You don’t have to drive to the West Coast to visit an award-winning winery or take a picturesque drive along a winding shore. Michigan’s own Harbor Country has these in spades, putting any notion of a flat and boring Midwest to rest. Here are our top tips for enjoying a trip along Michigan’s beautiful south-western shore.
Once you make it to New Buffalo, escape the multi-lane highway and cut west to Red Arrow Highway. This leafy, two-lane route spans across the eight beach towns that make up Harbor Country: Michiana, Grand Beach, New Buffalo, Three Oaks, Union Pier, Lakeside, Harbert, and Sawyer. On this route, you’ll pass countless eateries, shops and boutiques, art galleries, cottages, and even wineries to stop at along the way.
Lucky for summer travelers, Michigan’s wine country is nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, serving lakeshore views while sipping local wines. The lake helps in creating prime growing conditions similar to that of Napa Valley’s, allowing Harbor Country to produce comparable, topnotch wines. During your stay in one of Harbor Country’s many towns, catch a cab to one of these exquisite wineries:
Neighboring Harbor Country lies 36 acres of vineyards belonging to Dablon Vineyards & Winery in Baroda. In the tasting room, enjoy an award-winning Pinot Noir or Chardonnay with a sight of the rolling vineyards, or get a sneak peek of the production process.
111 W. Shawnee Rd., Baroda, MI 49101
Lemon Creek Winery’s tasting room huddles the lakeshore in downtown Grand Haven. After a day of shopping and exploring, wind down at the tasting room with a glass of ’13 Merlot Reserve in hand, the recent winner of the International Eastern Double Gold award.
327 North Beacon Blvd., Grand Haven, MI 49417
Experience the history of St. Julian Winery, Michigan’s oldest winery. Sample a few wines at the tasting room in Union Pier, or head inland to take a tour of the winery in Paw Paw. There you can enjoy a free tour and six tastings of your choice when you purchase a St. Julian wine glass for $7.00.
Tasting Room: 9145 Union Pier Rd., Union Pier, MI 49129
Winery: 716 S. Kalamazoo St., Paw Paw, MI 49079
While Harbor Country may be Michigan’s wine country, it is also home to several breweries. At Greenbush Brewing Co. in Sawyer, you can experience more than mouth-watering craft beer pairings—chill out on the outdoor patio, complete with bocce ball, corn hole, and a fire pit.
5885 Sawyer Rd., Sawyer, MI 49125
Harbor Country isn’t all charm and relaxation. Get your blood flowing with a visit to Warren Dunes State Park. Located in Sawyer, this park features three miles of shoreline and six miles of hiking trails. The tallest dune rises more than 260 feet and provides great views of Lake Michigan. And when you’re not exploring the dunes, relax on the beach or cook out at your campsite.
12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer, MI 49125
Contrary to what you may believe, reputable artwork isn’t only found in the big cities. Harbor Country may be composed of a few small towns, but the art community here is thriving. Performing arts, art galleries, handcrafted jewelry, architecture—you name it and Harbor Country has it. Enjoy live music at Acorn Theater, or catch an opera performance at Harbor Country Opera. If you prefer something with a little less action, visit one of the many art galleries located throughout the region.