Our family was invited by the Ludington Area Visitor’s Bureau and pureludington.com to experience all that Ludington Michigan has to offer! This post is sponsored by the Ludington Area CVB but all opinions are my own. I’m sharing our favorite, family-friendly things to see and do!
I have lived in the mitten state my whole life and can confidently say, I’ve experienced the best of Pure Michigan. From the Sleeping Bear Dunes, to the streets of Mackinaw, to Tahquamenon Falls and back home for a Tigers game in Detroit. I love exploring Michigan with my family and I’m always blown away by how breathtakingly beautiful it is.
When my husband first moved here from the East Coast, he didn’t believe me when I told him Lake Michigan was as beautiful as the ocean, and he made fun of me for using my hand as a map! We may never agree on the “soda” versus “pop” debate, but I’ve slowly won him over with Michigan’s charm.
I love that we have so many amazing areas in Michigan that are perfect for quick weekend trips, day trips or “staycations!” During the Summer, we keep our RV stocked and ready to roll. Summer days are here for such a short amount of time, and we want to make as many memories and see as many beautiful spots in Michigan as we can!
Last week, our family broke away from the hustle to spend 2 wonderful nights in Ludington, Michigan! We were fortunate to get reservations at the beautiful, Ludington State Park, and we packed as much adventure as we could into our mini vacay! I want to share all of our favorite spots to see, things to do and places to eat. We experienced quite a bit of rain while we were there, which had an impact on our plans, but there was still plenty to do! Ludington is beautiful and unique. I’m excited to share about our time there and what makes it a stand out vacation destination.
Why We Love Ludington
Here’s a quick little summary of what makes Ludington unique and what we loved about it!
- Free parking everywhere downtown: This is almost unheard of anywhere these days! With large public lots, we parked our RV for free, everywhere we went.
- Little Amenities: From the clean, public restrooms, to the bike maintenance stations throughout the downtown area, Ludington has an eye for the little details that really make you feel at home!
- Less crowded: We visited on a Sunday through Tuesday in early June. Now, I realize it wasn’t peak season yet, but we still felt like it was much less crowded and chaotic than other tourist areas in Michigan on a week day. It was so nice not to push and shove our way through the crowds.
- Less commercialized feel: We love visiting areas all over Michigan and getting a feel for the local flavor. We discovered so many local businesses in Ludington that had been family run for years. There are fewer big chains in the downtown area and more small businesses that are unique to the area!
- Friendly locals: Everyone we met was welcoming and helpful!
- Rolling sand dunes, wide open spaces, sandy beaches, beautiful lighthouses…
Have you visited Ludington? I’d love to hear why YOU love it!
Where to Stay
We were so thankful to have experienced camping at the famous, Ludington State Park! Getting a spot at the State Park is challenging. Spots fill fast, but you’ll have a better chance if you book early or go on a weekday. The park itself is huge, but spots can be a little tight for larger RVs and trailers. Find a map of the campground here. There is electric hook-up and water filling stations, but no water or sewage hook-up. There is a sanitation/dump station just outside the park (which was one of the nicest we’ve seen). Bath houses are clean and well stocked. There is an inland lake with a playground and beach, lots of biking trails, fishing spots and hiking trails! We didn’t have time to explore even a small percentage of what the park had to offer in the short time we were there. The State Park is the closest campground you will find to a Lake Michigan beach and trail heads to the Big Sable Lighthouse. Look for a more in-depth post coming soon!
Tip: If your heart is set on camping at Ludington State Park, mark your calendar and book as early as 6 months prior to your arrival date. Inventory opens up at 8am on weekdays and 9pm on weekends. Many people sit in front of their computers and book as soon as their chosen sites become available! If your schedule is flexible, there will be a better chance of finding a site on a weekday.
Camping and Cabins
We stayed at the State Park, but because spots book up fast, you may want to consider one of these other options:
- Ludington State Park Campground
- Poncho’s Pond RV Park
- Cartier Park Campground
- Buttersville Park Campground
- Kibby Creek Travel Park
- Vacation Station RV Resort
- Mason County Campground
If camping isn’t your thing, try one of these nearby hotels!
