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Southwest Michigan’s Empty Nesters
Freedom Tour
3 Days

No longer traveling with children? Enjoy your freedom in Southwest Michigan — your four-season empty-nester destination. Experience hours of relaxation, adventure and play time during this three-day tour. So, pack your bags and find life’s simple joys on this road trip.

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(Approximately 2 HOURS)

Park your car in one of downtown St. Joseph’s on-the-street spots or parking lots, and make your way to State Street and its side roads. Saunter along the sidewalks, browsing and finding gifts or must-haves for you in the boutiques, book, toy and variety stores, cafés, ice cream shops, restaurants and winery tasting rooms. Throughout the year, check for farmers markets, artisan fairs, antiques on the bluff, music performances and festivals happening while you are in town.

Upcoming events

301 State Street, St. Joseph

Directions

Shop downtown St. Joseph

(Approximately 1 HOUR)

Housed in a century-old building in St. Joseph, Silver Harbor Brewing Company is a walkable distance from downtown. It serves up locally inspired, new, American-style lunches plus ales and lagers made in the German, Belgium and American traditions. Consider trying Shipfaced, a three-time gold-winning English barley wine ale, or any beer served in a smoke-filled dome.
Silver Harbor also offers local hard ciders and wines and repeat patrons recommend their flatbreads to satiate your hunger. The outdoor patio is a favorite place to chill from late spring to mid-fall.

A daydream that became reality

721 Pleasant Street, St. Joseph

Directions

Silver Harbor Brewing Company

(Approximately 1½ HOURS)

One of the hottest places to eat, drink and be merry shopping is on Main Street in St. Joseph — The Market is an easy walk from Silver Harbor Brewing Company. This 9,000-square-foot building is a food lover’s paradise with The Cheese Lady, St. Joe Community Taproom, Infusco Coffee, The Tea Annex and Spice Merchant, Dad’s Farm & Café, Nola Roux, Wild Ginger Florist and Gifts and The Wine Shoppe. You won’t leave hungry or empty-handed. If you'd like to spend more time in The Market, take a cooking class at The Culinary Cottage!

Visit the Cheese Lady

Try the St. Joe Community Taproom

301 Main Street, St. Joseph

Directions

The Market

(Approximately 1 HOUR)

You may want to drive to this next destination, although it is a walkable few blocks from The Market. For centuries, the men and women of Benton Harbor/St. Joseph changed how we live, work and play. This museum tells stories in informative, permanent and changing exhibits. A seasonal highlight is to take a North Pier Lighthouse Tour. You don’t have to climb to the top of this century-old, life-saving beacon to be awed by Lake Michigan’s vast beauty, but we recommend it! 

Seasonal North Pier lighthouse tours

Museum exhibits

601 Main Street, St. Joseph

Directions

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center

(Approximately ½ TO 1 HOUR)

You are never too old to visit the happiest place in Southwest Michigan! The Silver Beach Carousel is a masterpiece (circa 2010) — hand-carved and hand-painted — featuring 48 figures and 2 chariots, and one is ADA-accessible. Six of the horses are replicas of the original 1910 carousel that delighted millions of children and adults at the Silver Beach Amusement Park until the park closed in the early 1970s. Whirl around the Carousel House on your favorite figure listening to joyful band organ music. Explore the Silver Beach Amusement Park Museum displays. Then, bring home souvenirs and treasured gifts from the Brass Ring Gift Shop. Before you leave, stop by the refreshment stand for a bag of warm popcorn or fluffy cotton candy. It adds to the happiness.

Where to vacation with your wheelchair

333 Broad Street, St. Joseph

Directions

Silver Beach Carousel

(Approximately 1½ TO 2 HOURS)

Trust the locals when they say Silver Beach Pizza is the BEST pizza in Southwest Michigan. This family-owned Italian restaurant is across the street from the Silver Beach Carousel and attached to the Amtrak depot. They serve up frosty schooners of beer, a full bar, delicious regular and gluten-free pizzas, salads, calzones and sandwiches. Their takeout window is the way to go in the warmer months — just pick up your order and walk across the tracks and grassy berms to the Whirlpool Centennial Park, or picnic on Silver Beach, Lions Park Beach or the bluff. You can even buy pizza by the slice at the window sometimes!

Five extra-delicious foodie finds in Southwest Michigan

410 Vine Street, St. Joseph

Directions

Silver Beach Pizza

(Approximately 1 TO 2 HOURS)

Silver Beach was named by Parent Magazine as one of the best beaches in the United States. As you walk across the expansive beach, listen to the sand sing beneath your feet. The evening is perfect for strolling hand-in-hand along the shore or walking out on the South Pier with your poles and tackle box to fish in the St. Joseph River. Take time to read a book, play volleyball, stand up paddleboard or kayak. Then stay for the sunset — they are some of the most beautiful in the world. 

