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From Harbor County Holland, Michigan

Spring—orchards bloom, their white and pink blossoms blanketing the landscape and sweet aromas fill the air—is the perfect time to explore the quaint towns dotting the shores of Lake Michigan. Each of these, from New Buffalo to Holland, Michigan offer their own unique charms and personality.
New Buffalo, with its eclectic downtown, wide beaches and wooded sand dunes, is a favorite of Chicagoans who like the classics—burgers at Redamak’s which first opened in 1947 and trendy— P & E Mullins LOCAL for charcuteries, duck confit and area-sourced foods.   

New Buffalo, unexpectedly, is a Mecca for surfers. For those wanting to ride the waves, Third Coast Surf Shop offers board rentals and lessons. Looking for a less strenuous water adventure? Outpost Sports rents kayaks for a paddle along the Galien River as it meanders through the 200-plus acre Galien River Preserve. The spring wildflowers at the County Park are utterly splendid.
In Lakeside, buy a jar (or maybe two) of Butterscotch Schnapps Dessert Topping, named after Butterscotch, a rescued Lab and official greeter at Seasons Harvest, maker of gourmet foods. A percentage of each sale goes to the humane society.
In 1875, an Englishman turned a Three Oaks wagon factory into a butcher shop with a smoker in back for making ham and sausages. In 1913, Ed Drier who had started working there at age 10, bought the business. Now, a century later, Ed’s granddaughter, Carolyn, continues the family tradition and their hams are shipped throughout the U.S.

Just down the street, sample artisan spirits such as rye, whiskey and bourbon made at Journeyman Distillery, located in the historic Featherbone Factory and the artisan wines and handcrafted brews at Dewey Cannon Winery and Brewery. Check out the town’s art galleries, boutique clothing stores, restored theater playing indie movies and Froehlich’s, a food emporium featured on the Food Network.  
In Sawyer, just up the road, quaff a couple of artisan microbrews at Greenbush Brewing Company, dine next door at Fitzgerald’s and stop at the Sawyer Garden Center to check out the heirloom fruits and vegetables. You can watch cooking demos every Saturday. Visit noted artist Fritz Olson’s outdoor sculpture garden and then journey further north to St. Joseph where the free horse-pulled trolleys transport visitors through the historic downtown.
Dine on the porch overlooking Lake Michigan at the Bistro on the Boulevard and visit the Krasl Art Center with its Chihuly sculpture hanging in the foyer. Peruse the tomes at Forever Books, check out the clothing boutiques, grab a latte and croissant at Caffe Tosi’s, and step back in time at the century-old G & M Variety, an old fashioned dimestore with its wonderfully squeaky wood floors.
Take the steps leading below the bluff for  a ride on the Silver Beach Carousel. Kids in tow? Visit the Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone— an interactive children’s museum featuring a garden growing on its roof.
South Haven Walk along the Black River from the downtown to the pier jutting out into Lake Michigan. Learn more about the lake’s history by taking a sail aboard the Michigan Maritime Museum’s Friends Good Will, a historic replica of the only Tall Ship to sail the Great Lakes or ride Lindy Lou, the Museum’s river launch designed like the ones that carried tourists a century ago.
Sign up for a Hungry Village tour in the  Saugatuck—Douglas vicinity, known for its many food purveyors including the American Spoon (the forerunner of all things foraged and local), Fenn Valley Vineyards tasting room; fruit orchards; and the EverGreen Lane Farm and Creamery—where owner Cathy Halinski raises goats and makes goat cheeses—and The Olive Mill with its plethora of olive oils and balsamic vinegars to taste.
Get in touch with your inner Dutch by visiting Windmill Island Gardens in Holland. In the spring, the grounds are carpeted with tulips and shops sell chocolates and other goodies from the Netherlands. You can watch wooden shoes being made here. The showcase is the 252-year-old DeZwaan Windmill operated by Alisa Crawford, the only Dutch-certified journeyman miller in America and the only woman member of the Netherlands’ professional corn millers guild.  

Published: April 15, 2013
Issue: Spring 2013 Issue