St. Joseph Journals

Tropical Paradise on Western Michigan's Coast?!

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An August 2005 trip to St. Joseph by funrun_9602

Kilwins Ice Cream & Chocolates Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan More Photos
Quote: During summer 2004, I worked in this area and experienced everything it has to offer. Before moving here, I never dreamt it would be full of tropical-looking beaches (minus palm trees) and lively small towns featuring a delicious variety of cuisines, unique shops, and festivals almost every weekend.

Tropical Paradise on Western Michigan's Coast?!

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Overview

Paradise?! Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan
Quote:
Downtown: stroll the shops, eat the food, and explore the festivals. Spend half the day relaxing at one of the five tropical paradise look-alike beaches, and then watch the postcard sunsets. Also, be sure to see the iconic St. Joe lighthouse and take a walk along the Silver Beach pier. And to finish out your day, there is lots of good entertainment and nightlife, especially for such a small town. The summer weather usually consists of sun in a clear blue sky, moderate humidity, and about a temperature of 72 degrees F. Unlike most forms of entertainment and vacation, most of this stuff is free.Quick Tips: -Lake Michigan is only warm enough to swim in from about July 4th to the third week of Au...Read More

Broad Street Cafe

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Restaurant | "Broad Street Cafe: Coffee House and Delicatessen"

Broad Street Cafe Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan
Quote:
Broad Street Cafe is definitely the all-around best place to eat downtown. It has the best value, variety, fresh ingredients, and most indoor and outdoor eating space. All sandwiches are made to order while you watch over the counter, but calling this cafe a "Subway rip-off" would be an insult. Here you can choose to get your sandwich made on a variety of flavors of made-from-scratch breads baked throughout the day. Your choices include bread, toasted bread, bagels, croissants, or wraps in unique flavors like Cheese Garlic, Spinach Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomato. All sandwiches come with a dill pickle, but you can also order a combo with potato chips and a drink. The grilled pannini sandwi...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 10, 2004

Broad Street Cafe
614 Broad Street
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 983-7646

Kilwin's Ice Cream & Chocolates

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Restaurant | "Kilwin's Ice Cream & Chocolates"

Kilwin's Ice Cream & Chocolates Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan
Quote:
Kilwin's of St. Joseph website You can literally smell their sweets from about five stores away--so just follow your nose to the best ice cream in town! I am a bit of an ice cream connoisseur, and I say this stuff is GOOD. They have about 20 unique flavors that can't be bought in a grocery store. I never tried their other stuff (fudge, caramel apples, candies, etc.), but if that's what you like, then I wouldn't hesitate to eat any. Be sure to get your ice cream in one of their homemade waffle cones. You can watch them make the waffle cones fudges, caramel apples, etc., right in the fro...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 10, 2004

Kilwin's Ice Cream & Chocolates
316 State Street
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 982-1330

Chocolate Cafe & Museum

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Restaurant | "Chocolate Cafe & Museum"

Quote:
Chocolate Cafe and Museum menu and info A chocolate museum AND cafe?! How can one go wrong? This is a MUST-stop for any chocoholic. They make everything with homemade chocolate: fudges, cakes, pastries, hot and cold drinks, ice cream, candy, etc. I always got the hot chocolates because they were too good and cheap (small is $1.50) not to get everytime I went. I about DIED with anticipation the first time I saw them make it! It's not a recipe I have heard of before; they begin every recipe with freshly melted chocolate--no powdered chocolate here! The chocolate...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 10, 2004

Chocolate Cafe & Museum
300 State Street
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 985-9866

Caffe Tosi

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Restaurant

Caffe Tosi Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan
Quote:
http://www.caffetosi.com/ This is what I considered to be the "upscale" café in town. You can think of it as a mom-and-pop version of the Panera Bread franchise in both the food and the decor. Tosi is more expensive than Broad Street Café but has a nicer interior decor and more creative dishes (read: not for picky eaters). You can eat here for lunch or dinner. They make all the food on site (and I think the bread too). Some dishes I recall: tuna melt on toasted bread, a spinach-filled pastry, salads, paninis, broccoli quiche, and soup in bread bowls. Most dishes come with a surprisingly tasty side of cold green beans in Italian dres...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 14, 2004

Caffe Tosi
516 Pleasant Street
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 983-3354

