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Lake Magazine
Nov. 15, 2017 #50-318 LK1
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Find fall beauty, good fare in Michigan beach town

By Tinker Parker

Relax, rewind, and rejuvenate in gorgeous South Haven, Mich. Just a 2½ hour drive from Kankakee — that's all it takes to enjoy a lovely weekend getaway.

Here you'll find sandy beaches along Lake Michigan, blazing sunsets over the lake, and, right now, an abundance of fall beauty.

Once over the Michigan line, enjoy the sun-kissed fall leaves alive with color. Take time to stop at one of the many orchards that may still be open selling the last of the fruit harvest. The apples are still plentiful.

I suggest going online and renting a home if you plan to stay for the weekend. I've done this several years now and found it to be very comfortable. My family celebrates Christmas in October with what we call our "gift of memory" for our children and grandchildren. Instead of trying to find time during the busy holiday season to exchange presents for a few hours, I have my entire family under one roof for quality time — yes, a whole weekend.

Before the kids arrived, Dave and I ventured out for dinner. One of the most popular restaurants in the area is Clementine's, located downtown in a old refurbished bank building. The inside is beautifully decorated with carved wood, a tin ceiling, memorabilia, antiques and more. The food is fabulous.

Dave ordered one of their signature appetizers, the Clem's onion rings. It was deliciously fried, crispy and golden, and served on a wooden peg. They sold eight miles of rings last year. Guests can order 6- or 12-inches of rings. Of course, Dave couldn't help himself; he ordered a foot of rings! I ordered their French onion soup loaded with mozzarella cheese.

We stayed with the signature sandwiches for dinner. They have a unique selection of fish, steak and chicken dinners. I ordered the grilled chicken with a tangy raspberry sauce on grilled bread; Dave ordered the turkey ranch sandwich.

Beers consist of hard cider, craft beers from area breweries and imports, along with a good selection of wines from nearby wineries. Staying with the fall theme, I ordered a pumpkin spice martini. It was so smooth and went down too fast.

South Haven offers something for everyone. I'll share our wine trail adventure in a future column. Michigan wine tasting can undoubtedly fill a day and your trunk!

Here are some other fascinating places to visit while there:

1. Admiral Jack's Bar & Grill, 515 Williams St., is a a permanently fixed floating bar/restaurant vessel on the channel. The outdoor bar was built from six steel barges welded together. This is a great place to enjoy the channel, people watch, drink, listen to music and enjoy dinner.

2. Start the day with a cup of coffee from Julia's at the Pavillion, 561 Huron St. The coffee is terrific and roasted locally by Uncommon Grounds. The lattes are the best and they have such a unique selection: pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice, caramel mocha and more. They are open for breakfast: Red, white and green scrambled egg dishes are made with tomato, basil pesto or Harvarti cheese, all wrapped in a flour tortilla. For lunch, try a homemade cranberry turkey chutney sandwich with whipped cream cheese. Vegetarian? There's a hummus sandwich with cucumbers, carrots and more. Before you leave purchase one of the exclusive raw bars made with peanut butter, flax, sesame seeds and more healthy stuff. It's so good and so filling.

3. We spent some quality time at the South Haven Farmers Market, where everything must be grown locally (a stringent criterion to be able to sell products). Find large pumpkins of every shape and color, bushels of apples, baskets of pears, vegetables of every kind and bales of straw with large colorful mums waiting to be sold. Vendors also sell handmade jewelry and soaps. Unfortunately, it is closed for the season, but make sure you visit next year.

4. The name Ec*lec*tic says it all. Located at 204 Center St., it's unique to say the least, but what a fun place to stop in. The coffees and drinks are unbelievably different. Find specialty art, collectors items and books, plus gourmet cheeses, bread mixes, jellies, jams and gelato ready to carry out. Most of the items are from local vendors. Dave left with a container of dark chocolate covered walnuts to carry with him.

5. Late afternoon folks stop by Kilwin's Chocolates South Haven, 415 Phoenix St., for some of the best chocolate candies around. They are known for their fudge and caramel turtles, but this time of year you can't leave without buying giant caramel apples made with homemade caramel and loaded with nuts. The caramel is made right there in a huge copper pot. Buy a box of handmade candies to share with friends and family. It's a little pricey but so worth it.

Tinker Parker can be reached at 815-802-5101, at bestbites@daily-journal.com, or follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/TDJBestBites.​

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