(Oops, forgot to post this on July 5)
Word has it things Benton Harbor is becoming a hipster outpost among the small charming lakeside communities here in southwest Michigan, an easy 90 minute drive from Chicago.
My sister Jill, who moved here from Chicago, was excited to show us all the cool stuff she’s found here, which would take several days (more time than we have this trip) but we got a good start. We had a very good lunch at the lively, art-infused Mason Jar cafe in Benton Harbor (excellent sandwiches, burgers, scrambled egg concoction and fresh lemonade).
Weko beach in the small town of Bridgman is a broad expanse of perfect sandy beach lining Lake Michigan, great for swimming, with a sandy bottom, long stretch of shallow water and surprisingly not-frigid water. (Is it a bad thing climate-wise that the frigid Lake Michigan of my childhood is no more?) Beyond the beach are wooded dunes, what looks like a primo campground and more densely green Michigan woodland. Just south of this beach is Warren Dunes State Park where we hiked up at dune, through the woods, up an even steeper dune (hand and foot style) and then across and down the dunes with the dazzling blue lake and sky in front of us. (Note to self: next time wear hiking books, not sandals. The sand was hot on our feet and we could have used more treds going downhill in the woods on packed sand). We returned to the park later to take Millie, our lab, to the dog beach, which she enjoyed. Busy place with lots of sunbathing humans and frolicking dogs.
Lunch was at Full Circle Cafe, a popular local spot in Stevensville with a good cobb salad and sandwiches below a high stamped tin ceiling and an old-fashioned counter. We did a little shopping at local farmstands including Alex’s Veggies in Stevensville and Michigan Local Harvest on the Red Arrow Highway in Sawyer, picking up some fresh strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb and other fruit from other places (not yet fresh in Michigan). We hit a little traffic returning to Chicago on a Friday late afternoon but nothing terrible and was such a nice rural/beach getaway from the city.