Category Archives: Recreation

A Complete Guide to Biking in Ludington, Michigan

Ludington has long been a destination for cyclists who enjoy exploring the outdoors. The area boasts picturesque shoreline routes with sand dune panoramas, scenic wooded trails and miles of idyllic rural country roads. With the rising popularity of year-round fat tire biking, gravel road riding and bike-packing, new adventures are opening up that are only limited by your imagination.

Fun Paths for Kids

The Cartier Park Pathway on Lincoln Lake in Ludington is an easily accessible, paved one-mile loop with minimal elevation. It is a great cycling destination for families with young children. Here kids can also explore fun mountain bike trails built recently.

Families love to discover the many treasures of the Ludington State Park by bike. There are paved paths and roads running throughout the park and along the Big Sauble River between the Lake Michigan Beach area and the Hamlin Dam and Beach area. There is also a 1.5 mile gravel road for the adventurous that will lead you to the Big Sable Lighthouse.

Be sure not to miss a casual cruise through Stearns Park Beach and the Ludington harbor during the arrival or departure of the S.S. Badger Carferry in the morning or evening.

Scenic Road Routes

A visit to Ludington is not complete without a cruise along M-116 to the Ludington State Park. It is one of the most scenic roads in the entire Midwest. On one side of the road are continuous sand dunes, and, on the other side, Lake Michigan spans the horizon. Another shoreline route runs along South Lakeshore Drive to Bass Lake and Pentwater. A highlight of this route is crossing the bridge that spans the Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant, a hydroelectric plant and reservoir built on Lake Michigan. For a more ambitious tour, chart a course on the way back through the orchards and rolling hills south of Ludington. Riders will be awestruck by the scale of the 56 wind turbines comprising Lakewinds Energy Park.

Four Season Mountain Biking

A recent addition to Ludington’s cycling scene is the development of an Urban Single Track trail system encompassing Cartier Park and the Ludington School Forest. Both trail systems are located within the city limits less than two miles apart and include a total of 10 miles of dedicated single-track for biking with potential for additional trail linking the systems in the future. These trails were built as “Gateway Trails” which are designed to create a fun, widely accessible introduction to mountain biking. The trails are intentionally not intimidating for new and novice riders yet they are designed in a way that even the most experienced mountain biker will find fun and enjoyable.

Fat tire mountain bikes allow riders to float through conditions that would be impossible with a conventional tire. This trend toward wider tires creates a new and exhilarating way to take in Michigan’s winter wonderland. Several trail systems in the area are starting to groom trails for winter riding. Winter beach riding can also be a thrill. When the snow melts, fat bikes are just as fun on traditional trails.

For current information on local bicycling routes, maps, group rides and cycling related events, visit or stop in to Spindrift Cyclesports or Trailhead Bike Shop both located on Ludington Avenue in downtown Ludington for all of your biking needs and rentals.

Ludington is located at the crossroads of two popular bike routes—U.S. Bicycle Route 20, an east-west route of just over 300 miles spanning across Michigan, and U.S. Bicycle Route 35, a 500-mile route running north-south generally following the Lake Michigan shoreline.


5 Things to Know About Lantern-Lit Snowshoeing & Skiing in Ludington, MI

Ludington boasts a number of excellent snowshoeing and cross country skiing trails – and one of the most popular places for a winter sojourn is at the 5,300-acre Ludington State Park. Several miles of trails are groomed for cross country skiing, and snowshoers can explore all the other trails. The park also hosts a series of snowshoeing and cross country skiing events on weekends in January and February, including the popular lantern-lit snowshoe and skiing event. Here are 5 things you need to know about this unique event coming up this weekend:

  1. It’s free! There are not many activities for families and couples these days that don’t come with a price tag. Thanks to the Friends of Ludington State Park, this event is free of charge. We can’t think of a better way to enjoy some fresh fallen snow with family or friends. 
  2. Snowshoers, cross country skiers and hikers of all ages and fitness levels are welcome. Snowshoeing is one of the season’s safest activities and a great way to get moving during these colder months. Of course, cross country skiers and hikers/walkers are also welcome to participate as well. The self-paced atmosphere of this event means you can take your time and really take in the sights and sounds of the park this time of the year.
  3. You don’t need your own snowshoes. Thanks to the Friends of Ludington State Park, 50 pairs of snowshoes are available for free use on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have your own gear, even better! 
  4. There’s a fire – or two! You can warm up and enjoy a hot beverage alongside two bonfires along the trail. It’s the perfect spot to rest, warm up and take in the beautiful winter scenery. Although you will be moving and keeping warm on the trail, you will still want to be sure to wear warm winter attire.
  5. The most unique aspect of this event is that the 3/4 mile trail is lined with approximately 75 red lanterns. They perfectly compliment the winter backdrop and are a great guide as the sun begins to set.

