New Buffalo, Michigan: A family-friendly Chicago getaway

April 25, 2023

I have been visiting New Buffalo, Michigan since I was a little girl. In fact, my parents even had their joint bachelor and bachelorette party there over 30 years ago. I grew up going to the beach and going to the farmer’s market every summer (which is no longer there). For our very first family vacation with Noah, it seemed only right to head to Michigan! We rented a house on the beach and had a vacation I’ll never forget! Since then, we’ve been back almost every year and travel now as a family of four!

I am going to share some of the places we have gone over the years in Southwest Michigan!

Logistics

New Buffalo is only about 90 minutes outside the city, so it’s super easy for a day trip or weekend getaway. You can also take the Amtrak, but there’s only about 3-4 trains out and in per day. Manny has taken it a few times when he meets us if he’s working in downtown office. It’s direct and drops you off in downtown New Buffalo.

The entire Southwest Michigan has so much to do and there’s something for everyone! The public beach has kayak and paddle boat rentals, you can make a stop at the Indiana Dunes, visit markets and tour various wineries, breweries and distilleries.

There are so many places to check out, but I listed some of our favorite spots and wineries we visit often.

Where to Eat & Shop

The Stray Dog- Serving great food and drinks, this is a perfect place to people or boat watch on their rooftop (21 and over). You can sit and watch the boats come in and out of the harbor. They’ve been open for more than 15 years and have become a New Buffalo staple with tourists and locals.

David’s Deli and Coffee– This cute cafe is located right in town and serves breakfast and lunch. They are most known for their bagels and they are so good.

 

New Buffalo. Michigan David's deli has the best bagels!

Oink’s Dutch Treat- Such a cute ice cream spot that’s been around for years, it’s a cute old school ice cream parlor. Kids love it!

Greenbush Brewing – Head over to this brewery in Sawyer, Michigan, for lunch and drinks! They are two outdoor patios and lots of food and beer options. They’ve got apps, soup & salads, BBQ, sandwiches, fried chicken, and a kids menu. Their brisket is some of the best I’ve had!

Greenbush brewery in Sawyer, Michigan

Whistle Stop Grocery – Whistle Stop in Union Pier, Michigan, has made-to-order and grab-and-go sandwiches, specialty grocery items, and coffee and pastries. Their sister restaurant down Red Arrow highway just opened, Gather All day, I want to check it out!

Whistle Stop in Union Pier, Michigan

Brewster’s Italian Cafe– Not only is the food good (the pizzas are awesome), the outdoor patio is the best feature. Their garden feels like someone’s garden in their backyard!

Redamaks– The burger spot in New Buffalo, Michigan that’s been around forever! It’s super casual but filled with nostalgic items. In 2023, they’ll be celebrating their 48th season!

Froehlichs– A bakery, little market and restaurant in downtown Three Oaks! It’s really cute and their chocolate cake is a must.

Sawyer Home & Garden Center – Located in Sawyer, Michigan, this market sells fresh produce, garden supplies, apparel, wine, beer, spirits, bath & beauty products, and of course, lots of gorgeous greenery!

Drier’s Meat Market – Drier’s is in Three Oaks and is a National Historic Site. It’s been in continuous use as a butcher shop since shortly after the Civil War! Get your meat, cheese, pickels & relish, condiments, and dog bones here!

Where to Play

New Buffalo Beach and Warren Dunes- New Buffalo Beach just recently got a makeover with a cute concession stand and upgrade playground. It fills up quickly, so get there early.

New Buffalo. Michigan beach

Galien River County Park– This wetland area is a part of the larger “New Buffalo Marsh,” a Great Lakes marsh that formed along the Galien River just upstream from the river’s mouth at Lake Michigan. It’s pretty to hike! There’s also the New Buffalo public park across the street too.

Journeyman Distillery – Three Oaks, Michigan has lots of cute coffee and antique shops, and of course, the famous Journeyman. Although I don’t drink bourbon, I fell in love with this place. The space is gorgeous and often used for wedding and events, even being featured on wedding sites like The Knot.

We took a tour that ended with 16 tastings (I was the DD) and had an awesome time. After the tasting, you can sit at the bar for crafted cocktails or their delicious locally sourced burger. Definitely worth the 20 minute drive from New Buffalo to check this place out. The restaurant is family friendly, too!

Three Oaks has some really cute shops and a lot of art shops you can stroll up and down the main street.

Dablon Winery– Dablon opened in 2015 and we have fallen in love with their wine and tasting room ever since. We discovered it while doing our normal stops along with Wine Trail. To our surprise, it turned out to be the same owners of the Music Box Theater on Southport! Even their Matinee Red wine label is a photo of the theater. They do tours and often have live music. I can’t tell how nice it is to sit outside, overlooking rolling vineyards, while drinking delicious wine. I highly recommend their Chardonnay (FYI..I am not even a Chardonnay drinker). It is very buttery! Probably one of the better wines in the area. Many of them are very sweet!

Wine at Dablon Winery

They are now serving their wine at Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville or you can stop in at the Music Box for a glass of wine and a film.

Gravity Winery- Another stop along the Wine Trail is Gravity Wine. This winery sits on top of a hill overlooking water and so much greenery.

View at Gravity Winery
Winery at Gravity Wine

The best part of this winery is their flight pairings. You select any four tastings of wine, and then it is paired with samples like cheese, crackers and chocolate.  Although these wines tend to be sweeter, this is another place you could sit and relax with wine overlooking a beautiful view.

I would also highly recommend taking a wine tour Grape and Grain Tours or Fruitful Vine Tours. I did with some friends for a birthday party and it was so much fun! But definitely not family friendly, over 21 years old is mandatory.

Where to Stay

I’ve stayed at several locations with my family, with just Manny, and with my girlfriends! There are so many options. If you are planning on taking a winery tour, many of them pick up directly from the hotels.

Marina Grand Resort – We’ve stayed at the Marina Grand Resort which is right in downtown New Buffalo. We’ve stayed here a few times and love it. Walkable/short drive to beach and town. They have an indoor/outdoor pool, kitchen, very mini game room for the kids (like 4 video games and a ping pong table, but it works for us) and beautiful views! The prices get pretty high during the warmer months but we love going when it’s little cooler. The hotel is fairly empty.

Cottage on Whidbey – Last spring, we stayed at the Cottage on Whidbey in New Buffalo with the grandparents for a little mini vacation. It was one of the nicest AirBnB’s we’ve ever stayed in. It’s so amazing! It has three floors and comes with literally everything. Off of the kids room, there was a toy room with games, high chairs, bassinets, wagons, bikes, etc. There was a bedroom in the main floor, two on the second floor, and one in the basement. And there were plenty of bathrooms. My mother-in-law inspected the kitchen and gave it her seal of approval. The backyard patio was so cute. Plus the owner is really nice!

Holiday Inn – The Holiday Inn in New Buffalo has free breakfast, a heated indoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and kids eat free! We haven’t stayed here, but the reviews are decent!

Fairfield Inn Marriott – We have probably stayed here the most! This Fairfield by Marriott has a free buffet and Grab-and-Go Breakfast, indoor pool, fitness center, convenience store, and free on-site parking.

And as always, you can also follow me on Instagram. If you want to see more Michigan trip, check my Saugatuck post!

Cheers,

Christine

  1. […] Roughly 90 minutes from Chicago, New Buffalo, Michigan is a super fast drive and you can stay the day or the weekend. Public beach, small shops, wine trail, check out a some breweries in the area, hike the dunes, etc. There’s a full blog post here. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *