8 Steps to the Perfect Summer Day in Grand Haven

Grand Haven is a quintessential, all American beach town located on the shores of Lake Michigan. While staying in the area, you’re always within minutes of walking along the sandy beaches and dipping your toes in the water. Though it is a year round destination, you can’t beat a warm, sunny summer day. Here are 8 Steps to a perfect day by the lake in Grand Haven!

1)      Wake Up & Fuel Up

You have a big day ahead of you so start it off right with coffee and breakfast at Morning Star Café. Whether you have a big appetite or are looking for healthy options, you will quickly discover how hard it is narrowing down your options. It all sounds so good – and it is! Menu favorites include the marble corn bread scramble, stuffed French toast, and vegetarian crepes. To top it all off, the restaurant is colorful yet cozy and the staff is top notch and super friendly.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

2)      Take a Hike

Now that you’ve fueled up and had your caffeine fix, you’re ready to burn off some calories. Mid-morning is the perfect time to head out to Rosy Mound Natural Area before the temp rises. Rosy Mound is a classic Great Lakes dune system including high wooded dunes, foredunes, beach and a dune blowout.  The winding trails, stairs and boardwalks offer quite the workout but the views are beyond worth it.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

3)      Hit The Beach

Let’s go to the beach! Lucky for you there are many public beaches to choose from in the Grand Haven area. The Grand Haven State Park is a popular choice since it’s located close to downtown, the boardwalk, and offers a stunning view of the pier and lighthouses. Kirk Park is the more laid back option and even offers an off-leash dog beach. Don’t forget the snacks and the sunscreen!

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

4)      Lunch Time

It’s already been a busy day but there’s still more to do -  so it’s time to refuel with a quick lunch break. On Harbor Drive you will find two iconic Grand Haven eateries: Pronto Pups and Butch’s Beach Burritos. Pronto Pups is a tiny, white and yellow stand that has served up their addicting Pups since 1947. Butch’s offers up classic burritos and tacos with freshly-made salsa along with specialty hot dogs. The Chiwawa Chili Dog is their famous dog topped with beef, beans, cheese, and salsa served in a bun and then wrapped in warm tortilla. Don’t knock it until you try it!

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

5)      Discover Downtown

Downtown Grand Haven is just down the boardwalk from Grand Haven State Park and is lined with picturesque, historic buildings who are home to a unique variety of shops and eateries. Favorite stops include Fortino’s, MacKite, Michigan Rag Company, and Calico Cat. Don’t miss stopping in at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum’s two locations including the restored 1870s railroad Depot. Not sure where to start? Jump on the open air trolley for a narrated tour of the city.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

6)      Rooftop Dinner & Drinks

The Kirby House started as a hotel in the late 1800s and has had many lives since. Today it offers three different dining options including K2 which serves up wood-fired pizzas and seasonal cocktails. The specialty pizza menu has something for everyone including the classics as well as the likes of the Spicy Thai, Lobster Carbonara, and Boursin Mushroom. Be sure to sit outside on the rooftop patio for views of the boardwalk, Grand River channel, and Lake Michigan.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

7)      Sail Into the Sunset

The Grand Haven pier and the beach are fantastic options for catching the nightly sunset over Lake Michigan. However, the best seat in town is aboard the Wind Dancer – a 63-foot double gaff-rigged schooner. During their nightly sunset sails, you are invited to help raise the sails, take the wheel or simply kick back and enjoy.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

8)      Lights, Water, Action!

At dusk the Grand Haven harbor is filled with music and lights thanks to the nightly Musical Fountain performance. For over 50 years, the Musical Fountain has delighted visitors of all ages with its synchronized water and light show accompanied with music from almost every genre.  On your way to see the fountain, be sure to grab an ice cream cone or sundae from Temptations to enjoy during the show. The perfect ending to the perfect day by the lake in Grand Haven!

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

StephanieHerderAbout the Author: Born and raised in the Grand Haven area, Stefanie Herder has worked in the hospitality and tourism industry for over fifteen years where she has done everything from scooping ice cream to destination marketing. Now as the Marketing & Communications Manager for the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, she loves seeing the area through the eyes of a visitor and sharing it with the world. You can follow Visit Grand Haven on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to add ‘VisitGrandHaven’ as a friend on Snapchat, too!

Some of the Best Beaches on the West Side of the State

The dawn of summer brings many people out to beaches all over Michigan and along the Great Lakes. Today, guest blogger Aaron Cruz from The Awesome Mitten shares some of the best beaches on the west side of the state along Lake Michigan.

Tisconia Park Beach in St. Joseph is a hidden gem. Less crowded then nearby Silver Beach, Tisconia’s shallow water right along the shoreline is perfect for children. You will find picnic shelters but no concession stands on this city beach. Great views can be had walking down the North Pier towards the lighthouse along the south end of Tisconia Park. You will pass by many fishermen at this popular fishing spot. Many boaters will dock in the water just past the swimming areas just adding to the atmosphere of the season. The parking fee is nominal.

