From spectacular sunsets that kiss our vineyards goodnight to the simplicity of a perfect heirloom tomato, the natural beauty of Southwest Michigan inspires creativity. Centennial farms rooted in tradition combine with communities transformed by artistic vision. Whether in a kitchen or a glass studio, artists infuse the textures, colors and moods of the seasons into their work. There is no better marriage than food and art - and Southwest Michigan has the best of both! Enjoy a two-day tour of our sister cities and get to know their distinct personalities.
Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely brunch or a grab-and-go option, the Inn at Harbor Shores has you covered. Stay and play at this lovely inn situated on the river near the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and area beaches. Plank’s Tavern on the Water at the inn offers up scrumptious breakfast selections and brunch on the weekends. Or grab a piping hot coffee and a pastry to-go from the cafe while enjoying a sun-splashed morning overlooking the harbor from your adirondack chair.
800 Whitwam Drive, Saint Joseph
A short drive or bike ride from the inn takes you to the Benton Harbor Arts District, powered in part by the New Territory Arts Association (NTAA) and their belief that “Art Builds Community.” Immerse in this flourishing community of artists who have brought a vibrant revitalization to the downtown area with unique gallery spaces, shopping and eateries. The arts district comes alive in the fall featuring community celebrations and a Wednesday farmer’s market. Enjoy local art, music and food at Artoberfest. This popular rain-or-shine family festival takes place at the corner of 5th and Park Streets. October brings Art Hop, another family-friendly evening filled with music, dance, theatre, food and art demonstrations.
The Benton Harbor Arts District is anchored on the south by the Citadel Dance & Music Center (204 Water St, Benton Harbor). Stroll along the picturesque streetscape of lovingly restored buildings and enjoy native gardens, dotted with public art created by the arts community and local children. Summon your inner Chihuly at Water Street Glassworks (140 Water St, Benton Harbor). Housed in the historic Hinkley building, this glass blowing studio and gallery will awe you. Don’t miss the heart of the action in the hot shop. Stand atop the catwalk and marvel at the glass blowing and firing process as stunning pieces take shape right before your eyes. Browse one of a kind glass, metal, enamel and textile works in the attached gallery space. In fall, a glass pumpkin patch blossoms in the studio. Pick your own pumpkin from the harvest of blue, green, yellow, pink and the occasional orange pumpkin which spread throughout the gallery.
Popular with visitors, locals, foodies and families, The Mason Jar Cafe will please any palate. Everything is made from scratch with an emphasis on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. With an extensive menu to accommodate vegetarian and gluten-free tastes this funky cafe is not to be missed. You can spend the afternoon lingering over the beverage menu alone, but if there’s a wait for a table, get your drink ahead of time and enjoy exploring the art studios housed in the same space. The vibe is eclectic and you can meet some of the artists at work. For the bibliophiles, there is a tiny but excellent used book store selling a well curated selection of titles. Browse either before or after your feast!
Head across 6th Street toward Territorial Avenue. One block down, you will see the Candy Company Lofts. This century old building was recently renovated using architectural elements salvaged from the original Barentsen Candy Company which crafted many childhood favorites including peanut brittle.
210 Water Street, Benton Harbor
Sitting on a bright corner, steps from the Candy Company Lofts is the ARS Gallery. Owner Anna Russo Sieber offers an ever-changing showcase of local, regional and national artists. While in the Arts District you will probably notice a number of orange metal sculptures located on rooftops and walkways. Michigan artist John Suave has collaborated with the gallery on the Muhammed Ali-inspired “I Am The Greatest” project. Learn more about how and why 16 of his powerful sculptures have been planted throughout the community. There is much more than meets the eye at this contemporary art gallery and cultural hub. Dive into a variety of art classes, brush up on your Italian, learn everything you need to know about wine before hitting the local wine trail and immerse in new cultures without even leaving the gallery!
147 Fifth St, Benton Harbor
Art may not be the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of golf, but once you stroll through the course at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores you will forever link the two. Golf legend Jack Nicklaus stated a guiding principle of this signature course as “An Environmental Masterpiece Transforms a Community.” Fittingly, a partnership between Harbor Shores and the Benton Harbor Arts District has resulted in stunning artworks at every hole on the course. A ribbon of fitness trails winds through the greens, where you can admire metal sculptures accented with hand-blown glass by local artists. Climb a dune for holes 7, 8, and 9 and you will be rewarded with dramatic views of Lake Michigan, overlooking the shoreline at Jean Klock Park. This lovely windswept beach boasts an observation trail with boardwalk through the dunes anchored by the pastel colors of native sawgrass, seagrapes and flowers. Beyond the sugar sand beach, gaze at changing colors of sky and water, from electric blue to moody grays and feel your daily cares evaporate.
201 Graham Ave, Benton Harbor
Once you have worked up an appetite and need to refresh with a good meal and some live entertainment, mosey down 5th Street to The Livery Microbrewery. Step one hundred years back in time at this former horse livery, complete with the original elevator in place. This rustic, cozy spot is known for its 16 taps of hand-forged craft beer and spent-grain pizza, with a menu featuring creative seasonal specialties. With a stated mission to “create a gathering place that will inspire and enlighten a diverse community of people from near and far to celebrate life through beer, music, and food,” they hold true to that commitment on a nightly basis. Open Stage features regional musicians, poets and storytellers on the first Monday of every month. Most nights feature spectacular national and regional touring bands. For a quiet evening with the kids, settle in for dinner and a drink downstairs where the younger set will find a variety of board games and puzzles. Furry friends are always welcome in the outdoor beer garden.