The park’s Silver Beach Pavilion is the site of music and theater performances during the summer. And in winter, the beach’s landscape turns into a fairy tale vista of sparkling snow and ice. Every season is beach time in Southwest Michigan.

The best places to watch a Southwest Michigan sunset

101 Broad Street, St. Joseph

Directions

Silver Beach County Park

(Approximately 1 HOUR)

You will burn calories today, so start with either your complimentary breakfast at your hotel or, better yet, head over to the Mason Jar Café in the Benton Harbor Arts District. This is the go-to place for locally sourced, organic deliciousness from spicy to savory to a selection of lattes and hot chocolates.

Southwest Michigan’s Best in Breakfast, Brunch and Bloody Marys

210 Water Street, Benton Harbor

Directions

Mason Jar Cafe

(Approximately 1½ TO 2 HOURS)

Warren Dunes State Park is an all-seasons crown jewel in Southwest Michigan. Whether you put on the burn and climb one of the towering, 260-foot high dunes for an amazing vista of Lake Michigan or leisurely walk the three miles of shoreline or six miles of trails, you will add this park to your return-again list. In addition to being a favorite swimming, hiking, hang gliding, paddling, birding and picnicking destination in the spring through fall, it’s a fun place to snowboard and sled in the winter, too. When the atmospheric conditions are just right, this is also a place to see the Chicago skyline 55 miles away — now that’s an unforgettable experience! 

The view of Chicago from Southwest Michigan

12032 Red Arrow Highway, Sawyer

Directions

Warren Dunes State Park

(Approximately 1 HOUR)

More information about Tapistry Brewing Company

There are two Makers Trail pairings for lunch near Warren Dunes State Park. Haymarket Taproom, a sister site to the renowned brewery in Chicago, serves up 16 craft beers on tap, plus a variety of wood-fired pizzas, salads and sandwiches. Tapistry Brewing Company will delight your palate with its smokehouse sandwiches, salads and tacos alongside their hand-crafted beers, hard seltzers and spirits.

While you are at either destination, ask about downloading the Makers Trail app between September and May. The more passport destinations you visit, the more stamps you can collect and the more rewards you can earn!

Get Your Free Makers Trail Passport

Haymarket Taproom
9301 Red Arrow Highway, Bridgma
n
Directions

Tapistry Brewing Company
4236 Lake Street, Bridgman

Directions

Haymarket Taproom & Tapistry Brewing Company

(Approximately 1 TO 1½ HOURS)

Whether you want a refreshing hike through 100 acres of meadows, forests, marshes and creeks or to mountain bike three miles of beginner trails, you will connect with nature at Love Creek County Park & Nature Center in Berrien Center. This park grooms its trail systems for cross-country skiing and fat tire biking in the winter, too. For a more heart-pumping mountain biking challenge, check out Andrews University Trails in the blog below. It offers over 1,000 feet of elevation per lap.

Best Mountain Trail Rides in Southwest Michigan

9292 Huckleberry Road, Berrien Center

Directions

Love Creek County Park & Nature Center

(Approximately ½ TO 1 HOUR)

From Love Creek, take a 15-minute scenic drive to Lemon Creek Winery & Fruit Farm. This is one of our area’s pioneer fruit growers and winemakers dating back 160 years! Choose from dozens of vintages ranging from dry reds to bubbly champagnes. In season, browse through the farm market for just-harvested produce to add to your meals or go into the orchards or vineyards to pick apples and grapes. Now that’s eating fresh! There’s a seasonal produce listing in the blog link below. 

A great-great-great-great-great farming story

533 East Lemon Creek Road, Berrien Springs

Directions

Lemon Creek Winery

Paddle the Paw Paw River

(Approximately 1 TO 3 HOURS)

On the Paw Paw River, you can put in at the public launch at North Stevens Street or Third Coast Paddling at 601 Graham Ave. in Benton Harbor. Then enjoy an easy paddle through the Harbor Shores golf community and the outlying wetlands. Bring your canoe, kayak or SUP, or rent your watercraft and equipment from Third Coast Paddling. The best time to paddle is from mid-May to the end of October. If you enjoy seeing wildlife along the river banks, set out in the early morning or early evening.  

Five Best Places to Paddle in Southwest Michigan

601 Graham Avenue, Benton Harbor

Directions

(Approximately 1 TO 1½ HOURS)

It takes just minutes to drive from the Paw Paw River launch sites to reach your dinner destination at North Pier Brewing Company. Rest up from your adventuring inside the brewery or in their beer garden. This Maker specializes in Belgian-inspired ales and serves up soft drinks, refreshing Nitro-iced coffees, hard ciders and wines, plus appetizers, tacos, sandwiches and more. If you’re looking to catch another sunset, you’re just two miles from Lake Michigan. Two good places to pull up for the nightly show are Jean Klock Park Beach in Benton Harbor or Tiscornia Beach in St. Joseph. 

