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Explore the Shore: South Haven, Michigan

Submitted by: Beth Rudnick

If you’re craving an all-day trip along our delightful lake or even wanting to plan an overnighter, check out lovely South Haven, Michigan. A good ½ hour north of St. Joe (on M63/Red Arrow Hwy), South Haven sports a picturesque harbor dotted with a small, accessible lighthouse; plenty of eclectic shopping; a popular beachfront; weekend farmer’s markets; and a small enough townscape that nearly everything is walkable on bench-lined streets.

A must-see for dog lovers – and dogs who’ve saved up their allowance for that perfect store – is Decadent Dogs on PhoenixStreet. Catering to our furry friends, Decadent Dogs serves up treats for doggie, and doggie novelties for doggie parents. Pamper your pooches in a store made just for them but remember your “doggy bags” in case your baby overindulges in this puppy paradise!  

Traveling solo? South Haven boasts Black River Books, a used bookstore with a good selection of classics as well as modern titles; Eagle Street Market antiquesPhoenix Records, a used album (yes, vinyl!) store; and a quaint market area with Lake Michigan goodies, t-shirts, collectibles, and a microbrewery with outdoor seating and views of the harbor. A mostly shaded pavilion hosts farmer’s markets on the weekends with everything from fresh veggies to framed Lake Michigan art. And the main street, Phoenix, is speckled with storefronts, eateries, and ice cream shoppes in  historic 19th century buildings.  

Take a stroll along the harbor to the beach and pier.

An easy walk toward the lake along the harbor offers enjoyable views of the lighthouse and the beach. The beach area is paid parking only but the walk from downtown parking is doable for most, wheelchair accessible, and dog friendly. And if you are hoping to plan an overnighter, you can check out several big name motels located within driving distance, or try for a night’s stay downtown in beautiful historic Hotel Nichols, a hotel since 1874 with décor that honors its past (featured in our “Beer and Beaches” article).  Reservation information is available at or 269-872-3943. 

Stop at Tapistry or Lake Street Eats in Bridman on your way home!

Hungry on the way home? Be sure to check out Tapistry in Bridgman and/or Lake Street Eats, right next door. With full menus of munchies and outdoor seating on tiny Bridgman’s pleasant main street just off Red Arrow Highway, they provide one last toast to a relaxing weekend up the coast digging our dunes – and so much more! – in our scenic neighbor.  

Want to learn about more places like this? Be sure to sign up for the Dig the Dunes weekly e-newsletter!

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