America's Third Coast
West Michigan has a wide variety of activities and events for people of all ages. Lake Michigan has earned the title of “America’s third coast” by offering endless enrichment for those seeking the treasures found along it’s shoreline. Whether visiting Ludington, Manistee, Silver Lake or Baldwin, there’s never a dull moment for those seeking the gems scattered about the area.
Ludington is well known as the #1 salmon port in Michigan. There are plenty of fishing opportunities in the area – either book a fishing charter trip or try your luck on your own. Whether you’re off the coast of Lake Michigan, in the middle of Hamlin Lake or just casting off the breakwall at Stearn’s Park, there’s no wrong way to go fishing in west Michigan.
Visit Stearns Park, voted best public beach in Michigan by the Detroit Free Press and Michigan Living magazine. Walk the pier and see the North Breakwater Lighthouse up-close, just one of the many incredible lighthouses in the area.
Travel north of Stearns Park and experience nature like never before at the Ludington State Park. Home to another of Michigan’s historic lighthouses, the iconic black and white Big Sable Point lighthouse is open each summer for tours. Within the #1 state park in the Midwest according to Midwest Living magazine there’s adventure on land and sea to behold. With bike and hiking trails, boat rentals, tubing down the river, fishing and swimming, there’s a little something for everyone at the Ludington State Park.
Sailors would love the chance to come aboard the S.S. Badger. A landmark found in the National Register of Historic Places, the cruise-like experience on the Lake Michigan carferry is like none other and a great alternative to driving to and from Wisconsin and Michigan.
History buffs are avid fans of Ludington’s very own White Pine Village. Tour a village frozen time and enrich your mind with artifacts, archives and devices from a simpler period in our county’s rich history.
Free annual entertainment includes the infamous Friday Night Live featuring live musical performances right on the streets of downtown, Movies in the Park every Thursday in August where family films are screened under the stars and the Scottville Harvest Festival – a wonderful celebration of all things fall.
Summer events from Mason County are sure to find a way on family calendars across the nation. Most popular of all local events are the Gus Macker basketball tournament, a three-on-three frenzy for folks of all ages and playing ability, Suds on the Shore craft brew festival each September, the Barns and Byways tour that reveals much about Mason County’s agricultural history and Ludington’s Oktoberfest, featuring music and drinks that are pure Michigan.
Big Sable Point Light House on Lake Michigan
The county of Manistee has plenty of excitement to offer those traveling to the west Michigan area. Not only does the coastal city have over 35 miles of beach front but their city’s calendar of events will make sure you have plenty of activities to fill up the days you don’t spend on the water.
Natural beauty is abound before even reaching Manistee when you drive on scenic M-22. Not only is this stretch of higway well known for it’s fantastic fall foliage but was even voted as “The Most Beautiful Place in America” on Good Morning America. This breath-taking road is one you must see for yourself.
The Manistee River is often the first stop for visitors once they reach town, the 30 mile stretch being perfect for canoeing, fishing or even just walking along. Admire the beauty at the Hodenpyle Dam before reaching the greatest lake of them all, Lake Michigan.
Beach bums are delighted by spending a day at one of Manistee’s beaches, whether it’s the First Street Beach (now with a brand new fish cleaning station and and beach shelter) or the lake along Orchard Beach State Park‘s shoreline. If you’re hoping to go out in the middle of the water for some solitude, consider scheduling a fishing trip with a charter boat. After all, Manistee has the best catch ratio for salmon on Lake Michigan!
Take stroll down the pier to see the North Pierhead Lighthouse up close and personal. For those who prefer a walk in the wilderness, a trip should be made to the Manistee National Forest. It encompasses over 480,00 acres and is the perfect hiking destination for those seeking breath-taking beauty.
A trip to Manistee would not be complete without stopping by the S.S. City of Milwaukee. This National Historic vessel is the only triple deck carferry in Michigan and open for tours. Each October, the ship is transformed into the Ghost Ship and stepping onboard guarantees a thrill you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Those who have seen it will never forget the historic Ramsdell Theater right in the middle of downtown Manistee. A gem from the Victorian era of theater building, this incredible building rivals big city stages like The Vic in Chicago. From theater to opera, there are shows to entertain any fan of live performances.
For a great night indoors, the Vogue Theater is another building rich in history. Films ranging from independent to family, as well as special events and film festivals are to be held there once it’s renovation is complete. Take a peek and see this sensational rebirth of one of the area’s most prestigious location.
