8+ Free Things to do in Ludington Michigan

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8+ Free Things to do in Ludington Michigan

To celebrate our 21 Anniversary (July 22), hubby and I made the 3.5-hour trek to Ludington, MI. We choose Ludington for the beautiful beaches and views of Lake Michigan. As frugal vacationers, we are always searching for fun things to do that are either FREE or inexpensive. During this recent trip, we were able to find plenty of affordable or free activities in the area. Below is a list of 8+ free things to do in Ludington, Michigan. 

8+ Free Things to do in Ludington Michigan

Stearns Park and Beach

This public park has so much to offer that it’s possible to spend a whole day there! With 2,500 feet of sandy shoreline, you can swim, build a sandcastle, view the Ludington North Breakwater Light, take a 1/2 mile walk to the lighthouse, have a picnic, play mini-golf, enjoy the playground and skatepark, and watch a beautiful sunset! The park has plenty of free parking and offers two concession stands with restrooms! 

S.S. Badger 

The S.S. Badger is the last coal-fired passenger steamship in operation in the United States. She has provided a fun, reliable, and affordable shortcut across beautiful Lake Michigan for more than 60 years and has transported millions of passengers since her re-birth in 1992.

You can view the S.S. Badger in port right from the waterfront in downtown Ludington. And if you time it just right, you might be able to see the ship leave or return from one of its trips. There are also 2-hour cruises available for a fee. 

The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant 

The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant sits on a 1000-acre site along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Visitors can climb to the observation deck, which overlooks the plant’s 842-acre reservoir. The view is incredible from the top, with Stearns Beach and the Ludington North Breakwater Light clearly visible in the distance. The observation deck is open Memorial Day-Labor Day.

Summit Township Park

Located on S. Lakeshore Drive past the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant, this park offers Lake Michigan beach access, a large play structure, playground equipment, a tennis court, ball fields, a picnic area, and a restroom. Off the beaten path, this park may offer more privacy and fewer crowds. 

The Jam Farm 

The Jam Farm is a 40-acre working family farm located less than a mile away from Lake Michigan in Ludington. Lois Gieleghem works in her licensed kitchen to make sweet and or savory jams, preserves, bread and dip mixes, and yummy granola. The fruit comes from the farm on the premises or neighboring farms. Samples are available before making a purchase.

Lakeshore Drive Roadside Beaches 

The drive to Ludington State Park provides multiple opportunities to stop along the road, park, and find the perfect beach spot! If you are looking for a more secluded area to enjoy the sand, water, and views, you will find plenty of options along Lakeshore Drive. 

Watch the Sunset

The beachfront along Lake Michigan provides plenty of options for watching the sunset. Choose a spot along Lakeshore Drive or enjoy one of the many benches or picnic tables at Stearns Park. You can also choose to remain in your car in the parking lot for the spectacular view. 


There are more than just seagulls along the beach of Lake Michigan. If you like birdwatching, you can find swans, Canadian geese, wild turkeys, bald eagles, ring-billed gulls, red-bellied woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, common ravens, tufted titmice, northern cardinals, and more. During our recent stay in Ludington, hubby spotted two bald eagles in Stearns Park. They were in a tree in the grassy area between the road and the parking lot. Below is one of the photos he took with his camera. 

Visit the State Park 

You can visit Ludington State Park for FREE if you have an annual pass. If you do not, you will be required to purchase one before entering. The cost of the pass at the park is $17 (Recreation Passport fee + $5 convenience fee). You can save $5 by purchasing an annual pass when you renew your license plate registration through the Secretary of State. Annual passes are good for all state parks in Michigan. This 5,300-acre park is home to three campgrounds, sandy beaches, playgrounds, scenic sand dunes, plenty of trails for walking and biking, the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, wetlands, marshlands, and forests.

Have you been to Ludington? What is your favorite thing to do while visiting the area? 

Check out this post about my first memorable trip to Ludington! 


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