St. Joseph, Michigan

Smitten with the Mitten in Silver Beach

Silver Beach is located on the southwest coast of Michigan, about 45 minutes north of the state border with Indiana.  The beachfront town of St. Joseph (lovingly nicknamed St. Joe) hosts Silver Beach and has been penned “The Riviera of the Midwest”, and for good reason.

Many visitors talk about loving St. Joe as much as they love Florida.  Silver Beach, located within the boundaries of Silver Beach County Park, offers pristine sand and an exceptionally wide beach perfect for sand castles and moats and other traditional beachside fun.  The crystal clear waters of Lake Michigan combined with stunning sunsets behind the lighthouse will truly make you feel like you’re oceanfront.

Downtown St. Joe is a leisurely tropical town, within walking distance of Silver Beach and offering a generous selection of restaurants, ice cream parlors, cute little boutiques and other souvenir shops for your enjoyment.  

My absolute favorite aspect of St. Joe is the ease it provides families (especially those with littles) to relax and enjoy the amenities of a one-stop-shop.  Silver Beach County Park is so much more than just the beach, which is important if you have antsy kiddos who haven’t quite grown into full-blown beach bums yet. 

Within the park you’ll find a huge playground in the sand, an even bigger splash pad with fountains, the historic Silver Beach Carousel, shopping, picnic tables, pavilions, watersport rentals, concessions, and clean bathrooms.  Right outside of the park is the Curious Kids Museum, Curious Kids Discovery Center, and the amazing Silver Beach Pizza – all must-do’s when visiting St. Joe. Oh, did I mention that ALL of this is within walking distance to each other AND to all of the shops and restaurants in downtown St. Joe?  No hustling back and forth. Come stay and play. Come slow down and relax. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about, mamas.

One thing to be aware of in St. Joe is high season – THE SUMMER.  St. Joe is a very popular family destination in the Midwest so during the months of June through August the town gets crowded.  Don’t let this deter you but if planning a visit during this time, plan in advance and be prepared to pay more for lodging.

When visiting St. Joe during high season, the earlier you get to the park the better as the beach and parking options will crowd as the day continues.  There is a $10 daily lot inside the park and it really does try its best but it’s nowhere near big enough to accommodate the summer crowds. If arriving in the afternoon, either prepare for your best Black Friday parking lot stalking techniques or for more of a trek; there’s free parking on the street and in downtown St. Joe but it’s a longer walk down the bluff to the park. 

Whether it’s your first trip to the riviera or you’re a returning traveler, you’ll definitely be smitten with the mitten after falling in love with St. Joe and all that it offers you and your family.

A weekend trip or 3-4 nights is the ideal trip length.  

Unless you’re total beach bums or plan on hopping to other destinations along the Michigan coast, a week-long trip might leave the kiddos feeling a bit burnt out and ready for a change of scenery.