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St. Joseph MI: Best Things to Do in St Joe Michigan (2023)

st joseph michgan lighthouse

St. Joseph MI: Top Lake Michigan Beach Town

Planning a visit to St. Joseph, MI, and wondering about the best things to do in this enchanting beach town?

Look no further!

We’ve put together a complete guide to help you uncover the top attractions and activities that make St. Joseph a must-visit destination. From sun-soaked beaches to captivating lighthouses, vibrant downtown charm, and outdoor adventures, we’ll showcase the best things to do in St. Joseph, MI, (and nearby Benton Harbor) for an unforgettable experience.

Read on to help plan your trip for a pure Michigan vacation to remember.

About St. Joe MI

This gorgeous southwestern Michigan beachtown is home to miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, charming downtown shopping and dining, wineries, museums, a picturesque lighthouse and pier, and of course, the famous Silver Beach.

Known as the “Riviera of the Midwest,” St. Joseph MI should be at the top of your Michigan travel bucket list.

For generations, visitors have been heading to St. Joseph (not Saint Joseph), for family vacations, spring break, summer getaways or just a day trip.

And we know why.

St. Joseph Michigan is magical: you’ll feel it the minute you see the iconic Silver Beach sign welcoming you; you’ll feel is when you gaze at Lake Michigan from Lake Bluff park; you’ll feel it from just about any spot in the town.

st joseph michigan beaches

St. Joseph Michigan Explored

Travel Michigan and you’d be hard-pressed to find a beach town offering so much to do and see in one spot. Quick road trip, romantic getaway or long vacation, you’ll find everything you’re looking for here.

Whether you’re headed for famed Silver Beach and the Silver Beach Carousel; the St. Joseph pier lighthouses on north pier or the cute downtown shopping area, there’s something to do for all ages in and interests in St. Joes, one of our favorite Michigan beach towns.


About St. Joe’s MI

Located just about an hour from Grand Rapids, the beach in St Joseph is one of southwestern Michigan’s most-visited, renowned for its picturesque shoreline featuring a wide, sandy beach just steps from downtown shops and restaurants.

While similar other popular Lake Michigan beach towns like Traverse City and South Haven (near St. Joseph Michigan) in that if offers great proximity from the downtown shopping area, you’ll find a distinct family-friendly vibe here that sets it apart.

You can read more about St. Joseph and how to plan your vacation here, or read on to get straight to our favorite things to do in St. Joseph, MI.

ultimate guide to silver beach in st joseph mi

Best Things to Do in St. Joe

Silver Beach County Park
101 Broad Street, St Joseph, MI 49085

Located at the mouth of the St. Joseph river, this beautiful park features a wide silver-sand beach, and just about everything you need for a most-perfect beach day, from volleyball courts and stand-up paddleboard rentals to concessions, fishing and more.

You’ll also find concessions and restrooms at Silver Beach County Park, as well as picnic pavilions and comfortable benches lining a wide, paved path; perfect for ADA and wheelchair accessibility.

This Berrien County beach offers beach wheelchairs for added accessibility to the water.

Consistently found on every list of “best lakeside beaches,” Silver Beach has lifeguards for the more than 1600 feet of swimming beach, strikingly blue water and some of the best views in southwest Michigan.

Here are few things to know if you go:

  • While dogs are not allowed on the sand, your furry friends are allowed elsewhere in the park as long as they are leashed.
  • This is a very popular beach in the summer. If you’re planning a beach day, you’ll want to get there early to find parking.

You can learn more about this must-visit beach in our Complete Guide to Silver Beach.

whirlpool compass fountain and splash pad in st joseph mi
Whirlpool Compass Fountain and Splash Pad

Whirlpool Compass Fountain (St. Joseph Splash Pad)
200 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085

This iconic, colorful fountain will capture both you and yours kids attention from the moment you see it! Featuring an intricate design with multiple water jets, it creates mesmerizing patterns and movements that will captivate you, especially on a warm summer day.

Located in the heart of downtown St. Joseph in Silver Beach County Park, the Whirlpool Compass Fountain is a refreshing respite during warm summer days, inviting you to splash and play in the water.

As the name suggests, the fountain’s centerpiece is a compass rose, paying homage to the town’s maritime heritage. Whether you’re seeking a picturesque backdrop for photos or a place to relax and unwind, head to the Whirlpool Compass Fountain, one of our favorite things to do in St. Joseph MI.

Silver Beach Carousel

Silver Beach Carousel
333 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085

Just yards from the beach at the Silver Beach Center is the Carousel, a classic merry-go-round featuring 44 hand-carved horses and music from a vintage band organ.

