Navigating South Haven’s Sherman Dairy Bar

Navigating South Haven’s Sherman Dairy Bar

Those of you who read my #MittenTrip guide to South Haven may have picked up on the fact that I like both ice cream and beaches. If you, too, like ice cream and beaches, make sure that South Haven and Sherman Dairy Bar are on your travel agenda.

Sherman’s has been a family-owned dairy for generations, and now devotes itself exclusively to creating small batches of perfect ice cream in an array of flavors. Their products are available throughout southwest Michigan (per their website: “We go as far north as Pentwater, east to Battle Creek, south to Niles…”), northern Indiana, and in greater Chicago. However, if you’re around South Haven between March and October, do yourself a favor and stop by the Dairy Bar located at 1601 Phoenix St. It’s a short drive from downtown, and worth the experience.

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Depending on when you visit, prepare for the possibility of a wait. Visiting on a weekend in mid-August like me? Bring your patience, but get ready for a treat. Here are some tips from a Sherman’s first-timer to help you prepare for the awesomeness:

  • The portion sizes are extremely generous. The kid-sized cups we ordered were larger than a single scoop elsewhere. Unless you can handle a whole lot of sweet all at once, you may want to consider the giant portions. We heard this pro-tip from Jan Leksich, owner of South Haven’s Victoria Resort.
  • If you can, make the drive out to the dairy bar. The dairy bar offers traditional counter service, plus a dining room in which to enjoy your confection inside, or benches and tables outside. Plus, you’ll be greeted by the giant blue cow on the roof of the building. Her bell reads, “Blue Moo.”
  • If it’s busy, pick a line. On those days and times which might be especially busy, note that there are two lines—one inside, and one outside. Outside, the line’s a normal line. Inside, grab a number as you walk in. There’s no space for a long line inside, so to avoid a riot, the owners have smartly implemented the number system. The folks staffing the counter move quickly, and it’s a lot more fun to wait for your ice cream number to come up than it is to wait for your number at the Secretary of State.

When we visited, it was incredibly busy—at least 50 people in line outside, and a similar number waiting inside. There were several large groups there with us, so I think that a community event may have taken place just before we arrived. Post-event celebrations, plus regular summer weekend business, meant that we’d have to be patient. It took around 20-30 minutes for our number to come up, and it was worth the wait.

Out of around 50 available flavors, we decided on kid-sized cups of Grasshopper and Yellow Cake Batter, which we took outside to a bench and devoured. It was a amazing! There were chunks of chocolate in the Grasshopper, and pieces of actual yellow cake in the Cake Batter. It was so good, in fact, that we neglected to remember to take photos of our treats. Next time, right?

These tips are from someone who’s admittedly been to Sherman’s only once. Any pro-tips from those of you who are Sherman’s veterans? Let us know!

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Hi, I'm Shannon and I'm proud to be from Michigan. Some things I enjoy: Cooking, craft beer, most kinds of music, travel, learning things, tattoos, driving, being on boats, water in general, being out of my comfort zone, history not printed in books (the real stories...), cats and dogs, imperfection, girls and boys, live (loud) rock 'n' roll shows, deep voices, smart people, sarcasm, dry wit, consideration, thunder, nerdiness, trying to explain complicated concepts in digestible ways, bourbon, stream-of-consciousness writing, Ford trucks from the 80s, people with useful skills, the color blue.