Being a current Chicago resident, and former Kalamazoo resident, I know firsthand that many bachelor or bachelorette party planners from Chicago choose Southwest Michigan as it’s a great destination to celebrate with plenty to do. The 1.5 – 2 hour drive is a nice bonus as well.
I recently attended a bachelor party in the St. Joseph regional area, and had a fantastic time. I also make the drive to and from Michigan quite frequently, so I thought that it would be fun to recap some fun activities in this beautiful area and to provide some tips of my own.
Finding a Place
AirBnB, or some related service, is always the way to go when it comes to accommodations as you don’t need to worry about disrupting other people in a hotel, you’re all staying in a shared space, the space is generally nicer, and it’s usually cheaper.
We stayed in a giant house a few miles north of Benton Harbor and within walking distance of the lake. The total cost was around $1,100 but split between 14 people it ended up costing only $80 per person.
If you are trying to find a place along the lakeshore, make sure it has lake access or is nearby a public beach.
Beaches in Southwest Michigan are absolutely beautiful, but they are a bit different from beaches in the Chicagoland area where everything is flat. Many lake houses do not provide a casual stroll down to the beach, but a quad numbing decent from a 300-foot bluff. Just something to be aware of if you plan on carrying down heavy stuff like coolers, beach games, etc. down to the beach.
Best piece of advice, however, is to find a place as far in advance as you can – especially if the party is going to take place in the summer. Like any summer vacation spot in Michigan, vacation homes will book up fast, so book as early as you can.
What To Do
First of all, let’s get the alcohol categories out of the way:
Greenbush – 5885 Sawyer Rd, Sawyer, MI
Excellent place to visit on any given day, but especially if the weather is nice. Greenbush Annex is across the street from the main brewery building and has a great outdoor area with seating and boccee courts. There will sometimes be a taco truck parked in the parking lot next to Greenbush Annex. Oh, and all of their beer is excellent.
Other options, that I haven’t been to:
Tapistry Brewing Co. – 4236 Lake Street, Bridgman, MI
North Pier Brewing – 670 N Shore Dr, Benton Harbor, MI
Silver Harbor Brewing – 721 Pleasant St, St Joseph, MI
Transient Artisan Ales – 4229 Lake St, Bridgman, MI
Journeyman’s – 109 Generation Dr, Three Oaks, MI
If your group is into spirts of any kind, Journeyman’s is a great place to visit. Tours with tastings are $10 and are well worth it. They do not skimp on the pours, and you get to taste just about every spirit that they make.
If you’re looking to give the groom a gift for the bachelor party, you can sign up to purchase a 6-month aged barrel of Journeyman’s Featherbone Bourbon. The barrel is 5 gallons, and it comes with two fifths of Featherbone. We signed the barrel.
There aren’t many companies in the area that provide rental services for big groups. The Knot probably has the most complete selection of party bus rental companies in the area.
Make sure that you have some sort of contingency plan in the event that the party bus has to cancel. This nearly happened to us, where the company’s bus broken down, which caused a brief moment of panic.
There are plenty of good golf courses to choose from in Southwest Michigan, and you may want to pick one based on where you are staying.
Harbor Shores Golf Club – 201 Graham Ave, Benton Harbor, MI
Lake Michigan Hills Golf Club – 2520 Kerlikowske Rd, Benton Harbor, MI
Orchard Hills Country Club – 2841 Niles Buchanan Rd, Buchanan, MI
Call ahead to make sure you know their policy regarding bringing your own alcohol and what is and is not allowed.
This can make for a fun and memorable activity. There’s really only one gun range in this area unless you’re willing to drive to Kalamazoo or Grand Rapids.
Point Blank Shooting Range – 1340 Territorial Rd, Benton Harbor, MI
Most shooting ranges have both pistol and rifle ranges. You typically have the option to bring your own guns and ammo, and most locations provide guns or ammo if anyone in your party needs them, but it is much more expensive to do so.
If you or the groom to be are into fishing, there are some great charter fishing options in this area from the likes of:
- SeaHawk Fishing Charters
- Originator Fishing Charters
- SeaCrete Fishing Charters
- Coldwater Charters
- Gold Coast Fishing Company
- Dustin’s Dream Fishing Charters
All of this can make for a memorable activity, but there are some drawbacks that may deter a few people in your group:
- From my own experience, it costs about $100-115 per person
- You have to be there ready to fish very early – usually around 5-6 AM
- The boats can only accommodate 6 or 7 people, which means bigger groups will have to be split up on 2 or more boats.
Other Sites to Check Out:
Best of luck with the planning!