The Ultimate Ludington, Michigan Travel Guide

Oh sweet Ludington…you stole our hearts. 

Ludington, Michigan left us better than when we arrived. The waves crashing on the shore welcomed us like a good friend with open arms. It hugged us so tight – and trust me – we did not want to let go! In fact, we may have even looked at homes for sale up that way! Don’t worry mom – we won’t be leaving Cincy anytime soon – but we will be visiting Ludington, Michigan more often than not! 

I’m not sure I can even describe the full beauty of Ludington and the lake life – it’s beyond words. Just please trust me when I say – – – It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It embodies the kind of beauty that’s effortless, natural, “I woke up like this.” There’s no fluff. It’s a town where you can unplug, truly reset, and live like a local.  

We are so thankful to the Ludington Area CVB for hosting our family. Although we were invited to visit Ludington, all of my opinions and thoughts are my own. The beauty Ludington has to offer is nothing anyone could have skewed my opinion on, or made me think otherwise!

Mother nature did Ludington good, and you can truly tell the community sees that. Like a display of old school chivalry – the community, the town, the businesses – they let Mother Nature in the door first. They respect her. They compliment her. 

When we visited I documented our trip on my Instagram stories. My direct messages were blowing up the entire trip! Everyone wanted more details on where I was staying! I saved a Ludington, Michigan highlight where you can check out my story here if you’d like. I’m also wrapping up everything you need to know about our trip & planning yours, in this blog post! We only visited for a weekend – and it was a perfect weekend getaway from Cincy – but honestly we want to come back next time and stay an entire week (or life – but ya know!) 

So without further ado – my Ludington, Michigan guide! 

A Few Things To Know:

  1. Everything we did in Ludington was so close to each other – we spent little time driving once we hit town. There’s also TONS of free parking. 
  2. Everyone is SO friendly! It’s the kind of town where everyone waves, says hello, and maybe even start a conversation. It was so refreshing. 
  3. Ludington is FULL of incredible small businesses. We loooved spending a vacation supporting local business and giving back to the community. 

STAY 

Ludington was a 6 hour drive from Cincy and it honestly was an easy drive -I’m not just saying that because I was a passenger. Derrek agreed! Ludington has TONS of places to stay once you get into town – everything from resorts,hotels, to campsites! Ludington Area CVB has all of them listed here – chock full of information! 

Hobby Crest Resort

We stayed at the Hobby Crest Resort on Hamlin Lake. IT WAS INCREDIBLE – minutes away from Downtown Ludington & Ludington State Park. When we come back to visit we will most definitely stay at Hobby Crest again. They offer 9 different cottages to rent on their property – all vary in size depending on your needs. Their resort is perfect for all generations. Their larger cabins would be great to rent when traveling with grandparents, or family reunions! We stayed in the Beachfront cottage – perfect for 2 (or 2 adults and 2 little boys who love to sleep with their parents). It had a king size bed, but also a couch with a pull out bed! 

Hobby Crest is owned and operated by a family of custom home builders – and you can tell! Each cottage is beautifully custom down to the cabinets and dressers! Staying in a cottage was so nice because we were right on the lake, but also had all of the comforts of home. We had a full kitchen: fridge, stove, microwave, toaster, can opener, cups, coffee pot, utensils, you name it! We ended up getting some breakfast, lunch, and snack items at the grocery store to stock up the kitchen for the weekend. It came in handy with kiddos to feed 24/7! Your space also comes with a nice fire pit and firewood on your private little porch with table/chairs + picnic table! 

Hobby Crest was so nice being right on the lake. They have their own man made beach with a roped off swimming area. They have plenty of chairs and beach toys for the kids – including water trampolines! The boys loved swimming, jumping, and playing in the sand! You can also fish right off of the fishing dock. Derrek loved that! He loved waking up early and walking right outside to the dock to fish. They have plenty of fun water activities for you and the kids to rent: kayaks, paddle boards, and even a pontoon boat! You could also bring your own boat and tie it up to their dock. They also offer a nice community area with a playground for the kids, volleyball, and more. Hobby Crest hooks you up! It’s the way to stay and the owners are the icing on the cake. Talking to Christy about Ludington, about their property – – – filled my heart with joy and made the hubs and I fall even more in love with Ludington. She even taught us the official Ludington handshake! Her passion and love for the town was something that was talked about, yes – but mostly felt. 

