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Catch Some Fun In SW Michigan
Can you hear the jubilee? Can you hear the "oohs and ahhs" of families making their way through the many attractions in southwestern Michigan? If not, you're not close enough to the action because there's plenty there and more than enough for everyone.
Enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and the scents and sounds of nature at Fernwood Botanic Garden and Nature Center. Located at 13988 Range Line Rd. in Niles, Fernwood offers acres of beautifully diverse landscape, demonstration gardens and three miles of nature trails winding through glorious woodlands and prairie down to the St. Joseph River. On the premises are a gift shop, cafe and many classes and events. Call 616/683-8653 or 616/695-6491 for hours and more information.
For museum musers, several museums dot the area. One, the Fort St. Joseph Museum at 508 E. Main St., also in Niles, is in the 1882 Chapin mansion. Collections range from pictographs drawn by Sioux Chief Sitting Bull, to Fort St. Joseph excavations to Victorian decorative arts. Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday. Closed major holidays. For more information, call 616/683-4702.
Another museum for aquatic fans is the Michigan Maritime Museum, located on Dyckman Avenue (exit 20 of 1-196) in South Haven. Exhibits explain history of the people who built and used boats on Michigan's Great Lakes and waterways. Also available are a research library, historic vessels, 600-foot boardwalk on the Black River, park with picnic tables. Call 269/637-8078 for hours and more information.
Are your young’uns getting a bit anxious? Head to the Curious Kids' Museum at 415 Lake Blvd. (exit 27 of 1-94 in St. Joseph) where learning is fun. You and your children can discover hands-on answers to thousands of questions. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m., Sunday from June through Labor Day weekend. From September to May, hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday and major holidays. Call 269/983-CKID for more information.
Or, for a little something different, you can "pedal" back to the 1860s when the "Boneshaker" was the bicycle of the day at the Three Oaks Spokes Bicycle Museum at 3 N. Elm in Three Oaks. You'll get a historical perspective of the bicycle evolution, as well as bicycle trail maps, tours and events. Call 269/756-5621 for hours and information.
For more information on the area and its many attractions, contact Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council (SWMTC) at 2300 Pipestone Rd., Benton Harbor, MI 49022; 269/925-6301.