The top 10 list of must-see things in Southwest Michigan
North Pier Lighthouses | Warren Dunes State Park | Amazing sunsets | Singing sands | Makers Trail | International Dark Sky Park | The Golf Club at Harbor Shores | Creative Connections | Welter’s Folly | Friends Good Will
Welcome to Southwest Michigan — one of the most beautiful and fun-filled places in the Midwest. This paradise along Lake Michigan’s shoreline is bursting with must-visit places and activities in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties. To help get you started on finding your favorite places to return to, here are our top 10 recommendations:
- North Pier Inner & Outer Lighthouses at Tiscornia Park in all four seasons. They are some of the most photographed and painted beacons in Michigan, and they have appeared on a U.S. postage stamp! When conditions are right in winter, the ice-encrusted lighthouses and catwalk become our version of Frozen’s Elsa’s castle. If you visit late spring to early fall, you can take a self-guided or guided tour of the interior, climbing up to the lantern house where you can see for miles. Tours are available, weather permitting, Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m. Book a Tour
- Warren Dunes State Park, 12032 Red Arrow Highway, Sawyer, will take your breath away. Formed after the glacier ice disappeared nearly 10,000 years ago, these giant mountains of soft sand along the Lake Michigan shoreline continue to shift and reshape each day with the wind, waves and visitors climbing their tawny-gold sides. This is a favorite year-round destination for hiking, climbing, sand or snowboarding, hang gliding, kite flying, swimming and playing with your dog on one of the largest pet-welcoming beaches in Southwest Michigan.
Some must-see singing sand beaches include Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Jean Klock Park and Rocky Gap County Park in Benton Harbor, New Buffalo City Beach and Weko Beach in Bridgman.
- Makers Trail tasting adventure by downloading this year’s free Makers Trail Passport app from the App Store. The more Makers Trail destinations you visit, the more stamps you can earn and the more rewards you take home.
- Dr. T.K. Lawless County Park, 15122 Monkey Run St., Vandalia, is a rare, must-see experience. With no light pollution from cities or neighborhoods, you will see a spellbinding vista of our universe and its stars, planets, moons and nebulae. This is an inspiring date night, family activity or personal enrichment that you will want to do again and again. The park will be open late on the following dates this year, weather permitting.
- The Golf Club at Harbor Shores, 201 Graham Ave., Benton Harbor. Enjoy some of the most beautiful vistas, including three dramatic holes with sweeping views of Lake Michigan; nine holes bordering the beautiful banks of the Paw Paw River, Ox Creek and its wetlands; and six holes through rolling hills and ravines. And when the Senior PGA comes to town, get your tickets to see in person the best-of-the-best vie to add their name to the championship board.
- Creative Connections destinations in Southwest Michigan. Pick up a brochure and start collecting stamps at each participating art gallery, museum, performance and music venue. The more stamps you collect, the more artsy prizes you can earn, the more you will be enriched.
- Journeyman Distillery, 109 Generations Drive, Three Oaks. This family-friendly, 30,000-square-foot public putting green is behind the distillery. The 18-hole course features dramatic mounding inspired by the famous Himalayan putting green in St. Andrews. Open to the public daily in season. One of the perks is putters 21+ years old may enjoy alcoholic beverages purchased from the distillery.
- Michigan Maritime Museum’s flagship and sails from her home port of South Haven daily in the height of summer. Staff and volunteer crew, dressed in period clothes, offer passengers a glimpse into the life and operations of a Great Lakes sailor. Passengers may even have the opportunity to assist the crew as they set off on a traditional tall ship adventure on Lake Michigan. Choose from sunset sails, thrilling pirate chaser sails and more.