St. Joseph Travel Guide

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St. Joseph Travel Guide

St. Joseph Local History

St. Joseph's history began almost 100 years, before the American Revolution, when the mouth of the St. Joseph River was discovered and documented in 1669. Ten years later, the explorer LaSalle and his 14 men cleared a piece of land and started the construction of Fort Miami on the bluff around the St. Joseph River. The area was mostly populated by Native Americans, trappers and soldiers until 1785 when William Burnett established a trading post and became the first permanent settler.

The Carey Mission Treaty of 1828 opened the area to commerce and St. Joseph began to grow. As the port of St. Joseph prospered, it became the principal transportation artery for the entire region. The settlement grew into a village originally called Newberryport, in honour of a prominent businessman. Throughout the 1800's, people continued to move into the St. Joseph area. In 1834 the first settlers arrived to the area and built their homes east of the river. The land they had found soon developed into excellent farmland. Orchards full of apples, pears, peaches and cherries flow into vineyards of grapes, fields of corn, rows of strawberries and blueberries.

In 1870 St. Joseph finally acquired a rail service through the Chicago and Michigan Lakeshore Railway. By 1872 it had developed to the extent that Berrien County could ship 140,000 bushels of peaches each year. In 1880, Logan Drake purchased 20-22 acres of sand dunes from the Native Americans. Later he joined up with Louis Wallace and formed the Silver Beach Amusement Company. Silver Beach is still a community get-together for guests and residents.

St. Joseph Attractions

Top Attractions

Fort Miami Heritage Center - The Center and was completed in 1997, and the exhibit hall, research library and gift shop are housed in a Greek Revival style building, on the site of the Landmark First Congregational Church (1859). Visitors can explore three centuries of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph history, from LaSalle's founding of Fort Miami in 1679 to the present day. The new Heritage center is located at the corner of Main and Market Streets, in downtown St. Joseph. Tel: 269/983-1191.

Fort St. Joseph Museum - The museum houses changing and permanent exhibits on local history. The exhibits include the French colonial Fort St. Joseph (constructed in the area in 1691), and pictographs drawn by the famous Sioux Chief Sitting Bull. The museum's exhibits tell the story of early Niles, and the contributions its businesses and citizens have made to the world. There is also artifacts from Fort St Joseph on view. (269) 683-4702 Fort St Joseph Museum. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday 10am to 4pm. Located in Niles just off Main Street, 508 E Main St. Tel: 269/683-4702.

St Joseph Historic Walking Tours - This self-guided tour leads visitors along the bluff overlooking historic St. Joseph. Beginning at the corner of State and Port Streets, the tour takes you past several monuments, pointing out interesting historical facts. From the landing of Robert de LaSalle in 1679, to the well-known poems of local-born poet Ben King.

The tour includes a band shell with free Sunday concerts in the summer, the beautiful century-old "Maids of the Mist" fountain, and an eight-ton Revolutionary War cannon and cannon balls. Park benches, swings, brick roads, "Coney Island" lights and flowers planted along wide walkways, add to the charm of this tour overlooking Lake Michigan. More information St Joseph Today, Visitors Center, 120 State Street. Tel: 269/985 - 1111.

The Krasl Art Center - This site is a visual arts center featuring three galleries, a library and seven studios, all operated by the St. Joseph Art Association. It provides insights and aesthetic appreciation of the visual fine arts, and is a valuable learning resource for people of all ages. It hosts an annual Art Fair, which draws large crowds of exhibitors and shoppers from throughout the country.

Lectures, art classes, tours and workshops, for both children and adults, are open to the public, and offer a chance to explore and learn about a variety of art media. The Center also has free brochures for a self-guided walking tour of nearby sculptures. Make a point to browse through the gift shop where you will find an assortment of jewelry, gift cards, sculptures and unique gift ideas. Open Monday through Thursday, and Saturday 10am to 4pm, Friday 10am to 1pm, and Sunday 1am to 4pm. Located in the heart of St. Joseph, t.707 Lake Boulevard. Tel: 269/983-0271.

