12 Epic Experiences to Enjoy in Ludington, Michigan-updated 1/24

Ludington North Breakwater Light in Ludington at sunset
Ludington North Breakwater Light.  Photo via Mike Mishler of Lincat Photography

With absolutely breathtaking scenery, Michigan’s Western Coast is full of pristine beaches, lighthouses, and shorelines where you can get lost in the sounds of the waves and views of the wildlife. CNN recently highlighted Northern Michigan as one of the Top 24 Best Places to Visit in 2024. At MBBA, we are not surprised, as we are continually amazed at the breathtaking scenery and experiences that are abundant in Northern Michigan- and of course, the award-winning and quality-assured bed and breakfasts that are in the area too!

This article features Ludington, Michigan, a perfect coastal town to visit.  The city has miles of sandy beaches, picturesque sunsets, and outdoor adventures, with a perfect location at the mouth of the Pere Marquette River at Lake Michigan. At the Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association, we like to think of Summer Michigan Experiences in Epic Proportions. Follow along as we highlight our Top Twelve Experiences to enjoy this summer, the best places to dine ,and the best places to stay in the lovely coastal town of Ludington, Michigan

SS Badger in the port of Ludington
SS Badger in the port of Ludington

Top Twelve Epic Experiences to Enjoy in Ludington, Mi

  1. Explore Ludington State Park, which is nestled between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake. It covers over 5,000 acres of land and has a gorgeous seven-mile stretch along the shores of Lake Michigan. You can enjoy hiking trails, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and more. Stop by the historic Lake Michigan Beach House and tour the exhibits and aquariums related to Michigan’s ecology and geology. For an epic adventure, rent a canoe or kayak available inside the park.

2. Enjoy a ride on the  S.S. Badger Carferry: This car ferry is one of the most iconic attractions in Ludington. It takes passengers across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee and back.

3. Get your feet in the sand. Ludington has some of the most beautiful beaches in Michigan. Stepping onto the soft, powdery sand and dipping your toes into the crystal-clear waters of Lake Michigan is an experience like no other.

4. Take a stroll along the break wall at Stearns Park Beach that leads to the North Breakwater Light. Built-in 1871, this light shines for nearly 20 miles along the Ludington-area shoreline and is a popular destination that is open for lighthouse tours in the summer.

5. Experience a Community Beach Bonfire at Stearns Park —that includes live music- the dates for the 2023 summer are June 29, July 27, and August 31.

6. Sample some of the best Michigan beer at three popular places in Downtown Ludington: Ludington Bay Brewing CompanyJamesport Brewing Company, and The Mitten Bar.

7. Climb a sand dune at the  Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area.

8. Get up close and personal with an Elk at the Amber Elk Ranch. Feed, view, and learn more about these amazing animals during a one-hour wagon tour.

9. Climb the 112′ historic Big Sable Point Lighthouse in Ludington State Park. It’s only accessible on foot or by bicycle, which adds to the adventure; after your 130-step climb to the top of the tower, you will be rewarded with incredible views of Lake Michigan.

10. Rent a bike from TrailheadBike Shop and hit the trails in Carrier Park or Ludington School Forest.

11. Take a relaxing walk down the Waterfront Walkway, which begins at Stearns Park Beach. Or hop on any of the eight trails located in Ludington State Park.

12. Watch a magnificent sunset at Stearns Park

Table full of food
Photo credit: Lamplighter Inn

Top Places to Dine in Ludington, Michigan

You have many dining options in Ludington. Whether you’re looking for a place to grab sandwiches for a picnic at the park or beach, casual outdoor dining, a diner atmosphere, or something a little more upscale to celebrate a special event, Ludington doesn’t disappoint! The innkeepers at the Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast recommended these eateries. After all, who knows the best places to dine than a local innkeeper?

Lunch & Dinner

  • The Blu Moon – A bistro, sushi, and cocktail lounge that specializes in using fresh, sustainable ingredients from the farm or boat, featuring French and Japanese fusion.
  • Café 106 – (lunch only) serves specialty, “made from scratch” lunches.
  • Chef John’s European Bakery & Café – (lunch only) Great place for homemade bread, soups, and sandwiches. They also offer a wide assortment of desserts!
  • Crown & Cork – Newer to the restaurant scene in Ludington, this “trendy restaurant with a relaxed vibe” overlooks the municipal marina.
  • House of Flavors – For classic American Diner food and ice cream (made right here in Ludington), check out the House of Flavors in Ludington or Manistee.
  • Stix Restaurant – Newly renovated restaurant and entertainment venue offers a menu that features a menu curated by world-class chefs, craft cocktails, a beer garden patio & pier, and state-of-the-art bowling lanes.
  • Table 14 – Owned & operated by husband and wife team Howard & Laura Iles, this is considered Ludington’s dining destination!  Chef Howard takes inspiration from all the places he’s lived and trained: California, Maryland, South Carolina, and Louisiana.

