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Ultimate New Buffalo Travel Guide 2022 + Best Things To DO(MAP)

New Buffalo Michigan on the Red Arrow Highway
New Buffalo Michigan

2022 Ultimate New Buffalo Travel Guide

New Buffalo, MI might just be one of the best-kept secrets in the Midwest.

This laid-back beachtown, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, is a top southwest Michgan travel destination, and with good reason. A mix of small-town charm and urbane, big-city sophsitication, New Buffalo is filled with fun things to do and see.

From outdoor adventures like paddling along the Galien River and splashing on the shores of New Buffalo’s city beach, to visiting an art gallery or two and topping it off with a “Grape and Grain” winery, brewery and distilleries tour, there’s something for everyone in New Buffalo.

We’ve put together a complete travel guide to the best places to stay and and eat, and things to do in New Buffalo, MI. We’ve also included an interactive map to help you plan your visit to this fun Michigan beachtown, located at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

PRO-TIP: Oh, and the best thing about New Buffalo, MI? It’s super dog-friendly!

New Buffalo Mi sign - best thing to do in new buffalo Michigan
The New Buffalo sign always makes me smile!

About New Buffalo MI

New Buffalo is the gem of Michigan’s Harbor Country, drawing visitors from around the country, especially Chicago, to its wide, soft-sand beaches and vibrant downtown area.

Why Chicago? It’s just over an hour away by car or train, and convenient train stops right downtown make it an easy trip from the city to the beach.

New Buffalo is loaded with opportunities for outdoor fun, from swimming to boating to kayaking and paddleboarding, to hiking and biking, you’ll never run out of things to do. There’s an equal number of exciting things to do indoors, from visiting the casino, dining at great restaurants and sampling local fare, to visiting the spa or art gallery and shopping for antiques, chic furnishings and more.

Downtown New Buffalo Mi- best things to do in new buffalo

New Buffalo Explored

There’s a lot going on here all year round, and you’re going to want to visit New Buffalo soon.

Although New Buffalo is nestled on the shore of Lake Michigan, it’s surrounded by the lush rolling hills of nearby farms and vineyards. That means you’ll find an endless supply of craft breweries, distilleries, and wineries with easy distance. New Buffalo is located on the Lake Michigan Shore wine trail, so you’ll find easy access to wine tours and even some live entertainment

It’s the natural setting that really brings the area to life, though.

You’ll find winding rivers to paddle, sprawling natural areas to hike and of course, the soft, silky sand of Lake Michigan beaches.

We’ve been visiting New Buffalo our entire life, and truly believe it’s a special place. From the moment you exit the expressway (it’s just off I-94, if that’s how to you choose to visit), you can’t help but take a deep breath and feel the magic. It’s a soft lake breeze that sweeps over your entire being.

dog-friendly sign in new buffalo Mi - best things to do in new buffalo
Dog-Friendly New Buffalo

Where Is New Buffalo Located?

New Buffalo is located in the southwest corner of Michigan, just south of St. Joe’s, another popular Michigan vacation destination.

It’s easy to find, just follow the signs off Interstate 94 for Exit 1 or Exit 4. It’s just a short ride into town from either of these exits. You can also take an AMTRAK train from Detroit, Ann Arbor or Chicago. From Detroit, it’s about a three-hour ride; from Chicago, it’s just over an hour away!

The train drops you off at the cute, clean little station right downtown near the Galien River. It’s in easy walking distance shops, galleries, restaurants, places to stay, and of course, the city beach! You can also easily find a taxi if you want to travel a further distance.

New Buffalo, MI weather is typical Michigan: cold and snowy in the winter and delightfully warm in the summer. Expect temperatures to range from 70 F to 80 F during the day from June-September. During the summer months, mornings and evenings may be cooler; typically lower 70 – 60 F.

Welcome to Harbor Country

New Buffalo is the heart of this collection of eight Lake Michigan communities known as “Harbor Country,” just over the Indiana border and a short drive from downtown Chicago.

This Michigan City by the beach is a popular spot for weekend getaways, these charmingly upscale lakeside towns offer vacation fun in the form of music, art, food, beer and wine festivals, holiday parades, kayaking and even surfing on Lake Michigan.

Harbor Country communities include Union Pier, Michiana, Lakeside, Grand Beach, Harbert, Sawyer, Three Oaks and New Buffalo.

New Buffalo LIghthouse - best things to do in new buffalo

What is New Buffalo, MI is Known For?

