Things To Do In Ludington MI For The Best Vacation

There are so many great places to go on vacation! Making the decision is sometimes the hardest part. Ludington is one of those small towns that you probably decide, to pass up along the way. However, I am encouraging you to visit. Ludington is a charming destination and has the perfect mix of activities without being touristy. So join me and lets discover all the great things to do in Ludington, Michigan.

Where is Ludington, Michigan?

Ludington Michigan is located on the lower peninsula of Michigan. It is a small harbor town on the shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of Pere Marquette. It is nestled between the towns of Manistee and Pentwater.

Is Ludington Michigan worth visiting?

Yes! It has activities for the entire family. From relaxing or sunsets on the beach, hiking at the state park, shopping and dining in town, activities for kids and visiting the lighthouses and museums. There are a variety of things to do in Ludington Michigan for everyone.

Does Ludington have a City Center?

Yes. Ludington has a downtown area just down the street from Lake Michigan. It offers dining and shopping, a social district, farmers market and live music in the park on Fridays in the summer.

As you can see, Ludington offers a variety of activities for the entire family! So join me and lets discover this beautiful coastal town and all the things to do in Ludington MI.

Ludington Michigan is a great place to visit. It has beautiful sandy beaches and sunsets, outdoor activities, 2 lighthouses, parks to enjoy and you can also watch or sail the SS Badger Carferry. We hope you enjoy Ludington as much as we do!

15 Great Things to do in Ludington MI

1. Explore Downtown Ludington

The Port, a co-op space with a tea shop, restaurant, bakery, candle crafting and sign making activities

Your first stop in Ludington is the downtown. This cute walkable downtown offers a casual costal vibe, with unique shops and restaurants found along Ludington Avenue and James Street. Look for the visitors center to find the best things happening for the week.

In the summer months there is always lots going on and live music in the park on Friday nights. With the Get L.O.S.D. (Ludington Outdoor Social District) you can sip and shop while exploring the town.

2. Enjoy the view from waterfront park

Bronze sculptures at Waterfront Park in Ludington

Since its opening in 1999, this picture perfect Waterfront Park has become a Ludington area center point. It’s a great place to sit and relax on the park bench. Or watch the S.S. Badger carferry sail into port. The kids can also enjoy an afternoon playing on the playground.

At the park you can learn about the nine bronze sculptures placed throughout the 5 acre park. And enjoy live music during the summer months along with annual events. Waterfront park is a great place for both locals and visitors of all ages.

3. A day at Stearns Park Beach

Stearns Park & Beach in Ludington

Stearns Beach is Ludington’s largest beach. Its located off Lakeshore Drive and very easy to find. And also has a large parking lot with FREE parking. It’s very close to downtown Ludington and area attractions, so it makes for a convenient beach if you are staying nearby. With 2500ft of sandy beaches, a great view of North Breakwater Light, restrooms, food concessions, SUP rentals and wifi available, you could easily spend a full day at this beach.

  • Picnic Area: And If you get tired of the sun and sand but still want to relax outside, then head over to the grassy area of the park between the parking lots. There you will find pretty lush green grass, picnic tables and grills.
  • Sunsets: The park is also a popular destination for watching the sunset. And even when its cold outside you can sit in your car and still get a great view. So watch the time and make sure to catch at least one sunset while in town.
  • Pets: This beach is not dog friendly. So, if you are vacationing with your furry friend you will need to head down to Ludington State Park. There, they can enjoy the beach too.

4. Walk out to Ludington North Breakwater light

North Breakwater Lighthouse located at Stearns Beach

The North Breakwater Lighthouse located at Stearns beach is ranked the #1 Lighthouse to see in Michigan. It is a 1 mile round trip to walk along the pier out to the light. Once you get there, you can step inside the gift shop and even tour the light house.

There are 4 lighthouses in the area to tour, so if you plan to tour them all you should buy the bundle pack for lighthouse tours. Open daily from May to September. This too is a popular spot to watch the sunset.

5. Get Outdoorsy at Ludington State Park

Located 7 miles from downtown Ludington you will find Ludington State Park. This 5300 acre popular park is one of Ludington’s top things to do. Not only does this state park offer camping, it’s loaded with outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, fishing and kayaking. Therefore the perfect place for anyone who enjoys nature.

The beach at Ludington State Park

Things to do at Ludington State Park

  1. Beaches: The beach at Ludington State Park is absolutely beautiful. With 7 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, it’s a West Michigan favorite for sure. There are restrooms and concession stand at the beach house with informative exhibits located upstairs. Lake Michigan is great for sunning and swimming, but the water can get choppy. So if you prefer a calmer beach, then head over the Hamlin Lake Beach. Your furry friends can enjoy a dog friendly designated area at Ludington Beach. Located to the left of the beach house. Just pick up after your pet and obey the leash rules.
  2. Hiking Trails: There are 18 miles of hiking trails at the park. Ranging in distance from 30 minutes to 3 hours. You will see a variety of landscapes from scenic sand dunes, wooded dunes, lakes, river and a damn. Even an overlook on an elevated boardwalk trail. See the state park map for more trail details. The park also has canoes trails. Starting at Hamlin Lake Beach and into Hamlin Lake. Kayaks, canoes and rowboats are all available for rent.
  3. Big Sable Point Lighthouse: The Lighthouse is a favorite thing to do! But you have to hike to get there. Find out more below.
  4. Summer Performances: During the summer months you can enjoy performances at the outdoor amphitheater. Shows start at 7pm, so check the schedule to see whats happening.
  5. Winter Activities: The park is great in the winter too! With 8 miles of trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, let the park be your winter wonderland. No snowshoes, no problem. The park has 40 pairs to borrow on a first come, first served basis.

