The first time I ever visited New Buffalo with my family, I legitimately thought we were driving to New York (hey, I was 15, had a much more limited understanding of travel and could only remember the “Buffalo” part of the conversation!) – so imagine my surprise when we arrived to our destination in less than two hours… not even enough time to make it through the mystery read I had brought for the long haul.
Since then, I have been to New Buffalo a number of times, in all types of weather and for many different reasons. This guide is a collection of all those experiences.
Not only is the mighty MI home to 132+ wineries to fulfill your liquid happiness dreams all year round, the area is also situated along a beautiful stretch of coast on Lake Michigan, which makes it a great warm-weather destination.
(Not to mention, it’s actually also off the Amtrak train line; you can get there right from Union Station!). I’ve been a number of times in all types of weather – this guide is a combination of all of my experiences. Add in some top eateries, a few casinos, high end shopping, activities and more, and the southwestern region of our neighbor state area starts looking like a perfect getaway destination. Have a free weekend? Here’s how to spend 48 hours in New Buffalo, Michigan!
Where to Stay
As I mentioned, I’ve been to New Buffalo a handful of times. The first time with my family, in the summer, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, which was an awesome and very reasonable spot. The summer months in New Buffalo can be pretty pricy, as it is definitely their peak season. Since we had driven, it was only a quick 10-minute drive to the city center.
Many of the other times I have visited, we’ve had the good fortune to stay with friends who have a beautiful cabin in the woods, but there is certainly no shortage of local lodging. Along with some great Airbnb and bed & breakfast options, the area has some lovely boutique hotels that make great options! Some I’ve heard great things about, in no particular order include the Marina Grand, Four Winds Casino Resort and the Lake Country Inn.
What to Eat & Drink
No matter what mood you’re in, New Buffalo is home to some incredible restaurants and bars (and trust me, if you’ve read my guide on Milwaukee, you’ll know how much I love foodventures.) Some of my most favorite, again, in no particular order, include:
During a wine tour trip with a girlfriend, our tour guide took us to Mesa Luna. Not normally open for lunch during that particular time, our small group had the place to ourselves. We learned all about head chef Sam Luna and his wife Denise, the rich history of the spot, their sourcing techniques and more. Pro tip: if you’re here for lunch, don’t miss the Tapistry Mr. Orange Bratwurst with beer mustard and pretzel bun.
Stray Dog Bar & Grill
Rising like a literal phoenix out of flames, the Stray Dog is one of THE go-to spots for food, drink and an all-around good time. Back in 2012, an electrical fire almost completely destroyed the local spot and even caused the roof to cave in – but it was somewhat fortuitous because the revamped rooftop deck is much larger than before, even including a bar. Pro tip: while the spot boasts a great menu consisting of typical grill fare like burgers and dogs, the tacos are the real MVP. Got a big group? Share a few pizzas – you can’t go wrong with those either!
Rios Mexican Grill
Like many famous mind-blowing food spots, this tiny shack off the main Buffalo street drag is deceiving. Rios is the perfect place to grab a quick bite on your way out of town – and if you decide to stop, you’ll be treated to some of the best Mexican and tacos around. Riley eats a LOT of spicy food and he absolutely loves this place. Pro tip: get anything with the steak – steak tacos, burrito, quesadilla – it was amazing!
Round Barn Winery, Brewery & Distillery
A quick drive to nearby Baroda, Round Barn is a perfect stop if you’ve got a big group of people with varying tastes because there’s something for everyone. That, along with their expansive outdoor patio, makes it a great go-to for everything from day trips to bachelorette parties. They also offer a wide variety of events on their calendar, which often include food and live music. Pro tip: make sure you line up transportation beforehand – it can be tough to get an Uber to and from sometimes! If you call, their staff will be able to help you find some good options.
Beer Church Brewing Co.
Disclaimer, I didn’t actually get to go to Beer Church when I visited New Buffalo, but we drove past it so many times I made a vow to get there the next time we go. It’s literally inside an old Methodist church that was saved from demolition… and the taps have been installed in an old altar left behind. With small batch pours (only offered onsite and for take away in 32oz) boasting names like Double Pontious Pilot and Crooked Cross, this is definitely a holy mecca of imbibing.
Things to Do in New Buffalo
While there is no shortage of places for foodventuring in New Buffalo, there are also a ton of different things you can do that don’t revolve around stuffing your face too.
Head to the beach.
There are some great public beaches in the New Buffalo area, along with places to rent kayaks and paddle boards. Additionally, Warren Dunes State park is only a 15-minute drive, if hiking the sand is more of your jam than lounging in it.
Downtown New Buffalo has some adorable boutiques and antique shops for your next great find. Check out the Hidden Gem for collectables, the Whittaker House for your favorite looks, and Customs Imports for some of the most unique worldly home goods in this hemisphere.
Get lucky at Four Winds.
If table games and live music is more your scene, head over to the gorgeous and expansive Four Winds Casino for some fun. While they have a hotel onsite, many of the surrounding hotels also run shuttles regularly to and from the campus!
Score a great deal at the Michigan City outlets.
A short 17-minute drive from the downtown area, the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets is an ideal spot for stocking up on summer sales or that bag you’ve had your eye on. Bonus: it’s on the way back toward Chicago!
Summing it up:
Like I said, New Buffalo is a perfect getaway spot for any season. Ideal for a romantic getaway, large groups, families and everyone in between, the variety of activities makes it a crowd pleaser. Personally, though, I’d say one of the best times to go would be in the winter – the rates can’t be beat and there are plenty of cozy indoor things to do!
Have a question or see something I missed? Let me know in the comments!