A Whole Different Kind of Fun – Southwest Michigan for the Winter

Embrace the enchantment of winter in Southwest Michigan along with Northwest & Central Indiana! As the chill of the season sets in, the region from New Buffalo, MI, to South Bend, IN, transforms into a winter wonderland, where the crisp air beckons you to a unique and exhilarating day of fun. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as our towns get decorated in festive cheer, becoming a patch work of vibrant festivals and captivating events. Through this blog, we warmly invite you to explore the diverse and rich array of winter festivities that span from November to February. Whether you find yourself in the picturesque Charlevoix, the artsy Saugatuck, or any of our quaint, charming towns, a tapestry of winter magic awaits. While the thought of winter might sound chilly, we assure you, it’s one of the most mesmerizing and rewarding times to visit our beautiful region!

Lake Michigan and Indiana Lighthouse in Snow

For your winter 2023 getaway to Southwest Michigan or Indiana, here’s a curated list of events, festivals, and fairs to explore:

Autumn Artisan Market

Autumn Artisan Market Flyer

Set for November 18 and 19, 2023, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM the Autumn Artisan Market at Journeyman Distillery is an annual event that showcases artists and makers of all kinds. Hosted at the historic Featherbone Factory in Three Oaks, Michigan, this market invites visitors to explore and support local creative talents. Attendees can enjoy a variety of offerings, including locally sourced gourmet and personal care items, handcrafted decor, and jewelry. Additionally, food and beverages are available for purchase, making it an ideal event for a full day of exploration and enjoyment. The Journeyman shop will also feature cocktail kits, hats, shirts, flags, flasks, and other unique items.

LIGHTS at Fernwood

The LIGHTS at Fernwood is set to take place this year from November 24, 2023, to January 6, 2024. This professionally designed light show that promises to magically illuminate evenings at Fernwood Botanical Garden. Featuring two extraordinary light tunnels, three warm fire pits, a fun winter craft station, nature-inspired light sculptures, festive music, and sounds, offering a truly enchanting experience for visitors of all ages. More information here.

Christmas In The Village

Stevensville Christmas Flyer

Scheduled this year for December 2, 2023, from 3:00 to 6:00 PM, and offers a plethora of festive activities suitable for the entire family. This year’s event includes a free photo opportunity with Santa, face painting, and a chance for children to write letters to Santa. Additional attractions include a S’More’s Station hosted by the Lakeshore Rotary, cookie decorating, sleigh rides, a popcorn cart, various crafts, donut decorating, games, and a goodie bag scavenger hunt, among other enjoyable activities.

Saugatuck Christmas Parade

Ginger Bread Cookie Inflatable Floating Thru City Streets

The Saugatuck Christmas Parade, a much-anticipated annual event, will take place this year on December 2, 2023. The parade lineup begins at 10:15 AM in front of Wicks Park, with the parade officially starting at 11:00 AM. Organized by Operation Hope For Allegan Youth, this festive annual event always brings the holiday spirit to Downtown Saugatuck. The parade route kicks off in front of Wicks Park, proceeds down Water Street, turns left onto Mason Street, and then left again onto Butler Street, concluding at the corner of Butler and Mary Streets​.

Holiday Artisan Fair

Toys at Holiday Fair

The 2023 Holiday Artisan Fair, hosted by St. Joe Today, is set to take place on Sunday, December 3, 2023, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Located at 216 Court St. in St. Joseph, MI, this indoor market is an ideal destination for holiday shopping. Visitors can explore a diverse range of artisanal products from various vendors, whose details are yet to be announced. The event offers free admission, making it a perfect opportunity for community members and visitors to engage in the festive spirit and find unique gifts for the holiday season

A New Year’s Eve Celebration With Shemekia Copeland

Mess After New Year Party

The “Shemekia Copeland with Nathan Graham: A New Year’s Eve Celebration” event at The Acorn is scheduled for Sunday, December 31, at 9:00 PM ET (8:00 PM CT). This special holiday jazz celebration features the award-winning blues, soul, and Americana singer Shemekia Copeland, renowned for her powerful and soulful performances. The event will also feature Nathan Graham, known for his soulful music, who will open the show with his full band, setting the stage for a memorable New Year’s Eve filled with exceptional music and celebration.

