St Joseph Michigan: 11 Reasons You Should Not Miss this Charming Lake Michigan Beach Town

st joseph michigan things to do

Make St Joseph Michigan Your Next Family Adventure

Looking for that quintessential Lake Michigan getaway for your family?

St. Joseph has more than just beautiful beaches; this Lake Michigan town is worth the visit all year round with food, shopping, hiking and its own little piece of Michigan wine country.

Read on for things to do in this popular beach town in Southwest Michigan:


What is St Joseph Michigan Known For?

St. Joseph Michigan is known for its phenomenal Lake Michigan beach access at Silver Beach. However, St. Joe offers so much more than its popular sandy spaces.

It’s a gold mine of

  • hidden gem spots
  • hiking biking and walking trails
  • great views
  • art
  • coffee
  • antique and thrift shopping
Downtown St Joseph Michigan
Shopping and restaurants are wonderful in Downtown St Joseph Michigan

Plan Your Visit: Get Familiar with St Joe’s Layout

The streets of downtown St. Joseph are situated on a bluff overlooking the beach.

This is no ordinary beach here: as you walk down the bluff from Lakeshore Boulevard (or head down the ramp – accessible,) you’ll find yourself on one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan.

The stairs lead you directly in front of Silver Beach Pizza, the Curious Kids Museum, the Silver Beach Carousel, and the much-anticipated crowd-pleaser, Whirlpool Fountain.

Continue west a few feet and you’ll officially be on the sand. Silver Beach spans the entirety of the downtown length, providing lots of room for choosing your perfect spot for the day.

If you’d rather start on the sand instead of walking over from downtown, park your car at the bottom of the bluff in the Silver Beach parking lot for easy access to beachside fun.

Here’s a birdseye view of St. Joseph / Silver Beach area:

St Joseph Michigan Map

11 Best Things to Do for Families in St. Joseph

01 – Splash and Cool Off at Whirlpool Compass Fountain

Whirlpool Compass Fountain
200 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085

The Whirlpool Compass Fountain typically runs through the end of September but does undergo regular maintenance. Keep updated on its status on Facebook.

This is one of those places you just have to experience for yourself. The fountain is on a spray cycle. Every so often, the water cycle starts again – first with small water action from the water cannons lining the perimeter, culminating in a majestic display of water art.

The pictures are awesome, yes, but actually being under this mega fountain is something hard to explain! It’s awesome, thrilling and fun for every age.

Whirlpool Compass Fountain in St Joseph Michigan

02 – Play the Day Away at Silver Beach Center in St Joseph Michigan

Silver Beach Center
101 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085

The vastness of the beach at St Joseph Michigan is what draws our family in. If you visit during the fall, It’s not as busy during the fall months and in some cases, you could have the entire beach to yourself.

If you post up near the pier you’ll love seeing the action of fisherman, and fun shells that wash up. Or settle further down the beach by the playground and swings.

It doesn’t matter which spot you choose to spend the day at Silver Beach. The lookout points are beautiful and the sidewalk trail will lead you through the mini-dune and dune grass.

Sandy Beach at St Joseph Michigan
silver beach playground st joseph michigan
Playground at Silver Beach Center in St Joseph Michigan

P.S. Don’t forget to walk the pier!

St. Joseph Pier Lighthouse
St. Joseph North Pier, Saint Joseph, MI 49085

3 – Take a Ride on the Silver Beach Carousel

Silver Beach Carousel
333 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085

It’s hard to pass up a spin on one of the 40+ hand-carved horses from the early 1900s.

Even better, this beautiful adventure spot gives the option to dress up in their provided props! You can wear a fun hat, pretend to be a horse, or whatever you find fun for your trip around the hand-carved loop.

4 – Visit Curious Kids’ Museum

Curious Kids’ Museum
415 Lake Blvd, St Joseph, MI 49085

Everything in this museum is interactive as well as a learning opportunity. If you’re in St Joe with kids, Curious Kids is definitely worth the visit.

Favorite exhibits: farmers market, vet clinic and construction junction

**You can buy a combo ticket if you’d like to play at both this and the Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone venues.

Light board children's museum
Giant lighted peg board at Curious Kids’ Museum

5 – Explore Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone 

Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone 
333 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085

The Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone is located in the Silver Beach amusement park area of Silver Beach. It features traveling exhibits, a climbing tower lighthouse and a water table.

**You can buy a combo ticket if you’d like to play at both this and the Curious Kids’ Museum venues.

Children's museum water play
The Lake Michigan water table is a popular exhibit here

06 – Grab some Food & Coffee

When you visit a place with a local and that local is a foodie, you’re in for a treat.

