Union Pier is a small lakeside town located in southwest Michigan, known for its arts scene, wineries, orchards, and beachfronts along Lake Michigan.
Here are some of the best things to experience when visiting this quaint town.
1. Check out the Gravel Bottom Gallery and Estate Sale
The Gravel Bottom Gallery located right in Union Pier features a wide array of artwork in mediums like painting, pottery, jewelry, glasswork, and textiles. Many pieces are created by Michigan artists.
The gallery’s estate sale section offers a trove of antiques, vintage furniture, and other home goods. You can find unique artwork for your home and one-of-a-kind secondhand treasures. The displays change regularly, so you’ll want to visit more than once.
2. Go wine tasting at Tabor Hill Winery
Tabor Hill is an award-winning winery located just 10 minutes from Union Pier. Their spacious tasting room allows you to try many of their wines like vintages of cabernet franc, riesling, and pinot grigio.
Enjoy the wines alongside cheese boards or chocolate pairings. Outdoor patio seating overlooks the bucolic vineyards when weather permits. Be sure to join a winery tour to see where the grapes are grown and the wine is barreled. The tours provide an in-depth look at wine production.
3. Shop for antiques in Three Oaks
Downtown Three Oaks, just 10 minutes south of Union Pier, is a haven for antique aficionados. Along Elm Street and in shops throughout town, you’ll find vintage furniture, jewelry, art, glassware, toys, books, and much more.
At Mac’s Antique Mall, four floors are packed with antiques. Stop into mixed-era antique stores like carved, Father & Son Antiques, Antiques on Elm, and The General Store Antiques. After shopping, grab lunch at Three Oaks institutions like Froze Fruit Creamery or the Drifter Coffee Bar & General Store.
4. Bike the Apple Cider Century
Held every September, the Apple Cider Century bike ride begins and ends in downtown Three Oaks, winding through the scenic Michigan apple country. Riders can choose routes ranging from 15 to 100 miles past orchards and farms.
Along the way are stops with live music, food and drink tents featuring apple cider and doughnuts, and country views ablaze in fall foliage. The Apple Cider Century attracts over 5,000 cyclists to the area every year. Riders love the small town hospitality and bounty of apples they encounter along this premier bike event.
5. Pick fruit at an orchard
From summer through early autumn, you can go berry picking or apple picking at orchards near Union Pier. Stop into Stover’s Farm Market to pick juicy red strawberries in June.
Blueberry season hits its peak starting in July, so head to Blueberry Patch or Blue Star Farms. For the quintessential fall experience, visit Apple Lane Orchards and County Park, Indian Summer Orchards, or Dori’s Apple Farm during apple season starting mid-August. Pick ripe fruit straight from the orchard or attend harvest festivals.
6. Tour Green Bush Brewing Company
Greenbush Brewing Company operates a taproom and brewery just outside Sawyer, a short 10 minute drive from Union Pier. Grab a flight to sample some of their craft beers like Plumweizen, Distorter Porter, and Anger black IPA.
Brewery tours run daily on the hour and provide an inside look at how Greenbush crafts their award-winning beers. Learn about the brewing process from grain to tap and then end with a tasting. Visitors love Greenbush’s welcoming taproom with its rustic ambiance. It’s a perfect stop for beer aficionados.
7. Hike through the Galien River County Park
Just 3 miles east of Union Pier, the Galien River County Park offers beautiful hiking trails. The trails wind through 585 acres of diverse ecosystems including woodlands, marshes, and dune areas.
The Dune Ridge Trail climbs atop scenic dunes leading to views across Lake Michigan. Interpretive signs identify native plants and describe the park’s ecology and past as a dairy farm.
Keep a lookout for wildlife including birds, turtles, deer, and river otters as you hike. With over 4 miles of trails, the park provides fabulous hiking just minutes from Union Pier.
8. Check out the Krasl Art Fair
Held annually in July, the Krasl Art Fair takes place at Lake Bluff Park east of Union Pier in St. Joseph. The massive fair spans over 160 artists booths showing media like paintings, photography, sculpture, glasswork, ceramics, wood furniture, and fiber art.
Visitors can browse and purchase original artwork directly from the creators. There are kids art activities and live music performances.
Food vendors provide sustenance during the day. The scenic setting right along Lake Michigan provides a beautiful backdrop as you peruse outstanding artwork at this popular regional art fair.
9. Visit local galleries
In addition to the Gravel Bottom Gallery right in Union Pier, the area boasts many other notable galleries featuring work by national and local artists. North of town in Bridgman, stop into Bridgman Gallery and Studio B Art Gallery.
Just south in Lakeside lies The Buchanan Art Center. Sawyer is home to Sawyer Gallery. The Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph has rotating exhibits to peruse. Visit renowned regional galleries to admire and purchase paintings, pottery, jewelry, and fine art.
10. Bike or hike the Harbor Country Hiking & Biking Trail
This scenic trail stretches over 11 miles from New Buffalo to Berrien Springs. From Union Pier, you can pick up the trail at Whittaker Street. The paved path winds through beautiful harbor country scenery past wetlands, streams, and flower filled prairies.
Cyclists, walkers, and joggers take advantage of this maintained trail that offers a dose peaceful nature not far from Union Pier accommodations. You can bike or hike all 11 miles or just enjoy a portion like the 2 miles from Union Pier to Three Oaks.
11. Shop for treasures in New Buffalo
The resort town of New Buffalo lies just 5 minutes south of Union Pier, making it an easy excursion. Along Whittaker Street downtown are cute boutiques selling beachy fashions and nautical home decor.
Stop into New Buffalo Shoreline Antiques Marketplace harboring two floors of antiques. Junque in the Trunk sells vintage items. Fill up on ice cream at Oink’s Ice Cream Parlor and Stray Dog Delicatessen. The shops of downtown New Buffalo offer plenty of finds before heading out to enjoy the Lake Michigan beaches nearby.
12. Spend an afternoon at Weko Beach
Just 2 miles north of Union Pier lies Weko Beach, one of the most popular beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan. The wide beach has plenty of room to spread out and enjoy sunbathing, building sandcastles, or playing beach volleyball.
The roped-off swimming area is staffed with lifeguards during summer. Fishing from the piers at Weko Beach can yield catches of perch, salmon, and trout. Concessions and restrooms are available for beachgoers’ convenience. Admission is free to visit Weko Beach and enjoy a picturesque day by the lake.
13. Swim at Cherry Beach
Right on Lake Michigan south of Weko Beach lies Cherry Beach, spanning over half a mile of golden sand beachfront. The swimming area has shallow water perfect for children.
Arrive early to stake out a prime spot on Cherry Beach’s expansive beach. The sand dunes make a scenic backdrop for a beach day. Restrooms and playground equipment cater to families.
Fishing from the piers can be quite fruitful. Fee-based parking is available, but the beach access is free for all to enjoy sunny days on Lake Michigan.
So there’s a look at some of the top things to do in Union Pier, Michigan! With its charming small-town atmosphere, beaches, wineries, orchards, biking, galleries and more, Union Pier makes for an ideal Michigan getaway any time of year.