Upcoming lantern-lit snowshoe and skiing events are Feb. 4 and 18 from 6 – 8 p.m. starting at the Warming Shelter just inside the entrance of the park.

Don’t forget to share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook using #PureLudington. For more travel information, visit


4 Ways to Kick-off the New Year in Pure Ludington

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Ludington’s biggest annual celebration takes place each winter on New Year’s Eve. Billed as “West Michigan’s largest New Year’s Eve Ball,” Ludington’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop offers the quintessential, small-town New Year’s Eve celebration – complete with an outdoor beer garden and music, a ball drop with 6,000 LED lights in the heart of downtown, plus fireworks. Here are 5 ways to ring in 2016 here in Pure Ludington!

Todd Reed_8524_New Years Ball Drop_2010_square crop_watermarked1. Countdown Party & New Year’s Eve Ball Drop

Evening activities begin with a countdown party at 9:30 p.m. when the entertainment tent opens for music, dancing and beer tasting. Then at midnight, the ball will drop from high above the intersection of James Street and Ludington Avenue at the core of downtown, which is open only to pedestrians that night. Once the clock strikes midnight, spectacular fireworks launch over the rooftops of downtown.

The New Year’s Eve event is free, though beer is available for purchase. Commemorative glasses will be sold for $8 in advance or $10 that evening.


2. Free Family Parties to Enjoy with Small Kids

The New Year’s Eve Ball Drop is a family-friendly event, but there are also some great pre-parties for families to enjoy before heading outside or for little ones who can’t stay awake until midnight. The Ludington Library hosts a pre-ball drop party beginning at 7pm for families and children of all ages. There are plenty of crafts and games to enjoy before walking over to the Ball Drop at 11:30pm. Sandcastle’s Children’s Museum, also located downtown, hosts a NYE Balloon Drop & Stomp for the kids! Both places offer a great place to stay warm and celebrate the New Year with your family.

3. New Year Resolution Run 5K

Looking to get a head start on your healthy New Year’s Resolution’s?  New Year’s Day kicks off with a Resolution Run 5K at 11:00a.m. on 1/1/2016. The race route takes runners through downtown Ludington, along Lake Michigan and the waterfront. Online registration is open and includes a t-shirt.

4. “Shoe Years” Lantern-lit Skiing/Snowshoeing and Guided Snowshoe Hikes at Ludington State Park 

Lantern Lit_LSPA variety of nature trails in the Ludington area become excellent cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails in the winter – and one of the most popular places for a winter sojourn is at 5,300-acre Ludington State ParkOn January 2, the Ludington State Park hosts their Guided Snowshoe Hike at 2pm. The 1.5-hour guided snowshoe hike highlights the park’s nature and history through the park’s snow-covered sand dunes. Then at 6pm, bring cross-country skis and/or snowshoes to ski or walk an easy, one-mile groomed trail lit by oil lanterns that begins at the Warming Shelter inside the park.  Enjoy a campfire at either end to warm up and sip a hot beverage.

We hope you make a weekend of it and enjoy the beginnings of 2016 here in Pure Ludington!



Five Rainy Day Destinations to Brighten Your Day

If the rainy weather is keeping you and the family from being outside, don’t worry, there are many other activities you can dive into that will occupy your interests. Here are a few suggestions to get your rainy day plans started.

Sandcastle Children’s Museum

For those of you waiting around for that must-see marathon of your favorite show; get away from the TV. Instead, bring your kids and come join us at the Sandcastles Children’s Museum. Here you can discover what it’s like to explore the world’s offerings with the whole family. Make a day out of it and come experience a one of a kind learning environment. At Sandcastles Children’s Museum there is a plethora of wonderful hands on activity that will stimulate creativity, curiosity, and of course the love of learning.

West Shore Community College Recreational Center

You may not be able to enjoy the beach, but rainy days don’t have to stop you from enjoying some swim time. The Recreation Center at West Shore Community College as a go-to option for your rainy day schedules. This recreational pool is conveniently close to the Ludington area, and will exceed all expectations as a rainy day activity.

The Historic White Pine Village

17From school field trip’s, to weekend adventures, Historic White Pine Village is a must-see historical experience. You can tour 30 buildings that represent and display a glimpse of Mason County’s past. This is a self-guided tour that will be remembered as a great educational experience for the whole family. Make it a rainy day tradition and visit Historic White Pine Village!