Of course, while in the city of Manistee, it’s great fun to stop in at the Little River Casino Resort. The perfect playground for adults, complete with fine dining, frequent performances and events, an evening at Little River is sure to be a big hit.
Silver Lake is a great place to get away from it all. The area of Silver Lake is rich with entertainment and excitement for all who visit since there’s over 2,000 miles of rolling sand hills. While there’s no shortage of things to do or see in the area, be sure to take a peek at the events occurring during your visit.
Silver Lake is the destination of all those seeking fun! Wave Club Water Sport Rentals is right next to the lake, making it easy to rent anything from wave runners, kayaks, canoes, rowboats and pontoon boats to skis, knee boards, tubes and wake boards. To make it even better, guests from Silver Creek get a discount on rentals!
Lighthouse lovers will delight at the Little Sable Point Lighthouse on Lake Michigan, accessible after a bit of dune climbing. Tours are open from May 25 to September 30, making Little Sable a place one must stop in the summer in order to see the best sunset view in the county.
At Wild Bill’s Quad Rentals, you can get a quad or a custom built 4×4 dune buggy for you own personal adventure on the sand. You can even participate in one of the drag races at West Michigan Sand Dragway with your ATV.
Don’t feel like driving? That’s no problem when hoping to experience all that the dunes have to offer. Your first stop should be the Mac Wood Dune Rides, a thrilling way to see the dunes up close and personal without the hassle of driving. The 40 minute dune tour is not only fun but educational as well, making it a great choice for adventurers of all ages.
Another fantastic option for an unforgettable tour of the Silver Lake sand dunes is Razor J’s Adventure Tours. You drive your own two-person or four-person rental vehicle (courtesy of Razor J’s), and follow a knowledgable guide through 500 acres for a fast paced, exciting off-road tour of the dunes.
Of course, not everyone comes to Silver Lake and plans on being on the dunes during their entire stay. For those seeking a more traditional activity, their choice of ride may instead be a horse – making Rainbow Ranch the perfect destination. Horseback riding is certainly the main attraction but the ranch also offers traveling pony rides, hay rides and sleigh rides. All of this takes place right inside a whitetail deer preserve, meaning deer roam the hundreds of acres of land, making Rainbow Ranch a safe, fun and beautiful destination for travelers.
Guests rave about Shelby Gem Factory, where 100% of their gems are creation from start to finish right here in the United States. A tour of the factory, theater and showroom is sure to impress all that visit. Country Dairy is another fascinating stop for those who love informative tours. As producer-handlers, they are a part of the process every step of the way from their registered Holsteins to the milk gallon in your local grocery store. Their daily tours during the summer lead through the working dairy farm and milk processing facility, revealing how their dairy gets to your fridge.
West Michigan is a popular destination for golfers and it’s no wonder why with all of the incredible courses in the area. Silver Lake is home to the Oceana Golf Club, an eighteen hole course that’s perfect for players of all levels. With an overall length of 6,288 feet, it’s easy to spend an entire day on the green at Oceana Golf Club.
Near Vacation Station is Lake County, with the county seat of Baldwin at it’s heart. Although not on Lake Michigan, there’s still plenty of great things to do in the area as well as plenty of water to play in.
Baldwin is well known for the variety of exciting ORV/ATV trails surrounding it. Whether you bring your own or need to rent a vehicle to use on the trails, everyone can take advantage of the opportunity to go on a thrilling off road ride.
Rivers, ponds, streams and lakes are all within the appropriately named Lake County, many within the city limits of Baldwin itself. These bodies of water are popular destinations for fishing trips – bring the whole family or use them as a chance to get away. Fishing isn’t all the water in Lake County has to offer, however, as there are canoes available for rental.
Baldwin’s very own Troutarama is a fantastic fishing festival for all to enjoy. As the name implies, trout are the main attraction but there’s also a history of live musical entertainment, a tent full of games and activities as well as a Grand Parade.
A trip to Baldwin would not be complete without visiting the Shrine of the Pines. This one-of-a-kind hunting lodge features the unbelievable life work of Raymond W. Overholzer, whose creations trascend traditional fathoming. It’s truly a sight one must see for themselves in order to appreciate the beauty of the white pine paired with the genius and patience of man.
Last but certainly not least is the Marquette Trails Golf Club, a hidden gem of Baldwin. This magnificent nine hole course is sure to please golfers of all playing levels. Don’t forget to stop into the clubhouse and restaurant after playing a game on the course.