St Joseph Michigan: 15 Things to Do in this Charming Lake Michigan Beach Town

St Joseph MI things to do St Joe MI

Make St Joseph Michigan Your Next Family Adventure

Looking for that quintessential Lake Michigan beach getaway for your family?

St. Joseph is more than just Silver Beach; this lakeshore 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:

st joseph michigan St Joe MI
Downtown St Joseph MI

15 Best Things to Do in St Joseph MI

While known for its beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, this town offers more than sandcastles and water play. Find the best things to do in St Joe:

1 – Play the Day Away at Silver Beach

The vastness of the beach at St Joseph Michigan cannot be overstated. With seemingly unending sand and sun, it’s easy to see why so many people love Silver Beach.

Take a sandy seat 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.

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

2 – Splash and Cool Off at Whirlpool Compass Fountain

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.

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

Whirlpool Compass Fountain in St Joseph Michigan
Whirlpool Compass Fountain
200 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.

The carousel offers variety of seating options with a variety of animals, both moving and stationary.

The Silver Beach Carousel is fun for all ages. Photo: St. Joe Today

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

4 – Explore Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone 

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.

Visitor tip: Online reservations may be required for your visit and museum hours vary. Check their website before visiting.

Children's museum water play
The Lake Michigan water table is a popular exhibit here
Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone 
333 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085

5 – Grab some Grub (Food & Coffee Favorites)

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
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

6 – Eat at Silver Beach Pizza

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.

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

7 – 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
Mosaic-book-store St Joseph MI
Mosaic on W Wall St, St Joe
Bound-For-Freedom St. Joseph
Bound for Freedom shop in St Joseph Michigan

8 – 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.

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

9 – 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
Warren Dunes State park in Sawyer MI

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 – Visit the KRASL Art Center

Open since 1979, this museum is packed with art exhibits, classes, camps and workshops.

Visitor Tip: KRASL is open 7 days/week from April – December, and admission is FREE!

photo: KRASL Art Center
KRASL Art Center
707 Lake Boulevard, St Joseph, MI 49085

12 – Support Local at the St. Joe Farmers Market

Fresh finds with an amazing view of Lake Michigan? You’ll find both at the St. Joe Farmers Market.

Held at Lake Bluff Park, you’ll find a variety of typical farmers market fare: locally grown produce, flowers, meats, cheeses, coffee, and more.

Hours are every Saturday from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, from May through mid-October. A few dates have extended market hours, so be sure to check ahead on their website.

photo: St Joe Today
Lake Bluff Park
400 Lake Boulevard, St Joseph, MI 49085

13 – Golf at One Of The Best Public Golf Courses in America

If golfing is your cup of tee (see what we did there?), don’t miss tee time at Harbor Shores Golf Course.

Fun facts:

  • Each of the 18 holes are named after native indigenous plants and have a metal sculpture with hand-blown glass designed by local artists
  • Harbor Shores is the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on the shores of Lake Michigan
  • The course is designated as a Top 100 Best Public Golf Course in America by Golf Digest
photo: Harbor Shores Golf Course
Harbor Shores Golf Course
201 Graham Ave, Benton Harbor, MI 49022

14 – Chalk This Off Your Summer Bucket List

If you’re looking for a family-friendly event in late summer, make plans to attend the Chalk the Block Festival in downtown St. Joe.

Beginning Friday evening, amateur and professional artists take over Broad Street to create colorful chalk masterpieces throughout the weekend.

Your kiddos will enjoy the Chalk Kids Zone, where they can bring their creativity to life and create their own art!

Chalk the Block is usually held the first weekend in August and admission is free. Several other fun events are held during the festival too, making it a perfect weekend family getaway.

chalk kids zone during st joe chalk the block
Budding artists will love Chalk Kids Zone
kids view mural progress during chalk the block in st joe
photo: Chalk the Block
Chalk the Block
Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085

15 – Find Vintage Heaven at Antiques on the Bluff

If antiquing is your favorite past-time, Antiques on the Bluff is a must-see.

With more than 50 vendors, you’re sure to find delightful vintage treasures at this St. Joe antique show overlooking Lake Michigan.

Held at Lake Bluff Park on the first Sunday of the month from May through October, this event is held rain or shine. Admission is free. Hours are 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

photo: Antiques on the Bluff
Antiques on the Bluff
Lake Bluff Park, 300 Lake Blvd, St Joseph, MI 49085

Where to Stay in St Joseph

this section includes affiliate links

St. Joe offers a variety of accommodations to meet all travelers needs. From VRBOs to traditional hotels to glamping, you can find all price points and amenities.

St Joseph MI
Deluxe cabin at the Coloma / St. Joseph KOA Campground

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

Hotels can come with their own perks for your vacation: many have pools on-site, breakfasts included with your room rate and rooms overlooking Lake Michigan.

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
Camping tent at the Coloma / St. Joseph KOA Campground

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

Map: 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.

Birdseye view of St Joseph Michigan

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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