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Harbor Country

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Harbor Country

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Harbor Country [1] 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.


Other destinations


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.

Get in

From Chicago

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.

Get around

Automobile is definitely the easiest way to transverse the highways and rural routes of Harbor Country. If you must take Amtrak, you can purchase a ticket to nearby St. Joseph, but understand that there is little public transportation in the region. As in most parts of the United States, hitch-hiking is not recommended.




  • Visit area beaches, such as Warren Dunes State Park or the Municipal Beach in New Buffalo. In addition to swimming, sailing and kayaking are also popular along the Lake Michigan shore.
  • Buy fresh farm produce at area farm stands such as Joe Jackson's ( locations in Harbert and New Buffalo). Depending on the season, you can purchase Michigan apples, peaches, asparagus and more. The area is also known for its wine; pick up a bottle at any of the numerous wineries in the region.
  • Stroll through downtown New Buffalo to visit high-end boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries, or stop at similar establishments located along Red Arrow Highway.


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.

Stay safe

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.

Get out

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.

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