Silver Beach is located in St. Joseph, Michigan at the mouth of the St. Joseph River and nestled on the shores of one of the great lakes of America, Lake Michigan, which is the second-largest of the five great lakes by volume and is only slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia! Silver Beach is located in the County Park and features a clean, wide beach with public access to the South Pier. Of the Park’s 2,450 feet of Lake Michigan frontage, approx. 1,600 feet are dedicated for a public swimming area in the summer months providing travellers and tourists alike the chance to lounge in the Midwestern Sun along the shores of the beautiful Great Lakes region which are the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth!
With seven exquisite beaches, each with comfortable and convenient amenities, St. Joseph, Michigan is more than a beach-lover’s dream so no matter what you’re planning, be it a beach weekend getaway with your family or a day’s escape in the sun, you can find your perfect piece of paradise at one of St. Joseph’s beautiful beaches. The regions beaches include literally thousands of sprawling acres of State Parkland, with modern and rustic campsites, bathrooms and showers, hiking trails, sand dunes, family fun playgrounds, picnic areas and much more, providing you with countless opportunities to explore or relax! However, despite the vast number of beaches in the region, none can quite match the beauty of Silver Beach!
Silver Beach at St. Joseph is one of the best-known and most-loved beaches for the entire great lakes area. Providing visitors access to endless miles of yellow sandy beaches for lounging, nearby beautiful acres of dunes, winding hiking trails and lakefront camping. A trip to Silver Beach means you can stake out your campsite, disconnect, unwind, and bask in the peace and tranquility of the surrounding wildlife. Relax on the beach and swim in Lake Michigan during the day, explore the woods or have a picnic in the afternoon, cozy up by the fire in the evening, and enjoy an unforgettable vacation to Silver Beach.
History of Silver Beach
Silver Beach previously operated as a rail to boat loading center and was owned and operated by the Pere Marquette Railroad, however it opened as a resort in 1891 when local businessmen in boat building Logan Drake and Louis D. Wallace built vacation cottages off the shoreline, named the beach resort as the Silver Beach Amusement Park and opened for business in 1896. The amusement park was opened on the land between the lake and mouth of the river in St. Joseph and as the park aged and grew in popularity, the pair added many attractions, including concessions, games, a pool, a boardwalk and different rides. The first roller coaster was built in 1904 and was called the Chase Through the Clouds and the park continued to prosper as the years passed, adding many popular attractions such as the carousel and the Shadowland Ballroom, built in 1927.
However, following the boom of America in the 1950s, the park began to decline in popularity during the 1960s and 1970s, resulting in the buildings decaying, the rides breaking down and the crowds decreasing in regularity and numbers. In 1970 an increase in crime around the region at the time resulted in the park being shut down by the police after a criminal incident occurred. The park would be dismantled and sold on over the next 20 years.
Silver Beach would become a Berrien County Park in the early 1990s, and from then onwards many improvements would be made over the years to make it a premier tourist destination in Southwest Michigan, with a beautiful beach and a unique town to visit alongside. A pier was built to provide views out across the lakes pristine waters and a variety of facilities have been built to accommodate all kinds of beach goers, from family days out to the solo traveller looking for a spot to watch the sunset across the great Lakes of the Midwest!
Below we have provided some detailed features on one of the most popular beaches in the great Midwest, as well as the activities and sights you can expect from this prime beach destination!
Silver Beach County Park
Silver Beach is the busiest of beaches in the St Joseph Area, and for good reason! With more than 20 beach volleyball courts, playground equipment and lifeguards on duty during the summer, it suits those who are most interested in being active on their beach day. Visitors can access the South Pier, at the mouth of the St. Joseph River which provides a beautiful view of the St. Joseph Lighthouse, which is located on the North Side Pier, across the river mouth.
Silver Beach is located within walking distance of many of St. Joseph’s greatest attractions and provides entertainment for all kinds of travellers and beach trippers! If you are traveling with the family take the kids to the Whirlpool Compass Fountain to enjoy a variety of water slides and features! Or take in the historic Silver Beach Carousel which teaches children about the area’s local history, told uniquely using 18 rounding boards with historic photographs. Steps away from the carousel is also Michigan’s tallest kaleidoscope and Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone which provides an entertaining place for toddlers to teens alike to explore water exhibits, a climbing wall and traveling exhibits.
Warren Dunes State Park
For the wilderness loving beachgoer, the Warren Dunes located just twenty minutes from Silver Beach provides a beautiful beach filled with unmatched beauty, the dunes rise and fall and a variety of trails wind throughout the park, offering views from all levels of the dunes and beach.
Give yourself plenty of time to explore. Hike the large sand dune and look out over the coastline to get a view you have never seen before, a perfect spot to stop and take in the sunset. Walk along the stream and find the clay pit and If you are an adventurer, try skim boarding along the stream. Warren Dunes is a more natural environment than many beaches and as such has many species to keep your eyes out for.
