Top 12 FREE Things to Do in Southwest Michigan

There aren’t too many things that are free in life these days. So, we’ve put together a list of free things to do in Southwest Michigan this spring and summer, much of which revolves around nature’s bounty. During your next stay with us, we’ll share even more ideas for fun and free things to enjoy, including right here at Castle In the Country, a secluded and romantic bed and breakfast in Michigan.

#1 – Go Bicycling

Another fun and free thing to do in Southwest Michigan is to bring your bikes and head out for a bike ride. Our 65 acres offer 3 miles of trails to enjoy through scenic woods. Or venture out on the Kal-Haven Trail and ride until your heart’s content. From Kalamazoo to South Haven on the shores of Lake Michigan, this 34-mile long trail meanders through small towns, bustling Lake Michigan shoreline towns, picturesque farmland, fruit orchards, and natural wetlands.

#2 – Take a Hike

In addition to offering a good dose of fresh air and exercise, hiking puts you up close with nature. The following hikes offer opportunities to do just that. They’re listed in order of proximity to the Castle. Note: Some of the parks may have a small entrance fee, but the hiking is free. 

  • Castle Grounds – Here at Castle in the Country, our 3 miles of paths through the woods are just as perfect for hiking as they are biking. Take your time and admire the sights and sounds of nature as you stroll hand-in-hand, or pick up the pace to get your heart beating faster. You’re welcome to enjoy the trails for as long as you like during your overnight stay and even on your day of departure you’ll want to revisit some of your favorite spots before heading back home.
  • Allegan State Game Area (14 miles away) – This impressive 50,000-acre state game area is a haven for nature-enthusiasts, animal-lovers, and avid hikers alike. Be sure to check the hunting season schedule ahead of time. 
  • Ely Lake Park Loop (15 miles away) – This popular 1.1-mile, moderately challenging loop trail near Fennville, Michigan is open all year.
  • Black River Preserve (22 miles away) – This nature reserve along the Black River features beech-maple forests, deep ravines, rolling uplands, and gurgling streams, along with almost 4 miles of color-coded dirt hiking trails, boardwalks and bridges.
  • Saugatuck Dunes State Park (31 miles away) – Nature-lovers will love the trails at Saugatuck Dunes State Park. This freshwater coastal land offers a variety of scenic hiking trails.
    • Beach Trail 2.5-mile easy hike marked with yellow signs
    • Livingston Trail – 2.5 miles, marked with red markers
    • North Trail – 2.5 miles, marked with white markers
    • South Trail – 5.5 mile trail through a 300-acre dedicated natural area, marked with blue markers.

#3 – Go Kayaking or Paddle Boating

Our private Lake Emerson on the Castle Grounds along with our complimentary kayaks and paddle boats provides guests with a fun and free activity during the warmer months (typically May through October). Listen to the birds sing. Watch for fish in the water. Catch a sunrise or sunset.

#4 – Watch the Birds

If you enjoy bird watching, be sure to pack your binoculars. Our countryside location gives you ample opportunities to catch a variety of birds while you walk our nature trails or take advantage of our kayaks and paddle boats.   Everyday at the Castle you are likely to see everything from finches and flickers to cardinals and woodpeckers. Our guests are thrilled by nesting bald eagles, great blue heron and red-tailed Hawks. If you decide to head out to one of our nearby parks or the lake shore, then you might see American white pelicans, least sandpipers, indigo buntings, great blue herons, and much more.

#5 – See a Sunset

We are so fortunate to be situated near the shores of one of the Great Lakes. Within a 30 to 40-minute drive, you’ll be at one of our beautiful beaches to take in the glorious sun as it sets over the mighty Lake Michigan horizon. Of course, if you’d rather not venture out, then you can enjoy a pretty sunset on our private lake right here on the Castle grounds. Cuddle up on the lawn or take out one of our kayaks or paddle boats on a clear evening to watch this daily event.