Meet the Makers, Jeff Fettig — North Pier Brewing Company

Nature + Makers Trail

670 North Shore Drive, Benton Harbor

Directions

North Pier Brewing Company

Harbor Shores Golf Club

(Approximately 3 TO 4 HOURS)

As you are planning your trip, make reservations for a tee time at one of Southwest Michigan’s courses. Most golfers can get the dates and times they want. You can easily find a course that is designed to challenge your level of play from beginner to champion. And the scenery ranges from tree-lined fairways to views of Lake Michigan. 

A favorite near Benton Harbor/St. Joseph is the Harbor Shores Golf Club. This Jack Nicklaus Signature design is the biennial site of the KitchenAid® Senior PGA Championship. You don’t have to be a pro to have fun playing the three dramatic holes with sweeping vistas of Lake Michigan; nine holes bordering the beautiful banks of the Paw Paw River, Ox Creek and its wetlands; and six holes with rolling hills and ravines. Consider the six other scenic courses listed in the blog link below.

Seven Scenic Golf Courses in Southwest Michigan

201 Graham Avenue, Benton Harbor

Directions

Lunch at Harbor Shores

(Approximately 1 HOUR)

The Grille and Greenside Bar present simplistic fare, done exceptionally well, and an extensive selection of spirits, wines and local craft beers. The chef serves up everything from wings to parmesan-pomegranate salad to hot chicken sandwiches, Chicago-style hotdogs and Caprese pasta. Share your golf stories inside or on the patio, weather permitting. 

Summer Dining — Everything Tastes Better Outdoors

201 Graham Avenue, Benton Harbor

Directions

Play the Creative Connections Game

(Approximately ½ TO 2 HOURS)

More information about making Creative Connections

The arts thrive in Southwest Michigan. To add to the fun of sampling the different art, music, performance and museum venues, you can play the Creative Connections Game and earn artsy prizes between May and the end of April. The more Creative Connections destinations you visit, the more stamps you can collect and the more prize levels you can reach. Spend time today visiting participating art galleries, taking a class together, attending a show at The Mendel Center, The Acorn, Twin City Players or exploring a museum. It’s so enriching. 

Upcoming Creative Connections Events

(Approximately 1½ HOURS)

Close out your day at one of our most unique stops on the Makers Trail! Peat’s Cider Social combines tasting hard ciders and seltzer with bowling, arcade games and socializing on their retro-inspired patio. Housed in a 1960s bowling alley, this will strike you as one of the best ways to end your visit — and a good reason to return to the area again and again. 

An “Incider’s” Look at Peat’s Cider Social

6201 Red Arrow Highway, Stevensville

Directions

Peat's Cider Social

Day

Freedom to relax in Southwest Michigan

No need to rush today. Browse. Sip and savor. Explore at your own pace. Then catch a fiery red and gold Lake Michigan sunset at one of our favorite beaches. You will be in no hurry to leave after the gorgeous horizon is replaced by twinkling stars.

Shop downtown St. Joseph

Shop downtown St. Joseph

Silver Harbor Brewing Company

Silver Harbor Brewing Company

The Market

The Market

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center

Silver Beach Carousel

Silver Beach Carousel

Silver Beach Pizza

Silver Beach Pizza

Silver Beach County Park

Silver Beach County Park

Day

Freedom to adventure in Southwest Michigan

You can easily enjoy twice the adventure in Southwest Michigan by combining our Makers Trail of local craft wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries with our nearby hiking, biking and water trails. Choose your adventure or do all three — you will sleep well tonight!

Mason Jar Cafe

Mason Jar Cafe

Warren Dunes State Park

Warren Dunes State Park

Haymarket Taproom & Tapistry Brewing Company

Haymarket Taproom & Tapistry Brewing Company

Love Creek County Park & Nature Center

Love Creek County Park & Nature Center

Lemon Creek Winery

Lemon Creek Winery

Paddle the Paw Paw River

Paddle the Paw Paw River

North Pier Brewing Company

North Pier Brewing Company

Day

Freedom to play in Southwest Michigan

There are so many carefree ways to spend your third day in Southwest Michigan. Play golf, hunt for antiques or new art for your home, bowl at a cidery, pedal around town in a surrey, see a show or concert or, in the winter, test your skills playing River Rocks at River St. Joe in Buchanan. The good times will keep rolling in like Lake Michigan waves.

Harbor Shores Golf Club

Harbor Shores Golf Club

Lunch at Harbor Shores

Lunch at Harbor Shores

Play the Creative Connections Game

Play the Creative Connections Game

Peat

Peat's Cider Social

Thanks

For Joining Us

We hope you enjoyed your travels throughout Southwest Michigan. Check out other trips that you can take on our itineraries page. Happy trails!

See You

In The Morning

There are more colorful roads to travel after sunrise tomorrow.