St. Joe Winter Beer Fest

A Flight Of Different Beers

The 2024 This years St. Joe Winter Beer Fest is scheduled for Saturday, January 27, 2024, from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM in downtown St. Joseph, MI. This annual outdoor event invites both craft beer novices and enthusiasts to sample a wide range of beers from local and regional Michigan breweries. It’s a perfect occasion for those looking to experience the rich and diverse craft beer culture of Michigan while enjoying the winter atmosphere of St. Joseph​

St. Joseph Ice Fest

Train Ice Sculpture

an exciting winter event set for February 2-4, 2024. Located at 301 State St., this festival brings a weekend of frosty fun to downtown St. Joe. Highlights include professional Ice Carving Competitions, a Scavenger Hunt, and a variety of Ice Interactives. The event begins with a Professional Individual Carving Competition on Friday evening, followed by a Fire & Ice Tower. Saturday features a Professional Team Competition and interactive ice activities like Tic-Tac-Toe, Frozen Fish Toss, Ice Bowling, Ice Skee Ball, and Ice Putt Putt Golf. The event concludes on Sunday with a chance to view the completed ice sculptures. Admission to this magical winter celebration is free.

Winter Local Events Home Base

As we conclude our journey through the festive and exciting winter events across Southwest Michigan and Northwest & Central Indiana, remember that these experiences are made even more special with a comfortable stay. Juniper Holiday and Homes offers the perfect accommodations to complement your winter adventures. Whether you’re seeking a cozy retreat after a day of holiday festivities or a convenient base to explore the myriad of events, our properties provide warmth, comfort, and convenience. Book your stay with Juniper Holiday and Homes and immerse yourself in the winter wonders of these vibrant communities, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Aerial View Of A Charlevoix Vacation Rental

Paws and Play: Plan A Pet-Friendly Vacation in Southwest Michigan

The picturesque shores along Lake Michigan—particularly in Southwest Michigan—offer a serene escape for both vacationers and their furry companions. But it’s not just beautiful and fun here, Southwest Michigan is super pet-friendly~

How do we know that’s true?

Because at Juniper Holiday + Home, we understand pets are part of the family and we design our pet-friendly vacation rental services around the idea! We also, just love animals, and so our team is connected to the local area services and activities available for pets. We’re excited to share our ultimate pet-friendly guide for our Lake Michigan destinations. Come experience a Lake Michigan pet-friendly vacation!

When you’re planning a pet-friendly vacation, finding the right place to stay is crucial. At Juniper Holiday + Home, we offer a selection of charming, comfy, elegantly designed vacation rentals that welcome pets with open arms and wagging tails. From cozy cottages to spacious lakefront homes, our properties provide the ideal backdrop for your vacation getaway. Our pet-friendly accommodations include:

  • Dog-friendly beaches nearby for endless adventures
  • Fenced-in yards for off-leash fun
  • Pet-friendly amenities, such as food and water bowls, dog beds, and treats galore
  • Access to nearby trails and parks for exciting walks
  • Friendly neighborhoods who adore pets almost as much as we do
  • Have pet-planning questions? Contact Us for the skinny on nearly everything pet related.

2. Exploring Nature with Your Furry Friend

Southwest Michigan is a treasure trove of natural beauty, and your pet will love exploring the great outdoors. Here are some pet-friendly activities you can enjoy together:

  • Beach Adventures — The sandy beaches of Lake Michigan are perfect for a game of fetch or a leisurely stroll with your pup. Some local beaches even have designated dog-friendly areas where your furry friend can play in the waves.
  • Hiking Trails — Explore the area’s lush forests and scenic trails. For example, Warren Dunes State Park offers pet-friendly hiking trails that wind through diverse landscapes, from sand dunes to woodlands. (And there are many other similar places in the region for you & your dog to roam together!)
  • Pet-Friendly Wineries – Yep, believe it or not, some wineries in Southwest Michigan are super pet-friendly! You can sip on local wines, while your pet lounges in the sunshine. (Be sure to check ahead for pet policies and outdoor seating.)
A Long Coated Australian Shepherd Outdoors

3. Pet-Friendly Dining

After a day of exploring, it’s time to refuel, right? It turns out Southwest Michigan has a growing number of pet-friendly dining options where you and your dog can dine together on outdoor patios.

