SWMI Tourist Council Launches 2023 Makers Trail Passport Program


Tasting locally crafted wines, beers, hard ciders, cocktails and spirits along Southwest Michigan’s Makers Trail is exciting all year, but now you can earn prizes for doing it until May 31, 2024. The more participating Berrien County wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries people visit, the more access codes they can scan and the more rewards they can earn. 


The Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council launched a new app last year to make the passport process digital. With the success of that transition, they have updated the passport app to be more efficient for 2023-24. The Makers Trail Flight Crew Passport is now available on the Visit Southwest Michigan app. This free app is downloadable from the App Store and Google Play. 


“We received lots of positive feedback on the digital passport last season,” said Marcy Simpson, Tourist Council executive director. “Visitors liked accessing their progress easily rather than keeping track of a paper booklet between Makers Trail location visits.”


The app automatically tallies each access code and tracks levels for the user. Because of the reception last year, the Makers Trail will be fully virtual with no paper passports for the first time this year. Printed Makers Trail maps are available at the Information Center or at participating hotels and Makers Trail locations to help guide users along the trail. A downloadable version is also available at makerstrail.org/passport


Sister Lakes Brewing Company in Dowagiac has joined the ranks of over 40 Makers Trail locations in the 2023-24 passport. Game regulars and newbies alike can give their fun atmosphere, entertainment, classes, locally sourced craft beverages and food a visit. 


“It’s always exciting to welcome new members to our trail,” Simpson said. “But we love giving our visitors a chance to veer off the beaten path of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, especially if they haven’t heard of our neighboring towns that are well worth a visit, too.”


This year’s rewards are:

Level 1: $15 Makers Trail Gift Certificate when you check in at 10 different locations.

Level 2: Makers Trail Flight Crew T-shirt when you check in at 20 different locations.

Level 3: Makers Trail Flight Crew Hoodie when you check in at 30 different locations.

Bonus Reward: Makers Trail 26 oz. YETI® Rambler Water Bottle when you complete at least one level plus stay in a participating hotel. Upload a hotel receipt from your stay in the app. The name on the hotel receipt must match the app user’s name.

Grand Prize: Makers Trail All-Inclusive Layover Package — Two nights (double occupancy) in a participating hotel plus gift certificates that can be used at area restaurants, Makers Trail destinations and shops. You will receive an entry in the drawing for one of three Grand Prizes when you complete Levels 1, 2 and 3 and stay at least one night in a participating hotel. 


Here’s how to earn these rewards:

  1. You must be at least 21 years old to participate. Only one passport per person. 
  2. Bring your phone with the Visit Southwest Michigan App to any of the Makers Trail breweries, distilleries, cideries and wineries. For the current list of makers and destinations, visit makerstrail.org/locations
  3. Make a purchase, then ask your server for the location’s access code for the app before you leave. Each location has a unique QR access code. You may scan each location’s code once for earning your rewards. Duplicate codes will not be counted. 
  4. Use the app to continue scanning codes to earn up to four rewards plus an entry into our Grand Prize drawing. (Offer good while reward supplies last). 
  5. Once you've scanned 10 codes, you've earned that reward. Continue collecting them to earn as many rewards as you can. The app will automatically update to let you know how many reward levels you’ve completed. 


“Passport season is one of our most anticipated times of year — and it’s a great way to see so much of our region at once,” Simpson said. “We have so many itineraries, blogs, food roundups and more geared towards maximizing your experience on the Makers Trail. It’s a simple, fun way to be a tourist. Download the app, and the memories start making themselves!”

The Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council connects visitors and locals alike with activities in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties. View their curated events, blogs, itineraries, trail guides and more online. For more information, call 269-925-6301, or visit https://swmichigan.org/passportorhttps://www.facebook.com/swmtc/