The top 10 list of must-see things in Southwest Michigan | Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council

The top 10 list of must-see things in Southwest Michigan

A family walking toward the beach in St. Joseph, MI

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:

  1. Visit the picturesque, century-old lighthouses in St. Joseph.

    St Joseph lighthouse at sunsetYou can enjoy the 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
  2. Climb some of the world’s finest freshwater dunes.

    A large dune at Warren Dunes State ParkWarren 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.
  3. Watch the most amazing sunsets.

    A couple watching the sunset at a beachIn Southwest Michigan, it’s almost ritualistic to pause your day to see the sunset. It is mesmerizing when the sun becomes a bright red ball and the sky fills with streaks of lavender, gold, orange and red. Any beach along Lake Michigan’s shoreline offers front-row seats for each night’s unique show. But don’t limit your sunset watching to the Big Lake — inland lakes, rivers and vineyards are great for viewing, too. 
  4. Hear the singing sands on pristine beaches.

    A summer evening at Silver BeachChoose any public beach along Lake Michigan and walk barefoot or with shoes across the golden sand. Listen. With each step, you can hear the the sand sing its soft, ancient song while harmonizing with the waves. The farther you walk, the calmer you will feel.
    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.
  5. Search the Makers Trail to find your favorite craft wines, beers, ciders and spirits.

    People enjoying wine at Lazy BallerinaThis region is renowned in the United States for its wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries. Many of the grapes, grains and hops used to make these delicious beverages are grown locally or on nearby farms. Add excitement to your 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. 
  6. Spend a night stargazing in one of only three International Dark Sky Parks in Michigan.

    A photo of the milky wayDr. 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.
  7. Golf where Senior PGA champions play.

    Harbor Shores Golf Course view of Lake MichiganThe biennial, internationally acclaimed KitchenAid® Senior PGA Championship is held in late May at 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.
  8. Make Creative Connections and earn must-have prizes by the beginning of May.

    Two people riding on the carouselThe beauty and vibrancy of Lake Michigan, the serenity of our countryside and the rich stories of our past inspire the artists, actors, musicians and dreamers that call this area home. Now you can connect with them and their work by visiting the 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. 
  9. Enjoy a wee bit of Scotland on Welter’s Folly, one of the 10 largest putting greens in the world.

    a golfer puttingMake your way to 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. 
  10. Sail on the 1810 replica sloop, the Friends Good Will.

    View of south haven from the Friends Good WillFriends Good Will is a replica of a top sail merchant sloop that plied the waters of the Great Lakes in the early 19th century. She is the 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. 

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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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