This two-day trip highlights all things artistic and romantic, creating a cultural connection in Southwest Michigan. Explore these stops at local art galleries, performance venues, restaurants and shops, and take scenic strolls. Not only is this itinerary a chance to see our unique creative work, but a chance to experience it with your love. Let the dialogue of a play accompany the chorus of your laughter and the symphony be a soundtrack to an evening together. Enjoy a romantic meal paired with local craft beverages. Better yet, this two-day getaway doesn’t need to be reserved for just Valentine’s Day or anniversary weekends. Plan an overnight trip for quality time together just because and enjoy!
Make sure to bring along your Makers Trail Passport and Creative Connections brochure to collect stamps! If you don’t have one, you can ask for one as you visit these destinations. Adjust the ordering of these stops and your plan for the day as needed!
Start your day at noon, perusing the Whitlow and Williams Galleries at Box Factory for the Arts to view local artists' work, including some student work. Select pieces are available for purchase! Pick out a piece that stands out to you both to bring home as a reminder of your special getaway together.
1101 Broad St., St. Joseph
Throughout the year, each of this gallery’s artists take turns to help out at the gallery that showcases their ceramics, mixed media, glass, fiber, jewelry, paintings/drawings, soap making, woodworking and photography. This is an easy setting to chat with the creatives who are often working on their newest projects while you are there. If you like a particular style of work, but need different colors or have a specific scene or jewelry piece in mind, most artists will do commissioned work as well. Just ask!
Once you’re done at Chartreuse, explore the shops along State Street. Downtown St. Joe has a variety of shops and boutiques within walking distance to restaurants and cafes that you can stop at along the way. Pick one of these locations to eat lunch at before heading off to the next stop! Check out the list of boutiques specializing in cute clothing, accessories, outdoor fun, good reads and one-of-a-kind gift choices at the St. Joseph Today site.
304 State St., St. Joseph
This intimate community theater is one of the oldest, continuously operating theaters in Michigan. Attend a play put on by volunteers who are passionate in their delivery. The cast will transport you to a new story and make it look effortless as they enthrall you. See upcoming plays and purchase tickets at the link above. This theater is handicap accessible!
600 W. Glenlord Road, St. Joseph
In addition to purchasing local art, another unique memento would be to bring home art you made together! JLN studios offers guided, three-hour art and canvas classes for $55-$82 depending on the size of the canvas. You can also purchase art kits to take home for when you two need a date night in.
2642 W. John Beers Road, Stevensville
The number one sight you must see while you’re here is the sunset over Lake Michigan. Pick from several local dinner options, and either stop by Lookout Park on the way there or on your way back to your hotel afterward. If you go a little out of the way, the view is worth it! Watch the sun sink below the horizon and fill the western skyline with beautiful hues of red, orange and yellow. It’s the perfect way to end your day.
3218 Lakeshore Dr., St. Joseph
The Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra (SMSO) is a professional orchestra with highly-trained musicians who travel from cities as far away as Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Louisville, and Nashville to perform. As a vital member of the local arts and culture since 1951, the SMSO has contributed to the vibrancy of southwest Michigan and surrounding communities, by making beautiful music, offering innovative programming and increasing music education.
Performances take place all over Southwest Michigan. Depending on the season, you can catch a weekend performance in an indoor venue and other times, a performance on the shores of Lake Michigan. During the summer, they also offer a lunch-time concert series outside of the Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library. Check their member page above for upcoming performances and ticket prices.
513 Ship St., St. Joseph
Rise & Vine Cafe is the place to be for espresso fanatics and wine snobs alike! Enjoy wine slushies and tasting flights featuring a variety of locally-crafted wines. If wine isn’t for you, you can also try a coffee flight to taste several beverages at once. They even have boozy coffee flights featuring locally-distilled spirits. While you’re here, order a sandwich for lunch.
800 Whitwam Dr., St. Joseph
Once you’re done at the cafe, head upstairs to the mezzanine to look at this gallery. The Gallery at Harbor Shores features a rotation of select Michigan artists. There is also art featured in public places throughout the building. The Gallery is a thoughtful curation dedicated not only to supporting local artists but to enhancing your overall experience at The Inn, too. Art has been a large focus at The Inn from the very beginning. They’ve ditched the standard hotel prints to support the regional art community instead.
800 Whitwam Dr., St. Joseph
There is much more than meets the eye at this contemporary art gallery and cultural hub. Owner Anna Russo Sieber offers an ever-changing showcase of local, regional and national artists. Dive into a variety of art classes, brush up on your Italian, learn everything you need to know about wine and immerse in new cultures without leaving the gallery!
While in the Benton Harbor Arts District, you will probably notice several orange metal sculptures on rooftops and walkways. Michigan artist John Suave has collaborated with ARS on the Muhammed Ali-inspired “I Am The Greatest” project. Learn more at the gallery about how and why 16 of his sculptures are displayed throughout Benton Harbor and St. Joseph.
147 Fifth St., Benton Harbor
This craft brewery’s taproom and beer garden prioritize sustainability by collaborating with local farmers. You’ll find tasty tacos, sandwiches and appetizers on their taproom menu to pair with a hand-crafted ale or lager inspired by Belgian and European brewers. Wine, homemade cocktails, cider and soft drinks are also available. Enjoy dinner, but save room for healthy competition.
It keeps the romance alive, right? Stay long enough for a board game or shuffleboard, and be sure to pick up a Makers Trail Passport (September through May) to earn rewards during your stay.
670 N. Shore Drive, Benton Harbor
Lake Bluff Park is awash in monuments, memorials and lovely seasonal blooms. This path overlooks Silver Beach and the shores of Lake Michigan. The perfect way to end your trip together is walking hand in hand, creating another memory. There are several bench swings, picnic tables and benches available to stop and take in the view with one another. From early December to Valentine’s Day, the entire park will be lit up with Christmas lights which makes the end to your couples getaway even more enchanting — especially when you catch the twinkling lights in the glistening snowfall.
If you want to expand the walking route, here’s how: A scenic walk south along Lake Boulevard takes you past the library and the Krasl Art Center. Turn right on Park Street toward the beach and cross over the railroad tracks. Tucked away on your left you will find a paved, wooded trail that follows the tracks. Follow the trail to Lion’s Park Beach, where you and yours will be treated to a sand-swept path punctuated with a variety of native flora and fauna.
Follow the path back along the road to Park Street and take a left down to Silver Beach. Stay on the paved path and enjoy sweeping views of one of the top family-friendly beaches in the U.S. On a calm day, you two can enjoy a walk on the South Pier and watch boats and freighters move in and out of the harbor.
Close the loop by following Broad Street past the Whirlpool Compass Fountain and up the stairs back to the top of the bluff.
520-598 Lake Blvd., St. Joseph
Today, you two will exchange laughter over a play, shop for regional art together and create pieces of your own to take home!
Find a symphonic soundtrack for your love story, explore new flavors together and experience the rich culture of our lake towns and the work they’ve inspired.
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.