Difference between revisions of "Harbor Country"
Revision as of 19:02, 20 August 2012
Harbor Country  is a region in southwest West Michigan, on Lake Michigan just north of Indiana and a short distance east of Chicagoland. This small region features quaint towns, U-Pick apple/berry/pumpkin farms, wineries, and miles of beautiful Lake Michigan beaches.
Once a predominately rural area, in the past few decades Harbor Country has experienced significant tourist growth as travelers from nearby Chicago visit the area. The main highways of Harbor Country are lined with art galleries, farm stands, and trendy restaurants catering to this crowd. Many new cottages are also being built in the region due to the strong vacation home market. In addition to being a destination in its own right, Harbor Country is also a popular stopping point for vacationers heading to St. Joseph, Holland, or Grand Rapids.
Take US 12 (Red Arrow Highway)East from the South Side of Chicago. This route will take you very close to the Lake Michigan coast for most of the drive, and passes through the communities of New Buffalo, Union Pier, and Lakeside. An alternative is to take I-90 to where it intersects with I-94 in Indiana, and then taking I-94 up into Michigan. This is a more inland route, but it is easier to connect to I-94 from other parts of Chicagoland. I-94 Exit 1,4, 6, or 12 will put you in Harbor Country.
From Other Parts of Michigan
Follow I-94 west to approach Harbor Country from the Northeast(Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor). From Grand Rapids, take I-96 south to I-94, and then continue south from there. Exit 1,4, 6, or 12 will put you in Harbor Country.
Automobile is definitely the easiest way to transverse the highways and rural routes of Harbor Country. Amtrak is another option to get to Harbor Country. There is an Amtrak platform in New Buffalo. You can take Amtrak from Chicago's Union Station to the New Buffalo stop. NICTD or the South Shore is the commuter rail system that stops in Michigan City via Chicago. Harbor Country is 11 miles north from the train station. As in most parts of the United States, hitch-hiking is not recommended.
In addition, there are many fast food restaurants off the highway exit in Stevensville, including Big Boy, Burger King, Culver's, Dairy Queen, and McDonald's.
Local wines are available at numerous regional wineries such as the Tabor Hill Winery, the Round Barn Winery, and the St. Julian Winery. Many offer tastings in vineyards' stores or restaurants. Other local shops also carry the product.
Although the picturesque countryside may seem idyllic, it is important to follow all commonsense safety procedures when visiting Harbor Country. Keep your car and hotel room doors locked as you would anywhere else; petty theft can happen even in the smallest regional towns.
The Lake Michigan shore is a popular attraction, but rip currents can be a problem at times, particularly after storms. Do not enter the water if a red warning flag is being waved at the beach. Most beaches have lifeguards, but there even the largest beaches have only a few at a time, and usually only from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Swim at your own risk when a lifeguard is not present.
Indiana lies just over the border to the south, and the eastern fringes of Chicagoland aren't much farther away. In Michigan City, Indiana (the first town across the Indiana state line), the Lighthouse Place Outlet Mall offers discount shopping opportunities. Alternatively, to the north are a seemingly endless series of Lake Michigan Beachtowns. These include the much larger communities of Holland, St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, and South Haven.