Accommodation in Silver Beach
- For holiday makers who don’t want to break the bank but who also don’t want to compromise on essential features and amenities Econo lodge is an excellent choice of accommodation. At this motel style accommodation, you will find clean, fully air conditioned rooms and for as little as $60 a night, including free breakfast the Econo lodge is worth the slightly longer 1.8mi trip to Silver Beach.
- If you are looking for a mid range option that represents a classy and convenient hotel only 0.3mi stroll from the beach, then look no further than the Boulevard Inn. With prices from $90 a night you get large recently renovated rooms, air conditioning, high speed internet and free breakfast in the hotel’s charming and highly regarded restaurant. And with a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice award, what’s not to love?
- However, if you want the pinnacle of what St. Josephs has to offer then the The Inn at Harbor Shores Resort is the place to book. Slightly more expensive, with rooms from $110 per night, however this represents real value for money. With beautiful rooms, including a personal private balcony as well as complimentary access to the fitness and wellness centre with indoor and outdoor pools, and all with a waterfront view. And for guests with a gastronomical disposition there’s the hotel’s renowned waterfront restaurant, Plank’s tavern, a dockside bar as well as Rise & Vine the hotels coffee shop and wine bar.
Weather and Seasonal Events
Winters in Silver Beach are cold, snowy and often windy but don’t be put off! Even with average Winter temperatures of 30°F there’s plenty to keep every visitor entertained! The highlight of the Winter months in St Joseph is the holiday season, and with a festive bluff and holiday light displays all the way up to mid- February there’s plenty of time to pay a visit to Santa and his reindeers parading down the streets. But if quaint postcard perfect stores and galleries aren’t your thing, then why not head out onto the mirror smooth waters of the lake and paddle along coastline lined with jaw dropping ice formations on the many lighthouses and piers. Don’t fancy heading out onto the icy lake? Wrap up warm and head to Warren Dunes state park, grab a sled and get ready for an adrenaline fuelled workout going up and down the snow-covered dunes.
As Spring rolls in and the snow and ice begin to thaw you can expect warmer temperatures with averages of around 55°F and the harsh winds easing to gentle breezes blowing the sweet smell of blossom in from the region’s orchards and vineyards. The longer, warmer days are the perfect opportunity to grab those fishing poles and sit by the lake in a crimson-gold sunset just drinking it all in. The bloom of flowers in May is marked by the Blossomtime festival and its eye-catching shows and parades. Soon followed by the Senior PGA championship in Centennial Park, what better excuse to grab a set of golf clubs and head out onto the fairway!
With averages of 75°F throughout the summer months Silver Beach becomes the place to be. With glorious sunny days where better to be than relaxing on Silver Beach with the sand between your toes. If lazy days filled with sandcastle making and picnics isn’t your pace or if you just want to mix things up a little then head out on to the lake in your watercraft of choice and surf your way through the wide-open spaces of the lake. Summer also hosts the “I Love Art Surrey Scavenger Hunt” in St Joseph so why not head into town and sample some of the original art and antiques the local area has to offer.
Fall marks the renowned Michigan fall colours, and this natural beauty alone is reason enough to make Silver Beach and the surrounding area a Fall destination. With temperatures staying warm at around 55°F there’s no reason not to hire a bicycle in town or slide into your hiking boots and explore the local trails to witness the beautiful Autumnal vistas. With the peak of the colours around late October in St. Joseph as well as all the other benefits of the lake that can be enjoyed all year round there’s no reason that St Joseph can’t be the perfect Fall getaway.
How to get there
Silver Beach is easily accessible from the nearby South Bend International Airport. There are public bus and train routes, however these involve travel to Chicago and take over 6 hours and are therefore not recommended. Check out the best flight deals.
A rental car or taxi will provide you the fastest route and will help you travel the 33-mile journey in around 37 minutes, a taxi will cost you around $130 and you can get a rental car from between $45 to $90 for the day, or cheaper if hiring for the week, dependent on the vehicle.
The Park is open from 5 a.m. to Dusk, daily. Vehicles must leave the parking lot upon closing. Over-night parking is not allowed. The Park is open year-around.
Daily Parking Fee at Silver Beach: $6 per vehicle for Berrien County residents; $12 per vehicle for non-Berrien County residents.
Purchase an Annual Entrance Permit for only $35, regardless of residency.
Parking space at Silver Beach is on a first come first serve basis.
There is no cost to walk into the park.
Please note: Silver Beach County Park is a County Park. The Michigan State Park Recreation Passport does NOT pertain to this County Park.
Large vehicles, including school busses, must pay for the number of spaces taken up by the vehicle and surrounding set up, if any. $6 per parking space for Berrien County residents; $12 per parking space for non-Berrien County residents. Receipts are available. Overnight parking is prohibited. Vehicles must be out of the parking lot upon park closing.
A real gem of southwest Michigan, Silver Beach is a fantastic destination for travellers from near and far. Its iconic soft sands and glassy waters make it the perfect place for those looking to relax and unwind as well as those who want to venture out and surf the mighty waves of the Lake. So, for the year-round perfect destination for all why not try the stunning Silver Beach.