Fun, Affordable Family Spring Break Ideas | Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council

Fun, Affordable Family Spring Break Ideas

Kids playing video games at Slackers

Spring break is right around the corner. Your family wants to abandon their routines and focus on having fun. But you're on a budget. No problem. Take your gang to Southwest Michigan — and invite the cousins or friends to come along, too. 

Here are fun, affordable ideas to fill your time off together.

A person photographing flowers at Fernwood.

Embrace the Great Outdoors

Goodbye, snow. Hello, sunshine. It’s time to get outside and enjoy spring. 

Fernwood Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve

This 105-acre preserve in Niles boasts ten distinct ecosystems. Your family can spend an entire day walking along scenic trails, surrounded by wildflowers and ferns. Your kids will enjoy watching the birds feast at the feeders or spying on frogs and tadpoles in the pond. If you are traveling with high school-aged teens, check out the Spring Break Learning Experiences

Sarett Nature Center

With miles of scenic trails through various ecosystems, this Benton Harbor nature center is a serene haven for meeting nature up close. Sarett’s newest family adventure is a Big Tree Hunt. Search for seven different big trees near the trails.  

Warren Dunes State Park

Climb magnificent dunes for panoramic Lake Michigan views, embark on nature hikes, and enjoy picnics amid budding flora. Families love rock hounding along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Warren Dunes.

Madeline Bertrand County Park

This local favorite in Niles offers groomed hiking and biking trails through picturesque pine and oak forests. Challenge your family to a game of disc golf on the 18-hole course or enjoy a leisurely picnic.

Kids playing at Little Things Play Cafe.

Play Indoors

If a spring shower or cooler temperatures pop up while you are here, don’t let them dampen your fun. No matter what the weather, fit at least one of these ideas into your day trip or overnight visit. 

Curious Kids’ Museum & Discovery Zone

Choose from two locations or do them both. On the St. Joseph bluff is the newly renovated Curious Kids’ Museum with two floors of hands-on learning fun. Easily fill a couple of hours with face painting, pretending to be a veterinarian or a shopkeeper, sliding down a volcano, playing with bubbles, building forts with giant blocks and so much more.  

Below the bluff, at the Silver Beach Center, is Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone. This interactive space is a playground for learning, too. Toddlers to 10-year-olds and their adult companions will explore the Lake Michigan Water Table, do zany dances in the Reflections exhibit, climb the  25-foot Lighthouse Tower and more. You and your kids will also have a blast playing and pretend-cooking in the new traveling kitchen exhibit sponsored by Whirlpool Corporation. 

Silver Beach Carousel

While you're at the Silver Beach Center, stop by the Silver Beach Carousel. With 48 hand-carved and hand-painted figures plus two chariots - every ride is magical. One of the chariots welcomes wheelchairs. There are also headphones and other accommodations for neurodivergent riders. 

You can enjoy plenty of free or low-cost activities in the Carousel House as well, including hula hoops, board games and watching trains wind through the intricate display. 

JLN Studio

JLN Studio in Stevensville offers a range of art classes and workshops for all ages. Join family friendly painting classes or pick up Art Kits for at-home or in-the-hotel creativity. Bring out the artistic side — the take-home art will keep spring break memories alive.

Water Street Glassworks

This studio is a favorite stop in the Benton Harbor Arts District. Sign up for classes in glass and metal arts. Create glass mosaics, beads or sun catchers. Or just marvel at the expert glassblowers at work. 

The Little Things Play Cafe

This indoor playground in St. Joseph has comfy couches, delicious gourmet coffee and fun things for your little ones to enjoy. Sit back or interact as your children climb unique wooden structures or spark their imaginations with open-ended play options.

Slackers Family Fun Center

Slackers in St. Joseph offers indoor bounce houses, laser tag, a laser maze, arcade games, and more. It's perfect for a rainy day or a fantastic afternoon of family fun without breaking the bank.

A child being served ice cream at Kilwins.

Indulge in Sweet Treats

No spring break is complete without celebrating it with some delightful sweets. 


Families flock to Kilwins in St. Joseph for its irresistible charm and mouthwatering treats. With its welcoming atmosphere and delectable handmade fudge, ice cream, and chocolates, Kilwins offers a delightful experience for everyone.

Sweet Haven Candy

With its colorful displays, nostalgic candies, and unique treats, Sweet Haven is a paradise for candy lovers of all ages. A visit promises a sweet escape and a treasure trove of sugary delights.

Oink's Dutch Treat

End your day on a sweet note at Oink's Dutch Treat in New Buffalo. Since 1987, this ice cream and yogurt shop has been a favorite among families in Harbor Country. Choose from a variety of flavors like Cotton Candy Twist or Nana's Banana Pudding while you explore the shop's whimsical decorations filled with pig and ice cream memorabilia.

Plates of food at Plank

Plan Your Spring Break in Southwest Michigan

While planning your spring break vacation, check our upcoming events for what will happen while you are here. Spring break is a popular time for kids’ activities, concerts and performances. 

While here, you will find foods your kids will enjoy from morning to night. Then pick a hotel with the rates and amenities you want — there are many with indoor pools for playing Marco Polo and breakfast when you wake up. You can effortlessly fill more days with much-needed time together. 

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Share with Us

Please send us photos and videos of your Southwest Michigan getaway. Use our hashtag #swmichigan or upload your photos to our CrowdRiff Collector below. This is an opportunity for your photos to appear on our social media, website or marketing materials. Thanks for sharing your memories!

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