New Buffalo is known for:

  • A cool, casual style that is evident in the area’s vibrant arts and culture scene, as well as the variety of restaurants and shops featuring everything from farm-to-table cuisine to gourmet markets, breweries, distilleries, and spas.
  • Close proximity to Chicago: just 70 miles from the city’s downtown, it’s a popular vacation spot for Chicagoans. Located off of Exit 1 on the much-traveled “Chicago-to-Michigan” route, it’s often called “The Gateway to Michigan.”
  • The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, one of Michigan’s five AVA’s (American Vitacultural Area). These federally-designated areas wine regions produce a wide variety of award-winning wines.
  • The Galien River, which intersects with Lake Michigan in a beautiful meeting of two well-known waterways. Popular Galien River County Park features elevated walkways, perfect for exploring the area in its natural state.
  • An unforgettable beach town vibe created by fun and eclectic downtown shops; ready beach accessibility and friendly locals. You’ll find more than 16 miles of stunning beaches featuring stunning sunsets and sandy dunes, perfect for traveling with friends and family.
  • Warren Woods State Park, a rare climax forest featuring a silvery smooth beech maple standing up to 125’ high, is a popular spots for hiking under the tall trees.
New Buffalo Sunset - New Buffalo Mi
New Buffalo Sunset

Sunsets in New Buffalo, MI

New Buffalo is located on the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone, and this means that this fun little beach town enjoys one extra hour of sunlight.

It’s the “cherry-on-top” for visitors: you have more time to frolic on the beach before you watch the colorful splash that the sun makes as it descends into Lake Michigan.

New Buffalo, MI Weather

new buffalo

Best Things to Do in New Buffalo MI

Explore the New Buffalo Beaches

Start at the New Buffalo City Beach. The slate blue water and soft, warm sand of this Lake Michigan public beach make it perhaps the biggest attraction of New Buffalo. From the shore, you can watch the sailboats’ little white triangles slowly make their way across the horizon and the foamy wake of the jet skis as they whiz by.

Cherry Beach, a small public beach with a long stairway down to the beach, is a bit quieter. You might also want to check out popular Weko Beach and Warren Dunes State Park. Use our Ultimate Guide to New Buffalo beaches for a complete area beach guide.

Shop Downtown New Buffalo

New Buffalo’s charm extends beyond is downtown shopping area: this lakeshore community is surrounded by a vibrant arts and antiques scene, as well as boutiques bringing the latest in home goods and fashion.

The town’s wide main street, however, is lined with fun stores and cafes; ice cream and fudge shops and everything else needed to make a perfect resort town. Take a walk, explore the neighborhood and wander along Whittaker Street and find these unique shops and fun spots:

  • Frolic This downtown boutique is such a fun spot to explore; watch for unique fashions and accessories as well as home goods and gifts.
  • One Cottage Way Check out this newer spot that features unique gifts and home goods in farmhouse style; this cute spot started with hand-painted signs and grew to a fun home goods stop on New Buffalo’s main drag.
  • Sweetwater Boating Supplies This fun stop in downtown New Buffalo is sure to have the gear you’ll need for a thrilling day of water sports.
  • Third Coast Surf Shop Shop the latest in surf and ski wear, and rent a kayak or paddleboard before you leave. Rentals come complete with life jackets and paddles….just add water.

Try Some New Buffalo Restaurants

Bentwood Tavern -From “Sushi Thursday” to “Tacos and Tequila”, this restaurant’s menu is vast and absolutely delicious – perfect for a tasty breakfast or a wood-fired pizza dinner. It’s waterfront dining at its Michigan finest.

Brewster’s Italian Cafe – Handcrafted regional Italian in a cozy and comfortable setting; be sure and visit when you can sit outside on their beautiful patio area.

Milda’s Corner Market – This quaint little staple of New Buffalo boasts products from over 40 countries, like imported jams, chocolates and candies, Lithuanian ice cream, and Koldunai dumplings.

Oink’s Dutch Treat -“Beat the Heat” with a delicious scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt inside a thoroughly decorated, pig-themed ice cream shop. Be sure and check out Oink’s Chocolate, Pig, too, for even more sweet treats!

The Stray Dog Bar and Grill – You either own a Stray Dog T-shirt, or have seen one. Now, visit this iconic restaurant in person. Step into this family-friendly atmosphere and dine on the finest burgers, tacos, and pizza that New Buffalo has to offer.

New Buffalo Bill’s Wood Fired BBQ – Bill Reynolds, the owner of this restaurant, claims mastery over the wood-fired BBQ, and his ribs, brisket, and pretty much anything you can barbecue, prove him right.