St Joseph Today - St. Joseph Today offers visitor information to those interested in visiting St. Joseph. St. Joseph Today produces over 15 events a year and also produces a 15 concert musical series in the summer. Open 7 days a week, 9am to 9pm. The Visitor Center is located in downtown St. Joseph off Main Street, at 120 State Street. Tel: 269/985-1111.

Froggy Park Froggy Park is what residents call "Point Park" which sits on a triangular spot between Main and State streets. It was built in 1950 by the Garden Club. Its fountain (with water-spitting frogs) was restored in 2001 and benches were added. It is a cosy park with a lovely, small fountain.
submitted by Merry Stover, 05/09/06

St. Joseph Shopping

Farmers' Market - Each Saturday morning, throughout the summer and into the fall, you can find the St. Joseph Farmers' Market right down town. The Market offers locally grown produce, flowers, pastries, and more. You will not want to walk away without something delicious to eat. Located on the corner of Broad Street and Lake Boulevard. Hours: 9am - 2pm.

Gallery on the Alley - An intimate gallery featuring beautiful art and fine crafts of 175 American artisans. This is an excellent shop for browsing and refreshing your spirit. Enjoy a wide variety of lighthouse photos, prints, wind chimes, tiles and coasters. There is also beautiful handcrafted jewelry, pottery, blown glass, windsocks, garden art, Harmony Kingdom boxes and exciting accessories for both you and your home.

The Gallery on the Alley is distinctively different, and well worth a visit. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and Sundays from noon to 4pm (summer hours). During the winter it is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Located at 611 Broad Street, St. Joseph. Tel: 269/983-6261.

Find a pleasing combination of unique shops and familiar names in southwestern Michigan. From the mall to the downtown shops to the stand-alone mom-and-pop stores, you will find the spectrum from fashions, toys, local trinkets, artists' crafts, yarns & textiles and bread dough to Christmas ornaments and whole-grain breads & flours. As a bonus, the parking is free.

St. Joseph Activities

Curious Kids' Museum - Especially for kids or for those adults who are kids-at-heart. This museum makes learning fun, while keeping the kids active. Touch, see, hear, smell and taste the wonders of the world. The Curious Kids' Museum is a hands-on children's museum dedicated to stimulating the curiosity of children, from 1 to 102, with educational exhibits and programs which challenge the senses and offer unique learning opportunities. Explore science and areas of special interest at workshops and family programs scheduled throughout the year. The museum is open Michigan Time: Summer Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday noon to 5pm. (Sept-June) Wednesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, and Sunday noon to 5pm. Located at 415 Lake Boulevard, St Joseph. Tel: 269/983-2543.

Kiwanis Park (Skateboard Center) - Home to the John and Dede Howard Skate Park, an in-line skating/skateboarding, and BMX biking facility. There is a picnic shelter available for church, school and children's groups on reservation only. Other groups may use the shelter on a first come, first-served basis. The park also has baseball fields, tennis courts, a basketball court, and playground equipment, and is located on Pearl Street near Langley Avenue. Tel: 269/983-6325.

Summer Recreation Program is available to children 5 years and older at no cost. For more information regarding this program, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at Tel: 269/983-6341.

Upton Arboretum - This facility provides approximately eleven hundred feet of footage on the south side of the St. Joseph River, adjacent to the downtown area. It is heavily used during the Venetian Festival and as a broadside moorage during the Tri-State Regatta. A great place to take the kids and feed the ducks. The Howard Recreation Trail passes through the arboretum.

Tiny Tot's Park - The park has a playground specifically designed for young children, and is located on the corners of Willa Drive and Botham Avenue.