190 5th St., Benton Harbor
As much as you will be tempted to linger at the lovely Inn at Harbor Shores, grab a quick coffee and pastry on the run in the Rise and Vine Cafe off the hotel lobby and head across the bridge to St. Joseph, a charming Victorian-era town that fosters a love of the visual arts.
800 Whitwam Dr, St Joseph, MI 49085
Step into some local history in the rustic Box Factory for the Arts. The brick building with original period details intact, originally housed Williams Brothers Paper Box Manufacturing Company. Purchased by the Berrien Artists Guild in 1995 and converted to art studios and lofts, this 55,000 square foot community space offers three galleries with changing exhibits and regional competitions, art classes and workshops, a performance stage, and three levels of working studios. The Box offers a rare opportunity to meet the artists and explore their work in their individual creative spaces. Check the schedule for evening performances. Free admission.
1101 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085
One of the brightest stars on the craft beer scene is located right in St. Joseph. With inventive seasonal pairings such as the Girl Scout Cookie Flight and handcrafted mugs for mug club members, the artisanal flair is evident at Silver Harbor Brewing Company. The menu features locally inspired new American style lunch and dinner favorites inside an historic one hundred year old building. Stick around for a tap room tour after lunch and stretch out in the sunny new addition, a frequent showcase for local musicians. Child-friendly menu selections. Outdoor patio seating available in season.
721 Pleasant Street, Saint Joseph
Stroll through the quaint downtown streets to this artist-owned and operated art gallery. Chartreuse features beautiful jewelry, photographs, ceramics, glass, watercolors, wood and textiles by 20+ local artists. You’ll have no problem finding the perfect gift, decorations for the home or office, or a one-of-a-kind souvenir from its extensive collection. New things are added every week.
304 State Street, Saint Joseph
Gear up to experience top national artists in rotating exhibits throughout the year at the Krasl Art Center. More than just a local art center, the Krasl strives for placemaking and to connect community through the arts and collaboration. The bright entrance is crowned by a sunny blown glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. Inside you can view rotating exhibits in the gallery space and in the Artlab - an innovation space for up and coming artists and disruptive thinkers. The fanciful outdoor campus has recently undergone a transformation aided by community efforts. Anchored by the specially commissioned sculpture Rising Crossing Tides by revered artist Richard Hunt, the sculpture garden offers a park-like destination where you can engage with dynamic artworks, nature and the community. Request an interactive tour map of the sculpture sites placed throughout St. Joseph and Benton Harbor to see how the Krasl has integrated the arts into the built and natural landscape. If you plan your visit for the second weekend in July, you will be treated to the Krasl’s nationally recognized art fair which takes over Lake Bluff Park, showcasing the fine art and craft of more than 200 artists from across the country. When inspiration strikes, tap into your inner artist by signing up for a class. Or check the events calendar for themed family days which offer free hands-on workshops for artists of all ages. Free admission, donations appreciated.
707 Lake Boulevard, Saint Joseph
After delighting in the local art scene, work your way up the block for dinner at the Bistro on the Boulevard. Southwest Michigan enjoys a location that draws top culinary talent from nearby Chicago and Grand Rapids. Foodies flock to the region for farm-fresh creations and the Bistro is one of our top destinations. Offering inventive locally-sourced menus that reflect the season, you can enjoy al fresco dining on the terrace overlooking the lake in warm weather. Or a leisurely meal and craft cocktails in the cozy dining room. Wednesday night wine flights. Thursday night martini specials and live music on the veranda. Friday night Wine Down specials. Spectacular sunset views come with your meal every night of the week.
521 Lake Boulevard, St. Joseph
Once upon a time there was a handmade wooden carousel at Silver Beach Amusement park below Lake Bluff Park. Follow the stairs down toward the beach and make a detour to the right to see the new and improved carousel. Marvel at the workmanship of craftsmen from Ohio who painstakingly hand-carved and hand-painted the 48 colorful menagerie figures and two chariots that sparkle under 1,000 glimmering lights. The eighteen rounding boards that circle the top of the carousel bring to life the stories of the area through colorized historical photos. Take a step back 100 years into the time of the original Silver Beach Amusement Park and enjoy the lovingly maintained memorabilia in the attached museum and shop. The original band organ changed hands and traveled the U.S. before returning to St. Joseph. The organ has been fully restored and plays a selection of songs sure to inspire nostalgia for the golden days of the past.
333 Broad Street, St. Joseph
After an artful and invigorating day, return to the inn and explore the second floor art gallery with works by Michigan artists. Exhibits rotate frequently and you can visit with the artists during wine and cheese receptions. Remember to leave time at the end of the day to enjoy some live music on the patio with a seasonally-inspired cocktail while watching the sailboats glide by. Kids will enjoy roasting s’mores over the firepit.
800 Whitwam Drive, Saint Joseph
If you have not had enough inspiration by day’s end, head down to the North Pier lighthouse at Tiscornia Beach Park before sunset to take in the artistry of Mother Nature. You will likely cross paths with some of the area’s most gifted photographers capturing the palette of colors splashed across the evening sky.
For more galleries, museums and performance venues throughout Southwest Michigan, click here.
80 Ridgeway St., St. Joseph
Explore a community transformed by the arts and indulge in local farm-to-table favorites.
Enjoy the arts in the context of local history. Kids of all ages will have a blast on this beachside tour.
We hope you enjoyed your travels throughout Southwest Michigan. Check out other trips that you can take on our itineraries page. Happy trails!
There are more colorful roads to travel after sunrise tomorrow.