Nestled along the beautiful St. Joseph River in southwest Michigan, Buchanan offers visitors a quaint small town getaway surrounded by natural beauty. Located about 30 minutes north of South Bend, Indiana, it is home to just over 4,000 residents who celebrate their community’s historic, artsy vibe.
While small, Buchanan packs a lot of leisurely fun into its riverfront location. The community celebrates its heritage while welcoming visitors to share in its small town appeal.
1. Explore Downtown Buchanan
Historic downtown Buchanan along Front Street features great antique and vintage shops, cafes, and restaurants. Stop by The Book Nook bookstore,hit up Hometown Pharmacy for old-fashion sodas, and dine at establishments like The Bears Den Bar & Grill.
2. Ride the St. Joseph River
Canoe, kayak, tube or paddleboard down the scenic St. Joseph River through Buchanan on a 7 mile run. Rentals and shuttles available from St. Joe River RV Park or Just Add Water. See herons, turtles, and other wildlife along the way.
3. Fish the St. Joseph River
The St. Joe River near Buchanan is regarded as one of the best spots for smallmouth bass and northern pike fishing in southwest Michigan. Hire a local guide or cast from shore at McCoy’s Creek or the East Main Street access site.
3. Browse Roti Roti Art Center of Buchanan
Address: 117 W Front St, Buchanan, MI 49107
See rotating exhibits of paintings, sculptures, photography and more by local and regional artists. The gallery downstairs also has rooms demonstrating early 20th century life in the home this building once was. Small gift shop too.
4. Play Disc Golf at McCoy’s Creek Park
Buchanan’s scenic McCoy’s Creek Park offers wooded hiking trails, fishing spots, and an 18-hole disc golf course spanning the park. Great spot for beginners and families wanting to try disc golf in a nice setting.
5. Hike Madeline Bertrand County Park Trails
Over 10 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails wind through prairies, forests and wetland areas at this 268-acre county park. Spot deer, beavers, birds and wildflowers native to southwest Michigan ecosystems.
6. Ride ATVs at Andersons’ ATV Park
This family-owned park has miles of wooded trails and obstacle courses for ATV and off-road dirt bike riding. Rentals and safety gear available. Also offers fishing ponds stocked with rainbow trout and catfish.
7. Play Golf at Four Lakes Country Club
This semi-private 18-hole course south of Buchanan features a classic layout with bentgrass greens, tree-lined fairways, and water hazards on nine holes. Reserve tee times for guests online. A nice option for golfers in the area.
8. Float Down McCoy’s Creek
For a relaxing float surrounded by nature, put in along McCoy’s Creek at McCoy’s Creek Park. The gentle current winds through the woods for two miles before reaching the St. Joseph River. Use tubes, rafts, kayaks or canoes.
9. Shop the Buchanan Farmers Market
Browse local produce, plants, baked goods, artisan goods and more at this vibrant open-air market held Saturdays and Tuesdays June through October. Grab breakfast or lunch from food vendors too. Located in the boarding school campus parking lot downtown.
10. See Rare Birds at Bertrand Crossing Preserve – Things To Do in Buchanan Michigan
The Nature Conservancy preserve north of town encompasses forest, prairie and marsh habitats. Prime spot to see uncommon bird species like sandhill cranes, yellow-headed blackbirds, and scarlet tanagers.
11. Try Axe Throwing at ProAxe Buchanan
Test your aim throwing axes at wooden targets in this unique indoor activity for ages 10 and up. They provide coaching if you’re new to the axe throwing trend. Book lanes online or walk in.
12. Rent WaveRunners at Diamond Lake
Zip across this scenic 750-acre inland lake on a WaveRunner rental from Diamond Lake Water Sports. They offer guided tours or hourly rentals for experienced riders to enjoy the lake’s beaches and scenery.
13. Hike Paw Paw River County Park Trails
Located along the Paw Paw River near Coloma, this park has over 6 miles of hiking trails passing marshes, meadows, and woodlands. Spot birds and wildlife along the lush waterway. Canoe launch available.
14. See a Show at The Acorn Theater
This intimate 108-seat performing arts theater located downtown Buchanan hosts music, comedy, films and more in a renovated Victorian retail space with historic charm. Diverse lineup of family-friendly shows.
15. Tour the Old Michigan Central Railroad Depot
This historic train depot was built in 1891 and now houses the Buchanan Area History Museum. Railroad memorabilia and artifacts detail Buchanan’s place in the growth of American rail travel. Open weekends in summer.
16. See a Concert at Weko Beach
This beachfront park and entertainment venue along the St. Joseph hosts concerts throughout the summer with acts ranging from classic rock bands to the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra.
17. Float the Dowagiac River
Rent a canoe, kayak or inner tube to float a 5-mile stretch of the peaceful Dowagiac River through the riverside city of Niles. See herons, turtles and other wildlife. Launch from Kinzie Road north to Indian Lake.
18. Drive-in Movies at the US 12 Drive-In Theatre
Catch classic drive-in movie double features at this retro drive-in theater in Niles. New digital projection and FM audio make it feel vintage with modern quality. Affordable fun the whole family can enjoy. Cash only concessions.
19. Explore Love Creek County Park
Address: 9292 Huckleberry Rd #9736, Berrien Center
Over 19 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking wind through the hills and forests of this 1,238-acre county park near Berrien Springs. Trail maps available at the trailhead parking areas.
20. See the Krasl Art Center
This modern art center hosts impressive rotating exhibits by international, national and local artists in multiple galleries. Also features art classes, lectures, family art days and a sculpture garden.
21. Shop the Buchanan Antique District
Downtown Buchanan has several blocks filled with antique stores selling vintage furniture, decor, jewelry, glassware, toys, books and more. Find deals and chat with friendly store owners. A browser’s paradise!
22. Pontoon on Diamond Lake – Things To Do in Buchanan Michigan
See beautiful shoreline views and scenery while cruising Diamond Lake in a rental pontoon boat. 2 or 3 hour rentals with onboard coolers and Bluetooth sound systems available from Diamond Lake Water Sports.
23. See Rare Birds at Jerry L. Rupp Preserve
This Nature Conservancy wetland preserve near Dowagiac attracts 15 rare bird species for birdwatchers to spot, including sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, and many others throughout the year. Call ahead to get access to this protected area.
As you can see, the charming Buchanan area offers appealing outdoor recreation, historic attractions, fun shops and dining in a relaxed small town setting. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the natural beauty of southwest Michigan at an unhurried pace.