New Buffalo, Michigan -Travel Guide for Families

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Guys, I’m so excited to share one of our favorite spots to go on a quick family getaway in the midwest, New Buffalo, MI! This destination is especially enticing for my Indy peeps since we’re so close to it.

Brian and I have been going to New Buffalo since we got married 16 years ago. Brian’s family is from Sawyer and it’s always been a quick road trip for us with the feeling of being at the beach.

This time around we partnered with Toyota to test drive their newest Highlander and WOW! What an experience. We are so grateful for our entire getaway from the ride to the most gorgeous hotel to the sunset sailing and bike rides we had a blast yet the most relaxing time we’ve had this whole summer! Thank you, Toyota!! Here’s a glimpse of the weekend:

Our ride – How to get there

New Buffalo is only 3 hours away driving distance from us. It’s a closer drive from the surrounding cities like Detroit and Chicago but if you need to fly into it I believe South Bend is the closest airport and a short drive.

As I mentioned we got to drive the 2020 highlander – see all of its features HERE. Their safety features are out of this world. From a drift, alert to the speed limit on the screen (which is so helpful for me, I don’t always know what the speed limit is). The captain chairs and third-row seating in this compact SUV are super helpful if you have kids (still they manage to fight, but just a little!)

Karina Style Diaries travel outfit

Another few family favorites: we can turn the Toyota into a hot spot and connect up to 5 devices into wi-fi on 5 USB ports. Apple play, Alexa enabled, touch screen easy to play music, answer phone calls, and stay connected while driving. Brian and I were super impressed with the gas mileage. Super economic!!

Toyota Highlander

Places to Stay

We stayed at the Marina Grand Resort. It’s a gorgeous property by the marina, with a view to the lake or the marina from all rooms. It’s ideal for families and equipped with a full kitchen, a bedroom, a full bath, and a half bath, along with a pull-out couch.

The sky my friends….breathtaking!

Marina Grand Resort

We have also stayed at the Lake Country INN we stayed here twice, perfect for an adult getaway, no kids. The Harbor Grand Hotel, and The Holiday Inn Express which is close to the dunes!

Some things have changed in New Buffalo throughout the years but the town is still true to its roots, very quaint and unique (as many towns in the Lake Michigan area). Super safe and easy to get around. There are a lot of smaller, simple, and cute lodging options as well as Airbnb’s in the area.

Places to Eat

One of the oldest places that got remodeled within the last few years is The Stray Dog, a must for any time of the day. Brian and I used to go up to the roof (adults only) and have aprés beach drinks back in the day!

This time around we tried the Bentwood Tavern at the hotel we stayed at. They have amazing cocktails, a nice atmosphere, and beautiful dishes! We only had breakfast there and it was pretty good, not amazing though! I’ve heard great things about their dinner menu, to be discovered 🙂

We didn’t go to Brewster’s this time but it’s one of my favorite spots. Even mom has been and loved. It’s right across the street from the Lake Country INN and it always has a waitlist because the food is amazing! Their garden seating is wonderful and it makes you feel like you’re in Italy!!

Another favorite we didn’t get to go is Casey’s Backyard. Mom has been to this one too. That’s a go-to for Brian and me. More like a sports bar meets backyard vibe with music and sports playing. The food is alright, what we love about this place is the atmosphere.

We got to try a Latin Fusion restaurant recommended by dear friends called The Grove which is located inside the Gordon Beach Inn in Union Pier. The chef is from Ecuador and we had a delicious Paella! Worth the wait, their service is slow and not steady but the food makes up for it!

Nancy’s is an ice cream/burger joint that’s ALWAYS crowded! I love their ice cream and fries. They have a little seating patio but people usually grab-and-go or seat around the sidewalks. It’s a staple when in New Buffalo!

Nancy's Ice Cream New Buffalo Travel guide

Lastly, we tried Rosie’s for a quick breakfast and while the place is a bit run down we loved the prices and the very traditional American style breakfast menu. Kids favorite 🙂

Things to do

Usually, we explore the beaches and the restaurants, which is plenty for our family. We have gone to the Dunes and they used to have water slides but with COVID I’m not sure how things are.

This time around we got to experience the sunset sailing and I highly recommend it. It was a wonderful experience. The sailboat fits up to 6 people so plan accordingly. We can bring our own alcoholic beverages (they have water and sodas, along with cups, bottle openers, etc) and snacks. It’s two hours long and we stopped for the kids to swim and the captain let the kids be “drive” the boat! It’s an awesome experience however I recommend it for couples or families with older kids so everyone can enjoy it!

New Buffalo Sailing Excursions
Antonio Reske New Buffalo Sailing Excursions

The Marina Grand offers free bikes in 1-hour increments but you can also rent bikes. I LOVED riding bikes cruisin’ through the cute streets in town. It’s the cheapest activity and awesome to bond with the fam. You don’t have to ride through the main streets which are nice and safe for youngsters too!

Family bike ride New Buffalo, MI

We were scheduled for a Jet Ski ride but because the lake was rough on Saturday and Sunday we couldn’t do it. The kids were a bit bummed so we’ll definitely give it a try next time we’re up there!

They also have wineries around town that adults can go to and enjoy an afternoon drinking local wines. Michigan is also known for its blueberries and we always like to grab a few pounds to bring home and freeze for smoothies and bowls.

What to pack

Your typical beach town getup. I went real simple and packed light. Two bathing suits, a hat, two pairs of sunnies, a pair of shorts jeans, two tops, one t-shirt dress (I wore to dinner and breakfast) and a romper, worn to sail/dinner and breakfast next day. One pair of flat sandals and a pair of sneakers to ride bikes or go on walks!

I brought my new canvas bag and it was perfect to pack snacks during the road trip, as a beach bag, and to carry wine and snacks for our sailing night!

Karina Style Diaries New Buffalo Michigan Marina Grand Resort

I hope you guys enjoyed the post and reach out and let us know if you make to NB soon!! Can’t wait to hear your feedback 🙂



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  1. Loved this blog! I have just moved home to Scotland from Chicago and we are building a home in new buffalo. It’s my favourite vacation spot! We are building on our best friends development called “white pine” in new buffalo. It’s gorgeous , you should check it out next time you are there. Many of the houses (including mine) are being let out for vacation rentals! It’s really stunning and very close to town. I’m missing the stares and was so excited to see this blog. I love following you on insta! thnx ❤️

    • Hi There! How fun, I love NB and am so jealous!!!! Hehe I’ll definitely look that up!! Thank you so much for the love and support and welcome to the US!!!!