Category Archives: Attractions

Sand Point Lighthouse, Escanaba, MI

sand point lighthouse escanaba
Sand Point Lighthouse, Escanaba, MI

For 70 years the lantern of the Sand Point Lighthouse guided ships in and out of the Escanaba Port, and for another 40 years it served as a residence for the Coast Guard. Today visitors can tour the lighthouse, which has been restored to its original appearance.

sand point lighthouse2During the 19th century the railroad carried lumber and iron ore unearthed in the Upper Peninsula’s mines to the Lake Michigan port at Escanaba, from where it was shipped to destinations throughout the Great Lakes Region. The railroad was completed in 1864, and in 1868 the Sand Point Lighthouse opened to alert the ships traveling in and out of the busy port to a dangerous spit of land jutting out into the bay.

The first lighthouse keeper was a woman, Mary Terry, who kept the job until her mysterious death in a fire in 1886. In total, nine light keepers lived in the lighthouse until it was deactivated in 1939.

view from sandpoint lighthouse
View from the lantern room of the Sand Point Lighthouse in Escanaba

Today visitors can tour the restored rooms where the light keepers and their families once lived then climb up to the lantern to enjoy beautiful views of the bay.

The Sand Point Lighthouse is located in Ludington Park, near the Municipal Beach and the Delta County Historical Museum, and is open to visitors between Memorial Day and October 1st.

Sand Point Lighthouse
16 Beaumier Way
Escanaba, MI 49829

Ludington State Park, Ludington, MI

Photo by Rachel Kramer,
Photo by Rachel Kramer,

Ludington State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Michigan, and it’s easy to see why. In addition to a beautiful Lake Michigan beach, Ludington State Park offers a second beach along Hamlin Lake, sand dunes, hiking trails, an amphitheater, three campgrounds and the Big Sable Point Lighthouse.

The Lake Michigan beach stretches seven miles along the Great Lake, and features a beach house with a store, a restaurant and concessions. The beach has an accessible walkway to make getting down to the water’s edge easier.

For variety, warmer water temperatures (sometimes), or when the waves on Lake Michigan are too rough, try the Lake Hamlin Beach. The playground and calmer waters makes this beach a favorite with families. There’s a picnic area with grills nearby so you can grill up lunch or grab something to eat at the concession stand.

There’s a boat launch on Hamlin Lake to enjoy a day of water skiing or relaxing with your fishing pole. If you didn’t bring a boat, paddleboat, rowboat, canoe and kayak rentals are available at the concession stand. One of Ludington State Park’s unique features is a picturesque, marked, 4 -mile long canoe trail that winds along the edge of Hamlin Lake and wanders through bayous not accessible from the hiking trails.

Ludington State Park boasts 8 hiking and biking trails meandering a combined 18 miles through the park; there are options for those seeking a pleasant stroll as well as those who like a bigger challenge.

The Big Sable Point Lighthouse has illuminated the shores of Ludington since 1867. In 1949 it became the last Great Lakes lighthouse to be electrified. The lighthouse is open to visitors from May through October, but is situated 1.8 miles from the the parking lot so be prepared for a little hike!

Ludington State Park features not one but four campgrounds. Pines, Cedar and Beechwood all feature modern restrooms and electrical hookups. Pines is situated near Lake Michigan and offers 99 campsites, mostly shady. Beechwood is located near Hamlin Lake and has 147 mostly shady campsites. Cedar lies between Pines and Beechwood and features 106 mostly sunny campsites. There are three mini-cabins for rent for those traveling without a camper or tent.

For those who like a more rustic camping experience, the fourth campsite, Jack Pines, might be just the thing. It is not accessible by road and no vehicles are allowed, so all equipment, gear and supplies must be walked in. It is located in the dunes near Lake Michigan, about a mile north of Pines Campground. Vault toilets and hand pump are provided.

Ludington State Park
8800 W. M-116
Ludington, MI 49431
(231) 843-2423


Picking blueberries in Grand Haven, Michigan.

If you’re in West Michigan in July or August you’ll want to take advantage of blueberry abundance available in the area. There are u-pick farms if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, or you can find plenty of fresh, succulent berries in the area farm markets.

We like to do the u-pick, and without fail my kids get competitive and I wind up with tons of berries. No problem! They freeze well – I like to freeze them on a cookie sheet first, then bag them – that way they don’t turn into a goopy mess when you thaw them.

Here are a couple of my favorite blueberry recipes:


2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
3 C. cake flour (not self rising)
1 ½ C. sugar
7 T. butter (1 stick minus 1 T., reserved for topping)
1 C. milk
1 T. vanilla
1 large egg
1 ½ cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix baking powder, salt, cake flour, and sugar. With pastry blender or two knives used scissor-fashion, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in milk, vanilla, and egg until flour is just moistened. Gently stir in blueberries; spoon batter into loaf pan.

Crumb Topping

1 T. slivered almonds
½ t cinnamon
2 T. cake flour
2 T. sugar
1 T. Butter

Coarsely chop almonds. In small bowl, with fork, mix almonds, cinnamon, cake flour, sugar and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumb topping over batter.