St. Joseph Parks & Gardens

Lake Bluff Park - The Park provides a scenic overlook of Lake Michigan shore and piers. It contains several memorials and monuments, a band shell, and restrooms, with a lighted stairway down the bluff leading to lower Broad Street and the Amtrak train depot. At the other end of Lake Bluff Park, visitors can view a historic memorial, the Spirit of the American Doughboy.
The Auxiliary Unit 568 of Stevensville "adopted" this work and funded its restoration as a memorial for all those who served in the Great World War. You will find that St. Joseph has a large number of war memorials along the Lake Bluff. The Park is located along the west side of Lake Boulevard along the top of the bluff, from Park Street north to State Street.

Tiscornia Park - Is a family oriented park located on sixteen acres along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Amenities include the North Pier Lighthouse and walkway (that is a popular spot for fishing and watching sunsets), restroom facilities, sandy beach and a pavilion that will accommodate about forty for picnics. Season Passes are available for $20, and $3 admission per vehicle. The Park is located at the northwest corner of the St. Joseph. Tel: 269/983-6325.

Riverview Park - This is a 107-acre park, situated in a bend of the St. Joseph River. The park has baseball fields, playground equipment, picnic shelters, and nature trails. Several of the shelters are available for rental. Season Passes are available for $20, $3 admission per vehicle. This Park is located at 2927 Niles Road. Tel: 269/983-6325 for more information.

Love Creek County Park - This rolling 150-acre natural area, outside of Berrien Springs, has six miles of hiking trails and provides access to a variety of habitats, including a mature Beech-Maple forest with spectacular spring wildflowers. The Berrien County Parks Commission's naturalist service is based here and activities are available throughout the year.
Love Creek also offers outstanding cross-country skiing opportunities with groomed and lighted trails and ski rentals available. The park is open all year round and trails are open during daylight hours. Scheduled Interpretive Center hours are Tuesday -Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm. The facility is closed on Mondays. Daily entry fees are $3/vehicle for BC residents, and $5 for non-residents. Located 9228 Huckleberry Road, Berrien Center. Tel: 269/471-2617.

St. Joseph Beaches

West Basin Marina - The Marina has 94 total slips, 74 seasonal and 20 transient, ranging from 30' to 60' in length. With its convenient location, just inside the pierheads (no bridges), it offers easy access to the public beach, showers/restrooms, laundry facilities, fish cleaning station, ship store and snack stands. The nearby public beach is the perfect spot for sunseekers and families that want to spent a day outdoors. Located on 273 Marina Drive. Tel: 269/983-5432.

Lions Park Beach - The beach has two shelters, public restrooms, grills, picnic tables, and playground equipment. There are no lifeguards, so swimming at this beach is discouraged. Located at the south end of Lions Park Drive.

Silver Beach - This popular bathing beach is operated by Berrien County Parks and Recreation. Silver Beach features a clean, wide sandy beach with a designated swimming area. The swimming area is approximately 1600 feet long with a maximum depth of five feet. Weather permitting, Lifeguards are on duty during the summer from 10:00 am until 7:00 pm.

When Lifeguards are on duty, Water Safety Flags are posted at each Lifeguard tower. Always use caution when swimming in Lake Michigan - and parents, please keep a watchful eye on your children when they are in or near the water. Silver Beach is located on Lake Street, in the City of St. Joseph.

Ronnie's Pavilion and Beach - Located on Clear Lake, Ronnie's Pavilion and Beach features swimming and boating. You will also find some cenfectionary stands that sells good food at reasonable prices.

St. Joseph Restaurants and Bars

Many fond memories of your visit to St. Joseph, will be of dining. Whether it is the hot dog picnic at the beach, a fancy, relaxing meal, or a stop for homemade blueberry pie. Whatever you are in the mood for, chances are that you will find it at any of the numerous bars, cafes, or restaurants in this area.

St. Joseph offers many specialties, from wines made from their vineyards, cider pressed from their apples, to Italian legends, Mexican specialties and regional favourites. They have an abundance of vegetables and fruits, thus most menus features dishes starring these fresh ingredients.

