There are plenty of things to do in Ludington for all visitors, especially in the summer when it seems something is going on every day! Head to the pleasant lakeside town of Ludington for one of the most romantic getaways to have in Michigan.
Ludington is most well known for its stunning beaches and the wonderful Ludington State Park with its rolling dunes and picturesque lighthouse. With an attractive marina, brewery, charming museums, restaurants, and lovely beaches along Lake Michigan, there is a lot to love about Ludington.
Where Is Ludington, Michigan?
Ludington is located in western Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan. It is 95 miles north of Grand Rapids and a 90 minute drive. It is a two hour and 15 minute drive from Lansing and three hours from Traverse City.
Things to Do in Ludington
1. Discover Ludington State Park
Covering more than 5,000 acres of land, with a gorgeous seven-mile stretch along the shores of Lake Michigan, Ludington State Park offers an array of adventures. Located between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, it will be little surprise to learn that water-based activities are popular here. Take a dip in the lakes’ waters, go boating, paddle a canoe, and see what you can hook with a day of fishing.
The terrain is varied, with lakes, a river, sand dunes, and forests, all home to an array of flora and fauna. In the warmer months, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and biking in nature. Over the winter, you can enjoy excellent skiing.
See the impressive Hamlin Lake Dam and the charming Big Sable Point Lighthouse within the park. The black and white lighthouse is one of the tallest in Michigan, and you can climb the steps to the top for incredible views.
With so much to do, it’s no wonder that Ludington State Park has been named as one of the best state parks in the Midwest!
- Admission: To enter the park a Discover Pass is required. Residents can get their annual pass for $12 with their license plate renewal. You can also purchase at the park for $17. Non state residents can purchase an annual pass for $34 or a daily pass for $9.
2. Take Younger Family Members to Sandcastles Children’s Museum
A top place for younger visitors to learn through play, Sandcastles Children’s Museum has a great section of hands-on activities and interactive exhibits. There are many projects and workshops aimed at kids.
Children can do arts and crafts, have a go at cooking, play in the pretend store, dress up in cool outfits, watch engaging puppet shows, uncover scientific facts, and more.
- Admission: Daily $8
- Hours: Mon – Sat — 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Sunday — 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
- Address: 129 E Ludington Ave
3. Learn More about Seafaring History at Port of Ludington Maritime Museum
Housed in an attractive and historic former coast guard building, Port of Ludington Maritime Museum offers interesting insights into Ludington’s nautical history. You can also enjoy terrific views over the edges of Lake Michigan.
The three-level museum, operated by Mason County Historical Society, has a range of artifacts, old pictures, and digital displays. Stand in awe in front of the 110-foot panorama depicting Pere Marquette Lake back in the 1800s. See the scale diorama of Elberta Railyard. Watch engaging talks by holograms like Andy Van Dyke, an experienced and esteemed captain from times gone by.
- Admission: Adults $13, Seniors $12, Youth $11
- Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Address: 217 South Lakeshore Drive
4. Snap a Photo of the Father Marquette Shrine
Father Jacques Marquette was a priest and explorer from the 1600s who brought French culture to indigenous groups in North America. He lived in several areas in present-day Michigan and visited various native groups. Sadly, he embarked upon his final mission at the age of 38 and died in Ludington while on his way home by canoe.
Although his remains were later moved to his hometown, a lakeside memorial marked Marquette’s place in 1675. The bright white cross is illuminated at night time, presenting a comforting sight to followers of the Christian faith.
5. Pitch and Putt around Local Landmarks at Jaycees Mini Golf
A cool, family-friendly attraction, Jaycees Mini Golf has 18 holes based around models of Ludington’s landmarks. Open over the summer months. It’s popular with both visitors and locals.
Work your way around the course, maneuvering around replicas of places like the lighthouse, lake, Cartier Mansion, bridge, ferry, and more. Some of the obstacles are quite tricky!
As well as being heaps of fun, a visit to Jaycees Mini Golf also helps to support the local community – the attraction was set up purely to raise funds for local charitable organizations and community projects. It’s a really commendable operation and well worth supporting.
- Cost: Adults $7, Children $5
- Hours: 12:00 pm – 9:45 pm
- Address: 900 W Ludington Ave
6. Get Creative at Ludington Area Center for the Arts
Ludington Area Center for the Arts (LACA) aims to strengthen community links through art. At the heart of the local art scene, the center has a diverse program of workshops, classes, displays, and shows.
