6 things to do, sights to see in popular Lake Michigan beach town | You have 48 hours this weekend. Come explore Ludington
There are beautiful beaches all over Michigan, but only one is ranked No. 1 in the state. There are boats all over the Great Lakes, but there’s only one Badger. There are more than 100 state parks in Michigan, but only one has over 5,000 acres to explore and is home to the Mitten’s tallest lighthouse.
Anywhere you go in Michigan there are amazing beach towns and summery spots.
But there’s only one Ludington.
Why not check it out this weekend? You won’t be able to experience everything Ludington has to offer in just 48 hours, but you can get your feet wet. (Literally!)
To help plan your visit, here’s how to get there. And here are several things to do while you’re in town:
Stearns Park Beach – In addition to a half-mile of sandy Lake Michigan shoreline, Stearns Park Beach also features mini-golf, a skate park, volleyball and shuffleboard courts, a playground, grassy areas in the shade for picnics and a lighthouse at the end of a long pier that’s great for fishing, watching sunsets or waving to the S.S. Badger. No wonder USA Today named it one of 51 Great American Beaches. By the way, the North Breakwater Light at the end of the pier was named by The Weather Channel as one of the country’s Top 10 lighthouses to see.
House of Flavors – There are many places to get ice cream. But only one place is home to the House of Flavors. The Ludington dairy produces 25 million gallons of delicious homemade ice cream per year and has a restaurant right downtown that hosted a successful Guinness World Record attempt for Longest Ice Cream Dessert. The final numbers: more than 2,970 feet of ice cream, 944 pounds of chocolate syrup, 600 cans of whipped topping, 102 pounds of maraschino cherries and a total weight of more than 3 tons.
Ludington State Park – Not only does Ludington State Park have shoreline and beach along Lake Michigan, but also the all-sports Hamlin Lake. In between are 5,300 acres of scenic sand dunes, ponds, marshlands and forests that make for one of Michigan’s most popular places for camping and outdoor recreation. In Ludington State Park you can float your way down the Big Sable River in a tube from the Hamlin Lake Dam straight into the big lake, hike through the woods or bike through miles of trails. The park also is home to the tallest lighthouse in the Lower Peninsula, the 112-foot high Big Sable Point.
Big Sable Point – Speaking of lighthouses, the historic black-and-white-striped Big Sable Point Lighthouse dates to 1867. It’s 112 feet high and open for tours from May through October. You can climb the tower for an unparalleled view or explore the original Keeper’s Quarters that have been converted into a gift shop. You can reach Big Sable Point on a beautiful two-mile trail that winds through sand dunes and along the Lake Michigan shore through Ludington State Park.
Outdoor recreation – Kayak down the Pere Marquette River. Take a jet ski for a spin around Hamlin Lake. Laze away the day floating down Big Sable River in a tube. When it comes to enjoying a Michigan summer, what’s your jam? Whatever it is, the Ludington area has a unique way to experience it. Charter a boat for some Great Lakes fishing. Go sailing in a yacht. Play golf on one of the Top Ten Best New Affordable Courses in America. Hike or bike through the wilderness of the Manistee National Forest. Come explore and enjoy!
Downtown shopping – Ludington is a beach town. It also has a great downtown, with lots of cute shops and unique restaurants. In addition to the famous House of Flavors, you’ll find art galleries, antiques, music retailers, boutique clothing stores, brew pubs that showcase Ludington’s growing craft beer scene and the Sandcastles Children’s Museum. Plus, there are scenic parks right along the waterfront. Downtown also is home to a farmers’ market and family-friendly summer street parties on the last two Fridays in July and the first two Fridays in August.
Spending more than 48 hours in Ludington? Check out these attractions, too:
Amber Elk Ranch – Ever seen an elk up close? Here’s your chance. Take a wagon ride through this beautiful 130-acre farm to see huge bull elk. There’s also a petting zoo where kids can meet and feed interesting animals that aren’t quite so big as the bull elk.
S.S. Badger – Like clockwork, the 410-foot-long, seven-story-tall steamship goes back and forth across Lake Michigan between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis. carrying up to 620 passengers and 120 automobiles on the four-hour, 60-mile journey. Even if you’re not on board, it’s a thrill to stand on the pier at Stearns Park Beach and watch the Badger come and go. In addition to lake crossings, the Badger runs special shoreline cruises at times during the summer.
Country Dairy – Go to Moo School at this working family farm and dairy processor. You can take a 90-minute tour and see milk get bottled, meet cows and sample delicious chocolate milk. If you dare, try some “moochies” while you’re there. (You’ll just have to visit to see what those are!)
Historic White Pine Village – Go back in time and relive Michigan’s pioneer days with a tour of more than 30 historic buildings including the original 1849 Mason County Courthouse. There’s also a working sawmill and first-person interpreters who re-enact life as it was over 100 years ago.
Lewis Farms Petting Zoo – Farms grow food. This one also has acres of fun for the whole family. There’s a petting zoo with strange animals, tons of unique games like Redneck Tic Tac Toe and play spaces to keep kids busy including a Crawley Spider Web, Jumping Pillow, Pedal Carts and a Carousel. There’s also a farm market and a bakery that’ll take your breath away.
Port of Ludington Maritime Museum – Shipwrecked schooners along the Ludington shore attest to the area’s long nautical history, and it’s all chronicled through artifacts, photographs and interactive exhibits in this former U.S. Coast Guard Station overlooking Lake Michigan. There’s even a simulation where you can pilot the famed Pere Marquette 22 car ferry around Ludington’s harbor with guidance from a hologram of Capt. Andy Van Dyke.
Visit Pure Ludington to plan your Ludington trip.
Eric Hultgren talks to Bob and Amanda from Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance about the 28th annual Michigander Bicycle Tour.
