Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Sawyer, MI

  • Published 2022/01/21

Lake Michigan spans across four states in its entire 22,400 square mile size.

So, it’s not surprising that dozens of cities and towns thrive from Lake Michigan.

It’s where you’ll find two major metropolises—Chicago and Milwaukee—along with towns and smaller cities adjacent to this vast lake.

As you explore Lake Michigan, you’ll come across not just famous cities and attractions.

You’ll also uncover countless hidden gems from small charming towns and communities beside this great lake.

One of the least visited places nestled beside Lake Michigan is the quaint town of Sawyer.

This town is a two-hour drive south of Grand Rapids and further east or roughly a three-hour drive from Detroit.

Sawyer is a lot nearer to Chicago than in these major cities in Michigan.

Locally, Sawyer is part of what they called the “Harbor Country,” wherein eight towns make up this area in the southeastern shores of Lake Michigan.

Despite not being that popular, Sawyer somehow has a lot of hidden gems waiting to be explored.

Sawyer, which the famous Red Arrow Highway traverses, offers a memorable and unique travel experience that highlights nature, history, and tons of outdoor recreation.

If you’re the kind of traveler who wants to explore and discover new and unique things in a less-known place, Sawyer has carved its own niche of outdoor adventure in Harbour Country.

Its surrounding areas are filled with picturesque vineyards, small shops, restaurants, and services that usually make up a small charming town.

So, read on to learn about the 15 best things to do in Sawyer, Michigan.

Explore the Warren Dunes State Park

San dunes at Warren Dunes State Park at Sawyer, Michigan

Anne Kitzman /

This vast 1,952-acre state park is known for its mountains of sand that span across Sawyer and neighboring towns.

Although the Warren Dunes State Park is a perfect setting for a dystopian movie because of its barren and sandy environment, you can do many recreational activities there.

Its rugged terrain, roughly 300 feet elevation, overlooks Lake Michigan.

Tides hitting the shoreline at Warren Dunes State Park

Anne Kitzman /

It’s also teeming with exciting outdoor activities like hang gliding, hiking, and more!

Its three-mile shoreline offers you one of the best hiking trails in Lake Michigan, while above the dunes, there’s another trail that stretches for about six miles, which is equally exciting to explore.

The Warren Dunes State Park is also a popular swimming spot in Sawyer and also has an area where thousands of migratory birds make a stop, giving you a perfect chance for bird watching.

Family enjoying the view of Lake Michigan's shoreline at Warren Dunes State Park

Anne Kitzman /

Traverse the Scenic Red Arrow Highway

Long drives outside the city are always therapeutic in one way or another.

For long soothing drives in Southwestern Michigan, you can traverse the Red Arrow Highway.

This famous byway covers New Buffalo, Union Pier, Lakeside, Sawyer, Bridgman to Stevensville and stretches about 21 miles.

Whether you’re exploring Sawyer or passing by, it would be best to drive along Red Arrow Highway, where you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of Lake Michigan and other natural attractions.

Aside from natural attractions, you can find plenty of great things along the way, like small towns, beaches, vineyards, and thriving communities that will warmly welcome you.

Each town you pass along the highway has its own attractions waiting for you to discover.

Camp at the Tower Hill Camp and Retreat

You can choose many campsites at the Warren Dunes State Park if you plan to spend the evening there.

One of the most popular camping grounds is the Tower Hill Camp and Retreat, run by the United Church of Christ’s Illinois Conference.

The camp and retreat site in the Warren Dunes State Park offers you and your family a cozy and very hospitable environment in the middle of 30-acre woodlands.

Aside from being a campsite, it also has an outdoor recreation area where you can further tour the Warren Dunes State Park or perhaps head to Lake Michigan for a swim.

The Tower Hill Camp and Retreat’s staff are also very helpful and friendly to their guests, so you’ll surely have an easy and fun time in your stay there.

Shop at the Sawyer Home and Garden Center

If you’re done exploring the Warren Dunes State Park and have had enough outdoor activities, why not go out shopping?