RELAX

This trip was perfect timing for us. Summer was ending and we were getting ready to transition into back to school for the kids. This trip reset my mind, body, and spirit. To be completely honest, I was having terrible anxiety the weeks leading up to the trip. Doom and gloom was fighting to bring me down for no particular reason – cool when that happens right? The first morning waking up in Ludington I set my alarm for sunrise. I made myself a cup of coffee and walked out to the dock at Hobby Crest. As I stood out there I felt this sense of calm rush over me. The beauty in the lake was breathtaking. It set the mood for the entire trip – leaving the anxiety behind and starting with a new, relaxing page. 

Ludington State Park 

It was beyond words. There’s no surprise that it’s one of Michigan’s most popular state parks. I loved the drive into the park. It’s an amazing, windows down, lake views – vibe!  5,300 acres of scenic sand dunes, ponds, marshlands and forests = sooo much to do and see! It is situated between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan with several miles of shoreline and beaches on both bodies of water. Located within the Ludington State Park is The Big Sable Point Lighthouse & The
Lake Michigan Beach House

The first morning there we visited Ludington State Park, we hung out along the Lake Michigan shoreline near the park entrance. It was a little chilly so we just explored and stuck our toes in the water. Derrek loved the fishing. The boys loved the sand. I loved the sounds: hearing the waves, the kids laugh & play, and all of the calm in between. It was so relaxing! You HAVE to check it out. I made Derrek take us back the morning we left to head home. I had to say goodbye one last time. 

Windowsill Book Store 

For me personally, a local bookstore is one of the most relaxing places! Yes, even for the kids! After we said goodbye to Ludington State Park, we decided to shop a little downtown before heading out. We all walked into Windowsill and dove into their huge selection of new and used books. I found out the store is actually owned by a former librarian. It was very clean and very well organized. I was on the floor. The boys were in the kids corner. Dad loved checking out their vintage collection for sale. I highly recommend visiting Windowsill while in Ludington – especially if you are road tripping! We stocked up on new books for the kids and I to read on the way home. They also have great Ludington merch – wonderful selection for souvenir shopping! While we were walking Stearns beach the day before, we noticed every bench was occupied by someone with a book in their hand. It was amazing to see a town so connected through reading. 

These were just two special places we visited and found relaxation, but Ludington has a long list of relaxing things to do for everyone! With multiple fitness studios, greenhouses, golf courses, wineries, and outdoor recreation opportunities…I promise relaxation will not be a problem for you in Ludington.

PLAY

Stearns Park Beach 

This is the beach we went to swim and play. It’s jam packed with fun. We spent our second day there and then even came back in the evening. Stearns Park Beach is 2,500 feet of sandy shoreline, a grassy area with plenty of picnic tables and grills, a playground, skate park, mini-golf, volleyball and shuffleboard. Stearns Park is also a local favorite for watching the  sunset (click for sunset times) over Lake Michigan. We also visited the North Breakwater Light that is located on this beach. We came back to the area in the evening for Mini Golf located across the street. After we walked over to the beach where we waited for the sunset, but the sky was too cloudy that night. We got yummy food from the concession stand and took some family photos – it was still a beautiful time without the famous sky.

North Breakwater Light

Open May 24th, 2019 – September 3rd, 2019. This is a must see – an incredible experience! It’s located right on Stearns Park Beach. You walk the ½ mile pier out to the light where you get to enjoy the most amazing views. You can even pay to climb the lighthouse and take a look from the top. We were going to check out the climb, but Trevor (my 8 year old) was having a little fear of heights, so we sat and enjoyed our feet on the ground. When visiting plan to see the lighthouse on a day with projected good weather, with all of the rain and high waters double check to make sure the lighthouse is open. There are two lighthouses total in Ludington – Ludington North Breakwater Light and Big Sable Point Lighthouse in the state park – but there are two others in addition along the West Michigan shoreline within an hour’s drive (Little Sable Point and White River).  Click here to check them out and read more about bus tours!

   

Jaycee’s Mini Golf 

Is it really a vacation without going out to play Minigolf? Located right across from Stearns Beach, Jaycee’s Mini Golf is a must visit! We had a BLAST playing and learning more about Ludington. Each hole that you play is a local landmark of Ludngton with information all about them. Jaycee’s was opened in 1967 for the sole purpose of generating funds to support community projects. Since that year, over $300,000 has been donated by the club to local initiatives! 

