As one of West Michigan’s top summer destinations, Ludington is a fantastic place to enjoy a multitude of activities. Relaxing beaches, tours, shopping, unique dining, and so much more make this town ideal. There’s no shortage of great options for a fun-filled road trip to this beautiful beach town.
Ludington’s thriving downtown area boasts unique shops, delicious dining, a skate plaza, art galleries, and more. There’s so much to do, be sure to plan a full day to take it all in. Traveling with children? Stop by the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum and Sandcastles Children’s Museum. They’ll find lots to explore at these interesting, hands-on museums. Or swing by James Street Plaza and grab some fresh local produce at the Ludington Farmer’s Market. This weekly event also includes live music, artisan events, and entertainment. It happens on Fridays from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m., late May through September.
Ludington State Park
Nestled between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, Ludington State Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. This5,300-acree State Park offers 18 miles of hiking trails, canoeing, camping, fishing, beaches, and biking. Stop by the historic Lake Michigan Beach House and tour the exhibits and aquariums related to Michigan’s ecology and geology. Or spend the day playing on the water in a tube, canoe, or kayak. Rentals are available inside the park.
Dining in Ludington offers something for everyone. The Jamesport Brewing Company offers a family friendly atmosphere, craft beer, and brewery tours. Or try delicious smoked BBQ from The Q Smoke House. Feeling adventurous? Swing by The Blu Moon for fusion fare, sushi, and fantastic rooftop dining. And don’t miss beautiful water-front dining options, like Barnhart’s Marina and Restaurant, on Hamlin Lake. They offer tasty Caribbean fare, oysters on the half-shell, and pizza. For a complete list of eateries, click here – Eat + Drink Ludington.
Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area
Located just north of Ludington, Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area features dunes, beaches, hiking trails, and off-the-grid camping opportunities. Part of the Ludington Dune Ecosystem, this area is also part of Ludington State Park and Lake Michigan Recreation Area.
Lake Michigan camping is a popular activity in this area. All camping is rustic, which means supplies need to be packed in. The shortest hike to the lakeshore is approximately 1.5 miles, but the views are worth the effort.
Watching The S.S. Badger Return to Port
Don’t miss the S.S. Badger when it glides into its home port. Its return is a nightly summer event that can be viewed from Waterfront Park and along the Channel Walkway. It can also be seen from Stearns Park Beach and the Lake Michigan Beach House at Ludington State Park. Don’t forget to wave to the passengers!
Amber Elk Ranch
Get up close and personal with stunning elk at the Amber Elk Ranch. Feed, view, and learn more about these amazing animals during a one-hour wagon tour. Swing by the gift shop after the tour and check out their selection of unique antler-inspired gifts.
Take a stroll along the breakwall at Stearns Park Beach to the North Breakwater Light. Built in 1871, this light shines for nearly 20 miles along the Ludington-area shoreline and is a popular destination.
And be sure to visit the 112′ Big Sable Point Lighthouse. This historic light is located inside Ludington State Park. It’s only accessible on foot or bicycle, which adds to the adventure. Don’t miss the 130 step climb to the top of the tower for incredible views of Lake Michigan.
Whether biking or hiking, it’s easy to find a trail around Ludington. Start with a relaxing walk down the Waterfront Walkway, which begins at Stearns Park Beach. Or hop on any of the eight trails located in Ludington State Park. Each trail offers different length and levels of difficulty. For more off-the-beaten-path hikes, venture north to Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area.
Bring a bike and hit the trails in Carrier Park or Ludington School Forest. Both areas offer great biking options. Or travel north along M-116 for a longer ride along the beautiful Lake Michigan Shoreline. This ride ends at Ludington State Park, where another 1.5-miles of paved trails are available. No bike? No problem! Stop by Trailhead Bike Shop and grab a rental for an hour or for the day.
White, sugar-sand beaches are a staple around Ludington. Stearns Park Beach, located near the downtown area, offers visitors watersport rentals, a concession stand, public restrooms, and walking access to the North Breakwater Light. This beach also features handicap-accessible ramps.
Head out-of-town and enjoy clean, beautiful beaches on both Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake. Access these beaches at Ludington State Park. Watersport rentals are available inside the park. For a more private experience, pull over anywhere along M-115 while heading to the park. Just climb a small dune along the road for Lake Michigan access.
If you’ve brought your furry friends, check out the dog-friendly beaches at Summit and Buttersville Park. Both locations are quieter than popular Stearns Park.
Historic White Pine Village
Michigan history comes alive at Historic White Pine Village. There are 30 building and sites to explore at this interactive and educational destination. Don’t miss special events like “History in Action Days,” a Civil War Muster re-enactment weekend and the spooky “Haunted Village” Halloween event.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Ludington area? Share it with us in the comments below.