Droves of people visit the resort towns and coastline of Lake Michigan every year during the warmer months. As an avid traveller of the state, I’m here to point our that this part of Michigan has a lot to offer in the winter as well, especially when it comes to lighthouse and shoreline beauty.
Last month, I highlighted the lighthouse and coastal scenes from Muskegon, Grand Haven and Holland . It is now time to migrate further south along Lake Michigan, especially since the beautiful scenes of winter in the Mitten are in full force now.
Heading toward the water on aptly named Water Street through the downtown area of South Haven, the lake and South Haven South Pierhead Light will quickly come into view as you’re driving alongside the Black River.
The lighthouse, built in 1872, is still operational and sits at the end of the pier in South Beach Park. It’s important to remember that getting close to the light can be a challenge this time of year. In a true winter setting for this area, you’re likely to battle large piles and drifts of lake effect snow and the lighthouse, pier and catwalk will more than likely be covered in ice. Additionally, the wind off the lake can be something to contend with, my advice is to dress in layers and take it slow. The magical feelings of seeing the lighthouse up-close will be well worth the trek!
Make sure to explore Monroe Boulevard which overlooks the beach. You will find numerous park benches and scenic spots to capture the lighthouse and all of the splendor that surrounds it.
There are definite perks to staying in town like being able to warm up inside Eclectic Coffee while enjoying some warm drinks, pastries, and great service. The café has a small-town, neighborhood feel that also features an art gallery with lots of local gifts and other goodies available for purchase.
A half hour drive down the Lake Michigan coastline you will find this growing resort town, St. Joseph. Carefully navigate to Tisconia Park on the north end of the St. Joe River and here you will find the North Pier Inner and Outer Lighthouses that date back to the late 1800s.
Now it’s time to walk (and sometimes climb) the three-hundred yards to the inner light, then to the outer light, and to the end of pier. Here, you will be amazed at how the ice forms on everything and you can look opposite the river to see the narrow South Pier and its own light.
Back in the parking area, it’s now time to climb up the stairs to the Pavilion at the park’s main entrance. You can capture everything from walking amongst the sand dunes at the top of your climb and you can continue to the beach for more panoramic Mitten beauty.
Get out of the winter cold and warm up with a coffee, my recommendation is a Shot in the Dark at Caffe Tosi. At this welcoming establishment, sandwiches, breakfast options, a colorful and cute atmosphere, and other hot beverage offerings await.
It’s time to keep moving! Continuing southwest about twenty miles down I-94, you will reach the last town before the Indiana state line. I recommend taking Whitaker Street through the small downtown area and harbor to arrive at City Beach.
At the entrance to the beach, you will notice the New Buffalo Lighthouse. The light sitting in the sand is actually a small replica of the actual lighthouse that stood between 1838 and 1859, it’s a landmark that has an interesting history. Make sure to spend a few minutes on the vast beach where the Galien River flows into Lake Michigan, especially if lake effect snow is in full effect. The beach will be replaced by a snow and ice collection that’s hard to beat!
While in town, it’s hard to not walk the shops of Whitaker Street with a special stop at David’s Delicatessen. Here, you can grab a coffee cup filled with Intelligentsia brew along with a David’s Reuben (a personal favorite). This is a place to enjoy the relaxing scenes of the town that is mostly filled with locals this time of year.
View more of Michigan beauty that you can expect when on a Lake Michigan road trip during the winter in South Haven, St. Joseph, and New Buffalo:
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Are there any tourist must sees, lake shore destinations, or off the beaten path spots you would recommend along Lake Michigan around South Haven, St. Joseph or New Buffalo?