Have fun while developing skills in workshops about pottery, painting, drawing, and more. See music performances, watch movies, join art critique sessions – there are many ways to dive in and foster a love for the arts. The center also has regularly changing exhibitions of visual arts.
7. Camp at Buttersville Park
The 18.5-acre Buttersville Park sits on the bluffs with a great view over Lake Michigan. The lake and beach are easily accessed from the park, and visitors can explore the surrounding beautiful woodlands.
The camping area has everything you need for a convenient stay, including electrical hook-up points, a toilet block, and showers. Fire rings and picnic tables make outdoor dining a breeze.
The park is also open to day-use visitors where you can meet the friendly deer that live in the woods, admire the vistas, have a picnic, and let kids cut loose in the play area.
- Reservation System: Book online here
- Rates: $32 night for electric sites – $27 night for non-electric sites
- Address: 991 S Lakeshore Dr, Ludington
8. Relax at Stearns Park Beach
Stearns Park Beach is the most popular of Ludington’s beaches, boasting a 2,500-foot sandy shoreline and good facilities. You can swim in the lake’s sparkling waters, soak up some rays on the beach, play ball, build a sandcastle, and enjoy feeling the sand between your toes as you stroll along the beach and soak up the glorious views.
There are three accessible walkways in the park, making the beach easier to access for visitors in wheelchairs, families with pushchairs, etc. The park has been named as one of the most accessible in the country.
In addition to swimming, water-based activities include tubing, fishing, and sailing. The park features a large, grassed area where you can relax in the shade and have an alfresco lunch at the picnic tables. Park amenities include public restrooms, drinking fountains, Wi-Fi, and plenty of free parking.
The skate plaza is particularly popular with teenagers, and the par has a play area and shuffleboard courts too. Do take a walk to the harbor at the end of the beach to see the iconic North Breakwater Lighthouse. In the summer, tours operate in the lighthouse and you can climb to the top for great views.
9. Sip a Cool Beer at Jamesport Brewing Company
Housed in an elegant Victorian building, Jamesport Brewing Company has a three-barrel brew house where it makes many delicious beers. The brewery aims to produce top-quality award-winning craft beers that can be enjoyed in a friendly atmosphere.
If the brewer is available, you can take an informal tour of the facility to see exactly what goes into making tasty beer. Take a seat in the welcoming bar and order from a wide variety of beers brewed on-site. There are several types of beer on tap and bottled beverages, and the brewery offers an exciting range of seasonal delights. Food is available too, with hearty pub grub like burgers, pasta, soups, and sandwiches.
- Hours: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm — Friday & Saturday 11:30 – 10:00 pm
- Address: 410 S James St
10. Watch the S.S. Badger Sail Past
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the huge S.S. Badger is the biggest car ferry on the Great Lakes. Operational during the summer and fall, it sails between Ludington and Manitowic (in Wisconsin), with a journey time of four hours.
The large 410-foot-long vessel has the capacity to carry 180 vehicles and more than 600 passengers. The ferry has good onboard entertainment options to help travelers relax and enjoy the ride.
Watching the mighty vessel enter and depart the port is a popular activity in Ludington. You’ll get a particularly great view from the North Breakwater Lighthouse.
11. Follow the Mason County Sculpture Trail
A unique trail created in 2012, Mason County Sculpture Trail has numerous artistic sculptures that pay homage to the city’s history and heritage. In the past, Ludington was home to many mills and warehouses. You can see what life was like in times gone by with sculptures depicting themes like fishing, farming, industry, achievements, and sports.
The sculptures are located in various points around the city, including Ludington Library, Stearns Park, Ludington State Park, and Maritime Heritage Park. However, if you want to see a large collection of statues with minimum effort, check out Waterfront Park.
Waterfront Park covers more than five acres along the edge of Pierre Marquette Lake. It has nine striking bronze sculptures to admire, as well as a kids’ play area, bandstand, and picnic area.
12. Inspire Your Inner Creative at Mary Case Art Gallery
Mary Case Art Gallery displays a large collection of gorgeous artworks. Pieces were created by Mary Case along with other carefully selected artists from both the local area and from around the country. Many of the unique pieces are available to purchase.
