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!

19 Things to do this Summer in Holland, Michigan!

Well-known for its Dutch history, Holland is historic yet hip. This unique place offers something for every personality.  Discover Holland put together a list of things that you need to experience before this summer is over.

19. Climb 230 steps to the top of Mt. Pisgah, a towering sand dune with stunning views of Lake Michigan, Lake Macatawa and Big Red Lighthouse.

18. Tour a 260 year-old historic windmill! “DeZwaan” is the only authentic, working, Dutch windmill in the United States! This gem is at the center of a 36-acre public park with manicured lawns, landscaped gardens, and a Dutch street organ. You can take a guided tour of this landmark structure, celebrating 50 years in Holland, Michigan!

DeZwaan Windmill. Photo Courtesy of Scott Mievogel.

DeZwaan Windmill. Photo Courtesy of Scott Mievogel.

17. Nelis’ Dutch Village – slide down a giant wooden shoe slide, kick up your heels at an authentic Dutch Dance lesson or get a birds’-eye view from the antique Ferris wheel. New in 2015 – make your own authentic Stroopwaffel at the Hungry Dutchman Café!

16. Learn how Holland’s breweries and distilleries are using Michigan-grown products to create their award-winning beers and spirits. Tour New Holland Brewing Company’s brewing and distilling facilities (Saturdays only), or Coppercraft Distillery (Wednesday-Saturday) for a farm-to-glass experience! A stop Warner Vineyards’ tasting room in downtown Holland will complete your tasting experience with samples of fine Michigan wines – or a wine slushie!

15. The Holland Farmers Market is the place to find the freshest local, seasonal produce, meats, cheeses and more! Visit Saturdays at 10am for the weekly Chef Series presentation or Wednesday mornings for free kids’ activities.

Holland Farmers Market - Photo Courtesy of Scott Meivogel.

Holland Farmers Market – Photo Courtesy of Scott Meivogel.

14. Thursday nights the streets of downtown Holland come alive with the Summer Street Performer Series, where you’ll find 8th Street packed with families enjoying more than 30 eclectic street performers, from mimes to musical acts to aerial acrobats!

13. Experience the lakeshore from two wheels – the Holland area has more than 155 miles of paved, bike paths for riders of all levels, as well as dedicated mountain biking trails. Is kicking back more your style? Take a ride on the Petal Cab, a pedi-cab service that offers tours of the Holland area.

12. Dine al fresco at Holland’s beautiful waterfront restaurants, (The Piper or Boatwerks), or view a stunning sunset from the 5th floor deck at CityVu Bistro, located in downtown’s CityFlats Hotel.

11.  Enjoy a summer sunset over Lake Macatawa during a Friday night concert at Kollen Park, where live music from high-energy regional acts brings the crowd to their feet!

10. Art in the Park is Holland’s annual fine arts and crafts fair in Centennial Park. The 46th annual fair on August 1 welcomes the lakeshore’s finest artists, potters and makers to showcase their wares in the heart of Holland. Local downtown galleries join the fun during the special gallery walk events Friday, July 31- Saturday August 1.

9. Savor the lakeshore, Michigan’s most agriculturally diverse region, with a u-pick experience at one of the area’s farms. Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches and apples are all readily available in season.

8. Explore the trails at the Outdoor Discovery Center or DeGraaf Nature Center, where you’ll find educational nature experiences and good old-fashioned fun! Families will enjoy barrier-free fishing and trail access at the Outdoor Discovery Center, and enjoy events like Maple Sugar Days at DeGraaf.

7. The fun continues even as summer winds down – the Holland/Zeeland Truck Parade on Monday, September 7 begins in downtown Zeeland and ends at the Holland Civic Center with a chance to climb aboard the big rigs!

6. Shop ‘til you drop! Downtown Holland’s eclectic mix of retail boutiques means there’s something for everyone – and get ready to find a bargain during the annual Sidewalk Sales August 7 and 8!

Downtown Holland Shopping. Photo Courtesty of Scott Meivogel.

Downtown Holland Shopping. Photo Courtesty of Scott Meivogel.

5. Have a hands-on cooking experience at Fustinis Oil & Vinegar, where cooking classes focusing on seasonal ingredients invite you to taste and experience fresh-pressed olive oil and flavor-infused vinegars.

4. Pour a candle at Candle-ology, inside Moynihan Gallery! Create your own custom scent from more than 100 choices or make your own soy candle or custom-scented room diffuser, liquid soap or lotion!

3. Pick up a self-guided historic walking tour brochure at the Holland Visitors Bureau and wander through Holland’s quaint historic neighborhoods where you’ll learn about the early Dutch settlers and how their ingenuity shaped the lakeshore’s history. During the summer, the Holland Museum and Gazelle Sports offer guided walks on designated Fridays.