Cavapoo Dog Sitting on a Dining Chair

Here are links to 20 more pet-friendly restaurants & bars in the region to check out!!

4. Pet Safety and Etiquette

Cute Pug Pet Dog

While enjoying your vacation with your pet, it’s important to be a responsible pet owner. Here are some tips for ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone:

  • Keep your pet on a leash in areas where it’s required.
  • Clean up after your pet and dispose of waste properly.
  • Be respectful of other guests and their pets.
  • Familiarize yourself with local pet regulations and restrictions.

A little online research can go a long way to ensure a smooth and safe time out with your pup.

5. Relax and Unwind

After a day of adventure, return to your cozy Juniper Holiday + Home vacation rental for some well deserved R&R. Our pet-friendly properties are designed to make you and your pet feel totally at home while out on vacation. Whether you choose to snuggle up by the fireplace or enjoy a glass of wine on the porch, your pet will be right there with you, making memories together.

Yorkshire Terrier Relaxing at the Dog Grooming Spa

Bringing your pet to Southwest Michigan for a vacation, with pet-friendly accommodations, stunning natural beauty, and a warm welcome from the local community, your pet will enjoy the trip as much as you do!

Book your pet-friendly getaway with us today and embark on an unforgettable adventure in Southwest Michigan. We can’t wait to welcome you and your beloved pet to our slice of paradise by the lake!

Happy travels, y’all!

Our Hidden Treasures: Lake Michigan Beaches!

“A normal lake is knowable. A Great Lake can hold all the mysteries of an ocean, and then some.”
– Dan Egan –

Union Pier Sand dunes and sunset Lake Michigan
happy mother with kids looking at sunset on lake
New Buffalo Lighthouse and Beach at Sunset

Want to know one of the best-kept secrets in Southwest Michigan?

Look no further! The plentiful pristine beaches along Lake Michigan’s freshwater coastline are some of the most beautiful in the country. And it’s not just my opinion… because according to Conde Nast Traveler magazine, Oval Beach in Saugatuck is one of the 25 best in the world, while MTV rates it one of the top 5 in the entire U.S.!)

Yep, in the Southwest Michigan region, there are miles and miles and miles of wide, sandy, stunning beaches—virtually all with a Cape Cod feel— offering you, your family and friends virtually endless opportunities for summertime vacation joy. With clear, aqua blue water, windswept sand dunes and many having well-maintained beaches, services and parking (not to mention the numerous artsy, family friendly beach towns all along the shoreline), you’ve got everything you need for a relaxing, fun-filled day at the beach!

Here’s a small sample of the many great beaches you can find in Southwest Michigan. Go online for more details and directions to those listed here or to research more options in other areas of the region. I also included a list of dog-friendly area beaches that can be found at the end of this article.

Beaches in and around New Buffalo

New Buffalo City Beach

Collage of New Buffalo Beach, Lighthouse, and scenery along Lake Michigan.

Swimming*, kayaking, walkway, concessions, grills, restrooms and a children’s playground are all available. *Lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Cherry Beach

Wooden stairs lead you to this 200-yards stretch of beach, with swimming, an observation platform and a nice picnic area. Note: Parking is free, but limited.

Grand Mere State Park

View of Grand Mere State Park Beach from the Water.

This gorgeous beach requires a bit of a hike to get to, but there’s more than a mile’s worth of majestic Lake Michigan beauty to enjoy here. Picnic tables, a covered shelter and vault toilets are provided.

Townline Beach

This quiet beach can be accessed by parking along the road and taking the steps down to it. Great for swimming and it, too, is often frequented.

Warren Dunes State Park

Collage of Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan

This is an excellent swimming or kayaking beach with plenty of magnificent dunes, a boardwalk, concessions and SUP/Stand-up paddleboard rentals.

