Sister Lakes, Michigan
The Sister Lakes region is twenty miles inland of Lake Michigan, but home to eleven lakes in a six-mile radius, creating a bounty of local lakefront property and ample access to boating and water sports, as well as swimming and fishing.
The Sister Lakes region rose to popularity as a vacation destination for Chicagoans in 1911 when the region’s largest town, Dowagiac, became easily accessible by train from Chicago. Resort owners soon began engaging in fierce competition for the attention of tourists from the big city. One resort owner even acquired two black bears which were fed publicly every night for their visitors’ entertainment.
Sister Lakes has changed greatly since those early days. Most visitors now own or rent private homes instead of staying at resorts, and spend their time on the lake on Jet Skis and motorboats instead of rowboats and canoes.
But several throwbacks remain, enhancing the area’s charm. In 1990, the Beckwith Theatre Company revived a local theater tradition that was hugely popular in the area’s heyday. The company now produces up to six shows throughout the year. There is also a golf course that has been open nearly 100 years. And the 5-Mile Drive-In stays open all summer long, as does Driftwood, a popular old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream shop in operation for more than 70 years.
Because Sister Lakes sits in the heart of Michigan’s fruit belt, there is also an abundance of local farms to visit. Some, like Sprague’s Family Fun Farm, also offer hayrides and other amusements for the kids and allow visitors to pick their own raspberries, blueberries, and peaches in the summer and apples in the fall.
Visitors to Sister lakes can also enjoy at least some of those local crops in liquid form by sampling locally made hard cider, wine, and, of course, beer at the Sister Lakes Brewery, which opened in 2016.