I just returned from a fun trip to St. Joe with my mom, sister, and her two kids (ages 3 and 5). I hope this trip report helps others who are planning a trip to the area!
Day 1: Drove to St. Joe from the Detroit area after work (about 3 hours driving time) and checked into the Holiday Inn Express shortly after 8:00pm. We took the kids downtown for ice cream and to check out the area, as it was our first visit. The kids loved getting their pictures taken with the cute bug sculptures that were on the city corners.
Day 2: Ate breakfast at the hotel then headed to the Whirlpool fountains, which the kids LOVED! We spent about 30 minutes running through the water and getting sprayed by the fountains, then walked to Silver Beach. The beach was busy, but we were able to get a spot right by the water's edge and spent a couple of hour swimming, playing in the sand, and splashing in the waves. We ate lunch at the beach cafe, which had options of turkey sandwiches, PB&J, hot dogs, chicken strips, fries, and chips. After that, we my mom watched the kids on the beach's play ground while my sister and I moved the car (we could only find a 3 hour space in the morning), then we took the kids to the carousel and children's museum. The museum was really cute and the kids loved it! There are so many fun activities for the kids to do and we spent a good 2.5-3 hours there before it closed. To end the day, we walked through a few downtown shops (kids loved the toy store), ordered dinner at Silver Beach Pizza (call in the order and they will text you when your order goes in the oven), then went back to the hotel so the kids could swim in the pool before bed. It was a busy, but fun day!
Day 3: We got an earlier start so we could snag one of the all day parking spaces near the farmers market. We spent a few minutes at the market, then headed back to the fountains and beach. The beach is BUSY on Saturday, and we had to walk for a while to find a spot near the water. We left the beach around 2:00pm to drive to 12 Corners Winery. This gave us all a chance to cool down in the air-conditioned car and let the kids rest for a while. 12 Corners was great with the kids (gave them sparkling grape juice, fruit snacks, and chocolate) and we enjoyed the tasting. Vineyard 2121 was just down the road, so we stopped there for a tasting and snacks. Next, we took a picnic dinner to Tiscornia Beach and walked down the pier to the lighthouse before heading back to the hotel.
Day 4: Checked out of the hotel then headed downtown to walk through the shops before driving home. We enjoyed the toy store, Purely Michigan, and Bound for Freedom the most. The kids had fun picking out t-shirts, too.
We already have plans to return the St. Joe next summer!