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Fun Summer Activities in Southwest Michigan

Updated on July 24, 2012

Go on a Vacation Near Chicago

For people spending part of their summer in Southwest Michigan, there are a plethora of exciting activities that will keep you busy and entertained. While many people are familiar with the Windy City (Chicago), few have considered the opportunities for fun in the summer sun on the other side of the lake.

Although during the winter there is little taking place on Lake Michigan's East Coast, during the summer this area is bustling with activity.

For those who desire a break from city life, those who call Michigan home, or for those who are simply traveling through, here are a variety of fun activities to consider in Southwest Michigan.

Did You Know?

Michigan has the longest coastline in the continental US - second only to Alaska. This is because of the two peninsulas that boarder several of the Great Lakes.

Go to the Beach

I am from California but attended university in Michigan. The first time someone said to me, "Hey, let's go to the beach!" I paused for a second and thought "I just drove 35 hours away from the Pacific Ocean, and, although my geography may not be the best, I am certainly aware that the Atlantic Ocean is quite a ways off as well."

When I asked, "What beach?" The person stated, "Lake Michigan".

"There is NO WAY you can call a lake a beach," I retorted. Well, once we arrived, I quickly sang a different tune. You can indeed call the shores of Lake Michigan a beach. The only confusion is that you are standing on all this sand, playing in the waves, but there is no smell of salt in the air.


Visit Orchards and Vineyards

There are a variety of fruit picking places on sides of the road in Southwest Michigan. Take advantage of the fresh fruit by going out and picking it yourself! This is not only fun, but healthy.

Additionally, visiting some of the awesome vineyards and other orchards in the area could be a great way to spend some time outside enjoying the sun and the beautiful landscaping that many of these properties have.

Surfing and Kite Surfing at St. Jo

Check out the Tourist Towns of Saint Joseph and Saugatuck

Both of these cities are great little towns to visit. With entertaining shops and restaurants, access to the lakefront, and beautiful views, you will think you are in a California or Florida coastal town rather than in the heart of our nation.

Both Saint Joseph and Saugatuck have a variety of fun events and activities going on during the summer. From art and film festivals, to free outdoor concerts and art exhibits, there are a plethora of interesting and entertaining things to do. Be sure to visit the city websites to discover what will be taking place while you are there.


Jump Off of the Dunes

Warren Dunes is an amazing park at the Southwestern-most tip of Michigan - minutes away from Indiana. This state park provides visitors with great camping and beaches to enjoy.

There are two other attractions that often draw in a large crowd during the summer months. The several hundred feet tall dunes are a great place to hike around, run down, and jump off of. For kids and grownups alike, these dunes provide hours of fun, exercise, and beautiful views.

Additionally, there is a mud pit for those who enjoy getting a bit dirty. It is hilarious to see the countless people trekking to the lake to wash off after dousing themselves in grey, clay-like mud.

Go Camping

From Warren Dunes all the way up to Mackinac Island, there are awesome campgrounds and backpacking trails sprawled across the west coast of Michigan.

Spend some time with the family outside of the city, away from the noise and electronics, and grow closer to nature and the peace that it has to offer. Although kids do not always enjoy being away from all the comforts we have grown accustomed to, it is a very healthy and rewarding experience. It's amazing how fast kids can start entertaining themselves with sticks and sand after they are away from their electronics.

Having Summer Fun

I have learned over the years that there is often a countless number of fun activities to be enjoyed right in ones back yard. Too often we spend thousands of dollars to travel to the other side of the world, yet never enjoy the opportunities that others travel half way around the world to experience in our part of the world.

While planning your next exciting summer, be sure to consider all of the exciting possibilities in your own neighborhood (of course, make sure to do some epic traveling as well!).


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    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Sradie: The plus side about Florida is that it is sunny year-round! And glad you're taking time to enjoy the scenery around your new home. Keep enjoying and thanks for sharing.

      Leah: Awesome! A fellow Californian who spent time in Michigan. And making fudge in Mackinac would be a great job! Making something so famous would be legendary. And yes, those "beaches" are pretty amazing.

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      My father-in-law used to make fudge for a candy shop on Mackinac Island (in college). Michigan is a beautiful state! We're originally from California, too, and I couldn't believe that there could be a "beach" on a lake - until we saw Lake Erie for the first time!

    • sradie profile image

      sradie 5 years ago from Palm Coast FL

      We recently moved to Florida from Nevada. Love our beaches here too. We have found, as you say, there are lots of cool things to see and do close to home. It feels good to know your own neck of the woods better and provides a great opportunity to share with visitors and neighbors who may have overlooked or not been exposed to our own back yards.