St. Joe is not lacking in delicious food, with offerings for all ages and tastebuds:

Bound For Freedom
404 State St, St Joseph, MI 49085
Gift shop/boutique spot with coffee and other beverages
Cafe Tossi
516 Pleasant St, St Joseph, MI 49085
Crepes and mouth-watering pastries
Clifford’s Coffee Canal
619 W Main St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Rooftop view of the canal leading into Lake Michigan
Lark’s Barb-B-Que
174 W Main St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
38 W Wall St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Book store and gem-finding thrift shop
Silver Harbor Brewing Company
721 Pleasant St, St Joseph, MI 49085
South Bend Chocolate Company
300 State St, St Joseph, MI 49085
Chocolate, treats and coffee
Watermark Brewery
5781 St Joseph Ave, Stevensville, MI 49127
Outdoor lawn games and family-style seating
Clifford’s Coffee Canal offers amazing views of the canal

07 – Eat at Silver Beach Pizza

Silver Beach Pizza
410 Vine St, St Joseph, MI 49085

This restaurant is so iconic it gets its own shoutout.

The famous Silver Beach Pizza is located in an old Amtrak depot at the beach. Their delicious food is so well known that wait times can be long during peak times; download the “NOWAIT” app to get on their waiting list.

8 – Shop the Unique Shops

The St. Joseph area is known for its shopping, including multiple thrift shop options. Stores are located throughout the downtown strip but also tucked away in the city.

Antique fans should visit during the Antiques on the Bluff events in the summer.

Bound for Freedom
404 State St, St Joseph, MI 49085
Artist-owned shop featuring unique items from all over the world
ESS Resale Store
205 W Main St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Everybody’s Everything
1523 Niles Ave, St Joseph, MI 49085
38 W Wall St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Book store and gem-finding thrift shop
Bound-For-Freedom St. Joseph
Bound for Freedom shop in St Joseph Michigan

9 – Watch the Sunset 

Is there anything like a Lake Michigan sunset? There are multiple places to watch the sunset along Lakeshore Drive in St. Joseph and along the Benton Harbor strips.

One of our favorite spots is at Lookout Park across the street from the Holiday Inn.

Holiday Inn
3019 Lakeshore Dr, St Joseph, MI 49085
The sunsets are beautiful in St Joseph Michigan

10 – Enjoy Southwest Michigan’s Wine Country

The wine flows when you visit the St. Joseph area!

You’ll find local orchards, and wineries tucked throughout the area; many will let you pack a picnic to eat on their grounds.

Learn more about Southwest Michigan’s Wine Country.

11 – Get Active with Hiking, Biking & Walking Trails

This area is not lacking in some of the most gorgeous Hiking, Biking & Walking Trails for Michigan families.

Grand Mere State Park
7337 Thornton Dr, Stevensville, MI 49127
Sarett Nature Center
2300 N Benton Center Rd, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Love Creek Nature Center
9292 Huckleberry Rd #9736, Berrien Center, MI 49102
Warren Dunes State Park
12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer, MI 49125
Jean Klock Park
Jean Klock Blvd, Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Where to Stay in St Joseph

Now, where to stay?

No worries, everything you need to book the perfect getaway is right here.

From VRBOs to camping or glamping, happy choosing!

Find a St Joe Vacation Rental

When you book a St Joseph Michigan vacation rental, your family will have room to spread out. You will also be able to cook your own meals, and, if you’re lucky, find a few special amenities that hotel lodging doesn’t offer.

Find a St Joe Michigan Hotel

Click the button below.

Camping or Glamping at the KOA

Go Camping or Glamping at the Coloma / St. Joseph KOA Campground.

Deluxe cabins include a full-size bed, as well as a bunk bed in the bedroom. There was also a futon in the living room – it can sleep six, ideal for families needing extra space.

It has everything needed for a comfortable stay, including your own bathroom with shower, AC, utensils, and kitchen table.

Helpful appliances included a mini-fridge, coffee maker (with coffee), stovetop, mini television and hairdryer.

Along with rustic campsites, this KOA location also offers luxury camping tents!

St. Joseph KOA - Camping Tent

KOA Campground Amenities

  • Giant jumping pillow
  • Beautiful pool and hot tub
  • Playground, pond, horseshoes, gaga ball and nature trails
  • Bucket train for kids
  • Mini-golf
  • An indoor clubhouse for less than perfect weather days, general store, basketball court, volleyball court, free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, & a dog park
  • Banana bikes available for rent
  • Special events are held on certain weekends throughout the summer and fall, including ice cream socials on the weekends
  • St Joseph KOA Camping -Bounce Pillow

Fall in love with St Joseph Michigan

So, are you ready for your St. Joseph trip, or is St. Joe already one of your go-to spots each year? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

Leave a comment letting us know what you love about the Berrien County area and what should be added to this list of greatness in one of the most beloved beach towns in Michigan.

Happy travels!

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