Silver Beach is an awesome destination for kids in the summer, but what about when it starts to cool? Just in time for Labor Day, we've got a list of 10 things to do with kids in Michigan's Great Southwest. All activities are under $5, so you won't break the bank for fun!
Ava and Clementine at the Silver Beach Carousel; lots of fun and games off the carousel, too!
1. Horse-Drawn Trolley Rides
Where: Downtown St. Joseph; pick up at State and Elm
Noah, a rescue horse, spends his days pulling a horse-drawn trolley over brick cobblestones with a lake view. Not a bad retirement gig! You can take one of the trolley rides he offers for free on both Wednesday and Sunday during the summer, and Saturdays after Labor Day. Lots of fun for kids and adults! Check the St. Joseph Today Facebook page for updates on the time (it is weather-dependent). You can also call the Welcome Center at 269.985.1111 to check!
2. Krasl Art Center
Where: Lake Boulevard; sculptures throughout St. Joseph
707 Lake Boulevard, St Joseph, MI 49085
For your young artists, The Krasl Art Center offers a chance to see world-class exhibits indoors and outdoors for free! Visit their gallery at 707 Lake Boulevard for rotating artists as well as a sculpture garden (where you can find Lotus, the life-sized hippo sculpture). The Krasl has also sponsored large outdoor pieces throughout St. Joseph, great for exploring with a stroller. Check their website for hours and special events like “Family Time in the Galleries”, that offers free crafts for kids!
The butterfly house at Sarett is $2 for children, $3 for adults (non-members are free); we spotted fish along with butterflies!
3. Sarett Nature Center
Cost: Free for under 12; adults $3
Where: 2300 Benton Center Rd, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
With an awesome treetop boardwalk, adventure playground, and Michigan animal exhibits, the Sarett Nature Center is an awesome destination for kids and adults. Outdoors, you can explore 7 miles of trails through woods, riverfront, and ponds or climb on the playground. Indoors, there’s exhibits that include screech owls, turtles, and even snakes! For an extra dollar, you can participate in hands-on activities like lizard feeding (through the summer only)! Check out their website here; note they are closed on Mondays.
4. Scavenger Hunt
301 State St, St. Joseph, MI 49085
If you are downtown St. Joseph, visit the Welcome Center to pick up a scavenger hunt. It’s a self-guided tour, and a great way to explore the shops and statues. From Beach Bugs to yoga poses, it’s a lot of fun! We recommend this for 6+.
5. Historic Miniature Train Rides
Cost: $2 per ride
Where: Eden Springs Park at House of David
793 M 139, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Miniature trains were a hallmark of the The House of David amusement park, located in Benton Harbor. The park is undergoing an impressive restoration currently, and the trains are restored and running on the weekends! For just $2, you can ride the tiny trains past a historic base ball field, through the interesting buildings, and past the fountains. Check Eden Springs Park at House of David’s Facebook page for updates; trains run on the weekend, with Halloween-themed rides beginning in October!
The Silver Beach Carousel is open year round...off the beach or in from the snow!
6. Silver Beach Carousel
Cost: $2 per ride ($1 on Family Nights)
Where: below the bluff in St. Joseph
333 Broad St, St Joseph, MI 49085
From otters to dinosaurs to chickens to the traditional horses, the Silver Beach Carousel hosts many amazing animals to ride on! It’s in a large enclosure, so weather does not affect riding. Around the carousel, there’s games, coloring, and funhouse mirrors to explore. Check out their website for current operating hours, as well as special events. After Labor Day, “Family Nights” will be starting again. On these nights, rides are just $1!
7. U-Pick Peaches, Grapes and Apples
Cost: $1.10 per pound of peaches (call for others)
Where: Nye’s Apple Barn
3151 Niles Road, St Joseph, MI 49085
While the Michigan weather lasts, head over to Nye’s Apple Barn for U-Pick peaches, then grapes, then apples! Kids will have a blast running through the orchard, and best of all, you come home with the “fruits” of your labor! Call or visit their website for U-Pick information (always check availability before heading out!).
Storytime at Forever Books in downtown St. Joseph!
8, 9, 10. Storytime, Storytime, Storytime!
Benton Harbor Library-Mondays 10:30am
213 E Wall St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library (St. Joseph)-6:30pm Tuesdays, 10:00am Wednesdays
500 Market St, St. Joseph, MI 49085
Forever Books-every third Thursday at 10:45am
312 State St, St. Joseph, MI 49085
So many storytimes, so little time! Each story time offers something a little different, and we love exploring the literary world this way.
The places for storytime are also great indoor play spaces! We're big fans of both the Lego table and the bead puzzles at the Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library (in downtown St. Joseph).