The gallery contains paintings, sculptures, pottery, woodwork, leatherwork, prints, and more. You can also book a variety of classes and workshops.
13. Stroll around Ludington’s Marinas
Ludington is home to several busy marinas, each offering pleasant lake views and the chance to see an array of vessels both moored up and bobbing out on the waves.
Ludington Municipal Marina is popular with boating enthusiasts. It’s a modern marina that offers great views of the huge S.S. Badger car ferry coming and going. Pere Pointe Marina is a favorite spot for locals to walk their dogs.
Salmon fishing is possible from the shores too. Harbor View Arena is scenic, with a park, play area, statues, and ample benches. Other local marinas include Thompson Marina, Starport Marina, Crosswinds Marina, and Lake Street Marina.
14. Travel Back in Time at Historic White Pine Village
Comprising 13 acres overlooking the magical Lake Michigan, Historic White Pine Village provides fun for visitors of all ages. Step back through the ages as you explore a charming pioneer village from the late 19th century.
There are numerous historical exhibits, including buildings, vehicles, and artifacts. Visit the original Mason County Courthouse from the late 1840s, White Pine Chapel, a firehouse, a working sawmill, a school, a trapper’s cabin, a Hamlin Lake Cabin, a post office, a blacksmith, a hardware store, and more!
Discover the interesting collections of the village’s diverse museums. The Artisan Center has arts and crafts from yesteryear, including knitted garments, patchworking, quilting, and weaving. Many items related to the area’s logging past in the Abe Nelson Lumbering Museum, while the Village Time Museum is home to an extensive assortment of vintage clocks.
Step into the Museum of Music to discover old musical instruments, pictures, promotional materials, uniforms, and information about the Scottville Clown Band.
- Hours: Tuesday 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm • Wednesday – Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Admission: $12 Adult, $11 Senior, Child $9
- Address: 1687 S Lakeshore Dr
15. Buy Fresh Goods at Country Dairy
The family-run Country Dairy is a top place to buy fresh dairy goods such as cheese, milk, and ice cream, all produced on-site. The farm shop also sells a selection of gifts and fresh produce.
A fabulous place for curious kids, you can learn more about the dairy process with a tour of the working facility. Take a wagon ride through the fields to meet the cows, pet young calves, watch the robotic milking system in action, and see where milk is bottled, ready for sale.
- Hours: Mon-Sat 7:00 am – 8:00 pm
- Address: 3476 S 80th Ave, New Era
16. Enjoy Watersports on the Pere Marquette River
Running for 66 miles before entering Pere Marquette Lake, the Ludington section of the Pere Marquette River is a great place for varied watersports. Shallow and calm, it’s great for kids too.
Go kayaking and canoeing along the clear waters, or save your energy and hop in a small sailing boat to discover the waterway.
It’s a popular spot for fishing, too, with abundant salmon, trout, and steelhead fish swimming in the river. The surrounding area is home to many wildlife and is a top place for an active and scenic hike.
17. Chill Out in Mason County District Library
Constructed in the early 1900s, Mason County District Library has a long history. Home to tens of thousands of books covering all genres and topics, the library also has free-to-use computers, study rooms, and great facilities for children.
Encourage a love of books in your kids as they spend quality time in the Story Time and Sailboat Play Area and the safe and fenced-in Craig R. Rasmussen Outdoor Activity Area. The library runs several events, including story sessions, workshops, book clubs, and craft activities.
- Hours: Mon – Fri 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
- Address: 217 E Ludington Ave
Where to Stay in Ludington?
Where To Eat In Ludington?
Ludington has several notable local restaurants. It’s no wonder one of the best things to do in Ludington is to enjoy all of the remarkable restaurants. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Old Hamlin Restaurant: An old family-owned restaurant that’s been around since the 1940s and serves up some delicious meals. Their lunch and breakfast are real standouts with homemade bread and a great beef steak sandwich—reliably great service.
- Table 14: They serve southern-inspired cuisine served in an upscale environment. Come expecting exceptional service and some wonderful dishes.
- Kuntry Kubbard: A classic little hole-in-the-wall that serves up wonderful no-frills food. Classic American dishes such as burgers, sandwiches, and breakfast.
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