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Northwest Indiana residents are in a lucky spot. Not only is there so much to offer when it comes to attractions, eateries and entertainment, but it’s just a short drive west to hit the city of Chicago and a short drive north to take in the beauty of Harbor Country in Southwest Michigan.

With the biggest feature being the lakefront, southwest Michigan is also heavy on culture, shopping options, artistic venues, farms, wineries and upscale eateries. It makes for an ideal weekend getaway, but is also loaded with potential activities if you just want to get away for a day. Here’s a list of suggested places to consider putting on a one-day itinerary.

ENJOYING THE OUTDOORS

New Buffalo, like many neighboring communities, is loaded with tourists from Memorial Day to Labor Day where spending lazy days on the beach in the sun is the preferred activity. However, the beach is open all year and after Labor Day you have the advantage of free parking. Even on a nippy day, it offers great scenery for a walk, a picnic bundled in blankets on the sand or for picture taking.

Down the road, more natural beauty can be seen at the Galien River County Park. This spot, however, closes during the winter months. It includes a marsh overlook platform that extends out above the river, a river viewing and fishing platform and the marsh boardwalk.

ENTERTAINMENT AND HISTORY

For entertainment, the Silver Creek Event Center at the Four Winds Casino features well-known headliners such as Donnie and Marie Osmond, Kool & The Gang and Rick Springfield. In Three Oaks, the Vickers Theatre specializes in independent and foreign films and the Acorn Theatre features live music from cover bands, comedians, musicians, magicians and more.

You can take in a little history at The Region of Three Oaks Museum and the Bicycle Museum located within the Dewey Cannon Trading Company, which encompasses a very small room, but has some great vintage bikes on display. You can also rent bicycles there to enjoy a ride through the country.

ART, ANTIQUES AND SHOPPING

Harbor Country is haven for antique lovers who can pick up one of kind pieces at such places at Dunes Antique Center in Harbert, Lakeside Antiques, the Sawyer Antique Mall and Blue Moon Vintage Market in Three Oaks.

The area is also a big draw for artists and those who greatly appreciate artwork. You can visit several galleries in the area to peruse local works, including Tabula Rasa Gallery in Baroda, Edington Gallery in Three Oaks and Local Color Gallery in Union Pier.

Shop for gourmet and fresh foods at places like Froehlich’s Market and Drier’s Meats in Three Oaks and for gifts, fashions and furnishings in little mom and pop shops in the region. For those who love fresh produce, you’ll find a number of farms in the area with some offering U-pick. At Springhope Farm in Galien, you can pick your own cherries, peaches and apples, so keep them in mind for next summer!

A BITE TO EAT

Picking a place to eat will be no easy feat in Harbor Country, where nearly every eatery is independently owned and fast-food establishments and drive-thru are just not a part of life. From little ice cream stands to fine dining, mealtime goes at a slower pace and meals are carefully crafted. Little spots or casual venues blow you away with flavorful and often artfully presented dishes, like the Eggs Benedict at Jackie’s Cafe in New Buffalo, the Scotch eggs at Conway’s in Three Oaks and the Reuben sandwich at Nelson’s in Three Oaks. Have an upscale meal at Copper Rock Steakhouse, Elm Street Bistro or Timothy’s.

BREWS, WINE AND SPIRITS

Greenbush Brewing Co. in Sawyer on the main drag has grown to add and annex across the street to accommodate more beer lovers and Cultivate Brewing in Berrien Springs produces brews from their on-site hop yards.

Journeyman Distillery is located in the historic Featherbone Factory and features small-batch spirits made using locally-sourced grains. Tours are available daily and they have a large menu of fresh, trendy dishes to accompany their unique cocktails.

If there’s a town in Southwest Michigan that starts with a “B,” chances are there’s a winery there. Between Baroda, Berrien Springs, Buchanan and Bridgman, there are at least 10 wineries and/or tasting rooms. Located on a scenic property, Gravity is unpretentious and welcoming with fun $11 flight boards available of four wine selections and bites of cheese, pretzels and crackers as palate cleansers. Dablon Vineyards Winery & Tasting Room is set among sprawling vines with such a beautiful backdrop that you’d swear you were in California’s Napa Valley. Sip on a glass on the patio or next to the indoor fireplace.

For more on Harbor Country, contact the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce at (269) 469-5409 or at HarborCountry.org.

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