Visitors still have time to enjoy a warm-weather trip to the beachfront resort community of Ludington, and plenty to do and see once they arrive, including two new attractions—Ludington Harbor Tours on Lake Michigan and Ludington Splash Pad at Copeyon Park—plus the Detroit Institute of Arts Inside|Out outdoor art installation through November. Also, fall attractions beckon, such as the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum’s new Armistice Day exhibit and a modified Octoberfest event.
“The Ludington area offers a perfect and affordable getaway on one tank of gas from most major Midwest cities,” says Brandy Miller, executive director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We continue to add new attractions to our offerings, in addition to being home to stunning natural resources where you can get off the grid. And we have put many safety precautions into place to help reassure visitors. Squeeze in one last summer trip to Ludington, or plan a fall visit when crowds lessen yet the weather is still stellar.”
New Attractions & Exhibits
The Ludington area has recently opened or plans to open the following new permanent attractions, which will be open through the fall (in some cases, weather permitting):
- Ludington Harbor Tours // Lake Street Marina
The Princess of Ludington is plying the waters of Pere Marquette Lake and Lake Michigan with weekly themed shoreline tours. At 65 feet long and holding 149 passengers, the 1973 tour boat first served as a ferry to Mackinac Island and then the Apostle Islands in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Visitors can choose tours of Pere Marquette Lake and along the Lake Michigan shoreline to sights like Big Sable Point Lighthouse and Ludington Pumped Storage Plant, or a sunset cruise. Tours range from 90 minutes to three hours, with pricing at $20-30 for adults, $7-12 for children, and free for infants. Groups also can reserve the Princess of Ludington for private charters. Opened in July.
- Ludington Splash Pad // Copeyon Park
This 3,000-square-foot splash pad with non-slip surface overlooking Pere Marquette Lake features 12 ground sprays, six water features, plus a variety of showers, streams and mists at different heights for recreational water play. The free splash pad is adjacent to the playground and picnic grounds at Copeyon Park daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day (possibly extending if the weather stays warm), from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The splash pad is connected to the parking lot via an ADA-accessible paved path. Opened in July.
- Historic White Pine Village // Beyond the Game Exhibit // Opening in September
This interactive exhibit will help visitors understand and appreciate the value of sports and its impact both locally and nationally. This exhibit features the history of many popular sports and explores the important lessons that involvement in these sports can teach, using both inductees in the Mason County Hall of Fame plus professional athletes as examples. It also features memorabilia from Detroit Tigers players such as a uniform from Alan Trammell and a signed baseball from Armando Galarraga.
- Historic White Pine Village // Traveling in Time Exhibit // Opening in September
Seven historic and iconic vehicles from 1917 to 1967 are on display in this exhibit that provides a visual timeline of how personal travel has changed over seven decades. The oldest and most significant vehicle, a Detroit Electric Opera Coupe, was owned by Ludington lumber baron Warren Antoine Cartier. Only 13,000 such cars were manufactured, and this is one of only a handful on display. Part of this exhibit, which ties to the sports exhibit above, includes rare images of special vehicles awarded to Detroit Tiger players—a common practice for outstanding baseball players since early in the 20th century.
- Port of Ludington Maritime Museum // Armistice Day Exhibit // Opening in October
This major permanent addition to the maritime museum commemorates the Armistice Day Storm 80 years ago on Nov. 11, 1940, that killed 154 people (including 64 sailors) on Lake Michigan. This exhibit takes visitors back to experience the storm that converged over Lake Michigan, causing disastrous effects such as swallowing fishing tugs, damaging steamships and causing its worst destruction between Little and Big Sable Points—grounding a ferry and sinking three freighters. Visitors can explore the sunken freighters, see the power of the storm and learn how the National Weather Service assured that Americans would never be caught as unprepared for future storms again.
Events & Temporary Programs
Ludington is also offering events and temporary exhibits in late summer and fall, with more details to be released as events draw closer.
- Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Inside|Out program // Various Locations Downtown // Through November
Ludington is one of six northern Michigan communities participating in the DIA’s Inside|Out program that brings high-quality reproductions from its permanent art collection of 65,000 works to outdoor venues throughout Michigan. In its 11th year, this program comes to Ludington for the first time, in partnership with the Ludington Area Center for the Arts (LACA). Visitors can share their favorite artwork on social media with #LACAInsideOut. The eight pieces, featuring artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, and their respective venues are listed on a walking map on the LACA’s website. Locations including Rotary and Waterfront Parks, Ludington Municipal and Harbor View Marinas, Ludington Area Center for the Arts, Mason County District Library, and the S.S. Badger—the first traveling piece from the Inside|Out program, and the first to travel outside of Michigan.
- Summer Live Music Series // James Street Plaza // Thursdays and Fridays, 5–8 p.m. through Sept. 4
Enjoy free live music performances on an outside stage from your lawn chair or blanket.
- Octoberfest // Downtown // Sept. 20–Oct. 4
While the event will look a little different this year without group gatherings, businesses still will participate in this two-week celebration with German-themed food, drinks and other specials. Check downtownludington.org/Octoberfest for updates.
- Coast-to-Coast Gravel Grinder // Oct. 3 (Rescheduled from June 27)
Choose between the 210-mile Lake Huron to Lake Michigan route or the 100-mile Ludington route of this rugged bicycle race along gravel roads and signature two-tracks, including through Manistee National Forest—finishing at Ludington’s Stearns Park Beach on Lake Michigan.
In addition to events and activities, Mason County offers plenty of outdoor spaces for safe social distancing:
Ludington has 28 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, with top beaches including Stearns Park Beach, Ludington State Park with seven miles of shoreline and dog-friendly Buttersville Beach.
Mason County has 2,000 miles of streams, three rivers and more than 40 inland lakes in addition to its Lake Michigan shoreline.
Ludington has more than 40 miles of trails, from the Cartier Pathway to 25+ miles in Ludington State Park to Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. Cyclists have 10 miles of single track in the city limits.
Ludington is the #1 salmon fishing port in Michigan, with more than 45 licensed charter boats available for hire through the Ludington Charter Boat Association.
Ludington features three golf courses in the city and more in the surrounding area: Hemlock Golf Club, Lakeside Links and Lincoln Hills Golf Club, a semi-private country club on Lake Michigan.
- Disc golf
Mason County boasts six disc golf courses: Mason County Park with three courses, Ludington School Forest with two courses, Scottville Riverside Park with The Edge and WSCC’s Labyrinth.
- Mason County Cultural Trails // Six self-guided cultural trails
Agriculture, Barn Quilt, Lumber Heritage, Music Heritage, Maritime Heritage and Sculpture: The Cultural Trails offer audio narration via smartphone about Mason County’s history.
Traveling in Michigan During the COVID-19 Pandemic
To help travelers visit Mason County safely during COVID-19, staysafemasoncounty.com provides safety information about businesses such as lodging, dining and drinking, shopping, attractions and services. More information also is at pureludington.com/COVID-19.