Sawyer has a premier shopping center, the Sawyer Home and Garden Center, technically the town’s farmers’ market/shopping center.

It’s where you can buy the freshest produce from Lake Michigan’s farms, ranches, and vineyards.

It also has dozens of shops that offer apparel, toys, purses, household goods, food, and souvenirs that you can take home.

From a simple garden and fruit market in 1986, it grew into Sawyer’s main shopping center and its neighboring towns in Harbor Country.

You know where to head if you’re itching to shop or need anything during your Sawyer travel adventure.

Spoil Yourself with Great Craft Beer at the Greenbush Brewery

Greenbush Brewery is home to fine craft beers and a delicious seasonal menu that keeps visitors and locals packing this place year-round.

People who visit the Warren Dunes State Park usually head to this brewery since it offers a family-friendly atmosphere, which isn’t common in most breweries.

It has a delicious menu that focuses on classic American comfort food, perfect for their excellent craft beer.

Because of the magnitude of people who visit this brewery, it recently expanded with a charming annex where you can also visit.

Aside from craft beer and delicious food, you can also buy souvenirs such as shirts and mugs at their gift shop.

You should check out this place for the best place to unwind, drink, and eat in Sawyer.

Cruise along the Majestic Lake Michigan

Of course, your Sawyer travel adventure won’t be complete without cruising along Lake Michigan.

This majestic lake will surely entice anyone who visits there.

Once you arrive there, you can indulge in exciting outdoor activities like boating, swimming, and other waterborne activities.

The entire Lake Michigan covers around 1,300-kilometers of shoreline, which offers you unlimited things to do.

Or perhaps, you can take ferries that cross the lake to Chicago or Milwaukee, which takes roughly two hours depending on the weather.

Have Your Caffeine Fix at the Infusco Coffee Roasters

You will be completely surprised that Sawyer is also home to a top-notch coffee shop that serves a variety of coffees from different countries all over the world.

If you’re looking for a delicious coffee to start your day with your Sawyer travel adventure, you should check out Infusco Coffee Roasters.

This coffee shop in downtown Sawyer is very popular for locals and visitors because of its wide array of delicious coffee flavors from Robusta, Arabica, Excelsa, and Libera from Indonesia, Honduras, India, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and Mexico.

Whether you want latte, americano, or frappe, they have one for you.

Furthermore, you can buy their coffee bean assortments that you can bring home.

Climb Mount Randall

If you’re seeking a challenging outdoor adventure in Sawyer, you should climb Warren Dunes State Park’s Mount Randall.

This outdoor attraction offers everyone a challenging hike on its four-mile trek, mostly ascending.

You need to climb 780 feet of a steep trek to reach the top of Mount Randall.

Upon reaching Mount Randall’s top, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Michigan and the horizon.

Mount Randall’s entrance in Warren Dunes State Park is packed with tourists during summer, so it would be more convenient to enter the park’s northern portion on Floral Lane, where it’s less crowded.

If you’re looking for more hiking, you can head down to its nearby undeveloped shorelines beside Lake Michigan.

Relax at the Harbert Community Park

If you’re looking for a green open space in Sawyer, you can check out the Harbert Community Park.

It’s one of Sawyer’s community parks where you can picnic, do outdoor activities, fish, play sports, and let your kids have fun at its playground.

Harbert Community Park is popular for locals, where they usually spend their mornings and afternoons hiking or jogging.

It has two beach volleyball courts, a baseball diamond, a fish pond, and a dog park.

During winter, its ponds are turned into ice skating rinks, adding more fun and excitement to visiting this park.

Dine at the Cafe Gulistan

There’s always something special about Middle-Eastern cuisine that makes you come back for more.

You can dine in at Cafe Gulistan if you’re craving this cuisine during your Sawyer travel adventure.

It serves traditional and mouthwatering Kurdish cuisine courtesy of Ibrahim Parlak, the owner of this restaurant.

Those who have already dined at this restaurant consider this a hidden gem in Harbor Country.