Vineyards & Tasting Rooms

A visit to these vineyards and tasting rooms is a day well spent along the Michigan West Coast – Cheers!

  • The Fox Barn Marketplace & Winery – Located in Shelby, Michigan, Fox Barn Winery produces a variety of traditional grape wines as well as fruit wines made from apples, cherries, peaches, pears, plums, and raspberries.
  • Love Wines – Located on Washington Avenue in Ludington, Love Wines is a boutique winery that includes a tasting room as well as a gift shop on-site. Specializing in country-style wines with a “bold fruit flare”, they also offer a nice selection of traditional wines.
  • Oceana Winery & Vineyard – A family-operated vineyard and estate winery located 30 miles south of Ludington in New Era, Michigan, Oceana Winery offers a range from dry reds and whites to sweet and late harvest styles.
  • Pere Marquette Winery – The beautiful Huggard Estate at the head of the Buttersville Peninsula, just minutes from the inn, has been farmed by the Morton family for many generations. Their grapes are 100% estate grown from meticulously tended old root stock, providing high-quality, distinctive wines, produced in small quantities.

To-Go for Picnics

If you’re heading out to enjoy the beach, trails, or Ludington State Park and want to grab a “to-go” picnic or pizza.

  • Cluck Bucket – Check out one of Ludington’s new favorites! This food stand (located next to Dairy Queen on Pere Marquette Highway) offers chicken and Pit-Tatoes(R) barbecued on their Port-A-Pit(TM) using a secret sauce that packs a delicious flavor profile! Visit their site for a detailed menu. (Open May – October)
  • Chuck Wagon – for a delicious specialty pizza, breadsticks, and sandwiches that are a favorite among all the locals and return visitors right along the lakeshore!
  • Keeper’s Fish Shack – Located in Legacy Park in downtown Ludington, this walk-up restaurant provides a variety of fresh fish and seafood options from fresh and salty waters! (Open May – September)
  • Q Smoke House – if you’re looking for “top-notch BBQ and southern-style home cooking”, this is a destination stop while in Ludington!

Ice Cream & Sweets

  • House of Flavors – This Guinness World Record Holder for Longest Ice Cream Dessert serves homemade ice cream and other American classics in a retro, 1950s-style diner.
  • Krave Frozen Yogurt & Candy Shoppe – Offers 12 flavors of Palazollos frozen yogurt and sorbet with over 50 toppings! Coffee, Bubble Tea, Smoothies, gourmet treats, popcorn & bulk candy, are also available.
  • Kilwins – This chain features old-fashioned confectionery and sells chocolates, ice cream, handmade sweets & gift baskets.

Top Places to Stay in Ludington, Michigan

You have four excellent choices for an MBBA Quality Assured Bed and Breakfast to Stay when you visit Ludington, Michigan. Each serves yummy homemade breakfast and has comfortable rooms and excellent hospitality. Our #MichBnB website gives you even more information about each inn and pictures and links to book your stay.  Highlighted below is a summary of each inn:

One of your outdoor sitting areas
Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast- outdoor area to relax after a day of exploring Ludington

Candlelite Inn Bed and Breakfast

A warm, welcoming, romantic bed and breakfast just down the avenue from Michigan’s most beautiful beaches and parks. Each of the inn’s seven rooms are beautifully appointed and loaded with amenities. The inn is known for its warm hospitality and bountiful breakfasts. Guests often say that they feel like family after their stay.

Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast
Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast in Ludington

Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast

The award-winning Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast is ideally situated along Ludington Avenue and is just five blocks from shopping, antiquing, restaurants, breweries, delicious ice cream, and entertainment! The inn is both casual in its hospitality and elegant in many presentations- including serving the delicious homemade breakfast on china with silver. The inn’s five guest rooms include private baths with upscale amenities.

Ludington House Inn Front of house

Ludington House 

The Ludington House Bed and Breakfast is steeped in history. The Queen Anne Victorian home was built in 1878 by lumber baron Antoine Cartier for his wife and nine children. The inn’s eight guest rooms include private baths and comfortable amenities to make each guest feel right at home. The inn is known for its fabulous homemade breakfasts and warm hospitality.

Cartier Mansion bed and Breakfast front of building in the fall

Cartier Mansion

The Cartier Mansion, originally built in 1905, is a neoclassical gem with unique architecture and design characteristics that reflect the classic tastes of the famous Cartier family. Its six historic rooms include detailed craftsmanship, exquisite woodwork, and period antiques. The newly renovated Carriage House includes three guest suites, all pet-friendly, with spacious lodging and modern comforts.

Looking for a Special Gift?

Purchase a Michigan Bed and Breakfast Gift Certificate.

The process is so simple. Check out this link to purchase your gift certificate, and we will send a copy for you to print and the original embossed version in the mail the next day.


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Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Ludington’s North Breakwater Light does lean a bit, about 4 degrees. After the crib on which the tower sits shifted a bit during a 1994 renovation, the Army Corps of Engineers determined it was safe to leave it that way.