I had quite the adventure last month on the west coast.
And I’m not talking about California.
I didn’t have to cross the country to take a west coast road trip along the water. In about 45 minutes from Chicago, you can start a beautiful drive along Michigan’s west coast, passing scenic lakeside towns and beaches.
We booked an AirBnB near Whitehall, MI, about three and a half hours from downtown Chicago (pending traffic leaving the city). You pass the beautiful little towns of New Buffalo, St, Joseph, Saugatuck, and Grand Haven making your way up north. Each town with its own unique charm and scenery.
On the way we stopped in a couple of these cities to shop, eat, and stretch our legs. We wanted to see as much as we could in Michigan.
The next day, we decided to head more north toward Pentwater and Ludington, stopping in these two towns and checking out Ludington’s State Park.
This was a great, relaxing weekend getaway from the city. While we could have had nicer weather to hang out at the beaches more, I loved soaking in the fresh air and slow pace of the smaller towns.
The beauty of doing a road trip is that you can spend as little or as much time as you want at each destination. If you plan on making the same trip to western Michigan, be sure to check out my top 5 favorite places to stop and experience ‘Pure Michigan.’
1. Sunset Junque Shop – South Haven
This vintage shop had it all. Old coin operated kiddie rides? Check. Creepy life-size dolls? Check. Vintage postcards and prints? Check. Old barn doors? Check. Mostly everything was outside in their giant yard that you could get lost in. One thing more unique than the next. We walked away with a window planter, but I’m surprised we didn’t get more!
This was my favorite town that we strolled through. So many cute shops and restaurants, as well as two breweries – New Holland Brewing and Big Lake Brewing. It was nice and quiet, but I imagine it picks up during the school year when Hope College students are there. We had a lovely meal here and stopped for frozen yogurt.
3. Ludington Light House
We were on a mission to find a few picturesque lighthouses in Michigan. We accomplished that and took it a step further – we went in one. This was my first time inside a lighthouse, so I didn’t know what to expect. I will say that the actual light in the house was a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be! For $5, you can climb the steep and narrow steps to the top and learn about the history of the lighthouse.
There are a lot of great activities in Ludington State Park. Walking trails, canoe and kayak rentals, float trips, camping, boating, and everything outdoorsy is available here. We decided to spend a good chunk of the day here, so we took a canoe out on the lake for a couple hours. It was peaceful to be out on the water and we got a good workout in!
Crane’s has been around since 1916. What started as just pies and fruit baskets turned into a full restaurant and bakery with wine and hard ciders available. It’s a family-friendly establishment with delicious food and drink, and super fun, old decor. I recommend stopping here for a meal and wine flight.