Family Fun in Muskegon

Every year, Steve Slack, a contributing writer for Michigan Travel Ideas, vacations with his family along the shore of Lake Michigan.This trip, they drove an RV and based their vacation in Muskegon, spending two days at Michigan’s Adventure, then exploring regional state parks and the downtown area.

Photo Credit - Michigan Travel Ideas

Michigan's Adventure - The Funnel of Fear

Despite gas prices, RVing can still be one of the best bargains for extended getaways—RV park rates cost half of most hotel rooms. Cable, Wi-Fi, a heated pool and a climbing wall keep the kids happy at the Duck Creek RV Resort, directly across the road from Michigan’s Adventure.
I’m not sure who’s more excited—me or the kids—to ride the terrifying Thunderhawk and rattling Shivering Timbers wooden coaster, just two of more than 60 rides, but we make a goal to try every ride at least once. We love the Grand Rapids, a wild raft ride that shoots through waterfalls and around geysers before careening into a rocky canyon. There’s barely time to dry off before the kids convince us to try another soaking ride, which launches us through a 300-foot tunnel into the appropriately named Funnel of Fear. After two days, we’re exhausted! We tried almost every ride (our favorites more than once!) and even caught some surf in the wave pool in the adjacent water park, Wild Water Adventure.

The remainder of the week, we take it easy and explore the downtown and area state parks. Nature trails at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park and the natural history exhibits at the Gillette Nature Center inside the park are my wife’s favorite, and to make the kids happy we cool off at Duck Lake State Park in Whitehall (north of Muskegon). As dusk falls we find an activity that everyone enjoys (although the kids claim we’re embarrassing them)—a double feature at the Getty 4 Drive-In, which first opened in 1949.

 

Photo Credit - Michigan Travel Ideas

Toast 'N Jams

Breakfast the next morning is memorable at quirky, colorful Toast ‘N Jams, a restaurant south of downtown Muskegon with ’50s-era decor and a hearty menu with creative omelets. After breakfast, we head to Muskegon’s harbor to explore the USS LST393, the transport ship that carried infantrymen to the beaches of Normandy. The six decks and engine room are chock-full of memorabilia, plus there’s a small museum of WWII artifacts.

Photo Credit - Michigan Travel Ideas

USS LST393

The last meal of the trip was at the Muskegon Athletic Club, a family-style restaurant in downtown where the initials MAC provide justification for the seven different macaroni and cheese dishes on the menu. While we wait for our food, I challenge the kids to several rounds of Wii bowling—and lose. Oh well, perhaps next time.

Every summer, I look forward to vacationing along the Lake Michigan shore, and every summer, my “favorite” place seems to change. Right now, it’s Muskegon.

 

Steve Slack writes for Midwest Living, Condé Nast Traveler, Food and Wine, Spirit and several in-flight magazines and guide books.

 

  • Bernie

    Thanks for the heads up and tips! Planning to take the kids to Michigan Adventure later this summer and this provides some ideas of more things to do!

  • Debra

    Are the seatbelts really tight on Shivering Timbers? I have wide hips and I cannot ride the Millenium or the Top dragster at Cedar Point because the seatbelts are soooooo short. People who are fat can ride as long as their hips are really small : (

  • Ken

    I live in Las Vegas, Nevada but grew up in the Muskegon area. I can remember when Michigan Adventure was “Deer Park!” It was a petting zoo, with a carousel and a miniature train, where families could have fun, just like today!

    Muskegon is blessed with extreme natural beauty. With it’s many state parks, Lake Michigan beaches, and it’s many lakes, rivers, and stream, Muskegon will keep the nature lover in you coming back.

    From Whitehall and Montague, to the north, to Grand Haven to the south, the area has a plethora of activities to keep you busy all summer long! There are more festivals than you can possibly attend. Attend Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp summer concerts or pick your own blueberries. Boating or sailing are favorite activities during the summer months. There is no end to the amount of fun that you can have in the Muskegon area during the summer!

    Muskegon is the best kept vacation secret in western Michigan!

  • Pam

    Yes, it’s been many years since I went back to Muskegon. I was raised there, went to Bluffton Elem. and Bunker Jr. High. My favorite was th 4th of July parade where we would ride our tricked out bikes, the SeaWay Festival and Fireworks over Muskegon Lake. I also remember Deer Park. We loved going there and picnicing. We lived 3 houses, around the corner from Lake Michigan on Beach St. As a kid we had plenty to do to keep us out of trouble, but never thought it would grow like it has. A Big water park, etc? Just can’t imagine. Our big play world was WMCA, the Walker Arena and any frozen pond to skate on we could find along with the toboggan run across the street from my house. Thanks guys for helping me keep my fondest memories alive and well. I live in NC now, but stay homesick for Michigan.

  • http://mifarmmarket.com/ Scotty

    Great article! Also something that might be fun for the family is the latest exhibition at the Muskegon Museum of Art: “Flippers and Flash: The Art of Pinball.” The exhibition is on until July 31. Here’s a link to the art museum website: http://www.muskegonartmuseum.org/exhibitions

  • http://www.mifarmmarket.com Scotty

    Don’t forget to stop in the Muskegon Museum of Art while you’re in town! Some cool exhibitions this summer.