Weko Beach

Another wonderful swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding beach with a picnic area, grills, a nicely maintained campground, restrooms and a children’s playground.

Beaches in and around Saugatuck, Douglas & St. Joseph

Oval Beach

Recognized as one of Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 25 Beaches in the World, National Geographic Traveler’s Top Freshwater Beaches in the USA, and MTV’s Top 5 Beaches in the U.S., this exquisite crescent-shaped Lake Michigan beach is a popular must-see. Besides a fantastic beach, it has towering sand dunes, concessions stands, a number of picnic areas and plenty of restrooms.

Douglas Beach

Looking for something a little quieter? This cozy neighborhood “park” includes a picnic area, restroom and a peaceful beach lined with trees by the waterline. Consider staying for the enjoyable sunsets.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Collage of Saugatuck Dunes State Park and Beaches along Lake Michigan

In addition to a glorious beach, here you can find an extraordinary “super- dunes” experience awaiting you. That is, if you’re up for a hike through the sandy woods to fantastic overlooks atop the 200-foot tall dunes. In the summer, you can walk (in winter, you can snowshoe or cross-country ski) for miles on the wooded trails or along the majestic shoreline. Note regarding Parking: State park permit or day use fee is required.

Laketown Beach

If you want to really leave the hustle and bustle behind you, this quiet beach on the north side of town may be your “slice of heaven.” However, you’re going to be up for burning a few calories, given there’s a long wooden stairway to get to the beach. But then it’s virtually all yours! Please note: No services, but parking is free.

West Side County Park

Perfect for family gatherings or just fun for the kids, this beach has pavilions, picnic areas, playgrounds, boardwalks along the beach and restrooms. Note: Parking is limited, but free

Silver Lake County Park

Silver Lake County Beach and Lighthouse in St Joseph, MI

Located in St. Joseph, Michigan at the mouth of the St. Joseph River, this beach features clean, wide sandy expanses and views of the pier, and a public swimming area in the summer months. Great for kayaking and paddleboarding, too!

Dog on Leash at Lake Michigan Beach

Dog-Friendly Area Beaches

Michigan has many dog-friendly beaches—New Buffalo has three dog- friendly beaches and Saugatuck has one—but it’s important to remember none of these are off-leash beach areas; that is, dogs must remain on leashes. It’s also important to remember pet-owner etiquette: remember to clean up after your dog to keep the beaches clean, healthy and fun for everyone.

Leashed Dogs Allowed On Following Beaches

5 Reasons to Book a Lake Michigan Vacation Rental This Summer

Looking ahead to the swiftly approaching days of summer–and what fun-filler times, planned adventures or simple R&R might be beckoning you—here are five excellent reasons to consider booking your summer vacation at any of a number of Juniper’s Lake Michigan beach house rentals.

1) Miles and miles of magnificent beaches

View of Lake Michigan Beach and shoreline

For decades, countless vacationers have known about (and flocked to!) the pristine beaches gracing Lake Michigan, one of North America’s five Great Lakes, with 1600 miles of incredible shoreline. And while “a picture is worth a thousand words” (see the accompanying photos), you should know the Southwest Michigan beaches—particularly where a number of our Juniper vacation rentals are located—are held in especially high regard for their white sand beaches, miles of blue water and, quite often wind-sculpted sand dunes. In fact, Conde Naste Traveler magazine named Oval Beach in Saugatuck one of the top 25 beaches in the world… and in the top 2 freshwater beaches!

2) An amazing range of other outdoor activities (i.e., besides the beach!)

Golf Clubs and Golf Balls

Let’s see, where do we start? How about the region’s largest recreational harbor, with boating, jet-ski and fishing charter rentals available, even yacht cruises? Then there’s woodland, lake and riverside parks with hiking and biking trails galore, plus great opportunities for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and plenty of birdwatching. And did you know Michigan has the most public golf courses than any other state in the U.S.? Taking in a round of golf at a superb local course is easy-peasy while you vacation along Lake Michigan’s shores. Then again, there’s always that other optional summertime “activity”: Simply stretching out and relaxing in the peaceful outdoors.