St. Joseph Restaurants

Bistro On The Boulevard - This restaurant offers contemporary French dining, and is a Michigan gem. It features vibrant, seasonal menus, a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list and professional service. Ali Barker, famous chef, is known for his stylish culinary savvy, whether for a simple bowl of risotto or an inspired 5-course tasting.

Signature dishes include classic duck confit (served with local organic greens and walnut vinaigrette), and pan-roasted, horseradish-encrusted Atlantic salmon (with sauteed spinach and lemon poppy vinaigrette). Contemporary French cuisine, artfully combined with Mediterranean influences, make a Bistro dining experience unforgettable. Al fresco dining with sensational views on the terrace overlooking Lake Michigan is available in season. Located on 521 Lake Boulevard, St Joseph. Tel: 269/983-3882.

Kilwin's Ice Cream-Fudge-Chocolate Shoppe - Kilwin's is an "Old Fashioned Confectionery Shoppe" that serves and sells the most enjoyable fare to every customer who comes through the door. It serves 32 flavours of delicious high quality Ice Cream, Mackinac Island Fudge (made in St. Joseph), delicious old fashioned malts & shakes, tempting chocolates, Kilwin's Koolers (Smoothies), freshly squeezed fruit drinks, delicious large Caramel (made from scratch) Apples, Caramel corns, Pecan Brittles plus much more. This utterly define spot is located at 316 State Street, St Joseph. Tel: 269/982-1330.

Mark III - The Mark III Restaurant is a casual dining restaurant, specializing in Mexican and American cuisine. They are known for the best steaks in town and also feature shrimp, daily specials, hamburgers and a children's menu. They also wine, margaritas, draft and bottled beer, and liquor. Located on 4179 M-139, St Joseph. Tel: 269/429-2941.

Schu's Grill & Bar - Schu's Hospitality Group, Inc is a young, progressive restaurant company owned by Larry Schuler. The company currently operates two concepts in southwest Michigan and we are headquartered in St. Joseph. The popular casual concept overlooks beautiful Lake Michigan, and serves contemporary American cuisine. The seafood specialties on the menu, are worth a taste, and there is some local favourites, like roasted duck, also featured. Schu's Grill & Bar is located in downtown St. Joseph, at 501 Pleasant. Tel: 269/983-7248.

St. Joseph Bars & Clubs

St. Joseph children's activities

Curious Kids' Museum - Especially for kids or for those adults who are kids-at-heart. This museum makes learning fun, while keeping the kids active. Touch, see, hear, smell and taste the wonders of the world. The Curious Kids' Museum is a hands-on children's museum dedicated to stimulating the curiosity of children, from 1 to 102, with educational exhibits and programs which challenge the senses and offer unique learning opportunities. Explore science and areas of special interest at workshops and family programs scheduled throughout the year. The museum is open Michigan Time: Summer Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday noon to 5pm. (Sept-June) Wednesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, and Sunday noon to 5pm. Located at 415 Lake Boulevard, St Joseph. Tel: 269/983-2543.

Kiwanis Park (Skateboard Center) - Home to the John and Dede Howard Skate Park, an in-line skating/skateboarding, and BMX biking facility. There is a picnic shelter available for church, school and children's groups on reservation only. Other groups may use the shelter on a first come, first-served basis. The park also has baseball fields, tennis courts, a basketball court, and playground equipment, and is located on Pearl Street near Langley Avenue. Tel: 269/983-6325.

Summer Recreation Program is available to children 5 years and older at no cost. For more information regarding this program, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at Tel: 269/983-6341.

Upton Arboretum - This facility provides approximately eleven hundred feet of footage on the south side of the St. Joseph River, adjacent to the downtown area. It is heavily used during the Venetian Festival and as a broadside moorage during the Tri-State Regatta. A great place to take the kids and feed the ducks. The Howard Recreation Trail passes through the arboretum.

Tiny Tot's Park - The park has a playground specifically designed for young children, and is located on the corners of Willa Drive and Botham Avenue.

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