Exploring Ludington, Michigan: A Lamplighter B&B Insider’s Guide


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

Exploring Ludington, Mi

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.

Nestled along the sun-kissed shores of Lake Michigan, the charming town of Ludington, Michigan, awaits intrepid travelers with open arms. Here, where freshwater waves kiss sandy beaches, and whispering pines sway in the breeze, every day unfolds like a chapter in a well-loved novel. From historic lighthouses to serene state parks, from lakeside picnics to art-filled afternoons, Ludington beckons with its diverse tapestry of delights.

On the main street of this enchanting coastal town is an endearing Queen Anne Victorian; the home features its original oak pocket doors, handcrafted oak staircase, and tiled fireplaces. This welcoming home is now a very popular bed and breakfast called the Lamplighter B&B. Each day, as the first rays of dawn paint the sky in hues of rose and gold, the innkeepers at Lamplighter Bed & Breakfast rise, preparing breakfast for their guests. The inn is known for its welcoming hospitality, comfortable rooms, and ideal location on Main Street in Ludington, MI.  But the hidden secret is that these dedicated innkeepers, Jen & Dan,  also hold the keys to a treasure trove of experiences—the hidden gems, the local legends, and the soul-stirring moments that define Ludington’s essence.

Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast
Lamplighter Bed and Breakfast

Ludington’s Hidden Gems: Top 15 Picks

Join us in this article as we unveil Jen and Dan’s 15 Awesome Spring/Summer Things to Do in Ludington—a curated collection of memories waiting to be made. Let the Lamplighter B&B be your home base and guide, illuminating the path to adventure, relaxation, and the magic that lingers in every lakeside breeze. Here are their 15 top picks:

Festivals * There is nothing more fun than attending an old-fashioned festival. Two favorites are Love Ludington Weekend (June 7-9) and Ludington’s Freedom Festival (July 4) which includes a parade down the avenue and a beautiful fireworks display that kicks off at dust and is viewable anywhere along the beach or from a boat.

Check out #PureLudington’s local calendar to view the many races, fishing tournaments, and bike events that this charming town hosts throughout the late Spring and Summer seasons.  One to note – Ludington’s North Breakwater Light turns 100 this year.  Join in on the celebration on June 8, during Love Ludington Weekend.

Reel In Your Best Catch • With over 40 inland lakes and 2,000 miles (!!!) of trout streams right here in Mason County, chances are pretty good you’re going home with a cooler full of fresh fish!  If fishing in deeper waters is more your thing, Charter a boat and head for Lake Michigan.  There you’ll find the water depth, great off-shore structure, warm shoal waters, and natural river mouths create a great habitat for trout and salmon.  This Summer as the temps climb, you’ll find steelhead, salmon, and yellow perch ready to take the bait!

TASTE the Best Catch • Head for Buttersville Peninsula, just outside of town, and hang a left on Lakeshore Drive.  About 5 miles down the road, you’ll find Bortell’s Fisheries – a hidden gem that the locals frequent, where they serve up some of the best-fried perch and smoked fish you can find in Michigan!  You’ll have to wait in line – it’s part of the experience, and worth it – since your fish is fried as soon as you place your order.  Once it’s ready, head for a picnic table outside, or across the street to Summit Park. Go early – and on a weekday if possible…they sell out quickly on the weekends!

Climb the #1 Lighthouse to Visit in Michigan • In June 2018, the North Breakwater Light at Stearns Park was given this title, and The Weather Channel voted it “one of the top 10 lighthouses to see in the U.S.”!  Walk along the breakwall, then climb to the top for a whole new view of the harbor and shoreline!  Love lighthouses?  Just North of Stearns Park, situated in Ludington State Park is Big Sable Point Lighthouse – another ‘must see’ while you’re visiting.

Suggested itinerary from the innkeepers-  “Ludington receives LOTS of Lighthouse visitors throughout the Summer (many vacationing along the West Coast of Michigan stop in Ludington for a couple of nights to see the lights, then move North to Sleeping Bear Dunes, then Traverse City/wine country and onto the UP for more wilderness/lighthouses.”

Two colorful ice cream cones

Savor a Scoop • It’s the quintessential summer treat: a heaping scoop of ice cream atop your favorite type of cone (make ours a waffle cone!).  Walk a few blocks down the avenue to House of Flavors and enjoy a scoop, cone, or sundae. • If creating your sundae with nearly limitless topping options is your idea of heaven, visit Krave Frozen Yogurt & Candy Shoppe in downtown Ludington. • Take a short drive and visit Country Dairy where they pride themselves on farm-fresh and Michigan-made local milk, ice cream, and cheese.  Meet the herd on a farm tour then stop into the market for all the fresh ice cream you can handle!

View of Lake Michigan from Ludington State Park
View of Lake Michigan from Ludington State Park.

Hike a dune (or scale one in a dune buggy) • Declared the most popular state park in all of Michigan and just 12 minutes out the front door of the inn, Ludington State Park offers 5,300 acres of natural resources and unmatched beauty.  The dunes within the state park are worth the climb, as the views of the Lake and surrounding areas are stunning! •  Drive 20 minutes south to Silver Lake Sand Dunes to see one of the largest deposits of living dunes on the shores of Lake Michigan, where you can hike up on your own, or rent a dune buggy!

