This week my husband and I set out on an overnight journey down Red Arrow Highway. We weren’t sure where we would land, but we knew we had a few things to see along the way. We were going to take our time, scout out some beaches, and while we were there, have a little bit of beer.
The rules? There were no rules. We were just going to go where we felt, and stay as long as we wanted to stay.
First stop was easy. We were hungry and Sawyer, Michigan was just up ahead. Greenbush Brewery, here we come. Greenbush is packed. All the time. But we got in and got the last table in the corner. Lunch was delicious, beef brisket and house chips with dip. We decided on a few smaller sample sizes, knowing that we had to drive. Dunegras, Closure, Yogi Borealis…they all really hit the spot. I’m always amazed when I go to Greenbush as to how much they’ve grown. Just four years ago they were probably 1/3 of the size. I could have been mug #73! (hundreds of mugs now line the walls, if not thousands!)
As we ate lunch, I remembered that Round Barn was not too far away. I wanted to get some photos of the grounds and pick up some beer to go, so we headed through some farmland to Baroda, Michigan. It’s pretty amazing to take this drive. It seems that you go from somewhere in the middle of Michigan to our very own wine country. Grapes line the roads and signs for wineries pop up everywhere. We pulled into Round Barn and it was a little less crowded then at Greenbush. A few couples strolled the grounds and everything was so peaceful. We took a peek inside the “round barn” where there are wine tastings and then grabbed a 6-pack of their Kolsch, one of my favorites, to go. Round Barn is a wonderful place to see live music. Check their event schedule, as they have many different things going on throughout the summer.
Okay, two breweries…it was time to see some beaches! We headed back towards the lake, passing Tapistry along the way in Bridgman. I love that place, but it was getting late and I wanted to cover some more ground.
Our first beach was Weko Beach in Bridgman. It was quite large with dunes in the background. There is a concession stand and stairs to hike some some trails and get a great view. Weko Beach is known for playing taps every night at sunset. I have not ever seen it, but have heard it happens! There is a campground attached as well. This structure has been here for many years and I am not quite sure what it is. If anyone knows, please comment below!
Further down the road we stumbled upon my favorite beach of the tour. Grand Mere Public Beach. Grand Mere is surrounded by dunes as well as some beautiful inland lakes. There were a few accessways as we tried to make our way towards the beach. At the first we were attacked by horseflies, the second road led us to a trail to a larger beach and the third, the one we chose, weaved back and forth down Grand Mere Road until we found a park with a lake. Even farther back was this small beach with rocks. I don’t believe it was part of the state park, but it was a beauty. Quiet, small and spectacular.
Two beer stops, two beaches. It was time to figure out where to stay for the night. We decided on South Haven. As Red Arrow turned to Blue Star, we passed several more beach accessways, but decided to save those for our way back. We were getting hungry again and ready to find a place to stay. We pulled into South Haven and fell in love with this charming town. It didn’t take long for us to decide on a hotel. We walked into Hotel Nichols, talked to Trent and were sold. He was extremely helpful and showed us around. We loved the quaintness of it and when he mentioned the owner was at the farmers market picking fresh fruit for breakfast it was a done deal.
Dinner was at Taste, where I had sushi and a delicious blonde ale from Pigeon Hill. Refreshing and hit the spot! Taste offered a full menu of small plates and their specialty drink was martinis. We sat at the bar and watched the bartenders shake them up all night. (they were probably grateful for my simple beer). After dinner, we walked down to the beach and pier to get some photos of the sunset.
In the morning it was time to run off some of the beer and food we had been eating. We found the Van Buren Trail State Park. A fourteen mile old railroad track that runs from South Haven to Van Buren State Park. We didn’t do it all, but managed to get 6 miles in and then grab some coffee at Eclectic. That was the only “brew” I was ready for this early!
After that, it was time to pack our bags and head out in search of more beaches and more beers! Heading back we stopped at Van Buren State Park, Roadside Park (dog friendly) and Rocky Gap Park (no dogs allowed). We tried to go to Covert beach, but they wouldn’t let us run in without paying $7. Their loss. I would much rather go to one of the free ones along the way! Many of the beaches were small and had been eroded away due to the recent storms and high lake levels.
Be sure to check out my Instagram page for some additional photos and information on some of these beaches. You can find them on Dig the Dunes #beersandbeaches
Lunch stop was at The Buck in St. Joseph, MI. We knew we had to get a photo of the pier there and I also knew I had to check this place out. Rumor was that they had 74 beers on tap and that rumor was true. They even have a “Wheel of Indecision” which of course I had to try! Spin the wheel and you have a chance to get a couple bucks off your beer or choose from a brewery listed on the wheel. We sat at the bar and Tim helped us. He was very personable and fun to chat with. I spun “bartenders choice” and he set me up right with a Saugatuck Brewing Pale Ale that was very good and went perfect with my Buck Burger.
After lunch it was time for a nap on the beach. We headed down the main stairs to the public beach, grabbed our blanket and relaxed for awhile. It was the perfect day and the beach was packed. A big bottle of water, a final walk on the beach and we were off. Time to head home.
We both were tired when we got home. I settled in and did some work and then glanced out the window and saw that it was getting dark. I knew I had one final stop to make. Another beach — my beach. And I made it just in time to watch the sun set.
To read about more places in the area, be sure to check out our Dig the Dunes “on the go” series, right here. Like what you read and want to help support Dig the Dunes? Please consider joining our directory. A list of local restaurants, shops and more! Just $30 for the full year. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Looking for something fun to do on August 1? Please check out the Dig the Dunes Bike Rally/Scavenger Hunt. We are currently looking for more families to join the 5 mile race. It’s just $70 for a family of four and that includes four t-shirts and $25 to the Taste of MC. You can’t beat that price! Get a set of clues and set out on a scavenger hunt to find Michigan City’s area landmarks. It’s sure to be loads of fun. You can find more information about it here. Please share with those you think might enjoy! For experienced bikers, there is a 30 mile hunt too!