St Joseph, otherwise known as St Joe, started off as a fur trading post in the 1780s. Plots of land were sold and it became a village in 1834, and then a city in 1891. It was across the water from Chicago and until the railway came, this was the only way to reach the larger city. Boatbuilding and other manufacturing enterprises, such as what is now called Whirlpool, were established there. The St Joseph River was extended into Lake Michigan by means of breakwaters. The North Pier lighthouses have been featured on one of the USA Postal Service Great Lakes series of stamps.

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1.St Joseph's North Pier – Inner and Outer Lights

St Joseph's North Pier – Inner and Outer Lights
© Kenneth Keifer/

These lighthouses were built in the early 1900s and decommissioned in 2008. Ownership was transferred to the city and $2 million was raised to restore the iconic pier range lights. The front lighthouse is conical, 8 ft in diameter and 30 ft tall. It produces a fixed red light. The rear tower is 24 foot square at the base with an octagonal tower above the peaked roof, topped by a circular lantern room. There is a walkway at the second story level that connects the two towers and the shore. In winter, the lake and the front tower and walkway freeze over, affording spectacular photo opportunities. Guided tours are available.

North Pier St, Saint Joseph, MI 49085

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2.Curious Kids Museum and Discovery Zone

Curious Kids Museum and Discovery Zone
© Curious Kids Museum and Discovery Zone

These two attractions, designed for children up to the age of 14, are situated close to each other on the shores of Lake Michigan. They are open 7 days a week, all year round, except for public holidays. The interactive, hands-on exhibits stimulate curiosity and creativity. Children can navigate the Great Lakes and visit the market and the Vet's Clinic, among other activities. Birthday parties and day camps at the venues can be arranged. Outreach programs include traveling exhibits and taking science topics to schools. Families, school groups, scouts and guides are welcome.

415 Lake Boulevard, St. Joseph, MI 49085, Phone: 269-983-2543

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3.White Pine Winery

White Pine Winery
© White Pine Winery

After achieving a Masters in Horticulture and a PhD in grape photosynthesis, Dave Miller gained experience as a wine maker, working for others. He and his wife, Sandy, have realized their dream of starting their own enterprise. In 1999, they planted a vineyard, named Sophie's Vineyard, after their only child. The fruit from this and other local vineyards has gone into the production of red wines, particularly Merlot and Cabernet. White Pine also make Ice Wine and Rieslings, from a variety of other fruits. They have a tasting room in St Joseph. Opening hours change with the seasons.

317 State Street, St. Joseph, Michigan, Phone: 269-281-0098

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4.Box Factory for the Arts

Box Factory for the Arts
© Box Factory for the Arts

In 1962 the Berrien Artist Guild was formed and in 1995 purchased the historic building that was formerly the William Brothers Paper Box Factory. The guild set about transforming the 2 story, 55000 square foot space into an artists' hang out. Slowly it took shape and now houses artists' studio, a theatre, concert space, galleries, reception halls, classrooms, meeting spaces and a shop. There is a full calendar of events. Funding for the venture comes from sales of tickets and artwork, various stage and musical performances, classes and hiring out of space in the building.

1101 Broad Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085, Phone: 269-983-3688

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5.Nye's Apple Barn

Nye's Apple Barn
© Nye's Apple Barn

The farm on which Nye's Apple Barn is situated has been in the Nye family since the late 1800s. The 4th and 5th generations of Nyes now run the farm and tourism business which was established in 1968. Using home-grown and locally sourced produce, the enterprise processes berries, stone fruit, apples and grapes. Amish jams, jellies, fruit butter, pies, bread and cookies are among the products on sale. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also available in season. Visitors can pick their own if they so choose. Produce is also sold in supermarkets or made into juice.

3151 Niles Road, St Joseph, MI 49085, Phone: 269-429-0596

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6.Baroda Founders Wine Cellar

Baroda Founders Wine Cellar
© Baroda Founders Wine Cellar

Len Olson, the father of the winemaker and current owner of Baroda Founders Wine Cellar was a self-taught pioneer in the Michigan wine industry. He was the first person to be granted a winery licence after prohibition. He also planted the first European vines in Michigan. He later went on to plant 27 varieties of grapes. They now produce classic red and white wines, blended fruit wines and dessert wines, infused with chocolate. The enterprise has two attractions – a wine cellar in Baroda and a tasting room, 10 miles away at St Joseph. Wines are also available at retail outlets and restaurants throughout Michigan.

415 State Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085, Phone: 269-982-1115

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7.The Buck Burgers and Brew

The Buck Burgers and Brew
© The Buck Burgers and Brew

In 2012, Ken Kozminski took over the lease on the remodeled historic downtown building which housed The Silver Dollar Café for over 50 years. The Café was nicknamed 'The Buck' and Ken paid tribute to this landmark business by naming his enterprise after it. The new Buck sells crafted beer, meads and wine. On the menu is 'burgers and more'. There are regular evening events, such as trivia evenings and open mic nights. The interior has an industrial chic style and outside decks are festive. Bucks is open all year round but closes on Tuesdays.

412 State Street, St Joseph, Michigan, Phone: 269-281-0320

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8.Azul Tequila Mexican Bar and Grill

Azul Tequila Mexican Bar and Grill
© Jenifoto/

Cooking is all Carlos Ortiz has known his entire working life and he loves it. He started working when he was 15 and at the age of 24 was called to Michigan to the aid of a failing family restaurant. By monitoring what food patrons left on their plates, Carlos was able to make improvements and turned the restaurant into a success within eight months. He runs the Azul Tequila with the same passion and still monitors what food comes back, if any. This restaurant offers authentic Mexican cuisine with sit down or take-out options, 7 days a week. There is a lunch and dinner menu with daily specials.

105 Main Str., St Joseph, MI 49085, Phone: 269-982-0300

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9.Forte Coffee

Forte Coffee
© Forté Coffee

Brian Maynard's love affair with coffee goes back to childhood. His career since studying at culinary school had been on the periphery but in 2018, he took the plunge and opened up a coffee emporium. He roasts his own coffee and individualized blends for his restaurant customers. The coffee is artfully presented with a barista's touch. Brian's wife and daughter bake and serve the pastries, sandwiches and salads. Coffee-related merchandise such as mugs, used coffee bags and gadgets are sold at the shop. Community building touches are appreciated, like the pup-cups and doggy hitching post, and a sign that changes color to celebrate local events.

2045 Niles Road, St. Joseph, Michigan 49085, Phone: 269-769-0050

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9 Best Things to Do in St. Joseph, MI