Terrace Room– Enjoy romantic fireside dining on the waterfront of Lake Michigan, while you’re served a variety of locally-sourced Italian dishes, including handmade pasta.

Beachside Scoops – A full-service ice cream shop on Whittaker near West Water Street, close to both the public beach and Oselka Marina

Copper Rock Steakhouse – Located in the nearby Four Winds casino, owned and operated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, this is a lovely spot for a romantic dinner.

Luisa’s Cafe– One of our best surprises was discovering this authentic Swedish bakery and cafe in Harbert serving fresh-made coffee cakes; breads and sweet rolls; biscotti and kolachki; cookies and donuts and more. Would you believe they even have gluten-free options?

David’s Delicatessen and Coffee– A favorite spot for locals, this cheery spots serves up breakfast and lunch along with coffee, espresso and fresh-baked pastries. They work with local farmers to bring fresh ingredients to their inspired food, so the menu changes regularly.

Redamak’s – Donlt be out off by the lines wrpping around the building. Those burgers and milkshakes are worth watiing form, and frankly, the lines move pretty quickly. A stop at Redamak’s is a must on any trip to New Buffs!

Beer church in New Buffalo Mi - best thinsg to do in new buffalo Mi
Beer Church in New Buffalo MI

Visit a New Buffalo Brewery or Distillery

Beer Church Brewing Co– Located in a restored, civilwar era church Beer Church Brewing takes the concept of “beer and pizza” to the next level. In additon to amazing, small-batch poursm they have one of the best pizza’s this side of Chicago. The Pizza Napoletana is nothing short of amazing. Don’t miss this spot.

Journeyman Distillery– This organic spirits distillery, near New Buffalo in nearby Three Oaks, is located in a historic former corset factory. Journeyman is one of the few certified organic & kosher distilleries in the country, and “production is truly grain to glass.”

Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery – You’ll find live music and just about anything you could want to drink at this pretty spot in nearby Baroda, MI. They’ve taken a turn-of-the-century round barn and turned it into one of the most happening spots in southwest Michigan during the summer. Don’t miss it.

Best Wineries Near new Buffalo

Hit the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail

As the largest of Michigan’s grape-growing regions, the southwest corner of the state is home to some of the best wineries in Michigan. Located in the Lake Michigan Shore AVA ( American Viticultural Area), this wine region produces some of the most diverse wines in the state, thanks to the “lake effect” weather along the Lake Michigan coastal area.

Follow the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail north along the Red Arrow Highway through New Buffalo Township towards St. Joseph and discover more wineries. The expansive variety of wines produced by the vineyards and wineries in this scenic corner of Michigan are diverse: you’ll find rich, full-bodied reds; light, sparkling whites and a variety of rich flavors that only Michigan grapes can create.

If you’re looking to do some wine tasting Michigan-style, consider wine tasting tours along this magnificent and bountiful wine trail.

More Things To Do in New Buffalo, MI

Explore Galien River County Park

A vacation to New Buffalo Michigan wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Galien River. Galien River County Park is the best place to find jaw-dropping views of the river and the 86-acre park that it weaves through.

It’s easy to traverse through the beautiful, grassy wetlands because of the elevated walkway provided for visitors. This way, you can see this unique picture of nature up close and from above, when you reach the 60-foot tower overlooking the river.

Hike at Warren Woods State Park

Over 300 acres of natural area, abundant with wildflowers and and mature hardwood trees, await hikers in this quiet gem of a park just outside New Buffalo. Not far from the Lake Michigan dunes, its a stunning place to visit any time of the year.

Warren Dunes State park in new Buffalo Mi
Climb the Dunes at Warren Woods State Park

Climb the Dunes at Warren Dunes State Park

First of all, it’s dog-friendly, so bring your pup along to enjoy the wide Lake Michigan shoreline. This popular spot is a gem of the Michigan State Park system and features sand dunes that tower above the beach at more than 260 feet. You don’t have to trek all the way to the top of the dunes for stunning views: the expansive shoreline provides beautiful Lake Michigan vistas and lots for room for splashing in the clear, blue water.

Attend a New Buffalo Festival

Ship and Shore Festival – Held every August, you’ll find live music, food trucks, vendors, a beer tent and the Lighted Boat Parade, too!

