Tag Archives: Bridgman

Paparazzi, full circle cafe, watermark brewery/ Stevensville,Mi. And Weko Beach fishermen and Cottonwood Cheddar at Emma Hearth and Market, /Bridgman,Mi.

Lovely to be in southwest Michigan in March: when the weather cooperates. It didn’t on day one. It was cold, damp, blustery with occasional furious snow squalls. Perfect day to get my hair trimmed (for about a third of what I paid in Chicago) at Paparazzi salon in the quiet little town of Stevensville, where we had excellent salad and sandwiches across the street at Full circle cafe that we took to eat at Watermark Brewery a block south.

My Kansas cheese!

We’ve passed by Emma Hearth & Market in Bridgman many times and today we finally stopped. It’s well known for its pizza and prefix Italian dinners but I was stunned to find amidst the small selection of gourmet cheeses my fav, Cottonwood River Cheddar from Kansas! I’ve been trying to get the cheese woman at DOM’S market in Lincoln Park to stock it and had just asked our daughter if she could bring some from gateway market in Des Moines when she visits. No need now! The Emma variety (“reserve”) is a little sharper than the kind I’ve had before and without the little white crystals that give the cheese a slight crunch but all good!

Sign at Full circle cafe

On Sunday morning, there was sun and warmer temperatures. Perfect for a walk with the dogs on Weko beach, past fishermen in waders with poles stuck in the sand, catching lots of coho salmon. Otherwise few other people and nothing like the summer crowds.

Beautiful washed out colors along the shore, sandy beach, pale blue water, pale blue sky with moments of yellow sun. Lovely until some uptight woman scolded us for walking the dogs on a section of the beach where we could get slapped with a fine for doing do. Karens everywhere.

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Taps at sunset on Weko beach, rough hike in Grand Mere state Park, fish at flagship specialty foods – SW Michigan

Last night, we joined a small crowd on Weko Beach here in Bridgman to watch the sun set and as my sister promised, just as the red sun disappeared from view, a lone trumpeter played Taps…apparently this happens every summer night here and it was a lovely, evocative moment, reminding me of my lost youth summers spent at a girls camp in northern Michigan’s Elk Rapids.

Weko beach sunset

This morning, we braved another hike in the Warren Dunes, on a unmarked trail at Grand Mere State Park in Stevensville, a contrast with yesterday’s well-marked trail further south. It was very buggy in the woods after a night of rain but we managed to do a 1.5 mile (or so) loop and not get lost.

Fortunately we had dowsed ourselves with bug spray pre-hike but we should have brought it in our pack. The hike began as a flat, wide, wooded nature trail hugging the edge of a swampy area with lots of cattails, sprinkled with bright red wildflowers, then went up across the dunes to the lake shore and along the beach, which was blissfully unpopulated except for a few hardy souls swimming and sunbathing. They appeared to be townies who have kept this secret beach to themselves. So be it.

Grand mere state park

Lunch was fish and chips, perfectly crispy local white fish, from flagship specialty food on Red Arrow Highway in Lakeside. We ate at a picnic table outside the small store set back from the highway. The fish was delish, albeit expensive.

Weko beach

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Return to SW Michigan – whistle Stop/Lakeside, Oink/new Buffalo, Snow road to Berrien Springs

We gladly returned to the Weko Beach area in Bridgman, Michigan for a family get together at the end of a holiday weekend so Weko Beach was more crowded but still lovely. And the day after the 4th, we had more of the hot sandy beach and refreshing Lake Michigan water to ourselves. With my sisters house at capacity we stayed overnight at an Airbnb in Berrien Springs, a farming community (where produce sold at the green market in Chicago’s Lincoln Park comes from) that is due west. We took a pretty rural road (snow road) back to Bridgman about a 25 minute drive that appeared to be a bike route. (Good to know.)

It was hazy this morning so we explored St. Joseph and Benton Harbor as well as the Red Arrow highway south which is dotted with antique stops, restaurants and produce stands. We had good sandwiches at the Whistlestop, ready-made not the made-to-order because a storm overnight knocked out power for awhile. Excellent chicken salad sandwich, turkey club and lavender lemonade, light on the lavender. On our way out of the area, we stopped at Oink, a cheerful ice cream shop with kooky decor (ice cream scoopers hang down from the rafters) and excellent flavors (Michigan pothole, as my sister recommended, chocolate with small Reese’s pieces; lemon cheesecake bar).

We did learn that many stores are closed on a Tuesday (and probably Monday too) so we’d like to return on a day when ARC, a gallery in Benton Harbors “arts district” is open, as well as the shop Alchemy on red arrow.

Weko beach with Nora And Hank
Ice cream scoopers line the rafters at Oink


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Mason Jar Cafe/Benton Harbor, Weko Beach/Bridgman, Warren Dunes state Park, Full Circle Cafe and Alex’s Veggies/Stevensville; sawyer farmstand – exploring lovely southwest Michigan’s Lakefront

(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).

At the Mason Jar

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.

Warren dunes for dogs
Warren Dunes

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