in about 7 weeks, I'll be heading back to Michigan for the summer. though I've been living in Taiwan for the past 3 years, and on the east coast of the US for the 5 before that, I think I'll always be a Michigan girl at heart. I spent many summer vacations camping and visiting Lake Michigan on the west side of the state, and Ludington in particular. in fact, my family loves Ludington so much that my parents purchased property and plan to retire there. I'll be lucky to stay with my parents for a few weeks in June and July and soak up the mitten state magic. today I want to share with you 7 of my favorite things, which you MUST do if you ever visit Ludington. [I know I plan to check these all off my list this summer!]
visit the state parkLudington State Park is the most popular of the state parks in Michigan for good reason. if you need an excuse to camp, being able to view the spectacular sunrises over Hamlin Lake might be it. for those opting to stay in town- you can buy a park pass to visit during regular hours for hiking, biking, kayaking, floating down the Big Sable River in an inner tube, or just lying on the beach at Lake Michigan.
grab a cone at House of Flavorsthis place is a Ludington landmark, and was once featured on the cover of Life Magazine. it's been renovated several times over the years, but still clings to the 50's diner/soda shop feel. House of Flavors has a full-service restaurant, and a separate counter for ice cream only. you can grab a cup or cone, or take home a whole pint or quart. I highly recommend their specialty flavor: Blue Moon. behind the restaurant is the ice cream manufacturing facility which creates and packs flavors for many Midwest and national grocery brands.
wave to the BadgerThe SS Badger is a historic carferry that runs across Lake Michigan from Ludington, MI to Manitowoc, WI. during the summer months, it departs from Ludington twice daily - once in the morning and once at night. tourists and locals alike head to the marina or walk down the pier to wave hello and goodbye to passengers onboard as it sails by.
explore downtownthere are at least a dozen antique shops in the walkable downtown area of Ludington. hunt around for some finds, stop into one of the many apparel stores for a tshirt, or pop into Redolencia Cafe for a coffee or Le Serving Spoon for a sweet snack. you can also stop by the local farmer's market on Thursdays and sample some delicious Michigan produce.
hike to Big Sable Point Lighthouseone of West Michigan's most iconic lighthouses, Big Sable Point is only reachable by hiking or biking through the state park. [I would suggest hiking, since the trail is quite sandy and you may end up walking your bike most of the way.] the state park has 18 miles of trail to explore, so if lighthouses aren't your thing, there's still plenty to see. inland lakes, sand dunes, forest trails, and of course Lake Michigan.
have a drink at the Mitten Barthis venue serves all Michigan-made products. you can sample some of the best beers, ciders, wines, meads, and spirits that "the mitten state" has to offer here. on weekends they also have live music. check their Facebook page for information on performances and drink specials.
watch the sunset from Stearns Parkjutting out from Stearns Park Beach is a half-mile long pier with the North Breakwater Light at the end. if you arrive a bit early you can pass the time by playing shuffleboard in the park, or by taking a tour of the lighthouse. during summer hours you may also be able to catch the Badger car ferry heading back out to Wisconsin for the night.
from sunup to sundown, I hope I've given you a few good reasons to visit Ludington. I am SO excited to soak in the West Michigan magic this summer. no matter how many places I travel around the globe, this town will always hold a special place in my heart.
does anyone else have a town like this - not where you live, not where you grew up, but still feels like home?
look familiar? this originally appeared as a guest post on Route Bliss