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Getaway Guru: Weekend Guide to New Buffalo, MI


By Kenneth Johnson

New Buffalo, Mich., a popular weekend getaway for Chicagoans, sits right in Michigan's harbor country. The official designation for the southwest part of Berrien County, it's just a quick swing around the bottom of Lake Michigan. New Buffalo features plenty of recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing, swimming, playtime at the Four Winds Casino Resort, and plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you busy in between.

Getting There

New Buffalo's popularity is partly because it's easy to get to from Chicago – right off I-94 after crossing into Michigan from Indiana. From Chicago, take the Dan Ryan and Indiana Toll Road, then connect with I-94 in Indiana. Suburbanites may take the Tri-State around to I-80 to I-94, then continue on I-94 into Michigan. Take exit 1 at M-239/La Porte Road, turn left, and continue to South Whittaker Street and into New Buffalo. It's about 70 miles from the Loop and 95 miles from O'Hare.

New Buffalo is also served by Amtrak from Union Station. Two lines have stops in New Buffalo: The Wolverine and The Blue Water. Take advantage of four daily departures and arrivals, with the travel time to and from New Buffalo at about two hours and 15 minutes. Heads up though: There's no station building in New Buffalo, so no ticket office, no waiting lounge and no baggage storage. If you're going to the Four Winds Casino Resort, it provides complimentary shuttle service to and from the New Buffalo Amtrak station.

Related: 5 Of The Best Road Trips Around Chicago


What to Do

New Buffalo City Beach & Lakefront Park
Whittaker Street and Lake Michigan
New Buffalo, MI
(269) 469-3574

Price: $10 parking

New Buffalo City Beach includes swimming, restrooms, a snack bar, dunes, a nature trail, play structures, fishing access to Galien River and boat launch, and trailer parking. Swimmers should be aware of rip current warnings posted by the lifeguards. If you're a winter traveler, sled on the dunes for a day out you just can't get in the city.

Third Coast Surf Shop
(credit: Third Coast Surf Shop's facebook)

Third Coast Surf Shop
110-C N. Whittaker St.
New Buffalo, MI 49117
(269) 932-4575 x 2
Third Coast's Facebook

Surfing in Lake Michigan is made not only possible but easy with Third Coast Surf Shop. Open summers in New Buffalo – its year-round location is in St. Joseph, about 30 miles south – this shop offers group and private surfing lessons, as well as lessons for stand up paddleboarding, skimboarding and sandboarding at the Warren Dunes State Park. If you'd prefer to sit, Third Coast also offers kayak rentals on the Galien River and at the New Buffalo City Beach & Lakefront Park.

Related: Best Offbeat Lake Michigan Adventures


Fruitful Vine Tours
PO Box 44
Stevensville, MI 49127
(269) 978-8777

Prices: $69 Sunday to Friday tours/$99 for Saturday tours

Michigan Harbor Country is also wine country, so don't miss out on visiting wineries and wine tastings here. With Fruitful Vine Tours, you leave the driving to them, with pickups at the Marina Grand, Holiday Inn Express and the South Bend Chocolate Cafe in New Buffalo. Tour options include a 12-person motor coach, a tractor-pulled wagon (featuring padded seats and roof for shade), or riding a bike through the countryside, with guide and van support. Tours visit four wineries (which vary) and include a lunch stop. All tasting fees and asouvenir wine glass are included in the price, though lunch is on your own.

Related: Chicagoland's Best Wineries



The Harbor Grand
111 W Water St.
New Buffalo, MI 49117
(888) 605-6800

Prices: roughly $152 to $314 per night

No need to rough it on vacation at this boutique hotel on the New Buffalo harbor. Remodeled in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style as well as the arts and crafts movement, the Harbor Grand includes modern touches, such as breakfast in bed (at whatever time you choose), 24-hour Ben & Jerry's ice cream delivery to your room, beach cruiser bikes for complimentary rental, and harbor view rooms with whirlpool tubs.

New Buffalo Inn & Spa
231 E Buffalo St.
New Buffalo, MI 49117
(269) 469-1000

Prices: from $145 to $185 a night/from $125 to $155 a night in winter

Six adult-only rooms and on-site spa make the New Buffalo Inn a great spot to rest and relax. Rooms have fireplaces, individual climate control and amenities such as two-person Jacuzzi tubs, outdoor decks, and a microwave and refrigerator in your kitchen or kitchenette. Spa services include massage, reflexology, facials, mud detox and guided meditation.



The Stray Dog Bar & Grill
245 N. Whittaker
New Buffalo, MI 49117
(269) 469-2727

This popular waterfront hangout features bar food, pizza and more than 20 regional and local beers. Stop by at least once during your stay in New Buffalo to catch the "we're at the beach" vibe. The restaurant includes a rooftop deck and screened patio, and is just a short walk from the New Buffalo City Beach & Lakefront Park. Don't miss out on the fish tacos for a truly coastal experience.

Rosie's Restaurant
128 N. Whittaker St.
New Buffalo, MI 49117
(269) 469-4382

Rosie's is a favorite of the locals for moderately priced American and Bohemian breakfast and lunch. Homemade biscuits and gravy, malted waffles, barbecue pork, black angus burgers and roast port with dumplings and sauerkraut, all in a family friendly environment.

Kenneth Johnson is a freelance writer covering all things Chicago. His work can be found on

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