Jen’s Blog | Get the scoop on Downtown Ludington | by Jen Tooman
You all know that I #LoveLudington. What you may not know is that I also love Martha Stewart. Although I usually epically fail when attempting any of her baking recipes, I look forward to her magazine every month. In the July/August 2016 issue there is a list called “101 Amazing Ways To Soak Up Summer”. As I started reading the list I was sad that she didn’t mention my beloved Ludington, MI anywhere when we obviously fit into many of her sections. I mean… you CANNOT have a title called “Put Your Car On A Boat” and not mention the SS Badger, a National Landmark! Right?? So, I thought I should write my own list for Ludington based on the categories I think Martha should have included us in.
1. Make a Splash: Cool off in a crystal-clear body of water.
You can’t get much clearer than Lake Michigan! That blue on a sunny day is my favorite color. Ludington boasts miles of white, sandy beaches along the shores of this Great Lake. Pick a spot from Buttersville to the Ludington State Park. Stearns Park Beach is a popular spot and it’s walking distance to Downtown Ludington.
Check the water temps here.
2. Put Your Car On A Boat
Take a ride on the SS Badger! You can plan a trip from Ludington, MI to Manitowoc, WI. The best part? You don’t have to carry your luggage. Pack it in the car, leave your keys in the ignition, board the ship with nothing but your wallet. Everything else you need will be on board. Pizza. Beer. Ice cream. Bingo. Gift shop with books. A movie theater. A play room for the kids. You get four hours to have fun while someone else drives. Or you can catch a shoreline cruise for an evening of fun with all the packing!
3. Find An (Almost) Empty Beach
As I mentioned above, with miles of beaches, you are sure to find a spot where you don’t have to share your space with anyone else. And if you can’t find a quiet spot on Lake Michigan, grab your kayak or boat and hit up Hamlin Lake. There is plenty of beach space around this large inland lake as well.
4. Catch A Wave
Did you know that Ludington has a surfer community? Many of them aren’t shy about showing people the ropes. Email me if you’re interested and I can get you in touch with them.
5. Bask In A Killer Sunset
We rank on Top Ten lists all over the world for the amazing sunsets you can witness in Ludington, MI. Here’s the secret though… don’t leave the beach the second the sun goes down. The 5-15 minutes after the sun sets produces the best view. Grab a chair or a towel and take in the free show. And if you’re in town on the fourth Thursday of June, July or August you can attend a community beach bonfire – complete with live music – at Stearns Park Beach thanks to the Ludington CVB.
6. Run Through A Sprinkler
Okay… maybe not quite yet… but there is a committee that has formed to build a splash pad! Maybe next year? 🙂
7. Catch Your Dinner
Ludington’s marinas are home to many charter boats. The captains – like one of our advertisers, Hiatus Charters – are awesome fishermen. Schedule a trip on one of these boats and take your catch to one of the participating Downtown restaurants to have them prepare your meal.
8. Bump, Set, Spike
If you’re a volleyball fan, you’ll find nets set up at Stearns Park Beach. BYOB (bring your own ball). Every Tuesday evening, a local group meets up for a few games. They welcome anyone who would like to play.
9. Brake For Festivals
Suds On The Shore has become a popular craft beer and wine tasting event in this area. Around 60 breweries attend the event held at Rotary Park. All proceeds go to United Way of Mason County. The event is held annually on the third Saturday of August, from 1-7pm.
10. Take Two Wheels
Downtown Ludington is home to two awesome bike shops. Trailhead Bike Shop and Spindrift Cyclesports. At these locations you can rent bikes, buy bikes, and have your bike serviced. They also organize group rides. I know there is a ladies ride every Tuesday that splits up between mountain and road. There is a mountain bike group that rides every Wednesday at various locations around the area. And on the first Thursday of each month, the local cruisers meet up in the James Street Plaza to slowly roll around town together. Stop by one of the bike shops to get more info on any of these group rides.
11. Attend An Outdoor Concert
Ludington loves it’s live music! You can find FREE outdoor entertainment all summer long, including Rhythm & Dunes sponsored by West Shore Bank, the Beach Bonfires sponsored by the Ludington CVB, Ludrock, Live In The Plaza and Friday Night Live brought to you by Downtown Ludington. If you are looking for live music events in town, check out www.ludingtonlive.com.
12. Go To Camp
The Ludington State Park was recently ranked #2 of 100 by OffGridQuest.com. It’s one of the most popular state parks in the country. I might be a bit partial, but it is certainly my favorite. From the beaches of Lake Michigan to the dunes along Hamlin Lake, miles of trails and a river to float down… you certainly won’t be bored.
If you’re looking for something closer to town, Cartier Campground is a great spot just a two miles north of Downtown Ludington.
13. Bring Home A Sweet Souvenir
Check out the Farmer’s Market Downtown Ludington every Friday during the summer to find sweet treats from vendors like the Jam Lady.
14. Hit The Roof
Want a view of Downtown while you enjoy a meal or a cocktail? Climb the stairs to Over the Moon, the patio above The Blu Moon Bistro.
15. Sip Some Rosé
Downtown Ludington’s only winery – Love Wines – has an great selection of homemade wine. Stop by for samples.
In college, one of my professors told me there was no location in Lower Michigan dark enough where you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face at arms length. I told him that he’d must have never been to Free Soil, because I’ve ran into my car before trying to find it. Seriously, though. The stretch of M116 out to the Ludington State Park is a great spot to see the stars… or if you’re lucky, the Northern Lights.
18. Eat Ice Cream
House of Flavors (also known as Park Dairy, back in the day) has been in Downtown Ludington since 1948. They produce 5400 gallons of finished product per hour, or over 400,000 gallons of ice cream per week which is then distributed. You can get a scoop at the local parlor. House of Flavors is a generous community supporter. They attempted to break the World Record for the Longest Ice Cream Dessert in June of 2016. The official measurement was 2971 feet (over a half mile!) and they are waiting to hear back from Guinness Book of World Records that they have officially been awarded the title.
You can also find ice cream at Kilwins, frozen yogurt at Krave and gelato at Ron’s Place, all located Downtown Ludington.
So, Martha Stewart… I loved your list of summer ideas. It’s now complete with all of the fun you can have in Ludington, MI. We invite you to visit to see for yourself. I’d love to give you a tour of my favorite town.
— Jen Tooman