Warren Dunes State Park
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8 Summer Bucket List Ideas in Southwest Michigan

Beaches, sun, and outdoor recreation opportunities abound in southwest Michigan in the summer months. Whether you want to spend your days on Lake Michigan beaches or prefer the quieter shores of inland lakes, there is no shortage of waterside fun in this region.

Ronora Lodge Paddle board and rowboat 8 Summer Bucket List Ideas in Southwest Michigan

Enjoy a Natural Escape at the Ronora Lodge and Retreat Center

People who are searching for privacy and peace with a natural backdrop will love the Ronora Lodge and Retreat Center, which is located nearby the western Michigan communities of St. Joseph and South Haven. This retreat center, which was originally founded in the 1930s as a summer camp for girls, boasts a private lake as well as woodland and wetland areas.

If you stay at this lodge and retreat center, you will likely spend your days fishing, swimming and soaking up the beauty of a Michigan summer. In fact, you can even stop by the barn where the rescue horses live in order to feed the animals and visit with them.

CapriDriveIn theebenlyon 8 Summer Bucket List Ideas in Southwest Michigan
photo courtesy of @theebenlyon

Watch a Movie at Dusk at the Capri Drive-In Theater in Coldwater

Since 1964, the Capri Drive-In Theater in Coldwater has been providing residents and visitors with a quintessential summer activity — movies at dusk. There’s nothing quite like pulling your car into this drive-in theater and grabbing the perfect spot to watch the latest summer blockbuster with your family and friends.

While some drive-in theaters only have showings on the weekends, this theater plays movies every night. And each ticket gets you a double feature, so it is easily one of the best bargains that you can add to your Coldwater vacation itinerary. 

indulge in ice cream this summer in Michigan at Moo-Ville Farm & Creamery
photo courtesy of @realamericanfood

Grab a Scoop of Farm Fresh Ice Cream at Moo-ville Creamery

There is probably no such thing as bad ice cream, but nothing quite compares to fresh ice cream produced at a local Michigan creamery. At Moo-ville Creamery in Nashville, Michigan, you will find a plethora of ice cream flavors to choose from — all of which were produced on-site using ingredients from the farm. In fact, when you purchase your ice cream cone, you can see the cows that produce the milk grazing on the hill nearby.

If you are up for a truly memorable visit to Moo-ville, consider indulging in the 15-scoop Moo-ville Pig Trough. If you can accomplish the feat of consuming the entire bowl in under an hour — by yourself — you get a free T-shirt from the creamery. It’s worth a shot! 

HistoricBridgePark illswallowyoursoul1 8 Summer Bucket List Ideas in Southwest Michigan
photo courtesy of @illswallowyoursoul

Visit the Innovative Historic Bridge Park in Battle Creek

Historic Bridge Park is more than just an outdoor escape in Battle Creek near the Kalamazoo River. It’s actually an open-air museum, and the first park of its kind in the United States. It was once known as County Park, and residents as well as visitors often found themselves hiking the trails and picnicking along the shores of the river. However, when five metal truss bridges were restored and moved to the park, it became the attraction that exists today.

These bridges have been incorporated into the pedestrian paths throughout the park, and you can learn more about the important role that they played in the nation’s infrastructure during their heyday. 

Trumpeter Swan at WK Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 8 Summer Bucket List Ideas in Southwest Michigan
Making friends with the Trumpeter Swans. Photo by Rhonda Greene.

Go Bird Watching Near Gull Lake in Kalamazoo

Gull Lake is an immaculate lake just north of Kalamazoo. It is known for its clear blue waters and has become a favorite spot among people who like to view wildlife in their natural habitat. In fact, it is one of the best places for bird watching in all of Southwest Michigan.

On the southeast side of the lake, you will discover the W. K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, which is a wildlife center that has innovative habitats for the birds that have long called this region of Michigan home. This spot is particularly popular among photographers, who are likely to get shots of swans gracefully gliding on the lake or Canadian geese waddling through the grassy areas.

kalamazoo history kalamazo brewing Bell's Brewing

Sip and Savor Craft Beer in Kalamazoo

Over the past several years, the craft beer industry in Michigan has grown exponentially, but many could argue that the love of craft beer among Michiganders began in Kalamazoo. Bell’s Brewery is perhaps the most well-known craft brewery in the region, and maybe even in the state, but there are dozens of breweries that offer different beers to try.

One of the best ways to sample West Michigan beers as many as possible — in a safe and responsible manner — is to take a West Michigan Beers Tours walking tour. Not only will this tour provide you with the opportunity to sample different brews in the area, but it also will give you a behind-the-scenes glance of what it takes to produce craft beer in a microbrewery.

CampFortHill resonatingoilylife 8 Summer Bucket List Ideas in Southwest Michigan
photo courtesy of @resonatingoilylife

Take a Technology Break at Camp Fort Hill

For more than 90 years, Camp Fort Hill has been providing Michigan residents of all ages with endless opportunities for outdoor recreation and summer fun. This camp has day camps, overnight camps, and group rental opportunities, which allows anyone to find a camping experience that works for them.

When you come to stay at Camp Fort Hill, you can plan on disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with the natural world around you. Some activities that you may enjoy at this 228-acre camp include archery, fishing, hiking, and swimming.

MountBaldhead cpsdesigns 8 Summer Bucket List Ideas in Southwest Michigan
photo courtesy of @cpsdesigns

Hike to the Summit of Mount Baldhead 

The shores of Lake Michigan near Saugatuck are defined by majestic sand dunes, but the easiest dune to spot is Mount Baldhead. If you are spending any time in this area, you will want to make an effort to reach the summit so that you can soak in the views and earn those bragging rights.

You are required to climb more than 300 steps to reach the summit, but the effort is well worth it when you see those panoramic views for yourself.

More to Explore This Summer in Michigan

A bike ride to South Haven or a stay in this quaint and historic beach town, a visit to the dunes just north of the Indiana state border, or investigating the Underground Railroad – there are so many great Michigan summer bucket list ideas in southwest Michigan.

Which one is your favorite?

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