Best Things to Do in Union Pier Michigan (+Itinerary)

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Looking for a getaway from Chicago? We created this post for the best things to do in Union Pier so that you can start a fantastic 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!

From hiking scenic trails and strolling through charming orchards to browsing quaint shops and indulging in delectable local cuisine, there is no shortage of captivating things to do near Union Pier.

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.

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Where is Union Pier

Union Pier, Michigan is about 70 miles from downtown Chicago.

How to Get to Union Pier from 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

Surrounded by the natural beauty of Lake Michigan, when it comes to the charming town of Union Pier things to do, you’ll find yourself browsing artisan shops and galleries, hiking scenic trails, or indulging in farm-to-table cuisine.

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 one of the Union Pier beaches for wet fun!

Shopping

union pier
Credit: J. Quaynor

Southwest Michigan is a treasure trove for antique enthusiasts, boasting some of the best vintage finds in the area.

You’ll find some of the best places to stop with abundant antique stores and markets filled with rare collections and everyday gems.

I love to browse through shelves of previously-loved books, rummage through boxes of glittering costume jewelry, and gaze at displays of ornate glassware.

On my shopping hauls, I have also uncovered household goods from bygone eras, upcycled vinyl records creatively transformed into home decor, and jars of all sizes with that nostalgic mason finish.

You won’t want to miss the antique and consignment shops overflowing with furniture, quilts, and other textiles rich with history.

Southwest Michigan offers endless opportunities for antique lovers to explore, from major markets to small specialty shops off the beaten path.

With such a remarkable selection, you’re sure to find treasured keepsakes and decor to cherish for years to come.

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. 

Mazet Antiques

📍16860 Three Oaks Rd, Three Oaks, MI 49128

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! 

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.

Some accommodations are only 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.

Union Pier Weather

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

During the summer 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.

Average Temperatures

Temperature Bar Chart

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.

The warmest months for visiting are July and August, while the coolest months are October and November.

You simply can’t beat the summer weather in Union Pier.

Union Pier Michigan Restaurants

union pier
Credit: Timothy’s Restaurant

The town may be small town but Union Pier restaurants are serving up big, bold flavors that keep locals and travelers coming back for more.

Union Pier Social

📍16036 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier, MI 49129

Why this restaurant: Outdoor patio, Live music, Beach decor
What to order: Baby Back Ribs, Blues Grinder, Southwest Chicken Flatbread
Best for: Vegan, Vegetarian, Meat lovers
Price: $$

Union Pier Social is a newly renovated spot for casual dining in the heart of the town. It is only two blocks from the beach and has great craft beer, wine, and cocktail selections.

The warm and inviting atmosphere makes a great setting to enjoy comfort foods like baby back ribs, and backed mac and cheese.

Timothy’s Union Pier

📍Address: 16409 Red Arrow Hwy, Union Pier

Why this restaurant: Farm to table ingredients, flavorable dishes
What to order: Chilean Sea Bass, Bang Bang Shrimp, Scallops
Best for: Vegetarians, Seafood lovers
Price: $$$

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 about their 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

Why this restaurant: Great American comfort food, Indoor/Outdoor Dining
What to order: Broasted Chicken, Roadhouse Buffalo Wings
Best for: Casual family diners
Price: $$

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! 

Black Currant Bakehouse

📍 Address: 9911 Town Line Ave, Union Pier

Why this restaurant: Fresh local coffee, scrumptious baked goods.
What to order: Broasted Chicken, Roadhouse Buffalo Wings
Best for: Coffee and pastry lovers, Vegetarians
Price: $

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.

A Weekend Itinerary

Day 1:

Morning:

  • 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 Warren Dunes State Park, one of the most beautiful stretches of sand along Lake Michigan.

Afternoon:

  • 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.

Evening:

  • 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:

Morning:

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

Afternoon:

  • 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.

Evening:

  • Have dinner at 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., a popular local brewery.

Union Pier Map

Final Thoughts on Union Pier Michigan

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.

Safe travels.



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4 Comments

  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!

  2. temp mail says:

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    1. Tanya Taylor says:

      Thank you for your kindness. It is a lot of work and I hope you found the information helpful. If there is information or a destination that you want to know more about, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.