The 28th annual Michigander Bicycle Tour will take place July 13-18, 2019
Sign up at Michigander.bike – Register by July 6, 2019
Nick plans the perfect day on the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and invites his brother to go duning with him.
Have you every turned right off the bridge? Today, Nick explores the shores of the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
Nick heads to Ludington to explore one of the most iconic lighthouses in Michigan.
You may know Michigan is one of the top wine-producing states. But when you think of wineries, you might not think of the Petoskey Area.
After all, winters are just too darn cold up there, right?
Too cold for chardonnay grapes, maybe. But vineyards in the Petoskey Wine Region plant hybrid grapes that can withstand temperatures as cold as 30 or 40 degrees below zero.
“We’re making wines that are very crisp and have higher acidity, which makes them different than grapes grown in other regions,” said Tracie Roush, an owner of Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery.
“The acidity balances the sugar in the fruit so you get a really nice balanced wine, and what we find is that both dry wine drinkers and sweet wine drinkers are enjoying the wine because of the balance.”
Just a few years ago there weren’t many wineries in the Petoskey Area. Now there are 12 and wine tasting has become one of the most popular things to do in the area.
It makes our list of 10 northern Michigan adventures for your summer bucket list:
Launch a squash rocket – Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs makes wine. It also brews craft beer and features a farm market full of fresh produce and unique canned items. Speaking of unique, have you ever fired a squash rocket? There’s tons of family fun at pet-friendly Pond Hill including farm animals and fish that you can feed, hiking trails, a scavenger hunt for gnomes and a giant squash rocket that sends fruits and veggies zinging out into the fields. During weekend afternoons in the summer, you can go on a hayride around the farm.
Immerse yourself in purple – For a completely different farm experience, visit Lavender Hill Farm in Boyne City. One of the largest commercial lavender farms in Michigan offers daily tours and, as you might guess, it looks beautiful. The lavender smells and tastes amazing, too! Lavender Hill also is home to The Series, a schedule of live music concerts on weekend summer nights.
Eat at a Michigan Historic Landmark Dining Destination – Many people drive through the Tunnel of Trees in the fall to envelop themselves in the stunning colors of the season. But the winding route along M-119 from Harbor Springs north to Cross Village also offers breathtaking views in the summer. The peaceful stretch hugs Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan as it passes through small towns with cute little shops and art galleries. At the northern end of the route is Legs Inn, an historic Polish restaurant with distinctive architecture and a beautiful garden overlooking the water.
Pedal your breath away – No matter how slow you ride, the scenic beauty of the Little Traverse Wheelway is breathtaking. The 26-mile paved trail runs along the waterfront between Harbor Springs and Charlevoix, going from one eye-popping vista to the next as it passes through historic Bay View and elegant Bay Harbor. You can rent a bike or rollerblades or bring your own. Try to keep your eyes on the path!
Play disc golf up a mountain – In the winter, Avalanche Mountain Preserve in Boyne City is “Michigan’s Best Sledding Hill.” In the summer, it’s a great place to go for a hike and get a heavenly perspective on northern Michigan scenery. It’s a 462-step climb to the top of one side of the mountain, where a thrilling view of Lake Charlevoix awaits. On the other side, you can play disc golf along your way up the mountain on one of Michigan’s top courses. There are several other trails, too, both for hiking and mountain biking, with a wide range of difficulty. The 300-plus-acre, city-run preserve also offers an archery range in the summer.
Become one with nature – For more hiking trails, download the LTC Explorer app and set off on a path of discovery in the Little Traverse Conservancy Nature Preserves. There are some 80 preserves, many within the Petoskey Area, where you can enjoy low-impact activities including hiking, birdwatching and, of course, fishing. Michigan is surrounded by the world’s largest system of freshwater lakes, and that affords many opportunities to get out on the water. That’s especially true in the Petoskey Area. Rent a kayak or paddleboard. Go boating. Make a splash and savor the most natural form of refreshment. Hunt for Petoskey stones or build sandcastles on the beach! Summer doesn’t last forever in Michigan, and that makes warm, sunny days that much sweeter.
Play the best and the beautiful – No list of outdoor recreation in northern Michigan is complete without golf. The Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed Heather at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs has been named the 2019 National Golf Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association, and Bay Harbor again has been named by Golf Digest as one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. Those are just two of 18 amazing golf courses within about 30 minutes of each other in the Petoskey Area.
Find extraordinary treasures – You can find treasured Petoskey stones on the beach, but there are one-of-a-kind finds all over the Petoskey Area in the region’s charming downtowns. For example, there’s Bay Harbor, the golf course, and then there’s Bay Harbor, the cute village with unique boutique shops to explore. When you’re done shopping in Bay Harbor, you can head over to Boyne City or Harbor Springs or Petoskey. You’ll find more of the same uncongested, easygoing pace, and yet it’s completely different because each downtown has a relaxing character all its own.
See a real gingerbread house – If you’re a lover of arts and culture, check out the new 500-seat Great Lakes Center for the Arts with a wide variety of national acts or the Crooked Tree Arts Center that holds events in a renovated church building that still features stained glass. If you’re an admirer of interesting architecture, tour the Bay View neighborhood with 450 historic buildings including authentic gingerbread houses that make it one of the Prettiest Painted Places in the country.
Plan a week of remarkable day trips – Whether you spend an afternoon on Mackinac Island, go for a climb up the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, watch the stars come out at Headlands International Dark Sky Park or go elk viewing in Gaylord – or all of the above! – you can find a home base in the Petoskey Area that’s perfectly suited for your adventures.
“Getting off the beaten path is so easy to do here,” said Diane Dakins, assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.
Nick heads to the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area for a day hike in preparation for a backpacking trip later this summer.