The Mystery Bookshop Mysteries series is set in North Harbor Michigan. Just as North Harbor, Michigan is not a real place, the same is true of South Harbor. However, South Harbor is based on Benton Harbor’s twin city, St. Joseph, Michigan.
Years ago things were very different than they are today. At one time, Benton Harbor was the home for the area’s elite. At the same time, St. Joseph, Michigan was where the working class lived. The oldest homes in St. Joe are smaller, less ornate bungalows, unlike Benton Harbor’s massive Victorian and Georgian homes. However,as the cities fortunes changed, so too did the houses. Developers have begun to build larger, lake front properties that would rival those of any big city. St. Joe’s close proximity to Chicago has also brought a number of Chicago residents, priced out of the Windy City’s waterfront property market to St. Joe.
The area’s geographic location and abundant farmland makes it an ideal location for growing fruit and the area has several award winning wineries includingTabor Hill Winery. Visitors to the area in the summer and fall can enjoy free tours and wine tasting and then dinner in the restaurant.
St. Joseph, Michigan is quaint. The downtown has shops lining the street and visitors can take free horse-drawn trolley rides through the streets of historic downtown St. Joseph, Michigan. The city sits on the same Lake Michigan shoreline as Benton Harbor and at the mouth of the St. Joseph River. The area is well known for art and culture and is the home to several festivals including: the Blossom time and Venetian Festivals. Some of the city’s landmarks include The Carousel located on Silver Beach and the St. Joseph Lighthouse. The lighthouse is located at the end of a wooden pier which extens out into Lake Michigan and is one of the last remaining pier range light systems still in operation.
I highly recommend a trip to St. Joe if you like small town charm, great food, wine and water views, but if you go, you may want to travel in the warmer months. St. Joe is in Southwestern Michigan and winters can be fierce as well as beautiful.