Here are the best things to do with kids in St. Joseph, Michigan! Located on Lake Michigan 60 miles west of Chicago, enjoy a welcoming beach with plenty of sand, a quaint downtown district, and several family-friendly restaurants worthy of note. St. Joe is a popular weekend getaway for Chicago families and locals alike!
Pack-up using this list of essentials for a family trip to the beach, and enjoy the sun!
Fire & Ice Pizzeria & Creamery
Erin P.: This is one of our favorite things to do with kids in St. Joseph, Michigan. This place is a hidden gem! Well, maybe not "hidden" as it is on one of the main drags into town, but I can't tell you how many times we passed it without giving it much thought. We finally popped in, and it is now a regular stop for us! They serve individual thin crust artisan pizzas and liquid nitrogen frozen ice cream!
They also offer major family fun in the form of shuffleboard, air hockey and fuse ball (no quarters required!), a giant playhouse, and a mini soccer court. I had so much fun playing soccer with my kids!
Nye's Apple Barn & Farms
Tim Ponisciak: Nye's is a great place to visit on your first or last day of your family's St. Joe vacation, as it is located right along the road on the way to the beach. Nye's features all the freshest fruit and vegetables from their local farm. There are often raspberries, peaches, cherries, jellies, jams and honey. The best though are the apples! When the right fruits are in season you can pick your own.
Tim Ponisciak: Clementine's is a waterside delight! Enjoy some traditional American dining while watching the boats float toward Lake Michigan. The restaurant is very laid back so it is a great place to end your day after plenty of time in the sun or in the water. Grab a seat outside when the weather is nice!
Tim Ponisciak: When you are looking for a great scoop of ice cream, Kilwin's is the place to stop as you stroll downtown St. Joe! Kilwin's has its own special recipe for homemade ice cream. Our family's favorite flavors are definitely Double Peanut Butter Pie and Key Lime Pie! The store also sells truffles, peanut butter brittle and fudge!
Tim Ponisciak: Indulge your child's sweet tooth while you walk down the main drag in St. Joe! South Bend Chocolate Company's Chocolate Cafe has chocolate covered pretzels, cookies, specialty popcorn, and a huge assortment of traditional candy too. Enjoy coffee drinks, as well as a nice selection of sandwiches and salads.
Curious Kids' Museum and Discovery Zone
Toddlers and Kids
Tim Ponisciak: This museum has been a staple since 1989. The two-story brick building that overlooks the lake is an interactive and hands-on wonderland of learning and imagination for kids of all ages. My five-year old loves the exhibit where kids can build and race their own cars to see how different features can effect speed. Grab a seat on the Parent's Timeout Bench, and have fun watching your kids!
Krasl Art Center
Tim Ponisciak: Krasl is located right along the bluff in St. Joe and is a small town museum you'll want to visit! The art center features a number of rotating art exhibits and a sculpture park. The art center also offers tours of the city to highlight the city's monuments and sculptures. There are also a number of youth camps and classes available which may match up with your vacation schedule!
Silver Beach Carousel
Tim Ponisciak: One of the best things to do in St. Joseph, Michigan, is riding the Silver Beach Carousel. The carousel features 48 figures (including a camel, panda, ostrich and elephant), and two chariots. There are figures honoring famous institutions like Michigan State, University of Michigan, Western Michigan U. and a few local high schools. There are also some vintage arcade games by the carousel, a model train exhibit, hula hoops, and tables for coloring!
Silver Beach Pizza
Tim Ponisciak: Try one of Michigan's best pizzas when you are in St. Joe! Silver Beach Pizza has delicious thin crust. Just an important though, is the restaurant's atmosphere. The restaurant is housed in a large portion of a train station (a small part of the building still operates as one). If you're lucky you'll see a train pass right by. There is also a great open air area where you can sit outside and enjoy the sea breeze!
Whirlpool Compass Fountain
Spring, Summer, Fall
Tim Ponisciak: This isn't just any normal splash pad! The Whirlpool Compass Fountain is huge! The fountain has plenty of room no matter how busy of a day it is. This is a great way to have fun in the water, aside from Lake Michigan. Every fifteen minutes, giant water cannons spray everyone in the area (beware, you will get drenched).
Tim Ponisciak: Silver Beach and its lighthouse are among some of the best sites to see in St. Joe, Michigan. One of the best beaches along the Great Lakes and open year-round, Silver Beach is long and wide, offering plenty of room to spread out. The beach has volleyball courts, picnic tables, a playground, and food stands. There are also plenty of restrooms and outdoor showers right next to the beach. The water can be cold up until the early part of the summer, so make sure to check the water temperature before you head out for your day in the sun!
Primary photo: Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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