Sophia's House of Pancakes

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Restaurant

Quote:
http://www.sophiashouseofpancakes.com/ Sophia's is most likely the best breakfast restaurant I've EVER been to! Downtown Saint Joseph has it all, except for great breakfast options. The drive to Sophia's is an easy 15-minute trek from downtown; just ask anyone for directions to the Benton Harbor Mall Applebees, and you will see Sophia's right behind Applebee's. Now when I say "best", I'm talking about taste, variety of options, and quantity for the money—not service or ambiance. Although, without their "reminds me of my great aunt's house" decor and always-hurried servers, Sophia's environment would otherwise feel prete...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 14, 2004

Sophia's House of Pancakes
1647 Mall Drive
St. Joseph, Michigan 49022
(269) 934-7688

Pump House Grille

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Restaurant

Quote:
http://www.pumphousegrille.com/ The closest franchise equivalents to Pump House are Applebee’s or TGI Friday's. Pump House has a large, solid, dark wood bar and floors for that upscale tavern feel. They feature steaks, burgers, chicken, and a few things that I have only ever seen on a menu here. This place is busy on weekends during dinner, so avoid these main hours unless you like waiting more than an hour. I'm not sure that they take reservations. Now, I am not a steak person, so I can't tell you about those, but here are my comments about the food: -I have never heard of a Philly burger. It’s Philadelphia cream chee...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 14, 2004

Pump House Grille
214 State St
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 983-0001

Schu's Grill & Bar

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Restaurant | "Schu's Grill & Bar"

Quote:
Schu's Grill & Bar website This place is always crowded, and the alfresco dining on the sidewalk on top of the Bluff is the most ideal place to eat while watching the sunset over the lake. There is a good bar here, but both times I ate the food, myself and my friends didn't think much of it. Let me explain: Before I moved to this area, no one I knew had ever heard of it, except that my dad knew about this restaurant from decades ago (when it was located in another town) and that the Schu______ family (whatever their full name is) was apparently famous for a particular dish that only they made. Over the years, the original own...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 14, 2004

Schu's Grill & Bar
501 Pleasant Street
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 983-7248

Panzarella's Deli

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Restaurant

Quote:
Panzarella's is the only place in downtown St. Joe where you can eat authentic American-Italian deli food. The proof is everywhere, from their Italian accents to the cannoli to the Rat Pack-tribute decor. Sadly, Panzarella's plain storefront on the corner of an alley is almost completely overshadowed by their more colorful and famous neighbors, Cafe Tosi and Schu's Bar & Grille. On the plus side, now that you are privy to their existence, you won't have to worry about longs waits for good food! I ate here many times, despite being on a low-carb diet. I hear you now thinking, "Italian deli food on a low-carb diet?!" Well, luckily, the counter chefs are nice enough to turn their meatball sandw...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 14, 2004

Panzarella's Deli
505 Pleasant Street
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 982-1689

North Shore Inn

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Restaurant | "North Shore Inn (restaurant/ bar)"

Quote:
The attire ranges from business suits to whatever trash you were wearing at the bar last night. This is one of those mysterious places I always heard whispers about, but I didn't know for a long time if it really existed. It is rumored that the Hummer H2/ BMW Z4-driving president of my division loved the hamburgers here--and now so do I! Note: This place is not for those nose-in-the-air types and is for the adventurous who like tasty American food for Taco Bell prices. You would never guess there is a restaurant/ bar here. It seems to be in the middle of nowhere... at least until you find it. It is very close to Rocky Gap and Jean Klock Beach and almost underneath M-63, making it very ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 14, 2004

North Shore Inn
107 Higman Park Road
St. Joseph, Michigan
(269) 927-1464

Clementine's Too

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Restaurant

Quote:
Clemetine's website Clemetine's Too in Saint Joseph is the second location of the popular Clementine's of South Haven, the next charming town north of St. Joe. The menus are identical, but the surrounding locations and atmospheres are not. First, the food: The selections are comparable to a TGI Friday's, but with more of a mom-and-pop twist. They have soups, salads, pastas, burgers, sandwiches, and steaks. Clementine's is one of the places in St. Joe that also serves some local cuisine, such as the Harbortown Burger with green olives, and my personal favorite, Oh My Darling, crab and shrimp broiled on toasted French bread wit...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 14, 2005

