength training and special events along with coffee and smoothies.
- Dwellers Coworking: This is a unique space for collaborative brainstorming, client meetings and more.
- The GhostLight Theatre: A theatre performance venue that seeks to illuminate the arts and culture of the area.
Shops & Experiences:
- The Golf Club at Harbor Shores: A Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course which also features a restaurant and a great wedding and event venue.
- Morton House Museum: Located in the oldest building in Benton Harbor, the museum shares local history.
- Mosaic Resale: This second-hand store supports Mosaic’s job readiness training program.
- The Oak Room at The Citadel: A great location for public and private events including weddings, performances, celebrations and meetings.
- Pipestone Indoor Country Club: This indoor golf facility lets you play on premium simulators.
- Richard Hunt Studio Center: The Arts District is home to the studio of internationally acclaimed sculptor Richard Hunt. He has over 100 sculptures on public display in the United States. These include, “And You, Seas” located at Silver Beach, “Rising Crossing Tides” and “Slowly Toward the North” at the Krasl Art Center.
- Urban Garage: A home decor shop with a wide variety of events focused on arts and crafts.
- Water Street Glassworks: This nonprofit, studio, gallery and school is dedicated to the glass and metal arts. Visitors are invited to overlook the school's “hot shop” and watch students and artists glassblowing and casting. If you are interested in more than observing, a wide range of classes and workshops are open to the public.
- The Livery: If it is craft beer and pizza you are interested in, The Livery offers a delicious selection. The Livery is also the place to go for concerts and entertainment, including Open Stage sponsored by the New Territory Arts Association which features regional musicians, poets and storytellers on the first Monday of every month.
- North Pier Brewing Company: Serving great beer & and food, this microbrewery has a very light, friendly and inviting design and I adore the fact that they have a shuffleboard table.
There are a variety of delightful and unique dining options:
- Charlie's Piggin' N' Grinnin': I can’t get enough of the chili.
- Chatterbox: Wonderful burgers.
- Emma Hearth & Market: Delicious wood-fired pizzas.
- Houndstooth: Amazing and unique food and drinks.
- Larks Bar-B-Que: I love their wonderful ribs and their sandwiches are delicious and a great value.
- Mason Jar Cafe: It is impossible to choose a favorite but I usually select a breakfast- style meal.
- North Shore Inn: Amazing pork tenderloin sandwich.
- The Phoenix Coffeeshop: Great curry chicken salad sandwich and cafe miel.
Be sure to visit and enjoy the Arts District the next time you are in the Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, Michigan area.