(More for you, my reader Dana 🤗 and any others…)
This is trip #3 here since July 4, thanks to my sister Jill who lives in this lovely swath of SW Michigan along Lake Michigan. Having spent last week about 4 hours north along the lake in NW Michigan, I notice differences between the two. Here it feels more like a weekend place, with the early August weekdays relatively quiet/fewer tourists and a lot of shops/restaurants closed early in the week. And here the air is warmer, less crisp, and the water is warmer too (although that may be due to this week’s heat).
That said, as always we like being in places like this during off hours. We still couldn’t get an outdoor picnic table at the popular dog-friendly Haymarket brewery north of Bridgman but happily sat in Adirondack chairs around a fire pit eating good thin crust margarita pizza and watching frolicking, corn hole -playing kids and families.
Midday we had the Warren Dunes trails to ourselves, perhaps because it was sweltering, nearing 90 degrees. We started at the trail head east of Floral Lane, south of Bridgman and did a well-marked loop that led through the woods to the steamy dunes (with glorious lake views) and back into the shady woods (amen). The trail was largely flat but there were a few steep dune climbs. At the end of the hike, we looked like we’d hung out in a sweat lodge and my sneakers had accumulated enough sand to form a tiny dune.
As expected, I loved Three Oaks – a small inland village with a good real-to-gentrified ratio — interesting sophisticated shops and restaurants plus old no frills businesses, pretty lanes with small wood houses and colorful gardens, plus the occasional 🌈 gay rights flag and contemporary architectural touches.
Lunch was excellent at Viola Diner (hearty tuna sandwich on multi-grain; steak salad, iced coffee with coffee ice cubes, last seen in Japan). The server brought a water bowl out for Millie, who lounged in the shade beside our outdoor table.
Drier’s is an atmospheric German butcher shop owned by the same family since 1913. The owner kindly offered me a sample of homemade bologna (yum, reminded me of the homemade bologna near the garden of Eden in central Kansas) and we bought a hearty dog bone for Millie.
I also was impressed by the contemporary clothes, shoes and home goods at Goods and Heroes. Some stores (on a Wednesday) were closed so we hope to return tomorrow during the farmers market. The whiskey distillery and nearby Anchor theatre looked interesting. We took pretty rural two-lane backroads north to Sawyer, lined with cornfields and farmhouses and the occasional fancy contemporary house set far back from the road.
Here’s my flowchart of what’s open when In this area:
⁃ houndstooth restaurant, Benton harbor
⁃ Haymarket brewery/taproom/pizza, Bridgman
⁃ Flagship specialty foods (fish!), Lakeside, 11-5
⁃ Collectorztown, Three Oaks
⁃ Goods and heroes, design store, Three Oaks 12 pm
⁃ Grand mere inn fish, dinner, stevensville
Alaplash, design store, Three Oaks
⁃ friolichs, store, bakery, cafe, Three Oaks
⁃ Patellies pizza, Three Oaks, 3 pm
⁃ Sojourn home goods, Sawyer, 12 pm
⁃ granor farm Near Three Oaks, 9-3
⁃ Alchemy antiques, Sawyer, 12 pm
⁃ Judith racht gallery, Sawyer, 11 am