The Ludington Area Center for the Arts (LACA)

11013014_10153315052358189_1849658384086004731_nIf you are looking for something to brighten up a rainy day, we suggest checking out the Ludington Area Center for the Arts. When the weather is less than desirable for the beach, LACA is a great place to explore the center and take in some fantastic art. Their gallery space hosts many exhibits and events throughout the year and if you catch the right day you may even be able to take a class or watch a theater performance.

AJ’s Family Fun Center

If you are looking for some fast paced fun during that gloomy rainy day, AJ’s Family Fun Center is the place for you. AJ’s is the perfect setting for all members of the family to do something that they enjoy, while spending the day together. AJ’s features multiple attractions such as, mini golf, bumper boats, laser tag, arcade games, and so much more.

For more rainy day activities and suggestions, download the Pure Ludington mobile app.

12 Things for Your Pure Ludington Vacation Bucket List


1. Catch one of the Sunset Beach Bonfires planned this summer at Stearns Park Beach. Mark your calendars for June 25, July 23 and August 27 and join us for a celebration of our beautiful beaches and stunning sunsets! The best part is, they are free to attend. Just remember to bring your beach chairs and blankets!

2. Try SUP Boarding. With Lake Michigan close by and several inland lakes, there are plenty of places to try this new trendy paddle sport.

3. Watch the 4th of July Fireworks from aboard the SS BadgerTaking a trip on the historic SS Badger is always a treat, but the 4th of July Shoreline Cruise is pretty special. It’s a great celebration on the ship capped off with a spectacular view of the fireworks over Lake Michigan!

4. Kayak the Pere Marquette River. This national scenic river is perfect for paddlers looking for a fun, easy paddle. There are several points of access and rentals along the river. Grab some friends and hit the river!

IMG_19125. Get your Picture in front of the #LoveLudington logo. Located on the SE corner of the intersection of Ludington Avenue and Robert Street, this new artwork added last summer is the perfect backdrop for your vacation pictures! Be sure to tag your photo on social media #loveludington.

6.Explore the area’s history along the Mason County Lumber Heritage TrailThis self-guided, interactive tour of Ludington’s lumber baron homes and historic places is a great way to explore new places and learn about our rich history. Download the Pure Ludington mobile app for more self-guided tours with directions (Apple & Android keyword: Pure Ludington).

7. Take Charterboat fishing trip on Lake Michigan. Known as the #1 Salmon Fishing Port in Michigan, fishing in Ludington is a great experience for groups and families looking for some adventure. Fishing on the “big lake” is a memorable experience and our fleet of charterboat captains are all about hospitality and sending you home with a big catch. Once you get your fish cleaned up, take it to one of our Catch-n-Cook restaurants where they will prepare a meal with your catch.

8. Hike to Big Sable Lighthouse at Ludington State Park. If you love lighthouses, this is definitely one to visit. Plus its a great excuse to check out one of Michigan’s top state parks, Ludington State Park. Open daily through October, you can climb to the top and take a memento home from the gift shop. If the 2 mile hike to the lighthouse isn’t your thing, mark your calendars for one of the Bus Days, where for a small fee you can get a lift out the lighthouse and back.

9. Try a flight of Michigan’s craft beers IMG_1913at The Mitten Bar. Recognized as one of the Top 50 Beer Bars in the US three years in a row by DRAFT Magazine, this craft beer destination is a must see and do when visiting Ludington. They have 13 drafts of Michigan’s finest craft beers on tap at any given time. This is also a great place for food and live music too!

10. Grab an ice cream cone and watch the kids play at Waterfront Playground. Located just blocks from Waterfront Park, you must stop at House of Flavors for an ice cream cone. It is the perfect sweet treat before heading to park for some time at the playground.

11. Grab some grub on the deck at one of our many outdoor dining options. Summer is all about outdoor dining and our restaurants have some great views to enjoy. Take your pick from rooftop decks to decks overlooking the harbor.

12. Relax with your toes in the sand at any one of our beautiful beaches. Vacation in Ludington wouldn’t be complete without some relaxation and rejuvenation at the beach. With many beaches to choose from, you are sure to find the perfect place to park your chair and stick your toes in the sand.

SS Badger Sets Sail

The SS Badger is setting sail on her maiden voyage of the 2015 season on the 15th of May. There are some new and exciting things on the majestic 7-story Badger this year, one of them being a new ash conveyor system which will allow for a more environmentally friendly approach to dispose of the coal ash produced.

