“Where are you going after your visit to Detroit?” My table-mate was a young Michigan native working for the city’s tourism office, and when I replied, “Ludington,” her face positively lit up. Then she grabbed her phone and started swiping through photo after photo of glowing pink, yellow and orange clouds over water.
“Ludington is the best,” she gushed. “The sunsets – I mean, just look at them – they’re amazing!”
When I finally got to Ludington a few days later, I thought the sunsets had an awful lot to live up to. And wouldn’t you know it, they absolutely did.
The town of Ludington on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan might be small – its population is a little over 8,000 – but it’s one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations.
And yet you’ve probably never heard of it.
Ludington doesn’t have the sexiest name – it doesn’t sound like a beach town, does it? But to those in the know, it’s not only the perfect place to spend a lakeside beach vacation with the family this summer, it’s also home to some of the finest sunsets you’ll see anywhere.
Lovely (salt-free) water laps against long stretches of soft sand (no one told Lake Michigan it’s not an ocean, so it behaves quite like one.) The town of Ludington is easily walkable, with historic homes and buildings everywhere. There are hiking trails nearby to explore, and two lighthouses to visit. The summer in particular has a variety of festivals and special events to keep things interesting, and – of course – there’s the main attraction of the beach itself.
Before you head for the beach, though, there is an ice cream shop you should definitely not miss on West Ludington Avenue, five and a half blocks from the main stretch of sand. Stand in the House of Flavors line – there’s always a line, but that gives you time to peruse the unfathomably long list of flavors – and get one of the enormous waffle cones. It’s basically a meal, but you’re on vacation, and it’s summer, so its kind of what you’re supposed to do.
Then, with your gigantic ice cream cone, saunter down to the beach – kick off your sandals and dig your toes into the still-warm-from-the-sun-sand – and watch the sky as it morphs from one shade of cotton candy to another.
Incidentally, Ludington may be on the eastern shore of the lake, but its sunrises aren’t bad, either.