About Our Communities
Officially, the term Harbor Country is a trademarked designation for the southwesterly portion of Berrien County, Michigan. Unofficially, it is a land sprinkled with charming hamlets, long stretches of beach, and friendly people. Harbor Country proper includes Michiana, Grand Beach, New Buffalo, Union Pier, Lakeside, Harbert, Sawyer and Three Oaks. Beginning at the Michigan state line, these tightly knit, yet individual communities encompass a stretch of about 15 miles north along Lake Michigan and 6 miles inland.
Known as the Southwest Gateway to Michigan, New Buffalo is the cornerstone city and capital of Harbor Country. At the base of Whittaker Street is the public beach, lake and riverside parks, boat launch and transient marina. New Buffalo’s harbor boasts the largest number of slips on the sunset coast at more than 1,100. Although most popular in summer, folks gather year round to enjoy the lake in her many moods, from her stormy tantrums, to her still serenity.
The Village of Three Oaks boasts of a live performance theater, several galleries, eclectic shops, a distillery and a fine arts cinema. Between the Music in the Park, the children’s programming at the library, and ”3rd Saturday Gallery Walk”, there is always something to do! The Village hosts the largest Flag Day celebration in the nation. And start training now for the Three Oaks Spokes Club’s annual ”Apple Cider Century” bicycle event when more than 7,000 cyclists enjoy 100 miles of Harbor Country trails.
The sleepy, hidden Village of Michiana, with its many charming log cabins, hugs the state line of Michigan and Indiana. The southernmost town of Harbor Country, it is the summer residence for a number of well-known Chicago celebrities and is best known for its quiet, relaxing cottage neighborhoods that lie within earshot of the Lake Michigan surf. The community’s developers honored the area’s first residents, the Indians, by using names such as Pokagon and Seminole for the village’s meandering roads. The most often heard question is ‚ “What stop are you at?” referring to the old bus route stations that still dot Lake Shore Drive. With very few streetlights, and little traffic, Michiana beaches are the perfect place to star gaze.
The Village of Grand Beach is a resort community on Lake Michigan with a population of less than 150 year-round residents. Stately white gates have welcomed visitors to Grand Beach since the early 1900s and the community’s public golf course dates to 1911. Among the most famous visitors to Grand Beach are author Father Andrew Greeley and the Mayors Daley of Chicago, who have maintained vacation homes in the village for decades.
Logging and timber were Harbor Country’s major industries in the 1870s, requiring shipping piers along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. One of those piers, Union Pier, gave its name to today’s quaint lakeshore community, formerly named Townline. Union Pier’s corner store, sweet shops, and ice cream parlor are complimented by unique antique emporiums, galleries, and grand old resorts that dot the countryside. Many fine bed & breakfasts have been welcoming repeat guests for decades.
At the turn of the century, Lakeside was home to some of the most famous Lake Michigan lakeshore resorts. Lakeside’s history, like its Harbor Country sister towns, began with logging that fed nearby Chicago’s insatiable need for lumber. This rural lakeshore location fostered the next economic chapter as a popular vacation destination for nearby Chicagoans beginning in the early 1920s. An active homeowners’ association sponsors several events during the year and fosters a strong sense of community.
In Harbert, visitors will encounter art galleries, antique shops and a wonderful variety of dining opportunities. Harbert has changed since the days Carl Sandburg roamed its wooded lanes, but has lost none of its appeal. The influence of the Scandinavian families who helped create this thriving resort community is still felt today. As the Harbert Business Association says, “Harbert is out of the ordinary, not out of the way” We couldn’t agree more.
The northernmost community of Harbor Country, Sawyer, is graced with country vineyards, a local brewery, the occasional curio shop, fruit stands and a local art center that define this town’s ”hustle and bustle.” Warren Dunes, with several hundred acres of dunelands, campgrounds and beaches is one of the largest state parks in Michigan. Visit Sawyers quaint downtown area, which features the old fashioned hardware store, a classic soda fountain, and home & garden showplace.