2. Take a dip in the “Big Lake”! The shimmering waters of Lake Michigan welcome you from Holland State Park, Tunnel Park or several other Holland-area beaches. You’ll find sugar-sand beaches with plenty of room for all, including an off-leash dog beach at Kirk Park.

1. Catch a sunset with your family! There’s no better memory-maker than spending an evening watching the sun sink into the water from the pier at Holland State Park or perched atop the dune at Tunnel Park.

Five Things to Keep in Mind on a Lake Michigan Lighthouse Tour

Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state and all of them have a unique look and story, making it the perfect place for a summer lighthouse tour. Today, guest blogger Kendra Higgins from Spring Lake gives us five helpful tips to keep in mind on a Lake Michigan lighthouse tour.

Grand Haven Lighthouse by Missy Mayer

Grand Haven Lighthouse by Missy Mayer

As the name implies the Great Lakes Circle Tour follows state highways around Lake Michigan, through Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan creating one of the most memorable road trips where you can see over 80 of the iconic lighthouses that lace the Lake Michigan shoreline. The trip was inspired by our annual Glowing for Grand Haven event that takes place in July to help raise funds to restore and maintain the Grand Haven Lighthouse. We wanted to explore, learn more maritime history, and further cultivate the meaning behind our event. What better way to do so than to hit the road and learn firsthand along the Lake Michigan Circle Tour. So what does it take to accomplish such a road trip? Well you’re just in luck, we’ve narrowed down the top 5 Michigan musts!

North Pier Lighthouse in St. Joseph by Jerry Joanis

North Pier Lighthouse in St. Joseph by Jerry Joanis

1. Patience. If you set out with a plan for your road trip, you better pack a lot of patience. Let us just remind you the joys of traffic and road construction as they are a usual hurdle in everyday life, let alone a week’s voyage. Your phone doesn’t always get a signal, your GPS will take you on some strange path because you mistyped one number when typing in the coordinates, and heaven forbid you have car trouble! So, whether the trip is to see lighthouses, national monuments, explore state parks, or just go off the beaten path, just remember, it’s supposed to be fun. Be patient and enjoy the ride!

2. Plan for more time than you anticipated. While it correlates with being patient, we also suggest if you’re in it for the adventure, to plan for a couple extra days. Not all small lakeshore towns are tourist traps. Some are rich with locals that have lived in the same town for generations who can’t wait to hold the door open for you to explore the best local breakfast joint, or the long dirt road that opens up to unsurpassed views of Lake Michigan. Their shared secrets just may become a tradition in your family.

Little Sable Point by Kristina Austin Scarcelli

Little Sable Point by Kristina Austin Scarcelli

3. Michigan Weather. While Michigan weather is unpredictable, make sure you enjoy the season(s) you set off in. We had the luxury of starting out and ending in the warmer spring climate along the Southwest Michigan coastline; an intense 50 degrees. Yet in the U.P. we personally witnessed the feet (yes, feet) of snow and ice caves left as reminders from the polar vortex. Whether you enjoy 70° and sunny sun bathing on the beach, or snowmobiling across miles of trails, pick your season…or in Michigan’s case you may just experience all four!

4. Avoid Being Hangry. We get that when traveling with kids they’re hungry, bored, have to pee, dropped their snacks, and then starts the screaming. However, don’t doubt that the same can’t and won’t happen with grown adults who begin to experience the symptoms of being “Hangry” (anger caused by hunger). We recommend throwing out the rules of the new trendy diet you’re on, and load up on the snacks, and then get a few more “just in case”. There’s nothing like driving along the circle tour curves, with the sun roof open (or gloves on, depending on your season), jamming to the greatest hits of all time sharing a bag of Better Made chips.

Charlevoix Lighthouse by Brian Hudson

Charlevoix Lighthouse by Brian Hudson

5. Collect. Take in everything you see and share it! We’re not suggesting you continuously post on Facebook or Twitter every second something happens, but share the newest hotspot you found to grab dinner or share about the fabulous staff you encountered at one of your overnight stays. Travelers today are more prone to go off the beaten path and take suggestions from family and friends on what direction to head. When you begin to share, you’ll start to realize the things that are most important to you, bettering your vacation or overnight staycation experiences.

Kendra Higgins, Director of Marketing and Social Media for Holiday Inn Spring Lake. Sprouting from Mid-Michigan farm country, Kendra has a new found love and appreciation for Michigan’s golden coast as an active community member and newly fashioned lighthouse enthusiast.  She encourages you to visit the Grand Haven area and follow the hotel on Facebook, Instagram, and Blog to learn more about their lighthouse tour!