15 Fun Things to Do in Saint Joseph, Michigan: A Family Vacation Guide

Saint Joseph, affectionately known as St. Joe to the locals, is a charming lakeside town on Lake Michigan’s shores. With its stunning vistas, family-friendly activities, and rich history, it’s an ideal destination for a vacation with your family.

To make your trip planning easier, we’ve compiled a list of 15 must-do activities when you’re in Saint Joseph, Michigan.

A picture of a "City of St Joseph" sign that says A special Place on the Lake.

15. Enjoy Kayaking at the Paw Paw River

Ease into your vacation by paddling down the scenic Paw Paw River. It’s a gentle waterway that’s perfect for kayaking, even for beginners.

Outfitters like Third Coast Paddling can set you up with all the gear and guidance you need, making it a hassle-free outing for the whole family.

14. Visit the Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone

Situated within the Silver Beach Center, the Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone is a children’s museum offering hands-on exhibits that foster learning and creativity.

It’s a fantastic way for younger kids to spend an afternoon, engaging with exhibits that range from simple science experiments to interactive art stations.

13. Walk Along the Bluff

Saint Joseph’s Lake Boulevard offers a beautiful walkway overlooking the lake, often referred to as “The Bluff.” It’s lined with quaint shops, historic homes, and benches where you can sit and watch the sunset over the water.

The Bluff is particularly popular during the summer for its well-maintained flower beds and the musical fountain shows.

12. Attend a Concert at the Shadowland Pavilion

During the summer, the Shadowland Pavilion hosts a range of concerts and live performances. Set in a scenic location right by Silver Beach, it’s a fantastic way to enjoy some music in the great outdoors.

Make sure to bring some blankets and a picnic basket for a cozy evening under the stars.

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11. Marvel at the Silver Beach Carousel

One of the iconic attractions in Saint Joseph is the Silver Beach Carousel. Located within the Silver Beach Center, this isn’t just any carousel; it’s a carefully restored, hand-carved marvel that harks back to the golden age of carousels.

The colorful, whimsical animals and chariots make it a delightful experience for young children, while the nostalgic charm and craftsmanship are sure to impress adults as well. Ride tickets are reasonably priced, and it’s an activity that the whole family, rain or shine can enjoy.

10. Explore the Box Factory for the Arts

Art-loving families should make a stop at the Box Factory for the Arts, a unique space that showcases local talent across multiple disciplines.

You can explore galleries filled with paintings and sculptures, or participate in various workshops and classes that they offer throughout the year.

9. Shop at the Farmers Market

The Saint Joseph Farmers Market is a Saturday morning affair running from May through October. Here, you can find a variety of local produce, baked goods, and crafts. It’s a perfect opportunity to buy some fresh ingredients for a picnic or to simply enjoy the vibrant community atmosphere.

8. Splash Around at the Whirlpool Compass Fountain

Kids absolutely love the Whirlpool Compass Fountain, conveniently located near Silver Beach County Park. This interactive splash pad is perfect for those hot summer days when all you want to do is cool down.

Water jets shoot up in an unpredictable pattern, providing endless fun for the little ones. Parents will appreciate the seating area around the fountain, offering a great vantage point to watch over the kids while enjoying the view of Lake Michigan. It’s the perfect place to relax, have fun, and stay cool during your visit.

7. Try Wine Tasting at the White Pine Winery

For moms and dads, the White Pine Winery offers an opportunity to explore the world of Michigan wines. The winery specializes in creating fine wines that reflect the terroir of the Lake Michigan Shore. Don’t miss their signature white wines, made from grapes that thrive in the local climate.

6. Relax at Tiscornia Beach

If a day at the beach is what you’re after, head to Tiscornia Beach. Known for its beautiful dunes and clean, shallow waters, it’s a fantastic spot for a family day out. Kids can build sandcastles while parents can soak up some sun or enjoy a good book.

5. Take a Scenic Drive along the Red Arrow Highway

The Red Arrow Highway offers a scenic drive through vineyards, orchards, and along the lakeshore. There are plenty of spots to pull over and take photos, or you can stop at any of the charming small towns like Union Pier and New Buffalo that lie along the way.

4. Visit the Krasl Art Center

The Krasl Art Center is not just an art museum but a creative hub for the community. Apart from its rotating exhibitions, the center hosts art classes for all ages. The sculpture garden outside is also a lovely spot for a peaceful afternoon walk.

3. Explore Silver Beach County Park

This park is a highlight of Saint Joseph and offers a myriad of activities. From its wide sandy beach perfect for swimming and sunbathing to the playgrounds and volleyball courts, there’s something for everyone. The park is also home to the Silver Beach Carousel, a beautifully restored ride that’s more than 100 years old.

2. Catch the Sunset at the South Pier

The South Pier in Saint Joseph is famous for its picturesque sunsets. Walk along the pier and you’ll find families fishing, couples strolling, and photographers trying to catch the perfect shot. It’s a serene experience that helps you pause and appreciate the beauty around you.

1. Experience Charter Boat Fishing on the Great Lakes

An image of 5 fishing poles on a boat with open water in the background.

For a truly memorable family outing, consider booking a charter boat for some Great Lakes fishing.

Lake Michigan is renowned for its fishing opportunities, including the chance to catch salmon, perch, and trout.

Companies like Sea Hawk Michigan Fishing Charters offer trips that are perfect for families, complete with all the gear and expertise you need to make it a successful day on the water.

It’s not just about the fishing; it’s about the thrill of the catch, the beauty of the open water, and the quality time spent with loved ones.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a complete beginner, a day of fishing on the Great Lakes is bound to be the highlight of your trip to Saint Joseph.


Saint Joseph, Michigan is more than just a beach town; it’s a destination filled with activities that cater to every family member’s interests. Whether you’re an art lover, an outdoor enthusiast, or someone who just wants to unwind and take in the scenic beauty, Saint Joseph has something for you.

Pack your bags and make your way to this Michigan gem for an unforgettable family vacation.

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