New Buffalo Harvest and Wine Festival – Held every October, this fun fall festival is a must on any fall bucket list. Head to New Buffalo as food, music, beer, art, and Lake Michigan unite for three days of local festivities. Open to all, this don’t-miss festival features food trucks, kids activities, and, of course, a plethora of wine, cider, and beer to taste.

Take Road Trip on the Red Arrow Highway

Follows this historic highway that runs along the Lake Michigan shoreline and then heads to Kalamazoo. It was the main artery of New Buffalo travel before I-94 was built. A leisurely drive along this route is a perfect day trip from New Buffalo, and one of Michigan’s top road trips.

Catch a Show at the Acorn Theater

A renovated corset factory turned hip entertainment is exactly perfect for New Buffalo. The venue books a high-quality lineup and is a really fun spot to catch some live entertainment.

Visit the New Buffalo Railroad Museum

New Buffalo was once the hub of the Pere Marquette and Chessie railroad systems, and this fun museum celebrates New Buffalo’s railroad heritage and admission is FREE. Stop by to tour a Chessie Box Car and Troop Pullman Sleeper Car and take a step back in time.

BEST Outdoor Activities in New Buffalo

Yes, there’s lots to do on land (hiking trails, biking trails, horseback riding at Stateline stables and more), but you’ll also find a lot of things to in New Buffalo on the water. From boat tours and fishing charters to stand up paddleboarding and canoeing in New Buffalo, this is truly New Buffalo explored, and there are endless opportunities for outdoor fun.

Check out some more of our favorites spots:

  • New Buffalo Sailing Excursions
  • Harbor Country Adventures
  • Salmon Hunter Charters
  • Third Coast Paddling

Hotels in New Buffalo MI

Lodging options in New Buffalo are abundant and are available at a wide-range of price points. Options range from elegant beach-front private homes to comfortable cottage and condominiums in town or in nearby areas. In addition, there are many Bed and Breakfasts that operate year-round, as well as hotels and motels offering rooms.

If you’re looking for a New Buffalo hotel, the Four Winds Casino also offer luxury accommodations, as does the New Buffalo Inn and Spa, or Harbor Grand on Water Street. Local state parks and private campgrounds offer both camping sites and cabins for rent. Here are some of our favorite places to stay when we visit New Buffalo, MI:

New Buffalo Inn and Spa
231 E Buffalo St, New Buffalo, MI 49117

Just minutes from the beach and downown shopping and dining, you’ll find comfortable, cozy rooms with a natutical theme. This is a really nice spot: you’ll find both hotel rooms and cute cottages. Each time we’ve stayed, we’ve found in very relaxing.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites New Buffalo, an IHG Hotel
11500 Holiday Drive , New Buffalo, Michigan 49117

Great location, within close proximity to the Michigan Wine Trail, including Tabor Hill, St. Julian, Free Run and The Round Barn, as well as other wineries. The hotel features include complimentary to go breakfast, free local phone calls and free high-speed Internet access, too. It’s about 1.5 miles to the Lake Michigan beach.

Fairfield Inn and Suites New Buffalo
11400 Holiday Dr, New Buffalo, MI 49117-8224

This is a solid choice: consistently clean, comfortable and affordable. You’ ll find a pool and a free breakfast, and just a short drive to the casino or beach.

You Might Also Want to Check Out:

  • Gordon Beach Inn
  • The Harbor Grand Hotel
  • Lake Country Inn
  • Marina Grand Resort
Private vacation rental in new buffalo- where to stay in new buffalo Mi

Private Vacation Rentals in New Buffalo

Harbor House
New Buffalo, MI

This private vacation rental is a bright and roomy spot that sleeps eight and offers amazing river views. It’s the perfect family spot, with a large deck and sunroom, and a beautiful kitchen for preparing meals. It’s super-clean and comfortable, too.

Blue Hill Cottage
New Buffalo, MI

This sprawling home in a gated community near Lake Michigan, features a six bedrooms and a shared pool, a children’s playground and much more. It’s a tastefully-appointed, beautiful spot, in a perfect location.

Check out these private rentals, too:

map of new Buffalo, Mi - best things to do in new Buffalo mi

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About the Author
Kyrsten Newlon is a content writing and editing intern for mymichiganbeach.com. Growing up in Kalamazoo, she wrote and read everything she could. Now, she is a student at Grace College with Journalism and Communications majors and an English minor. She has been published by Grace College, the Winona Lake Newsletter, Input Fort Wayne, and various online blogs. Kyrsten loves raising puppies to be service dogs, spending time in coffee shops, and adventuring through Michigan.

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