Story Starters | Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council
Colorful sunset and lighthouse

Quick Facts | Find a Niche | Spring Pastel Color Tour | Meet Our Makers | Imagi-cations for Kids | What Your History Book Left Out

Quick facts

Three Counties: Berrien, Cass and Van Buren

How to get here

Top reasons to visit

Find a niche

While this is a popular destination year-round for families (see “Imagi-cations for kids” below), this area offers volumes of special niche group stories as well.

Take a spring pastel color tour

Fall color tours bring thousands to Michigan to see our colorful leaf show between mid-September and the end of October. But in Southwest Michigan, that’s not our only show time. An equally beautiful and sweetly scented option is driving alongside miles and miles of grape vineyards and cherry, peach, apricot, pear and apple orchards. Only a few other places in the U.S. offer as many pastel-colored vistas as Southwest Michigan does from late April and late May. Enhance your stories with side trips to shop and dine in quaint towns; find new favorites at craft wineries, breweries and distilleries; walk beaches; catch a concert or theater performance; or see a lavender-and-pink sunset over Lake Michigan.

Meet our makers and taste their delicious crafts

Every land has its makers. Crafters of wood. Forgers of steel. Ours are masters of wine, beer, cider and spirits. Over 40 makers have put down stakes in Southwest Michigan and their locations and festivals offer a wealth of stories. Here are some starters:

Dog friendly destinations

No need for your readers and viewers to leave their four-legged best friends at home. Many Southwest Michigan places from lodgings to beaches to u-pick farms are pet friendly. Stories that will catch dog owners’ attention will be ones about creating a craft wine or beer-tasting itinerary listed in our Pet Friendly Guide.

The area is friendly to horses, too. While visitors cannot hitch their steeds to a post at area wineries, an equestrian trail is available for a scenic ride along the Kal-Haven Trail Sesquicentennial State Park in Van Buren County. 

Imagi-cations for kids

Parents and grandparents catch themselves looking for boredom busters as winter, spring and summer breaks drain their list of how to enrich toddlers’ to teens’ imaginations. That’s not a problem in Southwest Michigan. Here’s your chance to introduce all ages to ideas beyond swimming in our fresh waters and building sandcastles on the beach (although those are great fun, too).

What your history book left out

Southwest Michigan has a vibrant history dating back to the first tribal families that fished, hunted and gathered food in the region, followed by European explorers and pioneers who pushed westward from Detroit along its rivers, the Territorial Road or St. Joseph Trail. Southwest Michigan residents were part of the anti-slavery movement and the Underground Railroad from the 1820s to early 1860s, the European immigration years from 1870 to 1920 and the Great Migration of African-Americans from 1916 to 1970. We are also home to:

To craft your stories, several museums and the St. Joseph lighthouse tours offer in-depth looks at our area's fascinating history. There are walking tours, an architectural research center and ancient artifacts from Bible lands.

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