Hit the Trails • Whether you’re looking for an easy walk, moderate hike, or a casual stroll through the park, there are plenty of trails around town and along the outskirts of the city!  From Ludington State Park to the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, you’ll find many trails ranging from easy to moderate.  Jen & Dan love the Lost Lake Trail at Ludington State Park, as well as the Lighthouse Trail.  Want to take the path less traveled?  Try the Nordhouse Dunes Loop.  Only have an hour or two to spare?  Start at Stearns Park as you wind along the beach, and end up along the Port of Ludington at Waterfront Park.  If you time it right, you’ll be able to watch the SS Badger come into port and dock (approximately 7 PM EST).

Rather BIKE than Hike? • Cycle your way through town, along the shoreline, out to the dunes, along scenic wooded trails, or head for the country and enjoy the beauty of our rural country roads.  Year-round fat tire biking, gravel road riding, and plenty of trails make Ludington an ideal destination for cyclists!  Some of our favorites include the Cartier Park Pathway (there are a few “off the path” mountain bike trails here as well), paved and off-road paths along Hamlin Dam and the Sable River at Ludington State Park (if you’re up to the challenge, take the gravel path that leads you to Big Sable Lighthouse), and in town, cruise along Stearns Park Beach or the Ludington Harbor.

Paddle away • The Ludington area is home to many water trails that you can easily access with a canoe, kayak, or SUP! (a popular phrase for Stand Up Paddleboarding) A local favorite is the Lost Lake Waterway at Ludington State Park.  You’ll find plenty of places within the Park, including Hamlin Lake and the Sable River.  Other beautiful places to explore include Lincoln Lake, the Buttersville Peninsula, Pere Marquette River, and Lake, and all along the shoreline of Lake Michigan between Stearns Park and Buttersville Peninsula.

Say ‘Cheers’ to Summer with a local craft brew • With three breweries and the infamous Mitten Bar (voted one of the best beer bars in America) all minutes away from each other, you can easily spend an afternoon tasting your way through Ludington and other “brewed in Michigan” flights.  Click here for more details on local breweries and craft brew stops in Ludington.

Dine al fresco • During the warmer months the innkeepers at the Lamplighter enjoy serving guests their two-course breakfast on the patio each morning.  There’s no reason lunch and dinner can’t be enjoyed outdoors as well!  Whether you build your picnic at Cluck Bucket located downtown on James Street Plaza or order take-out from The Q SmokehouseLudington Bay Brewing, or one of the many local Ludington restaurants, take advantage of beautiful summer days and evenings and dine outside!

Become a History Buff • Hit the cultural trails throughout Mason County including The Agricultural TrailThe Barn Quilt TrailThe Sculpture Trail, and The Lumber Heritage Trail, and become an expert on Ludington’s history and culture!  Spend an afternoon at White Pine Village to learn what early Pioneers of Mason County experienced during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Just a 4-minute drive from the inn, brush up on your Maritime History at The Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, located in the historic Coast Guard building on the Port of Ludington.  They often hear from guests that this is one of the most state-of-the-art maritime museums they’ve toured, and they’re shocked at the quality of the exhibits and rich history on display – don’t miss it!

Sunrise in Ludington on a beach

Be a beach bum • Ludington’s known for its 28 miles of pristine beaches along the coast, so there’s plenty of space to stake your sandy spot with a gorgeous waterfront view.  Your challenge will be choosing where you want to spend the afternoon!  Head for Stearns Park to enjoy free parking, plenty of beach plus a grassy area with picnic tables and grills, and of course – views of the North Breakwater Light.  Or you could drive along 116 to Ludington State Park and enjoy nearly 7 miles of beautiful beachfront along Lake Michigan’s shoreline and around Hamlin Lake. You could also visit Buttersville Park which is known for its stunning views thanks to the bluff it’s situated on between Lake Michigan and Pere Marquette Lake.  There you’ll find steps down from the bluff leading to the beach.  For more great views, head for Summit Park (just past the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant) where you can enjoy a picnic overlooking Lake Michigan. PSSST… while you’re on Buttersville Peninsula, visit the infamous “Peter Pan Land” that very locals know about!  Just off South Lakeshore Drive, between West Bradshaw & West Chauvez Roads, you’ll miss it if you’re not looking for it!  It’s worth the search, as you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Lake Michigan!

Take in the beauty of a Lake Michigan sunset • Welcome to the sunset coast – sunsets in Ludington are stunning and not to be missed!  Pausing to stop and watch the sun sink below the horizon allows time for reflection on the day’s events, and offers a moment to lock the memories away so you can recall them after you’ve returned home.  Head for the ideal spot – Ludington’s North Breakwater Light Pier, a bench, or a spot on the beach at Stearns Park, view it from atop a dune at Ludington State Park, or while canoeing on Hamlin Lake – and enjoy!  Visit here to check out sunset times so you can plan your schedule accordingly.

Enjoy a beach bonfire • On June 27, July 25, and August 29, 2024 head to Stearns Park from 8-10 PM for a sunset beach bonfire and live music.  Seriously…it doesn’t get any more “summer” than this!

Fresh juice, pastry and a fruit parfait helps start your breakfast at The Lamplighter B&B
Breaking the Fast at the Lamplighter B&B has never been so good!

Book your stay today at the Lamplighter B&B

Thank you Jen & Dan for sharing your insider tips for the Best Experiences to enjoy in Ludington this summer. All of these wonderful suggestions make us want to pack our bags right now.  You can book your stay here.