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West Michigan Stay-Cation ’11 – Luddington

A few weeks ago we planned a day at the beach close to home. We woke up to rain instead of the forecasted sunny skies. Fortunately Michigan has 1,640 miles of coastline. So we checked the radar. It was raining south of us, but north there were blue skies. We decided to head up to Luddington.

It was my first trip to Luddington even though I’ve lived in Michigan for almost 14 years. The drive was a little long for a day trip, 2 1/2 hours, but it turned out to be worth it.

Our first stop was Luddington State Park.

Luddington State Park
The view from the beach at Luddington State Park.

A bit secluded, undeveloped, uncrowded Luddington State Park was like paradise. What a difference from the beaches we usually visit where you can hardly find a spot to put your towel down.

The Pere Marquette river flows into the lake at the park. Many popular beaches on Lake Michigan are on a river inlet, but of the rivers are lined with cement walls and man-made into channels for boats. The river at Luddington State Park is still in its natural state. It’s really shallow where the river meets the lake, and makes a safe place for kids to play.

Pere Marquette River - Luddington State Park
The shallows where the river flows into the lake.

The river water is also warmer than the lake water. I have to tell you I normally won’t swim in a river, but this water was clean and clear.

Luddington State Park
Wade loves playing in the sand.
If there's something to climb, Wade will. This is a dune on the river bank.

Despite the rustic feel there are modern bathroom facilities, a gift shop and cafe. You can also camp at the park and hike one of the many trails.

We were hungry after playing at the beach all afternoon. We went into town to eat dinner before driving home. We were surprised to find what looked like a festival going on downtown. After a delicious Italian meal at Luciano’s,

Luciano's - Luddington, MI
David enjoying his dinner at Luciano's.

we checked out all the activity downtown. Turns out we’d happened onto Friday Night Live. On Friday nights in July and August the town closes down three blocks and brings in games, food and entertainment. There was so much going on. We couldn’t stay long, but the kids got to enjoy some of it. I thought the S.S. Badger ride was neat.

The S.S. Badger is a car ferry that carries people across Lake Michigan from Luddington to Milwaukee, WI.
Pirate Ship - Friday Night Live - Luddington, MI
David got to have his picture taken on a pirate ship.

Where we live in Southern-Lower West Michigan (that’s a mouthful, huh?) the lake towns cater to tourists from Chicago. They have a lot of fancy restaurants, hotels and shops. The beaches are crowded, and dotted with marinas filled with big yachts. Don’t get me wrong. Those towns and beaches are still nice. Luddington is different though. It’s — well, you’ve seen the commercials — Pure Michigan. Luddington feels a lot like a hometown kind of place, relaxed and unpretentious.

I loved Luddington, and can’t believe I waited almost 14 years to visit. I’m already planning a longer stay there for next summer.

We’ve been stay-cationing in West Michigan all summer long. We have one week left before school starts. Check out where we’ve been, and come back to see where we go next week! Hey, Michigan is a great place to visit. When it’s not snowing.

One Response to West Michigan Stay-Cation ’11 – Luddington

  1. Ludington is beautiful! I lived there for over six years. There are tons of great activities there year round. If you go again and after 4pm, there’s a great pizza place on the way up to the state park called Chuckwagon that is Amazing! You almost have to eat the pizza with a fork because there are so many toppings.

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