Tisconia Park Beach in St. Joseph. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Tisconia Park Beach in St. Joseph. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach: As you emerge out of the forest in this state park between Holland and Saugatuck, you will realize the ¾ walk down a sandy path was more than worth it. Two-and-a-half miles of secluded, undeveloped beach and shoreline is backed by tall coastal dunes and rolling hills. There are no amenities other than some outhouses, so it is just you and nature. After some swimming in Lake Michigan and relaxing on the beach, hop on a trail which will lead you back at this day use park. We recommend doing some research or grabbing a map as some trails are longer than others.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Grand Haven State Park Beach: A quick walk from downtown Grand Haven, this entire state park is a sandy beach. There will be crowds in the summer, but you will also have the adjoining boardwalk and pier along the Grand River and the historic Grand Haven lighthouses at your disposal. Plan ahead, bring the kids and set up a camper on one of the 100+ paved campsites alongside. Climb the dunes at the end of the beach for some panoramic views. You will find picnic tables, bathroom facilities, concessions and more at this popular summer destination.

Grand Haven State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Grand Haven State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Hoffmaster State Park Beach. If you are around Grand Haven and are looking for a quieter scene, head just ten miles north to the Muskegon area and this state park. Upon making the short stair climb to the top of the forest covered dunes from the main parking area, your feet will be the sand. Vast beach, Lake Michigan, dunes and panoramic views will be front and center at Hoffmaster State Park. Hang out on a park bench at the top to soak it all in, then head down to the three miles of relatively undisturbed shoreline. After spending some time in the water and on the spacious clean sand, take a hike on the miles of trails in the area and you will find numerous other spots to take in the lake and beach. This is a pet friendly beach and park, as dogs are allowed.

Hoffmaster State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

Hoffmaster State Park Beach. Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz.

What other Michigan beaches would you recommend along Lake Michigan?

Aaron CruzAaron Cruz is a lover and long time resident of The Mitten. When he is not out on the open road, he’s probably drinking coffee in a random indie coffee shop. He loves taking photos and road trips, along with checking out skylines, the seasons, shorelines and hanging around water which makes Michigan the perfect place to live. You can find him on TwitterInstagram and on his personal travel blog.

Fascinating Facts about Five Michigan Islands

Michigan’s islands are stunningly beautiful and rich with history – from functioning as a lush habitat for endangered wildlife to serving as the former stomping grounds of an American king – each island offers unique qualities and attractions. Here are some interesting facts about the islands that you may not be aware of. 

Curious for more information on Michigan islands? Be sure to check out our pages on Belle Isle and Isle Royale, just to name a few!

Les Cheneaux Islands

  1. “Les Cheneaux” is French for “the channels.”
  2. There are 36 islands that make up the Les Cheneaux Islands.
  3. The Les Chenaux Islands Antique Boat Show and Festival is the world’s largest antique wooden boat show. The next boat show takes place on Saturday, August 8 2015.
  4. You can learn how to build boats at the Great Lakes Boat Building School.
  5. Nicknamed Michigan’s Land of Water.
Les Cheneaux Island

Les Cheneaux Islands – Photo courtesy of Chris Arace

Mackinac Island

  1. Since 1898, motorized vehicles have been prohibited on Mackinac Island- there are more than 500 horses on the island for transportation.
  2. Fort Mackinac is home to the oldest surviving building in Michigan – Officers’ Stone Quarters.
  3. Doud’s Market, America’s oldest family-owned grocery store, has resided on the island for 131 years.
  4. The island’s Grand Hotel has the world’s largest front porch at 660 feet long!
  5. Five U.S. presidents have visited the Grand Hotel including Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island – Photo Courtesy of Grand Hotel

Beaver Island

  1. This island has a population of 600 people, mostly of Irish descent.
  2. Totaling 56 square miles, it is the largest island in Lake Michigan.
  3. The island is home to the Michigan monkey-flower, a federally-classified endangered species.
  4. Protar’s House, the Marine Museum and the Old Mormon Print Shop museum are major tourist attractions.
  5. The island was the only American territory ruled by a king.
Beaver Island

Beaver Island – Photo courtesy of Chris Arace

Drummond Island

  1. Drummond island is the largest freshwater island in the United States.
  2. The island boasts a population of 1,058 people.
  3. A main attraction is the DeTour Reef Light, an 83-foot tall lighthouse that marks a dangerous reef to help guide ship traffic from and to Lake Huron and Lake Superior through the St. Marys River.
  4. There are more than 13 ecosystems on the island including six forest types, five swamp-marsh types, inland lakes and rivers, and sand dunes.
  5. The island is ideal for bird watching as it is home to a host of avian species including loons, grebes, waterfowls and owls.
Drummond Island

Drummond Island – Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Manitou Islands

  1. The Manitou islands are surrounded by over 50 known shipwreck sites, dating back to 1835.
  2. North Manitou Island is nearly eight miles long and over four miles wide.
  3. South Manitou Island is three miles wide and three miles long.
  4. North Manitou Island is powered by solar electricity.
  5. The South Manitou Island Light is a popular attraction among tourists. Between 1871 and 1958, ships took refuge here during severe thunderstorms.
Manitou Island Light

South Manitou Island Light, Manitou Islands – Photo courtesy of Michigan Nut Photography

Are you planning any trips to see Michigan islands this summer? Tell us below!