LighhouseSince getting her belly wet in Lake Michigan on September 6th of 1952, and setting sail in March of 1953 she has had many jobs; starting out as a ferry for rail cars she earned the name of “Queen of the Lakes” during the golden era of ferry boats in the late 1950s. The SS Badger has been working diligently since the 1970s to extend travel adventures for families and provide cross-lake access for anything from bicycles to wind turbines.

 After what was thought to be the end of her reign as the “Queen of the Lakes” in 1990 when she tied up at the dock in Ludington at the end of the sailing season in November; the belief and financial support from Charles Conrad helped what can now be considered the SS Badger reinvention with about 490 crossings per season; the 4 hour, 60 mile cruise from mid-May through mid-October has been a staple of regularity for the Ludington and Manitowoc areas now since 1992.

Notable accomplishments for the SS Badger have been awarded since 1996 when the Badgerpropulsion system aboard the ship was elected as a “mechanical engineering landmark” by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. She has been recognized since 1997 for her historical acclaims as a “Registered Historic Site” by both Michigan and Wisconsin; and also designated as a “Michigan Centennial Business” by the Historical Society of Michigan. In 2002 the Steamship Historical Society named her “Ship of the Year” and most recently, in 2009 the Badger was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior.

With great contribution from the current owners; Bob Manglitz, Don Clingan, and Jim Anderson as well as the amazing people that work proudly on the front lines as well as behind the scenes to make the Badger shine brightly against that beautiful blue Lake Michigan. Whether you are on the break wall waving to those heading out on the horizon or greeting those coming home, we are lucky to have her stately presence sitting proudly every time she docks here in Ludington. Have a smooth sail and wonderful season in 2015.


Maddison DeBaarWritten by: Maddison Tongue

Maddison recently move to Ludington with her husband after years of vacationing in the area year-round. As avid outdoors people they enjoy hiking, camping, fishing and finding any excuse to be near the water.

5 Things to do this Spring In & Around Downtown Ludington

The breezes are getting warmer, the grass is getting greener and Downtown Ludington is gearing up for the change in seasons. There are many reason to #LoveLudington, but the opportunity to live an active, outdoor lifestyle is near the top of the list for many. If you’re looking to get out, be active and enjoy the fresh air this list is for you. Here are just a few things you can do in the fresh Lake Michigan air.

1. Get that Bike Out

Save some gas money and get some exercise at the same time! Biking is a great way to travel to Downtown Ludington. You’ll find plenty racks to keep your bike while you shop or get dinner. Feeling like taking a longer ride or a day trip? Ludington State Park is 7 miles from the intersection of James Street and Ludington Ave. Once you’re there, you can enjoy refreshments at the Beach House, soak up some sun, tube the river or hike the trails before you head back to town.

2. Head to Waterfront Park

If you haven’t been to Waterfront Sculpture Park and Playground, you’re missing out. The playground has something for kiddos of all ages. You’ll find a half-mile of paved sidewalk along the perimeter of the park dotted with sculptures. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset, see the Badger come in or sail out, or grab a bench and enjoy an ice cream cone from House of Flavors, which is only a short walk from the park.

3. Do a One and Out Tour

Downtown Ludington is home to over two dozen fabulous restaurants, all within walking distance of each other. Grab a buddy (or a bunch of buddies) and share an appetizer or small plate at several establishments. Restaurants with outdoor dining include Jamesport Brewing Company, James Street Station, Blu Moon Bistro, Barley and Rye, and PM Steamers.

4. Walk the Loop

The Walking Loop covers about 2.75 miles from James Street in Downtown Ludington, past Harborview Marina, through waterfront park, along the City Marina and the canal, past the Coast Guard station, around Loomis Street Boat Launch and back down Ludington Avenue. It’s perfect for a lunch hour walk or an evening stroll. Just follow the feet!

5. Go for a Run

Ludington is 5k crazy and that’s a good thing! Many local charities put on fun runs/walks all year long to benefit people and organizations in our community. With a little bit of training, you can participate in one of these events. Here are a few route options to build up to running 3 miles.

  1. Rath Ave to Lakeshore Drive = .5 mile, so running to Stearns Park and back is 1 mile.
  2. Ludington Ave to Bryant Rd = 1 mile, so running on Rath Ave to Cartier Park and back is 2 miles
  3. Add the paved loop at Cartier Park (entrance at Bryant and Rath) and you’ve got 3 miles


Jen Tooman - HeadshotWritten by: Jen Tooman

Jen is the Marketing & Communications Manager for Downtown Ludington. She is an avid runner, loves Michigan craft beer and spending time in the great outdoors.