Mid-July ushers in this year’s blueberry season. For four weeks blueberries are ripe, juicy and ready to be picked. Nothing tastes more like summer than fresh blueberries, so get out of town and head to Southwest Michigan for a day of blueberries, beaches and burgers.
Warren Dunes State Park
Located about 2 1/2 hours from Chicago, the Blueberry Patch in Sawyer, Mich., is worth a day trip. Heading out from Chicago in the morning, you’ll arrive in Michigan just in time for an early lunch. Redamak’s in New Buffalo is the perfect pit stop: This roadside diner has been serving freshly ground and hand-formed burgers topped with gooey cheese and fries since the 1940s. Enjoy the fresh air and dine on the back porch, and don’t forget to check out the charming antique store just next door.
The Blueberry Patch is about a 10-minute drive from Redamak’s. Grab a bucket, head to the patch and watch out for itinerant bears (a good pre-trip read is the classic Blueberries for Sal by Robert McClowsky). Warning: blueberries are more likely to end up in your belly than your bucket, but rest assured that the entire family will meet summertime antioxidant recommendations.
You’ll also find Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, a 1,950-acre park featuring three miles of unspoiled Lake Michigan shoreline. Enjoy a swim, take a hike on one of the marked trails, or, for more adventuresome families, explore your way 240 feet up the highest Dune formation, Tower Hill (on a clear day, you can see the Chicago skyline).
If you’d prefer to stay the night, campsites are available or book your very own summer cottage — some feature pools and private beach access — at swmichigan.org/cottages.htm .