SS Badger

This cool Ferry boat comes in right near the Stearns Beach around 7 and heads out around 9. You can see it from the North Breakwater lighthouse pier, the shore, and other nearby locations. We got to see it the second night we were in town while playing minigolf. The boys loved seeing the boat and hearing it honk! I found out they offer some pretty cool shoreline cruises! We will definitely be checking that out for the next visit! 

Waterfront Sculpture Park

Or as the boys called it – “the park with the best playground!” The boys had so much fun playing here while D and I sat & soaked in the views. This park is located in the harbor and a great place to see the SS Badger listed above. It’s a nice walk to the park from the downtown shops. 

Downtown Ludington 

The cutest little downtown. We shopped and dined here each day. We picked up new school shoes for the boys, stopped in a game store the boys loved, got mochi at the ice cream parlor, and more! It’s so amazing to see all of the incredible small businesses filling the store fronts!

Sandcastles Children’s Museum  

We did not get to visit the museum during our stay. We just had so much fun outdoors and such little time. I did say that it would just give us even more reason to come back! Sandcastles would be a great place to spend a rainy day! It’s located right in the downtown strip. It looks like an absolute blast, and we can’t wait to come play! 

EAT

You know the best food? Local, small business who make their food with love! Ludington has you covered. There’s plenty to choose from. We talked to some locals and got their opinion on what we HAD to eat. So here’s the local must visit list. 

Sportsman’s Irish Pub

This was such a great atmosphere! It’s a family friendly bar/restaurant with a great menu full of fun bar food with a few unique, catchy locally named items. The prices were very affordable. The staff was friendly. We went on a Friday night & there was a 45 minute wait, so we ate about 8PM. They took our cell number and we walked the strip as we waited. It ended up being nice because there was a live band playing at that time we sat down! We all loved it! 

KRAVE Frozen Yogurt & Candy Shop 

We actually stopped in here while waiting for Sportsman’s to have an open table. Soooo yea, we had dessert before dinner! This place was soo cute. They have 12 flavors of Artisan frozen yogurt, sorbetto & 50 toppings. BUBBLE Tea, Smoothies, Frappes, Gourmet treats, popcorn & UNIQUE bulk candy. Vegan, dairy-free & gluten free options! We tried their new Mochi ice cream and fell in love. Mochi ice cream is a confection made from Japanese mochi with an ice cream filling! Have you ever tried Mochi? 

The Sunset Side Concessions 

This is where all of your dreams come true. Located on Stearns Beach, these concession stands are unlike any other. First off? It’s cash only & bring lots of it because you will want to order everything! Reading the menu and picking what we wanted was the most difficult part of our vacation. Second off? There are two concession stands – North & South – No offense, but just head straight for the South – they have the Deep Fried Oreos on the menu – no need to say anymore. In all seriousness the South Sunset Side Concession (say that 10x fast) was incredible. I would suggest pulling up their menu on the website before you get up to order – it’s a lot to look at and decide! 10/10 I wish I could Door Dash me some of those deep fried oreos as I type this. 

Chuckwagon Pizza

Finally, the pièce de résistance…the local’s favorite pizza. We wouldn’t be our family if we didn’t try out the local’s favorite pizza! Pizza is our favorite food and we loooove trying it in every city we visit. Chuckwagon did not disappoint. It was very good! The crust is a medium-thick, handmade, hand tossed. The sauce is also homemade from a 30 year old recipe. I would say it’s on the sweeter side of pizza sauce. One thing to note: a medium is huge – or maybe we ordered mediums and got larges? Anywho, we had pizza for breakfast the next morning and were not disappointed! 

A huge thank you to The Ludington Area CVB for hosting us. Ludington changed our lives, and we can not wait to return!

And a huge thank you to @customizedgirl for our amazing vacation tees! 

Ludington, Michigan has so much to do and see. Like I said above, the town is truly an amazing compliment to the beauty of the nature surrounding. If you’re looking for even more Pure Ludington info the CVB is a wonderful resource. Their website is incredible. Even though we visited in the summer, there’s so much to do and see year round. Have you ever been to Ludington? Do you have plans to visit soon? I want to hear all about it! Comment below if you have any questions. 

Where should we visit next? Let me know below! 

Xoxo, 


springfield ohio guide ddotts
We head back to Springfield, Oh for our next weekend getaway. Have you been? It’s a must visit, and short drive from Cincy. Check out my Springfield, Ohio guide above!

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