Best Things to Do in Union Pier (+ 2-Day Itinerary)

Looking for a getaway from Chicago? Try this itinerary for a weekend on the southwestern part of the Great Lakes.

Welcome to the weekend spotlight on Union Pier where you’ll find the best things to do, our recommendation of places to eat, the best spots to shop, where to stay, and a suggested itinerary!


About Union Pier

Union Pier may be one of the best-kept secrets on the shores of Lake Michigan.

This small beach town is a great alternative to nearby coastal towns that are densely populated, like Michigan City and St. Joseph.

Union Pier has much to offer for a weekend vacation with a hint of refinement. Row your way across the waterways on a paddleboard or in a kayak.

Rent bikes to get around town and explore the back roads and landscapes of the Great Lake State.

Ending the day with bites as you watch the sunset will create memories that last a lifetime.

How to Get to Union Pier from Chicago

Union Pier is about 70 miles from downtown Chicago. Take the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-94) east to the Chicago Skyway (I-90), continue east on the Indiana Toll Road, then reconnect with eastbound I-94.

If you prefer to skip the toll fees, Take the Dan Ryan Expressway to I-94 E to Michigan. Union Pier is right over the Michigan border (Exit 6).

Best Things to Do in Union Pier

union pier
Credit: St. Julian Winery & Distillery

St. Julian Winery & Distillery

📍Address: 9145 Union Pier Rd, Union Pier

If you are a wine lover, stop at the St. Julian Winery & Distillery. The wines are made solely from grapes grown on the shores of Lake Michigan.

It’s the most popular draw in Union Pier and you can enjoy tastings from a selection of their award-winning wines. And it’s one of many wineries that you can experience on the southwest wine trail of Michigan.

Stop for a tasting, it’s less than $10 for a flight. Make a stop at the nearby Round Barn Tasting Roo

Round Barn Tasting Room

📍Address: 9185 Union Pier Rd, Union Pier

There’s vino and more at the nearby Round Barn Tasting Room. You’ll find everything from beer and spirits to slushies and cider, plush their large range of wine.

It’s one of many on the south Michigan wine trails.

Red Arrow Ride

📍Address: 16110 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier

Prefer outdoor adventures? The Red Arrow Ride has you covered!

It’s a one-stop beach shop where you can rent bikes, kayaks, mopeds, paddleboards, and Maui mats.

They also offer souvenirs, t-shirts, beach toys, inflatables, swimwear, apparel, footwear, accessories, water gear, and accessories.

Then head over to the Town Line Beach, Berrien Public, or Union Pier Beach for wet fun!

Where to Stay in Union Pier

A stay near Union Pier Michigan would be a dream come true. Just a few miles away is a lovely lake with a range of incredible homes, bed and breakfasts, that provide the perfect getaway experience.

With amazing views of the lake and beautiful landscapes, it is no wonder why so many people love to stay here.

You can choose from cottages, lake houses, cozy bed and breakfasts, and more, depending on your needs and budget.

These accommodations are about .5 mile from the center of town and near beach access.

They are perfectly located for you to enjoy the Great Lake or a stroll at sunset. You can also read our reviews of the best accommodations in Union Pier.

  • Gordon Beach Inn
  • The Inn at Union Pier
  • Garden Grove Inn Bed & Breakfast
  • Goldberry Woods
  • Pier Michigan
  • Leo Cottage
  • Union Pier Alex Cottage
  • Cozy Union Pier House
  • Lakeshore Luxury

At any time of the year, a visit to Union Pier Michigan can be magical.

During the warmer months, you can take a swim in the lake or take a boat ride out to the secluded beaches, making for an incredibly tranquil day.

At night, you can sit out on your deck and take in the gorgeous night sky.

In the winter, the landscape transforms into a serene and peaceful wonderland, and you can cuddle up inside for a warm, relaxing time.

Best Places to Eat in Union Pier

union pier
Credit: Timothy’s Restaurant

Union Pier may be a small town but when it comes to feasting big on flavors, these restaurants are serving plenty.  

The Grove

📍 Address: 16220 Lakeshore Rd, Union Pier

The Grove is the place to stop for amazing food where Ecuador-born Chef Eduardo shares his passion for the best Latin flavors. Every dish is freshly made and served in generous portions.

Some of the delicious South American dishes include the House Paella and Latin Lamb Stew.

The atmosphere is warm and inviting and you’ll love the screened-in porch with woodsy views. Children under 10 eat free with the purchase of an adult meal.  

Timothy’s Place

📍Address: 16409 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier

Timothy’s Place, an Asian-inspired restaurant, is from farm to table and designed to impress. You’ll feast on flavors that contrast but, at the same time, complement each other.