It would be best to try their specialties, such as their kebab, falafel, tabbouleh, chicken izgara, fall-of-the-bone lamb chops, etc.

You know where to eat when you want a unique culinary experience in Sawyer.

Be One with Nature at the Jens Jensen Preserve

This 25-acre forested area in Sawyer has a protected forested area containing several trees and wildlife species.

It’s home to tulip poplars, beech, maple, beech-maple, and oaks.

The forested area becomes wetlands teeming with various wildlife during the rainy season.

If you’re looking for a different natural attraction in Sawyer, this is the best place to go.

The Jens Jensen Preserve and the neighboring Pepperidge Dunes Sanctuary are both taken care of by the Michigan Nature Association.

Together, these two nature preserves serve as a forest canopy for and corridor for thousands of migratory birds passing through Michigan from the north.

With that in mind, this place is also perfect for bird-watching and other outdoor activities like hiking and cross-country skiing during winter.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Lake Michigan offers endless possibilities from a traveler’s perspective.

So, once you’re done visiting Sawyer’s attractions, you shouldn’t just stop there.

Instead, explore the rest of Southwest Michigan and the neighboring towns of Sawyer.

So, here are some highly-recommended attractions you can check out near Sawyer, MI.

Make a Splash at Weko Beach

Weko Beach on a crowded sunny afternoon

Jszyarto /

An eight-minute drive north of Sawyer takes you to another pristine beach on Lake Michigan, the Weko Beach and Campground, a nice place to experience waterborne activities.

If you want to enjoy the beauty of Lake Michigan and relax, Weko Beach and Campground is a highly recommended place to go.

It sits on a 42-acre scenic location highlighting a forested area and vast dunes beside Lake Michigan.

It has 68 campsites plus around a dozen cabins that you can rent either yourself or your family.

Follow the Michigan Wine Trails

Being one of the five wine regions in the United States, Michigan is perfect for wine tours where you can discover vast and picturesque vineyards and taste top-notch wines along the way.

The Michigan Wine Trails feature 21 wineries and vineyards in the state’s southwestern region.

You can either go on a self-guided wine tour or have a curated wine tour with an expert in these vineyards and wineries.

Navigating the Michigan Wine Trail is fairly easy for casual tourists or wine connoisseurs, especially if you start from Sawyer.

The nearest winery from Sawyer is Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant and Hickory Creek. These wineries in Buchanan are roughly 10 miles east of Sawyer.

Meanwhile, a 13-minute drive northeast of Sawyer takes you to Dablon Winery and Vineyards and Lemon Creek Winery in Berrien Springs.

Learn Horseback Riding at Spring Creek Equestrian Center

Over at Three Oaks, which is a 12-minute drive south of Sawyer, takes you to the Spring Creek Equestrian Center.

This place, owned by veteran equestrian Alison Grosse, has been running this attraction in Three Oaks since 1995.

Today, it offers equestrian training for both locals and visitors in town.

Aside from her program, she also offers horseback riding tours around Three Oaks’ natural areas.

You know where to go if you want to learn horseback riding or tour Three Oaks on a horse.

Uncover Interesting History at the New Buffalo Railroad Museum

Further south of Sawyer in New Buffalo leads you to the New Buffalo Railroad Museum.

The New Buffalo Railroad Museum opened in 1989, and it’s still open today, featuring interesting artifacts relevant to the railroad industry in Michigan.

The museum itself is nestled on the grounds where the most extensive train yard in Southwest Michigan once stood.

Since this museum is only a 13-minute drive south of Sawyer, it would be great to learn history while touring New Buffalo’s attractions.

Final Thoughts

Isn’t it fascinating that Sawyer has many great things to do aside from being a small town beside Lake Michigan?

Sawyer and its surrounding places in Harbor Country combine the beauty of nature from its dunes, Lake Michigan, and the vibrant towns that make it an excellent travel destination.

So, which of these Sawyer attractions you’ll be visiting first?

Make sure to bookmark this post to give yourself an instant itinerary.

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