Benton Harbor is situated in south east Michigan, on the shores of Lake Michigan, across the St Joseph River from its twin city by the same name. It was formerly swampland but a canal was laid that drained the swamp and created a harbor suitable for a shipping yard. This fueled manufacturing in the town and factories sprang up. The climate is moderated by the waters of Lake Michigan, causing conditions favorable to growing fruit. There are several vineyards and conservation areas around Benton Harbor.

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1.Sarett Nature Center

Sarett Nature Center
© Sarett Nature Center

In 1963, Mr and Mrs Vawter purchased 130 acres of land and donated it to the Michigan Audobon Society for the purposes of establishing a nature sanctuary. It was named after Professor Sarett, a lifelong friend of Mr Vawter and well known local naturalist and poet. A River trail was developed incorporating ponds and walks. A lookout tower, treetop walkways and the Nature Play Area add variety to the visit. Half- and full-day ecology classes are offered to schools, homeschoolers and scouts. There are weekend and evening classes and natural history tours for the general public. The center is closed on Mondays.

2300 Benton Center Rd., Benton Harbor, MI 49022, Phone: 269-927-4832

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2.12 Corners Vineyard

12 Corners Vineyard
© 12 Corners Vineyard

Lake Michigan has a moderating influence on the climate in West Michigan, making it ideal for growing fruit and more recently, grapes. 12 Corners was started by a group of friends on 115 acres. They grew a variety of hybrids and cultivars on varying slopes and types of soil. This has brought out a range of individualized tastes in the grapes and wines made from them. Tasting is offered 7 days a week and there are weekly live music events. A wine club gives members a number of benefits. The venue is for hire and a full wedding service is available.

1201 N Benton Center Rd, Benton Harbor, MI 49022, Phone: 269-927-1512

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3.Jean Klock Park

Jean Klock Park
© aphotostory/

The park is named after the daughter of Mr and Mrs Klock, who died in childhood. They purchased a half mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline and donated it to the city of Benton Harbour to be used as a park 'for the children', in perpetuity. More land was purchased for the park in 1952. In the park are several ecologically sensitive dunes, wetlands and marshes. The city has come under pressure from several private developers to sell off bits of the park. The Friends of Jean Klock Park have fought valiantly but were not able to stop the development of 3 holes of a golf course on the land.

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4.North Pier Brewing Company

North Pier Brewing Company
© North Pier Brewing Company

Husband and wife, Jay and Jordan Fettig make beer in Benton Harbor and sell it at their taproom and outdoor beer garden close to Lake Michigan. They specialize in European, especially Belgian lagers and ales. The brewery is open 7 days a week and has endeavored to create a 'third place', somewhere other than home and work that people can meet and relax. They have 12 rotating beers on tap and have recently started canning. The bar restaurant serves tacos, sandwiches, salads and baskets of snacks.

670 N. Shore Dr., Benton Harbor, MI 49022, Phone: 269-757-7163

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5.Water Street Glassworks

Water Street Glassworks
© Water Street Glassworks

The Glassworks is a community arts program set in the Benton Harbor Art District. It opened in 2004 after extensive renovations were made to the once derelict and abandoned historic Hinkley Building. There is a school, a studio and a gallery on the premises, dedicated to glass and metal fire arts. Students enter a two-year program, working with jewelry, mosaics, enamel and beads. There are regular exhibits of the work of students, staff and instructors. Tours and demonstrations can be arranged. The venue is available for group 'bring your own food' parties. The annual extinguishing of the fire occurs on 31 May each year.

140 Water Street, Benton Harbor MI, Phone: 269-925-5555

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6.The Berrien Hills Country Club

The Berrien Hills Country Club
© somchai/

The club was a private, members only concern from 1909 to 2005, when it was bought by the Neuser family and turned into a public golf course. The 18 hole, 71 par course is situated next to the St Joseph River. Clubs and carts can be hired. Snacks and drinks are sold on the course. Facilities include a clubhouse, a golf shop and a pool. There are three venues for hire in the clubhouse – a 200 seat ballroom overlooking the river and the course, the 125 seat deck and the 65 seat grill room. An event planner is on hand to help with the arrangements.

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7.Vineyard 2121

Vineyard 2121
© Vineyard 2121

Husband and wife, Jeffrey and Deborah Pallas combined their talents of landscaping and public relations to create a tourist destination at their vineyard. The tasting room was opened in 2015. It offers wine tasting, wine flights and light meals such as soups, salads and sandwiches. The large outdoor patio overlooks the vineyard. The grounds have been landscaped to create photogenic opportunities for weddings and other private and corporate functions. Much work has gone into the development of the estates roads, ponds and buildings. The farm, winery and wines have all received awards. Vineyard 2121 is open from March to October.

4110 Red Arrow Highway, Benton Harbor, MI 49022, Phone: 269-849-0109

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8.Henry's Hamburgers

Henry's Hamburgers
© Henry's Hamburgers

In the 1960s, Henry's Hamburgers was a bigger franchise than McDonalds. In 1959, the outlet in Benton Harbor was opened. It outlasted the franchisor and has changed hands and venues a few times but still maintains the food and service that made it successful. Patrons can choose carry-out or to use the drive through. A top seller is the Brown Bag special - a double cheesburger, fries and a Pepsi, which accounts for 50% of sales. Quirky specials such as the 99c Munchie of the Month and Nuggets 'two for the price of one' keep customers interested. The community board on their web sites invites customers to recall their memories of the franchise.

1832 M 139, Benton Harbor, MI 49022, Phone: 269-926-6757

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8 Best Things to Do in Benton Harbor, MI