New Buffalo Michigan is the full package when it comes to a getaway destination (especially a Midwestern, road-trip focused destination) – they’ve got sand, sun, outdoor recreation, boutiques, breweries, wineries, entertainment and great food. Oh – and did we mention it’s just as magical (maybe even a little more) in the fall as the summer? And if you need somewhere cozy to hibernate in winter or early spring, this can certainly fulfil those objectives, too. To put it frankly, New Buffalo Michigan should be on your travel list.
Bonus feature? It’s actually also off the Amtrak train line; you can get there right from Union Station in Chicago, or easily from a few other places. Sure, there are plenty of things to do in Michigan, but we’re building a case here for Harbor Country! Here’s how to spend 48 hours (or more, we won’t say anything if you ‘can’t make it home’) in New Buffalo, Michigan.
New Buffalo, Michigan Hotels
As far as New Buffalo Michigan hotels go, the great thing is that there are a number of options on all ends of the spectrum. As a reasonable option, the Holiday Inn Express has great amenities and isn’t too far from the downtown area (just a 10-minute drive).
If you’re looking for a bespoke experience, you can’t pass up the Marina Grand Resort or its sister property the Harbor Grand Hotel. The Harbor Grand is currently undergoing renovations due to a lightning-strike fire – but the waterfront restaurant, the Terrace Room, is still open). Both are stunning, luxurious hideaways in Harbor Country, with a range of suites, rooms and lofts that can comfortably fit up to 8 people. Waterfront dining options, curated coffee and other goodies, tons of amenities and serenely curated décor will have you feeling relaxed and refreshed in no time.
You can also go all out and grab a room at the nearby Four Winds Casino – a humongous adult playground with great lodging options and a shuttle that regularly runs into the downtown area. Don’t want to stay overnight? Don’t worry – the shuttle also makes a regular loop through a majority of the hotels – just be sure to set a reminder for the very last one, otherwise you may be a little stuck!
New Buffalo Michigan Rentals
If you want to get off the beaten path a little, it might be worthwhile to consider a New Buffalo Michigan rental, through Airbnb, VRBO or even one of the properties listed on the Chamber of Commerce website, like the adorable family-owned and run cottage called Little Bit O’ Heaven Cottage, in Lakeside Michigan (which is literally just a 9 minute drive down Red Arrow Highway to downtown New Buffalo). It’s got 2 bedrooms and plenty of space, plus a full kitchen, in-unit laundry, outdoor shower, yard games, a screened-in porch, a gas and a charcoal grill – AND access to a private beach.
New Buffalo Michigan Restaurants, Wineries & Breweries
No matter what mood you’re in, New Buffalo, Michigan is home to some incredible restaurants and bars. Local favorites include:
Head chef Sam Luna and his wife Denise run this charming, local spot (aptly named Mesa Luna, after the family name) and take a lot of care to focus on ingredient sourcing and innovative dishes. If it’s on the menu, you can’t miss the Tapistry Mr. Orange Bratwurst with beer mustard and pretzel bun.
Rios Mexican Grill
Like many famous mind-blowing food spots, this tiny shack off the main New Buffalo street drag is deceiving. Rios is the perfect place to grab a quick bite on your way out of town – and if you decide to stop, you’ll be treated to some of the best Mexican and tacos around.
Stray Dog Bar & Grill
Rising like a literal phoenix out of flames, the Stray Dog New Buffalo is one of THE go-to spots for food, drink and an all-around good time. Back in 2012, an electrical fire almost completely destroyed the local spot and even caused the roof to cave in – but it was somewhat fortuitous because the revamped rooftop deck is much larger than before, even including a bar. Pro tip: while the spot boasts a great menu consisting of typical grill fare like burgers and dogs, the tacos are the real MVP. Got a big group? Share a few pizzas – you can’t go wrong with those either.
The Terrace Room at the Harbor Grand Hotel is a prairie-style inspired waterfront establishment which might be home to one of the best sunset-watching spots in Harbor Country. And even if you choose not to enjoy the outdoor patio, the cozy indoor dining room, with its many nods to Frank Lloyd Wright, will provide an elevated, Italian-inspired dining experience you’ll be thinking about long after you finish eating!
Round Barn Winery, Brewery & Distillery
A quick drive to nearby Baroda, Round Barn is a perfect stop if you’ve got a big group of people with varying tastes because there’s something for everyone. That, along with their expansive outdoor patio, makes it a great go-to for everything from day trips to bachelorette parties. They also offer a wide variety of events on their calendar, which often include food and live music. Pro tip: make sure you line up transportation beforehand – it can be tough to get an Uber to and from sometimes. If you call, their staff will be able to help you find some good options.
Beer Church Brewing Co.
Beer Church Brewery sings praises to all that is holy in beer – it’s literally inside an old Methodist church that was saved from demolition… and the taps have been installed in an old altar left behind. With small batch pours (only offered onsite and for take away in 32oz) boasting names like Double Pontious Pilot and Crooked Cross, this is definitely a holy mecca of imbibing.
New Buffalo Michigan Things to Do
Outdoor sports, sand, shopping – oh my! If you didn’t know what to expect when traveling to southwestern Michigan, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. Charming boutiques and souvenir shops (nearly all locally-owned by wonderful people with stories to tell) and limitless outdoor recreation options will fulfill all your getaway needs. Here are a couple of can’t-miss things to do.
Head to the New Buffalo beaches.
There are some great public beaches in the New Buffalo area, along with places to rent kayaks and paddle boards. Another fun thing to do on a New Buffalo, Michigan beach? Watch the sunset! Since you’re on the east side of Lake Michigan, you’ll catch a different angle of the sunset you wouldn’t see on the other side.
What’s your favorite spot where you currently live & why?
“Sitting anywhere along the shores of Lake Michigan. Sometimes I am moved to tears by the magnificent power of the water; it’s where I reflect and meditate.”– Flo Lawnicki, Flo’s Favorites (Read the Interview Here)
Hike the Warren Dunes.
If hiking the sand is more your jam than lounging in it, Warren Dunes State park is only a 15-minute drive from New Buffalo. In terms of cheap thrills, this is about as great as it gets – it’s just $9 per out-of-state car (you can find up-to-date info and camping rates here). Tons of beautiful shoreline and beaches, the ability to grill and even bring your furry friend along (as long as they’re in your immediate control at all times!) give you a lot of options for outdoor fun and exercise.
Downtown New Buffalo Michigan has some adorable boutiques and antique shops for your next great find. Check out the Hidden Gem for collectables, the Whittaker House for your favorite looks, and Customs Imports for some of the most unique worldly home goods in this hemisphere.
Get lucky at Four Winds Casino.
As we mentioned above, if table games and live music is more your scene, head over to the gorgeous and expansive Four Winds Casino for some fun. While they have a hotel onsite, many of the surrounding hotels also run shuttles regularly to and from the campus!
Score a great deal at the Michigan City outlets.
A short 17-minute drive from the New Buffalo, Michigan downtown area, the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets is an ideal spot for stocking up on summer sales or that bag you’ve had your eye on. Bonus: it’s on the way back toward Chicago!
Summing it up:
Like we said, New Buffalo is a perfect getaway spot for any season. Ideal for a romantic getaway, large groups, families and everyone in between, the variety of activities makes it a crowd pleaser. Pro tip? We’d say one of the best times to go would be in the winter – the rates can’t be beat and there are plenty of cozy indoor things to do!
Related: there are a LOT of dunes in Michigan – one of the most fun things to do? Rent a dune buggy! Trust us – it’s a lot cooler than it sounds. Head to this guide to see all the things to do in Michigan you should bookmark for your upcoming getaways.