Five Reasons to Make South Haven Your Next Summertime Getaway

Home to some of Michigan’s oldest resorts and bed and breakfasts, South Haven is where summer fun begins. Experience its beachtown history, maritime heritage, wineries and numerous art galleries. South Haven Visitors Bureau explains why it’s easy to make this West Michigan gem your new summer tradition.

Photo by Keshia Lynn Stone

Photo by Keshia Lynn Stone

Imagine a place where you can embrace the small town charm with more than 70 upscale shops, cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Enjoy the warm summer sun on one of seven beaches. Feel the gentle breezes as you leisurely walk the pier of the often-photographed historic lighthouse. Experience the Great Lakes’ rich heritage in the Maritime District. Sail Lake Michigan on a tall ship or cruise the harbor on an old-fashioned water taxi. Travel Blue Star Highway where artisans, galleries and antiques converge on a 16-mile stretch of scenic roadway, and celebrate the bountiful harvest at plentiful year-round farmers markets and wineries.

Though we don’t think it will take much convincing, here are five reasons to make South Haven your next summertime getaway.

Seven Public Beaches – One for each day of the week

Photo by Jamie Garvison

Photo by Jamie Garvison

South Haven is known for beautiful, sandy beaches that stretch for miles. Our visitors love to experience a different beach each day of week. Choose from family-friendly beaches with playground equipment or secluded beaches perfect for that perfect romantic sunset, or if you’re up for some water play you’ll love that you can rental paddleboards, kayaks, jet skis, sailboats, and fishing boats.

Beautiful Scenery – Wooded bike trails, dunes for hiking, scenic drives, and a Covered Bridge

No matter where you go, whether it’s a stroll downtown eating an ice cream cone or biking the 34 mile Kal-Haven Bike Trail or a leisurely paddle down the Black River; the natural scenic beauty will take your breath away.

Shopping in Downtown South Haven – The river runs through it

The greatest part about shopping in South Haven is the family-owned, one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques you’ll discover. From resort wear to cottage decor stores to fudge, ice cream and everything in between; South Haven’s downtown is alive with activity – year ‘round! The best part is that it is only a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan beaches,  and several stores are located in Old Harbor Village, right on the river.

Photo by Jamie Garvison

Photo by Jamie Garvison

Wine Lovers and Foodies love Van Buren County

If you love dining, wine tasting and tours, there are fabulous restaurants and a dozen wineries in the area. Sample at St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw, a scenic 35 minute drive from South Haven, and you’ll experience the history and flavor of Michigan as an emerging wine capital! St. Julian Winery is Michigan’s Oldest, Largest and Most Awarded Winery.

South Haven is walkable and convenient

Enjoy a mile walk on South Haven’s exclusive HarborWalk which extends from the Lighthouse on the South Pier around the harbor to the North Pier. Along the way, take in South Haven’s Historic Markers to see the many ways maritime history is woven into the story of South Haven.

Whether you’re coming to visit for a day or a week; you’ll go home with treasured memories from South Haven and Van Buren County that will last a lifetime! 

Back Roads and Time Travel, Discovering Sleeping Bear Dunes’ Best-Kept Secret

Today, Northern Michigan photographer Aubrieta V. Hope lets us in on Sleeping Bear Dunes’ best-kept secret.

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Photo courtesy of Aubrieta V. Hope Photography (michiganscenery.com)

Sometimes the best travel secrets are hidden in plain sight. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, known for its Dune Climb and majestic Scenic Drive also harbors a secret place off the beaten path that many visitors never see.  It’s a quiet place that invites exploration, where the past seems so near that maybe you could just slip into it.  To discover this special place, travel north on M-22 from Glen Arbor and turn west on Port Oneida Road into the Port Oneida Rural Historic District.

Drive slowly, or better yet, ride a bicycle along the back roads that branch out from Port Oneida Road.  It’s a storybook landscape with more than a dozen farmsteads dating from the mid-1800′s surrounded by rolling hills, wildflower-tangled pastures and beautiful Lake Michigan beaches.

Photo courtesy of Aubrieta Hope Photography

Photo courtesy of Aubrieta Hope Photography

The old pioneer community is quiet now.  But life goes on: wild roses and poppies bloom, orchards bear fruit, and migrating birds and other wildlife proliferate. Two well-marked hiking trails (the Bay View Trail and the Pyramid Point Trail), traverse the region, both offering panoramic views.  You can spend an entire day here and feel like you have just begun to explore.