6. Big Sable Point Lighthouse

Hiking to Big Sable Lighthouse: one of our favorite things to do in Ludington MI

Visiting the Big Sable Lighthouse was one of our favorite things to do in Ludington MI. Hiking is the only way to get to there. Or you can ride your bike. It’s about a 3 mile roundtrip hike. The trail is flat although some parts are sandy and challenging to bike through. Keep in mind, there is no shade on the trail, so be prepared and bring water. The trail is just off the shore behind the sand dunes, so you can’t see the water on your way. But you will see the black and white lighthouse as you get closer.

Looking out at Lake Michigan from the retaining wall near Big Sable Lighthouse

The lighthouse is 112 feet high and originally built 500 feet from shore. It stand as one of Michigan’s tallest lighthouses and is listed on the state and National Register of Historic Places. At the lighthouse you can explore around the shores of Lake Michigan, visit the gift shop, watch a video about the lighthouse and walk to the top.

The views at the top are beautiful. And the climb is well worth it. So make sure to arrive before 5pm if you want to make it to the top.

At the top of Big Sable Lighthouse
View of Lake Michigan and Nordhouse Dunes Recreation area from lighthouse

7. Port of Ludington Maritime Museum

Located in the former US Coast Guard building you will find the Ludington Maritime Museum. Filled with 3 floors of of exhibits including shipwrecks, lighthouses, Coast Guard, lumber history, carferry and more. Also on display are 2 fresnel original lighthouse lenses from Big Sable Point and North Breakwater Light.

The third floor is designated to the SS Bader Carferry. The car ferry is an important factor in Ludington’s Maritime history and here you can learn all about it.

One of the most unique exhibits in the museum is the fully interactive pilothouse simulator. You can pretend you are driving the Pere Marquette car ferry into the Ludington harbor.

Tickets are available at the door and you can save on a combo ticket if you plan to visit the Historic White Pine Village.

8. Sandcastles Children’s Museum

The Sandcastles Children’s Museum in Ludington

If you are traveling with children then you have to go to the Sandcastles Children’s Museum! With 30+ interactive exhibits, including a grocery store, veterinary center and SS Badger play ship, this place makes you want to be a kid again and is fun for everyone! This is a do not miss adventure with your kids.

9. Watch the SS Badger sail away

View form Waterfront Park of the SS Badger Carferry leaving port

This car ferry is very important to the history of Lake Michigan. The SS Badger is the only remaining example of a car/rail ferry that influenced production around the world. The historical ship has been in operation since 1953 and will take you from Ludington Michigan to Manitowoc Wisconsin by way of HWY 10 via water route. It carries cars, trailers and passengers across the lake. The ride is 62 miles long and it takes 4 hours.

10. Skate Park Entertainment

The skate park at The Plaza near Stearns Beach Park

Another fun things for kids to do is visit the skate park. Skateboards, in-lines and scooters are welcome. The skate park has a combination of bowls, rails, quarter pipes and ramps. Have fun either skating or just watching.

11. Catch some fish on a charter boat

Ludington and Lake Michigan have some of the best fishing in the great lakes area. If you like to fish, you can catch various species of trout and salmon almost any day of the week. More fish are caught in Ludington than anywhere else in the state. So if you like to fish, this is your opportunity for a great catch. Charter Boats are available morning an afternoon for 6 hour tours.

12. Try some blue ice cream at House of Flavors

One of the best things to do in Ludington MI: Enjoying an ice cream cone at House of Flavors

This might be the most popular activity in town. Every time you drive by there is as a line outside the door, especially on a sunny day. But don’t worry it moves pretty fast. House of Flavors is both a restaurant and an ice cream shop. Grab a delicious ice cream cone at the only place with a Guinness longest Ice cream dessert world record by the numbers. And try their signature flavor, a blue ice cream called Blue Moon.

13. Did you say Disc Golf or Golf Course?

Why, yes they have both! But with 6 courses and the Michigan State Disc Golf Championship held here each year, Ludington is a big deal for disc golf. It’s a sport that is really taking off and the entire family can enjoy. You can play year round, so give it a shot.

14. Visit the Historic White Pine Village

History buffs will love the White Pine Village. The village is a living history tour of an early 20th century pioneer village consisting of 30 historic sites. Buildings to tour include a log cabin, school house, chapel, Pere Marquette Town Hall and many more. The village is open May through October and closed Sunday and Monday. Give yourself about two hours to walk through the outdoor museum.

15. Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Another favorite among fun things to do in Ludington Mi is visit Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Located about 30 miles south of Ludington. Here you can find the Little Sable Point Lighthouse with great views of Lake Michigan if you walk to the top.

A popular activity is to explore the sand dunes with an off-road vehicle. You can bring your own or rentals are also available. But, if you prefer something a little more low key then check out Mc Wood’s Dune Rides. They offer a seven mile ride that takes about 40 minutes and is so much fun! So if you are looking for something unique to do, this is it.

Enjoy all the things to do in Ludington MI

As you can see, Ludington offers a variety of activities for the entire family! We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed Ludington! There are plenty of things to do in Ludington MI to keep you entertained. And also enough time for relaxing too.

Have fun exploring the coastal town of Ludington. And if you found this information helpful please SAVE, SHARE or COMMENT below.

For more great places to visit in the beautiful state of Michigan, take a look at these:

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