Last week, I packed up my girls, my nephew, sister, and mother into my van, along with all of our accoutrements and headed north. My wish list for this vacation was to be able to drive to our destination, enjoy the sun, stay close to a beach and avoid the crowds. That is a tall order for a summer trip. After scouring the Internet, I happened upon a website for Michigan. More scouring and I came across a site for Harbor Country, Michigan.
Harbor Country consists of seven small towns: Michiana, Grand Beach, New Buffalo, Union Pier, Lakeside, Harbert and Sawyer. All of the towns have something to offer but New Buffalo really grabbed my attention. It is conveniently located and full of things to do with the kids. It is about 90 minutes from Chicago by car or you can take the Amtrak train (there is a station in New Buffalo). The beach is easily accessible by car or walking. The town is full of great shops and restaurants.
We rented a house for our trip through Yellow Bird Vacation Rentals. If you ask my sister and mother, they will tell you I have zero luck when it comes to picking places for us to stay. They can tell you tales about dragging their luggage across London because the original hotel I booked for the three of us to stay in was subpar. Trips to Nashville, Memphis and New England have turned out the same way. The accommodations are either too dirty or too small. At this point, it is a given that whatever hotel or house I book for our trip will not be where we actually stay. However, I may have redeemed myself on this trip. The house on Pond Path was perfect.
New Buffalo is a small town with lots of charm. From the Pond Path house we could easily walk to the downtown area. We enjoyed shopping in the boutiques and eating at the wonderful restaurants. We especially enjoyed Rosie’s Restaurant and Casey’s Bar and Grill. There were several restaurants we were dying to try including the famous burgers at Redamak’s and Hannah and Harry’s but we simply ran out of time. We’ll be sure to visit them on our next trip. The best part of eating in New Buffalo was the ice cream at Nancy’s for dessert! The servings were huge and every flavor we tried (and we tried A LOT) was delicious. During the week New Buffalo is quiet and laid back. By Friday night the traffic had definitely picked up. It wasn’t overwhelming, just noticeably more crowded. The beach during the week was ideal. There were few people and plenty of parking. The water was artic cold but the kids didn’t care. They enjoyed playing in the sand and swimming. Other than my 18 month old nephew eating his weight in sand, the beach was fantastic.
In St. Joseph, which is about 35 minutes from New Buffalo, there is a children’s museum with an antique carousel that the kids can ride. The Silver Beach Carousel & Center also has a waterpark and beach area. The town was full of boutiques, beach access, and restaurants. You could easily spend a day enjoying everything it has to offer. We ate at Schu’s restaurant and had a wonderful lunch. Their menu is full of yummy items including a Salmon B.L.T. a Portabella Panini.
If you’re looking for a quick, easy getaway this summer, I highly recommend visiting New Buffalo, Michigan. The drive is only about five hours, which is just about perfect if you’ve got a carload full of toddlers. We didn’t have to spend a lot of money but still feel like we had a great, family vacation.