The best part of the holiday season is the nostalgia that comes with making lasting memories with the people you love the most. While there is often a large focus on finding the perfect presents in the days leading up to Christmas, spending time together is one of the most precious gifts you can give. And trust us, your family will remember the fun and festive moments you spent together far longer than anything they’ll find under the tree.
Whether it’s a tradition that you look forward to every year, or perhaps something you want to try for the first time, we’ve rounded up some of the best ways to celebrate the winter months in Southwest Michigan with fun for the whole family.
1. Visit Santa – Christmas simply wouldn’t be complete without telling the jolly man in a red suit what’s on your wish list. And good news – he’s making several stops throughout Berrien County leading up to the big day.
- Kris Kringle returns to Dowagiac on Friday, December 3, for the Candlelight Christmas Parade happening from 7-9 p.m.
- See Santa and fill your belly with a delicious a la carte brunch menu during Brunch with Santa on December 4 and 19 at Plank’s Tavern on the Water
- Dress up your furry friend in their best holiday garb for the annual Reindog Parade on December 4 in downtown St. Joe. The event also marks the arrival of Santa and after the parade children can visit Santa’s House to share their wish lists.
2. View the lights – Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit more than admiring the twinkle and glow of colorful lights in the chilly night sky.
- Put on your pajamas and hop in the car to drive around the neighborhoods in and around Berrien County and see who can spot the best display.
- Attend the annual Community Tree Lighting ceremony on Friday, December 3 in downtown St. Joseph and stroll through a winter wonderland of 1 million holiday lights along Lake Boulevard during the annual Light Up the Bluff event. The lights are free to enjoy and turn on each evening from December 3 to February 15 so you can enjoy them multiple times throughout the season.
- Celebrate the return of Lights at Fernwood which will transform the gardens into a twinkling display for 21 nights November 26 through January 2. Tickets are on sale night for Thursday – Sunday evenings.
- Climb aboard the miniature train at Eden Springs Park in Benton Harbor and ride through their magical light display.
3. Embrace your crafty side – A hands on experience is the perfect way to get your creative juices flowing and the project you create could also make a thoughtful gift for someone on your list.
- Add the perfect piece to your holiday decor with a slotted wooden tree class, led by the Turquoise Top Hat, at Urban Garage Market in Benton Harbor happening on November 21.
- Craft your own handmade Christmas ornament at Fusion Gallery and Studio in Bridgman, November 27 from 10am – 12pm. Call (773) 882-9407 to learn more about the workshop and reserve a seat.
- Stop by Fernwood Botanical Garden in Buchanan on Saturday, November 28 to make your own small decorative wreath for the holidays. All supplies including fresh greens from Fernwood’s grounds will be available at an outdoor make-and-take station.
- Paint a wine bottle, a festive wintry scene, even a cute gnome at an upcoming class at JLN Studio – dates in November and December.
4. Watch a live performance – Nothing makes the spirit of the season come alive like watching your favorite holiday classics on stage.
- The Mendel Center will have you singing along with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer the musical on November 18, and puts a steampunk twist on a holiday favorite with A Steamed Nutcracker, December 18.
- Travel to New York City with Buddy the Elf while watching Elf the Musical performed at Twin City Players in St. Joseph, opening December 3 and running through December 19.
- Attend a holiday open mic at the Acorn Theatre on December 22 , featuring a fabulous, family-friendly array of talent performing beloved holiday music.
5. Get outside – Don’t let the cold temperatures keep you stuck inside all season long. Bundle up and get out there and explore all the snowy season has to offer.
- Hop on a unique fat tire mountain bike at Love Creek County Park, which has extra wide tires that allow you to float over the snow on 3.5 miles of well-marked, groomed trails.
- Zip down the five-lane, 400 ft. tubing hill at Five Pines Ministries or enjoy the miles of groomed cross-country ski trails on site.
- Strap on your ice skates and head to the John and Dede Howard Ice Arena which is partially enclosed and offers open skate times for all ages.
About the author: Jessica Springer is a Michigan native who has called Southwest Michigan home for the last seven years. She works full time as a health care marketing specialist and is also the founder of the travel blog, Well Planned Adventures.
Our Fun & Festive Holiday Series is brought to you by Caffe Tosi in downtown St. Joseph! Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, delicious specialty beverages and to-die-for treats, Caffe Tosi offers “The tastes of Italy in the heart of Michigan.” Enjoy a meal, drink, or dessert in Caffe Tosi’s festive surroundings for an extra-special holiday season!