#6 – Hit the Beach

Who doesn’t love a day at the beach? Plan to spend the entire day at the beach and then you’ll be there for the sunset. Beach days allow us to plop down on a blanket to enjoy the sunshine shimmering on the lake, the sounds of fun in the sand, the warmth of the rays on your skin, and time to soak it all in and relax. Thanks to nearby Lake Michigan, there are several beautiful beaches from which to choose. Douglas Beach Park in Douglas, and Laketown Beach in Holland both offer free access, but if you don’t mind spending a small car fee, here are 7 beautiful beaches near the Castle.

#7 – Visit the Harbor

In addition to sunsets and beach days, Lake Michigan’s charming lakeside towns and harbors offer visitors and residents alike plenty of opportunities to sit on a bench and watch the boats come and go. You’ll see everything from small fishing boats to huge yachts as they venture to and from a day on the water, waving as they ride by.

#8 – Go Window Shopping

In addition to the beauty all around our corner of Michigan, there are countless places to browse and dream of what you’d like to buy. Farmers markets, antique stores and malls, unique boutiques and shops are plentiful in nearby Saugatuck, Douglas, Holland, South Haven and Kalamazoo. To learn more about shopping in the area, click here. Or ask our Innkeepers at any time about specific items you’d like to find.

#9 – Attend a Cruise-In

Each Wednesday night from May through September, the Gilmore Car Museum hosts a Wednesday Night Cruise-In where you can browse and admire a variety of colorful and shiny classic cars. This fun and free event starts at 5pm and runs until 8pm. You’ll have an opportunity to enjoy hot dogs, hamburgers, and old-fashioned custard from George & Sally’s authentic 1941 Blue Moon Diner and The Grill.

#10 – Go Dutch

For a touch of culture, visit Holland, Michigan. This sister town of its namesake in Europe, offers an authentic glimpse of the Netherlands. Windmills, wooden shoes, spring tulips, Delft pottery… it’s all here as you stroll down cobblestone sidewalks amidst over 100 specialty shops. One such shop is Veldheer, where you can watch traditional, wooden Dutch shoes being made from a block of poplar wood using authentic Dutch machinery that is still being used in Europe today. In fact, their wooden shoe carver was specially trained and received his diploma from the Netherlands. You can also browse famous Delft pottery in all shapes and sizes. Find your favorite piece to take a home a bit of Holland with you.

Each spring, Holland becomes a kaleidoscope of color while the tulips bloom. People flock here by the thousands to see the breathtaking carpet of flower fields. The annual tulip festival takes place in May, which is a fun time to tour this charming and unique town. Fortunately the flowers are in bloom for several weeks, so if you can’t make the festival, you can still catch the tulips. And Holland is worth visiting any time of year.

#11 – Take a Drive

Of course, you can certainly see it all on a scenic drive. You will love cruising down our country roads that wind past countless orchards, farms, wineries, vineyards, and charming lakeside towns. Pack some snacks and beverages and make it a day trip! Or book our Royal Treatment Experience Package, which comes with a picnic lunch. Our Innkeepers will be on hand to help you plan the perfect country drive in scenic Southwest Michigan!

#12 – Visit a Lighthouse

While you’re out and about on a scenic drive or heading out to enjoy one (or more) of these fun and free things to do in Southwest Michigan, stop to check out one of our historic lighthouses in nearby Holland, and a little farther south in South Haven. Holland’s light, known as “Big Red,” certainly stands out from the water and the shore. Located on the south side of the Holland Channel, this mighty light also happens to be the most photographed lighthouse in Michigan.  South Haven’s South Pierhead light is still operational, and it’s located at the entrance of the Black River from Lake Michigan.

This list of free things to do in Southwest Michigan is just the beginning. Come spend your spring or summer with us at Castle in the Country this summer and enjoy all this and more. Book now.

View our Adventure Map for things to do within 30 miles of Castle in the Country.