- Best Western Lakewinds
- Comfort Inn
- Rodeway Inn
- Snyders Shoreline Inn
- Stearns Hotel
- Holiday Inn Express
- Blue Spruce Inn
- Viking Arms Inn
- Summer’s Inn
One of the great things about these family-friendly activities on our must-do list, is how inexpensive they are! We love to stay active as a family and we love to explore nature – we’re interested in the budget friendly activities, because as a family of 7, prices tend to add up rather quickly!
- Hike to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse – From the parking lot, it’s about a 2 mile walk out to the lighthouse. The path is well marked and mostly gravel. We walked it with 4 kids on foot and 1 in a back carrier, but you could also bike. For a small fee, you can climb the 103 steps up to the top of the lighthouse. It’s definitely worth it for the experience and the view! Children under 40″ are not allowed to make the climb. My husband waited with our 1 year old while I took the other 4 kids up. They all enjoyed it! There is a small gift shop and vending machine next to the lighthouse as well as pit toilets that were designed to look like the original outhouse (they were actually really cute!). Stay tuned for a more in depth post about our time at the Big Sable Lighthouse!
- Walk out to the North Breakwater Lighthouse – This is a really beautiful and peaceful walk down a long pier. It’s a half a mile walk all the way to the lighthouse, but we walked about half way just to get a picture and then walked back. We took a stroller for our 1 year old.
- Hike the Skyline Trail – This is a half mile hike up to the top of a sand dune. It’s a mostly wooden trail with LOTS of stairs. It was easy for the kids, but a little more challenging for me while carrying a baby on my back. At the top, the kids ran down the sand dune and climbed back up (with energy to spare).
- Do some shopping Downtown Ludington
- Spend a day at Stearns Park Beach – Stearns Park has a large parking lot, a beautiful sandy beach, nice bath house, skate park, paddle board rental, putt putt golf, shuffleboard, picnic tables and grills, and a playground! Walk the pier out to the the North Breakwater Lighthouse, or sit on the beach and enjoy the view!
- Watch the S. S. Badger come in to port
- Play at the Waterfront Park – We let the kids play here on the large playground before watching the S. S. Badger come in
- Share a “Pig’s Feast” at House of Flavors – This was a yummy and memorable experience! We let each of the kids pick 2 flavors.
- Stop at Country Dairy on your way out of town – Country Dairy is a little ways out of town, so it was the perfect stop for lunch after we had checked out of the campground. We went on their tour, which was a really fun experience! They take you through the milking facilities, bottling area, and through the barns to meet all their happy, well loved cows! Look for a more in depth post to come.
Rainy Day Activities
- Sandcastles Children’s Museum – This was actually one of the highlights of our trip! It just blew us away! I didn’t originally plan on going, because I wasn’t sure our big kids would be interested. When it started pouring down rain and we needed an indoor activity, this place was perfect. It had something for every age and all 5 of our kids (ages 1 to 12) were kept busy for several hours.
- Maritime Museum – We didn’t visit the Maritime Museum, but the kids were interested after visiting the Big Sable lighthouse, because we learned that the original signal light is on display there!
Ludington is known for hosting lots of fun, special events throughout the year.
For a current list of everything coming up, go here: pureludington.com/events
Where to Eat
There are plenty of awesome places to eat in Ludington, but here are a few that we tried while we were there!
- House of Flavors – We ate here once for dinner and then later, just for the ice cream. World Record holders for the longest ice cream sundae! Our family of 7 ordered the “Super Duper Pig’s Dinner” – 12 scoops of ice cream, 3 bananas, 12 toppings and 6 free pins to prove we ate it all! Our favorite topping was BACON and our favorite ice cream was their Moose Tracks.
- Ludington Bay Brewery – We ate here one night for dinner. The food was delicious and so were the drinks!
- The Q Smoke House – We did not have the chance to eat here, but it was on our list of “must-do” places.
- Red Rooster Coffee and Community – We stopped in here for a little while to grab some coffee (and internet access). It’s a super inviting and trendy feeling coffee house with excellent coffee and friendly service!
- Krave Frozen Yogurt and Candy Shoppe – This was a super adorable little sweet shop.
Plan Your Next Adventure!
Be sure to visit pureludington.com to plan your next adventure to Ludington, Michigan. If you’re looking for information on boat rentals, fishing equipment, trail maps, lodging and special events, pureludington.com has you covered. I hope you make it there soon and that you enjoy it as much as we did!
Look for the next post in this series to come soon: Hiking to Big Sable Lighthouse with Kids