Southwest Michigan has proudly preserved many of its Victorian-era homes, downtown buildings and colorful past. This two-day tour will introduce you to the people and events that shaped what we are today.
A fascinating stop if you’re traveling on Wednesdays or weekends, Memorial Day-Labor Day. This museum houses antique gas and steam machinery. It also hosts one of Michigan’s largest steam engine and tractor shows in September.
Then go three miles west toward Lake Michigan and downtown South Haven to the Michigan Maritime Museum.
06285 68th Street, South Haven
Before exploring the rich maritime history of the Great Lakes, enjoy a picnic on the grounds or walk to nearby restaurants for lunch. This museum houses permanent and changing exhibits, a center for teaching boatbuilding and related maritime skills and waterfront festivals throughout the summer. But you can also cruise the river on the Lindy Lou, sail Lake Michigan on the replica tall ship Friends Good Will or the recently refurbished Bernida. A fun family event is participating in the Pirate Chaser Adventure Sail.
Gather up yer mateys and head approximately 20 miles down the coast to a landlubber favorite, the North Berrien Historical Museum.
260 Dyckman Avenue, South Haven
This museum complex offers a fascinating glimpse into the origins of this region’s development as an agricultural community and resort destination. Long before that, Native Americans called the area home, and still do to this day. Permanent and rotating exhibits bring to life rural schools, resident life, and businesses including the Paper Mill. Learn about history in the Print Shop, which contains the original newspaper linotype and other printing artifacts from the Watervliet Record. The Nichols Agricultural Building holds farm equipment, lumbering tools and transportation displays used by local farmers, such as a 1934 Parrett Tractor and a 1929 Ford Model A Pickup. Check the museum website for special children’s programs, seasonal events and musical entertainment. Activities for all ages and group tours available.
Admission: Free, but donations are welcome. Handicap accessible.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, head 20 minutes south to finish your day at Papa Vino’s Italian Kitchen.
300 Coloma Ave., Coloma
Papa Vino’s is known for its huge menu and generous portions. Their signature dish is their Sizzlelini®, a choice of steak, shrimp, Italian sausage, grilled chicken, steak and wild mushrooms or grilled chicken and Italian sausage — each served in a sizzling skillet with a zesty peperonata sauce and spaghetti. You will also find your favorite classics, lasagna, manicotti, veal parmesan, a variety of pizzas, plus Papa’s rigatoni al forno and butternut ravioli. There are lighter dishes, soups and salads and lots of dessert choices like tiramisu and cannoli. The restaurant is ADA accessible, so everyone feels welcome.
Hope you can spend the night at one of our resort town lodgings — there’s more fun planned tomorrow.
1332 Hilltop Road, St. Joseph
This museum shares the stories of a history-rich region with special and permanent exhibits. Its research library is open to anyone interested in the history of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor and the Great Lakes region. The museum is fully ADA accessible. It is open Monday-Thursday by appointment and Friday, Saturday and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Free admission.
Next, walk or take a quick drive down the bluff to the Silver Beach Carousel and Silver Beach Amusement Park Museum.
601 Main St., St. Joseph
No place can top how much fun you’ll have learning history here! This magnificent hand-carved and hand-painted carousel features 18 rounding boards that tell the area’s story from its native tribal people to current industries and events. (It’s the first known carousel to use historic art and photos on its rounding boards.) Historic exhibits and hands-on activities in the Silver Beach Amusement Park Museum take you back to the days before televisions and computers when families spent summer days at the park that once stood on the nearby beach. The museum is free and there’s a nominal cost to ride the carousel. Please check the website for seasonal hours and token costs.
Next, head up the bluff and go east on Broad St. to enjoy lunch along the historic St. Joseph River. Within five minutes you’ll be at Clementine’s Too.
333 Broad St., St. Joseph
This is a local favorite and don’t be surprised to see a stack of onion rings on every table. Everyone orders them! Also well-known for its perch, wide variety of appetizers and sandwiches.
Next, head south 20 minutes to Berrien Springs by taking Niles Avenue to M-139 then US-31. Enjoy your afternoon at The History Center at Courthouse Square.
1235 Broad St., St. Joseph
This is the site of Berrien County’s original county seat and is the Midwest’s oldest surviving county government complex. A free walking tour includes an 1830 log house, 1839 courthouse, 1870 sheriff’s house and 1860/1873 county records and office building. Open all year, it also hosts several special events and programs to enlighten all ages. Free. Please check the website for seasonal hours.
Then go north five minutes to the Andrews University Architecture Resource Center.
313 N. Cass St., Berrien Springs
In addition to housing several important and valuable collections of architectural research materials, this site includes the Environmental Design and Research Association Collection, the most comprehensive in the discipline of environmental behavior as it relates to architecture and design. Free. Closed on Saturdays.
8975 Old US 31, Berrien Springs
This is a treasure trove of more than 8,500 artifacts and objects from Bible lands. Seven exhibit halls in all, one includes a life-sized Bedouin tent filled with Jordanian Bedouin antiques. Another exhibit room houses artifacts and models from the days of Jesus. The Egyptian Hall lets you walk into a replica of an Egyptian tomb with a mummified Egyptian Ibis. And another hall houses the largest cuneiform collection in North America. The museum is open 3-5 p.m. on Saturdays and by appointment other days. Free. To set up an appointment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 269-471-6180.
Finally, head north 30 minutes to Grande Mere Inn.
8975 Old US 31, Berrien Springs
This local and tourist favorite restaurant has been family-owned and operated since 1980. Its cozy, cottage-style dining room offers a stunning view of Lake Michigan and beautiful sunsets.
The menu includes top quality steaks, lake perch, ribs, chicken, duck, and seafood, including Alaskan king crab legs and African lobster tails. Their soups, breads, dressings and sauces are made in house daily, and the chefs avidly support and utilize the local farmers, wineries, and breweries. Very friendly and welcoming.
5800 Red Arrow Highway, Stevensville
Begin your day with a morning visit to:
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.