Bake loaf 1 hour and 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and finish cooling on wire rack.

Note: I use regular flour for this recipe and it comes out fine.


blueberry pieUncovered Blueberry Pie

¾ C sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1/8 t. salt
1 cup water
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 T. butter
1 – 9-inch baked pi e shell.

In a medium saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water and 1 cup of the blueberries. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining 2 cups blueberries and butter until butter is melted. Cool for about 1 hour. Pour into pie shell. If desired, cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with whipped cream.


Things to Do in New Buffalo, MI

new buffalo mi lighthouse

Though a day on New Buffalo’s beach is a great time, make sure to take a break from the waves and sand to enjoy the other attractions New Buffalo has to offer.

Four Winds Casino

When the sun goes down, head over to Four Winds Casino for dining, entertainment and, of course, gaming. Read more here:

Four Winds New Buffalo
11111 Wilson Rd
New Buffalo, MI 49117

Oselka Marina

Turn your day at the beach into an adventure with jet ski or boat rentals from Oselka Marina. Wakeboards, water skis and tubes are also available for an additional fee. Please see the Oselka website for information about safety certificates and other requirements for renting equipment.

Oselka Marina
514 W. Water St.
New Buffalo, MI 49117

New Buffalo Railroad Museum

Everyone from train and history buffs to Thomas the Tank Engine fans should enjoy the New Buffalo Railroad Museum. The museum honors New Buffalo’s history as a depot on the Pere Marquette and the Cheaspeake & Ohio railway system with exhibits such as an old-time box car, a WWII troop sleeper car and a mid 1800’s hand-pumper fire engine. Open Thurs- Mon 12-5 from May thru September,

Fri-Sun 12-5 from October thru December. Admission is free!

New Buffalo Railroad Museum
530 S. Whittaker St
New Buffalo, MI 49117

Whittaker Woods Golf Club

Whittaker Woods is a public golf course located in New Buffalo. The course is located among ponds, woods and wetlands, making for an aesthetically pleasing yet technically challenging course. The course measures over 7000 yards, but offers four tee placements, and measures around 5000 yards from the front tees. In addition to the course, Whittaker Woods features a driving range, bar-and-grill and pro-shop.

Whittaker Woods Golf Club
12578 Wilson Rd
New Buffalo, MI 49117


Take time out to pamper yourself at one of New Buffalo’s spas. Spend a relaxing afternoon at Evolve Spa, where you can book a massage, facial or waxing session. Alternatively, Revive spa offers massages, facials, waxing, mani/pedis, body scrubs and wraps and medical treatments. Enjoy!

309 W. Buffalo St.
New Buffalo, MI 49117

225 N. Whittaker
New Buffalo, MI 49117

Stateline Stables

Take a trail ride along tree-lined paths on the gentle horses from Stateline Stables. No experience is needed, but riders must be between 75 & 250 pounds and at least eight years old. Stateline Stables is located just four miles from New Buffalo, in LaPorte, Indiana. They are on Central Standard Time – an hour before Michigan time, so keep that in mind when making plans.

Stateline Stables
10411 N 200E
LaPorte, IN 46350

New Buffalo Farmer’s Market

Spend a fun afternoon wandering among tables of produce choosing the fresh, succulent fruit and vegetablesdisplayed there. New Buffalo’s farmer’s market features fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs as well as a cafe with wine tasting, olive oil tasting, craft beer, coffee, tea and more. The market is open daily from May 1 through October, 8am-9pm.

Promeny / New Buffalo Farmer’s Market
910 W. Buffalo St
New Buffalo, MI 49117

Shopping in Downtown Saugatuck, MI

Maple syrup cream, walnut flavored olive oil, a Venetian glass pendant, and pink knit baby booties that look like shoes – these are just a few of the items Ive discovered on expeditions into Saugatuck’s excellent downtown shopping district.

Saugatuck is home to the century-old Ox-Bow School of Art, and the town’s commitment to the visual arts is evident in its dozen downtown art galleries, with everything from high-end sculpture to inexpensive reproductions of famous works.

Coffee on the front deck at Uncommon Grounds
Coffee on the front deck at Uncommon Grounds

Unusual Shops
Tucked among the usual array of clothing stores and souvenir shops are several fun and different shops. Those looking to decorate a beach house or who just love all things sea-related should check out Uncharted Courses, which features three rooms filled with ship models, mermaid bookends, sea turtle mirrors and much more.Tuck’s sells Christmas ornaments and decorations and gourmet cupcakes. The banana split cupcake is divine. The scent of exotic spices accosts you the moment you step into the Spice Merchants, where you can find a few out-of-the-ordinary flavors to add zip to your next meal. Saugatuck even has a pagan supply store, Mother Moon, selling everything from polished rose quartz stones to magickal altars. It definitely wins the award for most unusual shop on the lakeshore. It’s next to the Uncommon Grounds coffee shop.

