Ludington is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 8,357. It is the county seat of Mason County. Ludington is a harbor town located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Pere Marquette River. Many people come to Ludington year round for recreation, including boating and swimming on Lake Michigan, Hamlin Lake, and other smaller inland lakes, as well as hunting, fishing, and camping. Nearby are Ludington State Park (which includes the Big Sable Point Light), Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, and Manistee National Forest. Ludington is also the home port of the SS Badger, with daily service in the summer across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Watching the Badger come into port in the evening from the end of the north breakwall by the Ludington lighthouse is a favorite local pastime. In summer, the city hosts quite a few large events. Examples are one of the largest Gus Macker basketball tournaments (with 35,500 spectators), the Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival (July 4), the Lakestride Half Marathon in June, and the West Shore Art League's Art Fair. As a result of its many attractions (based on AAA's 2005 TripTik requests), Ludington is the fifth-most-popular tourist city in Michigan, behind Mackinaw City, Traverse City, Muskegon, and Sault Ste. Marie.