Being a Local in a Tourist Town

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The pros and cons of living in one of Michigan’s many beach destinations

Living in Michigan comes with many perks, especially during the summer months when many of Michigan’s beaches warm up enough to swim in. With 3,000 miles of beautiful coastal beaches around the entire state, Michiganders are all too familiar with the warm embrace of sand between their toes and the radiant reflection of sunshine bouncing off the water’s surface. We find comfort in knowing these little things will always be in our backyard come summertime.

We love our beaches so much, it can be difficult to share them with others. Although we won’t always admit it, tourists can be a nuisance sometimes. Similar to Newton’s quote “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” with every positive aspect of living in one of Michigan’s popular beach towns, there’s a negative that comes with it. Take it from someone who lives only a few blocks away from Lake Michigan in New Buffalo, Michigan. ere are the biggest pros and cons of living in a tourist town.


Countless exciting experiences

Whether it’s the handful of additional summer festivals, the vibrant night-life found at the beaches or the bars, or traveling numerous miles along Michigan’s coasts, there is always an exciting experience waiting to be made with friends. Some of my fondest memories are days I would lay on the beach for hours with friends or when we explored the local arts, music or food festivals. One of my favorite festivals to attend at home is the Ship ‘n’ Shore festival. With live music from local Michigan artists, a boat decorating competition and plenty of Southwest Michigan’s best tasting food, Ship ‘n’ Shore is definitely one of those festivals you don’t want to miss. Other festivals I’d recommend are the Traverse City cherry fest, the Ann Arbor film festival, and Grand Rapid’s famous wine, beer, and food fest.  

You don’t need a pool to take a dip

Who needs a pool when you have a giant lake in your backyard? While everyone else is floating around on an innertube or jumping off of a diving board, us Michiganders will be riding around on our jet skis and jumping off of piers. While everyone else lays out and daydreams about owning a mansion, we build our mansions in the sand. In all seriousness, pools are great, but nothing beats swimming in endless, open water and having the ability to go relax in the sun-soaked sand after.


You’re constantly giving directions/recommendations

Many of Michigan’s beach towns are these quaint, unique destinations that out-of-towners love to visit and explore, and when you live in a tourist town, not looking completely lost can make you stick out like a sore thumb. This is especially true if you work at one of the local restaurants or boutiques in the town. While we may know where the grocery store is, or have our opinion on which local restaurant is a must-have before leaving town, we don’t necessarily want to explain that to every person that visits. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me what to order at the restaurant I’ve worked at, I wouldn’t need a job after college. But in all seriousness, part of being a tourist is exploring a new place and new things. So don’t take my word for it, just go try it yourself.

Everything takes longer

Trying to get a table at your favorite joints, trying to find a spot at the overcrowded beach, or trying to find a parking spot at your own work becomes much harder when you live in a tourist town. The saying “patience is a virtue” is one I live by when I go home to a town twice as populated as I left it. I admit being a local in a town admired by others has its perks, but at the same time I can appreciate the fact that my town and others really benefit from the tourist economy.



Jonathan Shead is a senior studying professional writing and journalism. Outside of writing for ing he is also the Managing Editor at Impact 89FM, MSU’s nationally-awarded student-run radio. His passions include storytelling, basketball and playing the drums. When he’s not writing, he can be found jamming out to the latest music or exploring the documentary section of Netflix.


Tags: Beach Town, jonathan shead, local, Michigan, Summer, up north