Several of Saugatuck’s shops allow visitors to taste the wares before buying, which my daughter always enjoys. We’ll stop into the American Spoon store and try a few fruity concoctions like wild elderberry jelly and cranberry mustard, though we usually leave with cherry salsa and maple syrup cream (it’s in their fridge – yum.) The Olive Mill offers samples of their flavored oils and vinegars. It felt a bit unusual to sample olive oil and vinegar straight, but how else would I have learned that I love pear vinegar and walnut olive oil? Kilwin’s often sets out a tray with bits of fudge or other sweets for visitors to try. Tabor Hill Wine Port and Fenn Valley Tasting Room both offer wine tasting in their shops.

american spoon saugatuck
Sampling jam and salsa at American Spoon in Saugatuck

When my kids were small I rewarded good behavior with a stop at the playground located on Butler Street where the shops end.

Michigan’s Adventure, Muskegon, MI

Photo by Jeremy Thompson

The white-cap rushed in my direction. Just before it reached me I jumped and bobbed atop the wave as it swept past, then floated back down til I felt the ground beneath my feet and prepared for the next one. Another afternoon at a Lake Michigan beach? No, I was in the wave pool at Michigan’s Adventure.

Owned by Cedar Fair, proprietor of such well known amusement parks as Cedar Point and Great America, Michgan’s Adventure bills itself as two parks for the price of one. There’s the water park, Wildwater Adventure, and the amusement park with its exciting roller coasters, ferris wheel and spinning rides.

We started out our day in the water park. We had our choice of over a dozen body slides and inner tube slides, including my favorite, the Funnel of Fear. The kids spent some time in the splash pad area, Beach Party, with water guns, waterfalls, bridges and slides. The majority of our time, however, was spent floating in the lazy river or splashing about in one of the three wave pools of varying strength, which we all loved.

An extra $60 (as of summer 2012) bought us a private cabana: a tent with four shaded lounge chairs and a table with four chairs. You can have up to six people per cabana, so that works out to $10 a person. Seating at the waterpark is limited, and seating under one of the few umbrellas more limited still. My husband prefers to spend most of his time reading while the kids and I enjoy the waterpark, and the last time we went he scored one of the coveted shady spots beneath an umbrella, and soon found himself hemmed in on all sides by strangers. Loud, obnoxious strangers. The cabana was the perfect spot for him to relax and for the kids and I to rest in between slides and dips in the pools. We decided to go to Michigan’s Adventure on a whim, and called that morning to reserve a cabana. We were able to get the last one, but I advise calling in advance to be safe.

We left the waterpark for the amusement park, but waited to change out of our swimsuits until after we’d gone on a few of the wetter rides, like Grand Rapids and Adventure Falls. Adventure Falls ends with a white wall of water coming towards you, a splash so big that it not only soaks the people in the boat, but those standing on the bridge above as well.

Michigan’s Adventure has introduced new “Fast Lane” passes. For an extra fee, you’ll be able to use the special Fast Lane entrance to the ride, which leads right up to the boarding area. The pass is good for 14 of the amusement park rides, and includes several premium rides like Shivering Timbers and Thunderhawk, as well as less thrilling – but still fun – rides like Tilt-a-Whirl and bumper cars. My family took advantage of the Fast Lane passes and were pleasantly surprised to find that lines were almost non-existent in the Fast Lane – while regular riders waited an hour in the beating sun, we’d encounter maybe one other group ahead of us. Also, Fast Lane riders were allowed first pick of seats on some rides, so we could get those front row spots that the kids love. The ride operators seemed exceptionally courteous as well, which is always nice. These advantages came at a price though. The cost of the passes varies depending on the day and size of the group. For example, our party of four on a Saturday paid $40 each, on top of the cost of admission, but a couple would pay $50 per person. On Wednesday it would have been less, but then, the lines tend to be shorter on weekdays.

Michigan’s Adventure
4750 Whitehall Rd
Muskegon, MI, 49445
(231) 766-3377

Lost City Laser Tag, Holland, MI

Take a break from the beach and head over to Lost City for a few games of laser tag.

Your group will be led into a prep group where you’ll be outfitted with a vest, headset and laser gun. A Lost City employee will review the rules and you’ll split into two teams, red and green. The play arena is dark, with low neon lighting and fast music. It’s split into two areas, one for each team, with plenty of places for players to hide while they shoot lasers at members of the opposing team. The headset alerts you when you’ve been hit, and after three hits you must recharge your gun at a charging station. At the end of the game you’re given a printout of your stats.

Lost City recommends groups of at least five people for laser tag, but I’ve seen them add smaller groups to a larger group that’s playing.

In addition to laser tag, Lost City offers an arcade where players earn tickets they can redeem for prizes, indoor glow-in-the-dark mini golf, miniature bowling and a snack bar.

Lost City is easy to get to, located off US 31 by the Star Theater cinema in the Holland Town Center Outlet Mall.

The Lost City Laser Tag
12330 James St.
Holland, MI 49424