Clementine's Too
1235 Broad Street
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 983-0990

Spinnaker's

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Restaurant

Quote:
Spinnaker's s is a restaurant and bar just across the street from the downtown area that attempts to portray itself as fine dining, but you can wear almost anything in here, so that kinda ruins the fine-dining experience for me. You can order from the full menu in either the bar or restaurant. They serve steak, seafood, pasta, salads, soups, burgers, and sandwiches. The bar has excellent weekday happy hour drink specials. Also, if you drink too much, they offer a complimentary limo escort home. But I have not seen anyone have to use this service. There is a swanky lounge area on the side of the bar so that you can drink on a...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 18, 2005

Spinnaker's
105 Main Street
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085

Scenic Route For Walking, Biking, Blading, etc.

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Attraction | "Silver Beach"

Scenic Route For Walking, Biking, Blading, etc. Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan
Quote:
Best beach to: see and be seen, play games, and take the family. Worst beach to: find a free and nearby parking spot, enjoy the sound of the surf. Silver Beach is where ALL the tourists go, so it’s always very crowded and noisy on hot weekends. Silver Beach's popularity is no surprise— it has the closest and most visible location to downtown, a concession area, a playground, volleyball nets, sculptures, etc... okay, it has everything a beach could offer. Silver Beach is undoubtedly the best family beach—the water depth is never over an adult's head, there’s very little wave action, and there are three lifeguards on duty until 6pm. If the kids get hungry or have to go to the bath...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 10, 2004

Scenic Route For Walking, Biking, Blading, etc.
Silver Beach to Lions Park to downtown
St. Joseph, Michigan

Rocky Gap Beach

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Attraction

Rocky Gap Beach Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan
Quote:
Best beach to: have privacy, listen to the surf, park nearby for free, swim, lie in the sand Worst beach to: take the kids Since this beach is farthest from downtown, many tourists don't seem to know about it. Take the bridge north of downtown about 1 mile and follow the brown park signs. First, let me preface with this: I have been to beaches all over Cape Cod, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Venice, Santa Monica, Carmel (California), and Lake Erie. Now, let me tell you this: ROCKY GAP IS MY FAVORITE BEACH. How often have you thought about how nice it would be to go to one of those infamous secluded beaches on Kauai? Well, when that happens to me, I look in my wallet...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 10, 2004

Rocky Gap Beach
Rocky Gap Road
Benton Harbor
(269) 983-7111

Jean Klock Beach

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Attraction

Quote:
Best Beach To: have a big cookout and play long distance games. Worst Beach To: visit on the weekends. Jean Klock Beach is the only beach in the area that is free on weekdays, but not on weekends; therefore, I only came here to eat on my lunch breaks from work. *Insert vinyl record scratching sound* "Eating at the beach in the middle of your work day?!" Ah, yes, that was a marvelous perk of working near the water and downtown. Imagine yourself in my place: After ordering your absolute favorite sandwich to-go, the drive back to work just happens to pass Jean Klock Beach. You drive into the parking lot, and the only other car there belongs to t...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 10, 2004

Jean Klock Beach
north of St. Joseph
St. Joseph, Michigan

Czar's 505

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Attraction

Quote:
http://www.czars.com/ In my opinion, Czar's is THE place for a good night in downtown St. Joe. They are open Thursday to Saturday, starting around 7pm, with live entertainment starting at 10pm and going strong until closing at 2am. They are open all year. Czar's is easy to miss if you don't know it's there, because it’s actually underground, so look for their neon sign in the stairway behind Schu's entrance. The underground atmosphere is enhanced by the low ceilings, exposed brick, and glowing graffiti paint all over the walls. They have daily drink specials, such as $2 shot of tequila or a lemon drop, and $3 Bacardi O3 (the large bottle...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 10, 2004

Czar's 505
505 Pleasant Street
St. Joseph, Michigan
(269) 983-1188

Sunset Viewing

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Attraction | "Spectacular Sunsets Every Day - DO NOT MISS THIS!!"

