Explore: Wintertime in Ludington

Explore: Wintertime in Ludington

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 12, 2017)

Ludington, MI- Wintertime does not mean an end to road trips and adventure.  In fact, Michigan is beautiful when covered in the white sparkly crystals of snow.  I was lucky this weekend to have a chance to stay overnight in Ludington, on  Lake Michigan north of Muskegon.  I woke to four inches of snow that I had not expected, as well as beautiful sunshine and a lake-shore town that I had not ever explored before.

Ludington has a population of about 8,000 people as of 2010, and they are known for their amazing sand dunes and the SS Badger Car Ferry that takes up to 180 vehicles and 620 passengers to Wisconsin in the warmer months.

What I learned is that they are also big on public art.  Even in the snow, Waterfront Park looked amazing with their collection of sculptures.  Pictured here are Follow the Leader and Hooked on Hamlin by Stanley Proctor, Reflections by Irina Koukhanova and Put Me In Coach by Mark Lundsen.

North of town is Ludington State Park, with seven miles of shoreline, adorned with sand dunes and pine trees.  The park has many trails and little places to explore.  I walked along a tree identification path and found another bronze sculpture, this one of a tree with wildlife.  Deeper into the woods, along the Pere Marquette River, I found a tree that had been halfway nibbled through by a beaver.

After exploring in the woods I decided to head into to town for lunch.  Because I had so much writing to do (the real purpose of my weekend escape), I opted to get a carryout.  Luciano’s Ristoranti was a great choice. The owner, Leo, was born in Terrasini Sicily (near Palermo) in 1941. In 1960 he, his parents and siblings moved to New York City where he developed his cooking skills. He then moved to Australia for three years before moving to California, then Grand Rapids and finally to Ludington in 1998. Luciano’s is named after one of his two sons. I met the matriarch of the family, Leo’s wife Ghada who is from Jordan.  I got a pizza with green olives and feta and a fennel salad, which was completely new to my taste buds.

Downtown Ludington was also decked out for the holidays, with lights and garland accenting many of the historic main street buildings. A pocket park lined with small shops had a giant evergreen decorated with lights and tin cans with ribbons for ornaments.  A giant snowman stature greeted those who would come to drop off letters to Santa, and it seemed there was an area for events there as well.

The community’s history is well-represented in the art and historic places. Water power and woods made the city rich with shipping, farming and lumbering.  The Port of Ludington Maritime Museum seems like a good place for a future visit, as does Sandcastles Children’s Museum.  And of course there are two lighthouses – the North Breakwater Lighthouse and the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, that I will examine more closely when the weather is warm.

Traveling straight through it’s a four hour drive from Ferndale to Ludington, and the town is full of inexpensive hotel rooms on the off season.

Learn more:

Downtown Ludington

Ludington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Ludington Chamber of Commerce


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