Even if you don’t take a ride, you must see this beautiful piece of St. Joe’s history that’s been delighting visitors for more than 100 years. Listen as the organ music fills the air and let the nostalgic atmosphere that transport you back in time.

The St. Joseph Carousel features both stationary and moving horses, providing options for everyone’s comfort level.

FUN FACT: The Carousel is a remainder of the Silver Beach Amusement Park. It operated for 80 years. from 1891 – 1971, providing fun forgenerations of visitors to Saint Joseph.

Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone
333 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085

Also located at the Silver Beach Center is the Curious KIds Discovery Zone, a branch of the Curious Kids Museum, where curious kids from ages 2-100 years can explore water activities, a climbing wall, virtual reality fun and traveling hands-on educational exhibits.

Explore the BEST Beaches in St. Joseph MI

St. Joe’s breathtaking beaches are a true paradise for beach lovers. With soft, golden sands and crystal-clear waters, these beaches offer a serene and picturesque escape. The shoreline stretches along Lake Michigan, providing stunning panoramic views and the perfect backdrop for relaxation and recreation.

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful sunbathing spot, a refreshing swim, or a leisurely beach walk, St. Joseph’s beaches have it all. From the popular Silver Beach with its iconic lighthouse to Tiscornia Beach and the sprawling Jean Klock Park, each beach in St. Joseph offers its own unique charm.

Families can enjoy building sandcastles and picnicking, while adventure seekers can engage in various water sports like paddleboarding and kayaking.

Curious Kids Museum- CLOSED Temporarily
415 Lake Boulevard, St. Joseph, MI 49085

This hands-on kids museum in downtown St. Joseph offers interactive exhibits for kids ages 1-10. This fun spot is a great place to visit on a rainy day, a sunny day or any day in between.

An added bonus? It’s just across the street from Silver Beach Pizza, a must-visit spot for any visitor to St. Joes.

Krasl At Center St Joseph MI
Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph Michigan

The Krasl Art Center
707 Lake Blvd, St Joseph, MI 49085

As public arts centers go, this one had checked all the boxes; offering not only opportunities for arts education but also high-quality public displays that are easily accessible.

Look for the contemporary outdoor sculptures.

It’s a very comfortable and inviting space for all ages. The nearby Box Factory for the Arts also offers excellent opportunities for viewing art, with more than 50000 square feet of gallery space.

Hike the Walking Trails

Set on Lake Michigan’ coast, the area surrounding St. Joseph is home to some spectacular walking trails. Natural areas ares like Rocky Gap and Grand Mere State Park as well as parks an natural areas are a perfect spots to take in the beauty of southwast Michigan.

It’s a great spot to take in Michigan’s beautiful fall colors, too.

Tiscornia Park
80 Ridgeway St, St Joseph, MI 49085

You’ll find sandy hiking trails leading to the north pier, as well as access to the St. Joseph lighthouses.

Enjoy the beautiful beach for swimming or sunbathing, complete with restrooms and a picnic area.

The Chocolate Cafe in St. Joseph MI
The Chocolate Cafe in St. Joseph MI

Explore Charming Downtown St. Joseph

Be sure to spend some time meandering through the charming streets of St. Joseph MI, where you’ll discover a treasure trove of boutique shops, art galleries, and specialty stores featuring everything from T-shirts and hoodies to local artisan crafts.

Treat your taste buds to a culinary delight by visiting the diverse restaurants and cozy cafes that offer delectable dishes and locally sourced ingredients. RyeBelles has and amazing rooftop, and you’ll want to pick up some handmade chocolates at the Chocolate Café.

Chalk the Block

This fun August event has artists taking over Broad Street in downtown St. Joseph to create color works of art on the streets. The weekend-long event draws both amateur and professional artists, and you can watch as they create their amazing masterpieces.

Take the Southwest Michigan’s Wine Trail

St. Joseph is located on the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, home to some of Michigan’s award-winning wineries.

Some of our favorite spots Michigan wine in this area include the Baroda Founders Wine Cellar. For more than 40 years this winery along the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail has been producing a wide range of award-winning wines, including our favorite “Oh Hell Yeah” Red.

White Pine Winery is another favorite. Owned and operated by an award-winning wine-maker; this winery focuses on producing classic wines. The charming downtown St. Joe’s tasting room is fun: lots of wine-themed gifts to shop while you taste. Try the white sangria- it’s one of the best we’ve had.

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