Sunset Viewing Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan
Quote:
DO NOT MISS a single sunset here! I've seen many sunsets, ones over mountains, Lake Erie, and even from the Santa Monica Pier, but St. Joseph sunsets over Lake Michigan are the most spectacular hands down and on a very consistent basis (proof is in my photos below, each from a different day). No matter how cloudy or rainy or whatever imperfect weather conditions might have been there all day long, the clouds almost always parted enough for a spectacular sunset. Usually I watched from the large blue pavilion on the bluff, which overlooks Silver Beach and perfectly lines up with the sunset in July and August. Don't forget your camera! In my opinion, these sunsets are best enjoyed while eating Kilwin's I...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 13, 2004

Sunset Viewing
Blue Pavilion on the Bluff or Any Area Beach
St. Joseph, Michigan

Krasl Art Center and outdoor sculptures

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Attraction | "Krasl Art Center and outdoor sculptues"

Krasl Art Center and outdoor sculptures Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan
Quote:
The Krasl Art Center Kudos to the town of Saint Joseph for actively and strongly promoting public appreciation of the fine arts! The Krasl Art Center (free admission and within walking distance of downtown) is stocked with rotating and visiting collections of contemporary art and sculpture, and the art center sponsors large, outdoor, permanent installation sculptures all over town. There are several very large installations at Silver Beach, including a new one for 2005. Words could not describe their beauty, so I'll let my pictures do them some justice. To see all of the outdoor sculptures, I recommmend getting a walking tour map at the ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 14, 2004

Krasl Art Center and outdoor sculptures
707 Lake Blvd
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 983-0271

Quote:
Here is the route I rollerbladed, with scenery descriptions: Park near Silver Beach. Head south on Silver Beach’s extrawide sidewalk toward the hard left turn in the road. This section has various sculptures (see my sculpture entry), sweeping views of Silver Beach, and several benches. Follow the sidewalk as it narrows through the hard left. Cross the street toward the steep uphill. A few feet before the uphill bridge, on the right, is a blacktop trail. This is a slightly winding, slightly inclined, partially wooded trail that is mostly free of debris. The first fork in the trail crosses the street to Lions Park Beach (bathrooms are there), or continue along the trail, ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 14, 2004

Scenic Route For Walking, Biking, Blading, etc.
Silver Beach to Lions Park to downtown
St. Joseph, Michigan

Lions Park / Beach

Attraction | "Lions Park/ Beach"

Quote:
Lions Park/Beach Best Beach To: have a family picnic or watch a sunset from a swinging bench Worst Beach To: swim or lay in the sand I had lived here about 2 months before I found this one! Just follow the road along Silver Beach, heading south along the coast, and the road dead ends near Lions Park. There are two covered pavilions with picnic tables and grills, a playground, open bathrooms, a water fountain, and free parking a few feet away. This beach is usually not too crowded (although the small parking lots fills quickly), but it’s the worst area beach for swimming. How could it be so much worse than the other beaches less than a mile away? Well, the first few feet of water is...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 14, 2004

Lions Park / Beach
1701 Lions Park Drive
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 983-6341

Tiscornia Park / Beach

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Attraction | "Tiscornia Park/ Beach"

Tiscornia Park / Beach Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan
Quote:
Best Beach To: go fishing and take close-up pictures of the famous St. Joseph lighthouse Worst Beach To: spend much time at Tiscornia is my least-favorite beach in the area. Nothing sets it apart from the others except for the lighthouse and the fishing opportunities, but those aren't important beach features to me. My biggest issue is why should I pay for parking when there are four other better beaches nearby where I don't have to pay. And the kicker—other free parking options are nonexistent here, because Tiscornia is set behind private land on a narrow dead-end street. The couple times I did go here were very short stays so that I didn't have to pay. All I did was wal...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 14, 2004

Tiscornia Park / Beach
80 Ridgeway Street
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
(269) 983-6341

Carousel Horse Photo, St. Joseph, Michigan
Quote:
For me, Saint Joseph, Michigan, is more than I thought a perfect small town could be. I grew up in a small Ohio town that still has not fulfilled its potential to be a great small town. Perhaps my disappointment in my own hometown is to blame for my somewhat subconscious perpetual search for the perfect small town. I’ve visited small towns throughout all of New England, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Michigan, but St. Joseph is the only one that truly has everything: brick-paved tree-lined streets, unique restaurants, cafés, and bars (none of them franchises and most of them delicious and reasonably priced), shops with something for everyone (read: not just for antiquers or those with money ...Read More

About the Writer

funrun_9602

funrun_9602
Dallas, Texas

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