From beaches and trails to festivals and food, Southwest Michigan offers so much for families all-year-round. But autumn is the perfect time to enjoy cooler weather, smaller crowds, and some of the most beautiful scenery our region has to offer. Check out our suggestions to start building your Berrien County family staycation today!
1) Take a hike
Southwest Michigan’s local parks and trails offer a variety of natural experiences for outdoors-loving families. You don’t have to look far to find some of our favorites:
- Love Creek County Park, Berrien Springs. A diversity of habitats and beautiful ravine views, plus an educational nature center, make this park a local family favorite.
- Chikaming Township Park & Preserve, Three Oaks. Well-marked, easy-to-navigate paths make this an easy hike for little kids (or parents pushing strollers.)
- Fernwood Botanic Park, Buchanan. The 55-acre nature preserve offers a variety of trails and other natural experiences. The Railway Garden makes this truly a special place for young kids and the young at heart.
2) Hit the beach
Fall is a great time to build sandcastles, play on the swingsets, have a picnic or watch the sun set with smaller crowds and more room to play! Check out these staycation faves:
- Weko Beach, Bridgman. Easy-to-access restrooms with changing stations, and a concession stand makes this laid-back beach a good choice for young families.
- Jean Klock Park, Benton Harbor. A relatively short walk from the parking lot to the shore, covered picnic facilities and an up-to-date playground all add to this park’s family-friendly appeal.
- Silver Beach County Park, St. Joseph – Within walking distance of downtown amenities, fall is a great, less-busy time to check out this local tourist favorite.
3) Find some fall farm fun
From hay rides to corn mazes, pumpkin patches to apple picking and more, Berrien County orchards and farms offer plenty of autumn recreation. Oh, and doughnuts.
- Jollay Orchards, Coloma. Offering a wide variety of activities including a corn maze, haunted house, U-pick, animal farm, hayrides and more!
- Barbott Farms & Greenhouse, Stevensville. Pick up your Halloween pumpkins from an impressive selection of varietals!
- Stover’s Farm Market, Berrien Springs. U-pic fruits and pumpkins plus a huge variety of preserved country favorites, seasonal decor and more.
4) Bond through play!
Whether your family’s style is “screaming your head off” or the quieter variety, you’ve got options for playful f un in Berrien County. Here are a few to check out:
- Lumberjax, St. Joseph. Let off some steam in a totally unique way – by throwing axes! (At a target, not one another.) Kids welcome, though it’s recommended for ages 10 and up – call if you have questions.
- Niles Scream Park, Niles (note: while the haunted house isn’t recommended for young kids or scaredy-cats, the Scream Park does offer a free Midway with a gift shop, refreshments and other fun ways to entertain littler ones and test out the park on the “terror-curious.”
- Curious Kids Museum Discovery Zone, St. Joseph. Within walking distance of Silver Beach, this hands-on discovery center is a great place for little kids to climb, play, and learn. Note: Discovery Zone is closed for renovations until October 1, 2021.
5) Stay the night
Just because you’re staying close to home, doesn’t mean you have to sleep AT home. Why not inject your staycation with even more novelty and fun by extending the getaway overnight?
- Holiday Inn Express, St. Joseph – Indoor pool, sunset views and an on-site family-family restaurant make this an easy choice for winding down at the end of a long day of play.
- Fuller’s Resort & Campground, Buchanan. This long-standing family-owned staple on Clear Lake offers a variety of camping + lodging options.
- KOA Coloma/St. Joseph, Coloma. Offering three activity-packed harvest/Halloween weekends in October, this family favorite really ramps up the fun in the fall. Offering RV and tent camping, plus a variety of glamping cabins including deluxe cabins with kitchens and bathrooms, new this year.
We’d love to hear about your favorite fall family staycation spots in Southwest Michigan. Share your suggestions with the Buy Local Berrien Facebook group!
Remember, due to COVID-19 it’s always wise to call anyplace you plan to visit ahead of time and check to make sure their offerings and schedules haven’t changed!