Diners rave unique creations like the coconut-macadamia-nut crusted grouper, flash-fried beets, filet mignon, and Yuzu jumbo shrimp and sea scallops, followed by flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Dine inside the elegant geodesic domes for a unique experience.

Red Arrow Roadhouse

📍 Address: 16409 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier

Red Arrow Roadhouse is a comfy place to relax and throw back a few cold ones. It has all the ambiance of a country finger food emporium. This roadside family restaurant has fried chicken, wings, sliders, and crab cakes. And that is just the starting line-up! 

Frankie’s Place

📍 Address:16036 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier

This restaurant serves seafood and steaks, but the menu is flexible enough for vegetarians. Frankie’s is one of the best dining experiences in southwest Michigan and customers love to visit.

Seating is comfortable, the music/ambiance is extraordinary, and dining alfresco in the warmer months is a bonus.

Try their shrimp mac and cheese which has cavatappi pasta stirred in a warm creamy robe of four-cheese sauce. The meatloaf is killer and worth a repeat visit.

Black Currant Bakehouse

📍 Address: 9911 Town Line Ave, Union Pier

Black Currant Bakehouse is the right place to be when you want a sweet treat or refreshments. Ingredients are fresh and regionally sourced for delicious sandwiches and baked goods.

A quaint place to try a savory scone, giant cinnamon roll, or maple pecan scone. Or sample the seasonal drinks like maple latte and vanilla cardamom steamer.

Blue Plate Cafe

📍 Address: 15288 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier

Wonderful hidden treasure in Union Pier along Red Arrow Highway! Visit us for made-to-order breakfast, brunch, and lunch options, as well as daily specials. Definitely try the breakfast dishes like whole wheat pancakes with blueberries.

Best Places to Shop in Union Pier

union pier
Credit: J. Quaynor

Southwest Michigan has some of the best antique finds in the region. Looking for an avid collector of books, costume jewelry, glass, household goods, repurposed vinyl albums, vintage mason jars, plentiful antiques, quilts, and more.

Wine Sellers

📍16409 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier

The Wine Sellers has been serving the community for decades. Wines are not just from Michigan but include varietal labels from around the world. 

Plum Tree

📍16337 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier, MI 49129

Plum Tree specializes in antiques and collectibles.

Local Color Gallery

📍16187 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier, MI 49129

The Local Color Gallery showcases beautiful and inspired artwork from over 90 artists. 


📍15300 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier, MI 49129

Mazet is the place to find antiques and antique dealers.

Take an exploratory drive along Red Arrow Highway through New Buffalo, Union Pier, Three Oaks, Harbert and Sawyer to find more independently-owned businesses and shop small! 

A Weekend Itinerary

Day 1:


  • Start your day with a delicious breakfast at the Red Arrow Roadhouse. Try their famous biscuits and gravy or indulge in some pancakes.
  • Take a stroll along the beach at the Warren Dunes State Park, one of the most beautiful stretches of sand along Lake Michigan.


  • Head over to Round Barn Estate, a winery that also offers beer and spirits. Take a tour of the winery, enjoy some tastings, and grab lunch at the Public House.
  • Spend the afternoon browsing the unique boutiques and shops in downtown New Buffalo.


  • Enjoy dinner at the Stray Dog Bar & Grill, a local favorite. Try their award-winning burgers or fresh seafood dishes.
  • Take a sunset walk along the beach at New Buffalo Public Beach.

Day 2:


  • Have breakfast at the Whistle Stop Grocery, a quaint local store that also serves up delicious breakfast items.
  • Head over to the nearby Galien River County Park for a morning hike or kayak ride.


  • Drive to the nearby town of Three Oaks and visit the Journeyman Distillery. Take a tour of the distillery, sample some of their spirits, and enjoy lunch at the Staymaker restaurant.
  • Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the unique shops and galleries in Three Oaks.


  • Have dinner at the Timothy’s Restaurant, a local gem known for its excellent food and cozy atmosphere.
  • Cap off the night with a drink at the Greenbush Brewing Co. or the Tapestry Brewing Co., two popular local breweries.

Final Thoughts on Union Pier

If you like the outdoors, sandy beaches, quaint towns, boutique shopping, or antiquing, Union Pier offers all of the above.

It makes for a fun-filled weekend for a girl’s getaway, a nice couple’s retreat, or a family road trip from Chicago.

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  1. Bea Pinnegar says:

    Union Pier sounds like such an incredible place! The food and stay scene both look exciting – thanks for such a wonderful guide!

    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      Union Pier is a recipe for a great summer weekend, I’m glad you enjoyed it!