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Fall Leaves Photo by Joshua Nowicki

For fans of Fighting Irish football, as well as for those who cheer for the visiting opponents, Southwest Michigan is a popular lodging destination during Notre Dame home football weekends. Not only is it a short drive to all the action at the stadium, this corner of Michigan provides a long list of fall activities to make it a full weekend. Such a long list, in fact, even season ticket holders have something different to do every home game weekend.

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dog

Dogs. They're excited to see you walk through the doorway, even if you've left simply to take out the trash. A car ride with the window down equals pure joy. There is no better gift than a tennis ball...or bacon...or ice cream. With so many furry, loyal, fun-loving qualities there's no question why they say "every dog has its day." And that day happens to be August 26, National Dog Day.

Your four-legged friend deserves an appropriate celebration of the occasion. Happily, southwestern Michigan has many dog-friendly activities and lodging options to make it the perfect day for your whole family – even those members who chase squirrels!

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apples
If we had a big ol' brass farm bell to ring, we'd clang it now! This is come-and-get-it time in Southwest Michigan. Area pick-your-own farms, roadside stands and downtown community markets are abounding in fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, cheeses, eggs and flowers. There are shelves of colorful jams, jellies and salsas. Bags of fresh-baked breads and donuts covered in cinnamon-sugar. The farm market freezers are stocked with ready-to-bake fruit pies and bags of berries for smoothies. Of course, reading about this bounty doesn't compare to plucking a plump, sun-ripened peach from the tree and taking a juicy bite. So c'mon! Bring the family for a fun (and delicious) time in the country!

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 Strata - David Barr - Silver Beach, St. Joseph, Michigan

What do Despicable Duck, Abundant Happiness and And You, Seas have in common? They are all part of the impressive outdoor art collection you can admire while walking in flip flops around Southwest Michigan. Casual wear is definitely acceptable as most of this area's art venues are in tree-lined parks and along sandy beaches. And don't mistake this for adult-only fare. There's lots of art to spark children's imaginations and you're never far from a sweets shop to reward your family's cultural adventuring.

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Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra

Every summer, Southwest Michigan offers a feast for all five senses, but when it comes to listening pleasure few places in the Midwest can match the outdoor music venues this corner of the Great Lakes State offers. Several communities host regular and special event concerts that showcase talented local and nationally acclaimed vocalists, instrumentalists, songwriters and composers. Many give performances with Lake Michigan as the backdrop. It's a live music experience that doesn't require earbuds to enjoy the toe tapping, body swaying, soul stirring, feel good sounds all summer long. Here are some of the region's music musts:

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