Port Oneida offers endless inspiration for artists. As a photographer, I visit the area every chance I get.  I especially enjoy photographing the old farms on misty days and during the fall color season when the trees glow like candles on the hills.  I find secrets of Port Oneida’s pioneer past everywhere, in the glint of an old window at sundown or the crunch of a vintage apple in late summer.    ­

Photo courtesy of Aubrieta V. Hope Photography (michiganscenery.com)

Photo courtesy of Aubrieta V. Hope Photography (michiganscenery.com)

Every season brings beauty to Port Oneida, but summertime is special because that is when many events bring the old farms to life.  It’s a fun way to connect with the area’s rich history.  Some events during the summer in Port Oneida include: the Port Oneida Fair, a 5K Barn to Barn Trail Run/Walk, ranger-led interpretive programs, art classes, horse and wagon tours, and volunteer building and restoration projects.

Go ahead, take a back road and time travel into the heart of Sleeping Bear Dunes’ past.  Bring your hiking boots, your binoculars, a picnic, a friend, maybe even your whole family.  You might just want to stay awhile…

For maps, schedules and other information, stop by Sleeping Bear Dunes’ Visitor Center in Empire.

Aubrieta V. HopeAubrieta V. Hope is a landscape photographer with a special interest in Northwest and Upper Michigan.  To see Aubrieta’s images, visit her website, www.michiganscenery.com, check out her Michigan Scenery Facebook page, or stop by Petoskey Pete’s in Glen Arbor or Great Goods in Suttons Bay, Michigan.

 

Five Items to Cross Off Your Ludington Beach Day Checklist

The beaches of Ludington are no stranger to summer fun! Today, guest blogger Brandy Henderson reminds us to cross these five items off your beach day checklist to make your Pure Ludington getaway complete. 

Photo by Todd Reed

Photo by Todd Reed

1. Find the perfect beach for the occasion

With 28 miles of sandy shoreline, you are sure to find the perfect place to drop your beach towel in Pure Ludington. Known for beautiful, sugar-sand beaches along Lake Michigan, Ludington is home to award winning beaches with lots of amenities, dog friendly beaches where your furry friends can take a dip and secluded natural shoreline for a more private setting. Ludington’s beaches have something for everyone.

Most notably, the public beach at Stearns Park has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years. Recently, USA Today named Stearns Park Beach one of the Top 51 Great American Beaches, representing the #1 beach in Michigan. With well-maintained facilities, groomed sugar-sands, beautiful views of the North Breakwater Lighthouse overlooking Lake Michigan and close proximity to the quaint downtown, this is truly a beach to be experienced.

2. Watch or ride the SS Badger

Photo by Todd Reed

Photo by Todd Reed

Stearns Park Beach is also a great place to catch the historic carferry, SS Badger, setting sail across Lake Michigan. This historic ship is the last coal-powered steam ship operating in North America. The 4 hour trip across Lake Michigan aboard the SS Badger can be filled by enjoying the movie theater, enjoying a drink on the bow, watching the kids play in the arcade or just relaxing in the lounge playing games. The Badger operates between Ludington and Manitowoc, WI daily between May and October. Reconnect and relax on the SS Badger!

3. Enjoy A Michigan Craft Brew

Jamesport Brewing Company and The Mitten Bar in downtown Ludington both serve up some great craft beers, as well as some great food. Jamesport Brewing Company is a micro-brewery and at any time you can try any one of their dozen brews. Jamesport is also a great place to catch the sunset or SS Badger making its way home on their outdoor deck.

The Mitten Bar is quickly becoming a “must stop” destination for Michigan beer lovers. The Mitten Bar has created a destination and culture that celebrates craft beer as well as artisan wine and fine spirits from all around Michigan, right here in downtown Ludington. This quaint little bar serves up 13 taps of Michigan craft beer in addition to Michigan-made wine and liquor.

4. Cool off with an ice cream cone at House of Flavors

Photo by Todd Reed

Photo by Todd Reed

It isn’t a stop to Ludington, without a stop at House of Flavors. This 50’s style diner serves up breakfast all day long and have more than 30 flavors of ice cream to fit your fancy. A popular tradition for locals and visitors is to grab an ice cream cone from House of Flavors and walk to the beach or Waterfront Sculpture Park to enjoy one of Ludington’s breathtaking sunsets.

5. Reconnect with Nature at the Ludington State Park

One of Michigan’s most popular state parks, the Ludington State Park, is comprised of nearly 5,300 acres of scenic sand dunes, marshlands and forests.  This beautiful retreat is one of the best places to camp. It is situated between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan with several miles of shoreline and beaches on both bodies of water. In addition to several miles of hiking and biking trails you can enjoy, visitors can also take a short hike to the Big Sable Lighthouse. Your stay at the Ludintgton State Park will be filled with lots of adventures!

IMG_0057Brandy Henderson is the Executive Director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. She is a lifelong resident of Ludington and a Michigan enthusiast.