3) Plenty of local & nationally-recognized festivals & cultural events to choose from

Couple Listening To Music In Park

While enjoying your stay at a Lake Michigan beach rental, there are also all sorts of fun and enriching events you can revel in. From renowned summertime art festivals and acclaimed musical artist performances to local weekend farmers markets and Friday Night Concert series, good times abound with wonderful ways to get out and experience the rich culture available in Southwest Michigan. For example, the Lake Bluff Artisan Fair in St. Joseph is a widely popular eclectic array of award-winning artists and craftspeople offering art, décor, jewelry, handcrafted furniture and various crafts, with fair dates in June, July, August and September. And in Saugatuck, you’ll quickly find out why it’s heralded as one of the Midwest’s top art-lover’s destinations and haven for artists. Throughout the summer, art gallery openings and exhibitions there flourish. Oh, you want great live music? Top national and international recording artists regularly play at the historic Acorn Theater in Three Oaks. So get out & have some fun!

4) Wine and craft beer tours through award-winning vineyards and breweries

Grapes on the Vine at a Vineyard

Southwest Michigan includes a wine region (the Lake Michigan Shore AVA/American Viticultural Area) that produces some of the most diverse and flavorful wines you’ve ever tasted, thanks to the “lake effect” weather along the Lake Michigan coastal area. Together, these award-winning wineries make up the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, a cluster of superb Michigan vineyards, farms and orchards. marked by the gently rolling hills of Michigan’s “Fruit Ridge.” For wine enthusiasts staying at Lake Michigan beach house rentals, there are several wine tours available in the area. Also, for craft beer lovers, the Waypost Brewery in Fennville is a hugely popular local brewery that not only makes a wide variety of craft beers from produce drawn from its 58-acre farm, but they’ve also won a gold medal at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival!

5) The widely acknowledged “chill vibe” of the Midwest

Two Men In Sunglasses Chilling Near Lake

So many of Juniper’s guests who live on either the East Coast or West Coast of the United States remark to us how kind, friendly and accommodating Midwesterners are. Even Insider has written about it: “The Midwest has a rep for friendly people, a relaxed pace of life and a stress-free lifestyle… Indeed, the Midwest is different than the rest of the country. People are genuinely nice and willing to help others.”1

And though there’s less traffic jams, more wide-open space and room to breathe, it’s the slower tempo and more openhearted nature of Midwesterners that add to the chill vibe of vacationing along Lake Michigan.

1Young, Olivia. “Here are 6 Things All Midwesterners Know to Be True” Insider. 10/12/18

Your Guide to Lake Michigan Vacation Rentals

Spring Preview | Southwest Michigan Golf 2023

Little known fact… Michigan has more public golf courses than any other state! And with Spring weather warming up and the world-renowned Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia being played right now (and through this weekend), golf enthusiasts in Southwest Michigan have plenty to be thankful for. Yes, there are a number of excellent golf courses to choose from in the region, offering great opportunities to hit the links and enjoy a round of golf with your family, friends or fellow golf lovers.

While you’re on vacation and staying at one of our Juniper properties, we hope the list of sample golf courses below will entice you to book a tee time soon!

The Woodlands Course at Whitaker

12578 Wilson Rd.
New Buffalo, MI
Ph. 269-469-3400

The Woodlands Course at Whittaker | New Buffalo, MI (

Lost Dunes Golf Club

9300 Red Arrow Hwy.
Bridgman, MI
Ph. 269-465-9300

Home – Lost Dunes Golf Club

Harbor Shores Golf Course

201 Graham Ave.
Benton Harbor, MI
Ph. 269-927-4653

Golf | Harbor Shores | Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course (

Ravines Golf Club

3520 Palmer Drive
Saugatuck, MI
Ph. 269-857-1616

Ravines Golf Club – Saugatuck,MI

Briar Leaf Golf Club

3233 N. State Rd. 39
La Porte, IN
Ph. 219-326-1992

Briar Leaf Golf Club – LaPorte / Northwest Indiana – 18 Hole Golf Course

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