Grand Rapids - Grand Haven - South Haven - Kalamazoo

Pack the binoculars, bicycles and beach blanket for a fall color tour that takes in all the sights, from city scenes and sand dunes to wineries, farm markets and Lake Michigan sunsets. And don't forget the camera for this 195-mile West Michigan jaunt, which is best enjoyed from early to late October.

Best Enjoyed: Early to Late October
Approximate Length: 195 miles

Stroll the riverfront walkway in downtown Grand Rapids, and stop in at the Gerald R. Ford Museum; the late President grew up in the city. Then check out the luxurious Grand Rapids' newest accommodations at the JW Marriott Hotel and new Grand Rapids Art Museum. Enjoy 160 works of art set in the landscaped grounds of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, then pop in at Robinette's Apple Haus, a fifth-generation farm market, for cider and goodies before heading out of town.

Travel west on I-96 toward Grand Haven, with a stop en route to learn about the "then and now" of agriculture and rural living through changing and permanent exhibits at the Coopersville Farm Museum. While in Coopersville, hop aboard the Coopersville Marne Railway. Enjoy the fall color from the comfort of your antique passenger car that is decorated to celebrate the harvest as you ride aboard The Famous Pumpkin Train.

Continue west toward Lake Michigan and Grand Haven, with its two distinctive red range lights, visible from Grand Haven State Park. First, jog north on US-31 to Pontaluna Rd., then west to P.J. Hoffmaster State Parkand a three-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shore with sandy beach and forest-covered dunes. Plan to spend some time at the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center to learn about the unique dune environment and its plant and animal life. Take a stroll or hike on a choice of trails, and don't miss the Dune Climb Stairway for a scenic view from the top of a dune.

After a visit to the resort town of Grand Haven, follow US-31 south to the Lakewood exit, head west on Douglas Ave. to Ottawa Beach Rd. and Holland State Park, a two-part park located on both Lake Michigan and inland Lake Macatawa. The distinctive architecture of "Big Red," the Holland Harbor Light, reflects the Dutch heritage of area settlers. Travel south to the city of Holland and take in the cultural attractions and browse the charming downtown shops.

Continue south on US-31/196 to Exit 41. Go west to 64th St. and 138 Ave. to reach Saugatuck Dunes State Park. There you'll find a 2.5-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline and wonderful dunes that rise 200 feet above the water. The 300-acre natural area and coastal dune system are home to a variety of plant and birdlife, with 13 miles of hiking trails.

Just south of the park are the neighboring cities of Saugatuck and Douglas. This is dubbed "Michigan's Art Coast" for its long history of attracting and supporting artists, and evidenced in the number of galleries and unique shops, as well as an array of Bed and Breakfasts and tasting rooms for nearby wineries. 

Travel US-31/196 south and make a detour on M-89 to Fennville stop for fruit pies made with fruit grown at Crane's Orchard at Crane's Pie Pantry & Bakery. Sample fruit of the vine at the Fenn Valley Winery, also in Fennville.
Fortified with regional food continue to South Haven, known to the Ottawa, Miami, and Pottawattamie tribes as "Ni-Ko-Nong," (beautiful sunsets). For a memorable sunset photograph head to South Haven Lighthouse. Learn about Great Lakes heritage on a visit to the fine Michigan Maritime Museum.

South Haven is also a good starting point for hiking and bicycle tours. The 14-mile Van Buren Trail originates at the Van Buren State Park, a 400-acre recreation area that features dune formations on Lake Michigan. The 33-mile Kal-Haven Trail State Park, one of the state's five linear state parks, follows a former railroad bed from South Haven to Kalamazoo. Scenery along the path includes picturesque bridges, farmland and woods.

Motor vehicles will follow M-43 east to Kalamazoo, home of the wonderful collection of aircraft and interactive exhibits at the Air Zoo and Michigan Space Center. Head northeast on M-43/Gull Road and stop at Gull Meadows to pick that perfect pumpkin, pick some apples, taste apple cider and donuts. Continue on M43  toward E De Avenue and take a slight right onto D Ave E. Turn left onto M-43E/M-89. Continue to follow M-89W until you get to US-131 N turn right towards Grand Rapids. Take exit 61 for M-179 and turn right onto M-179 (Chief Noonday Rd). Travel about seven miles to Yankee Springs Recreation Area, which was the hunting grounds of the Algonquin Indians and Chief Noonday. Natural features include the Devil's Soupbowl, formed by a glacier. Hiking trails are plentiful, including six miles of the national North Country Trail network. Mountain bikers enjoy the challenging, 12-mile park trail.

Jump back on A-45 north to Grand Rapids, and wrap up your color tour by taking in the colorful nightlife of the city.
Gerald R. Ford Museum
303 Pearl Street N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Phone: (616) 254-0400
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum brings American history to life for students of all ages. Diverse exhibits show the real stuff of history, sparking curiosity and enthusiasm about our nation's history and government. Programs, tours, and historical performances add yet another dimension to the Museum's educational offerings. A Cabinet Room replica, an interactive media experience, lets the visitor become an advisor to Gerald Ford as he makes some of the most important decisions he faced while President. An Oval Office replica allows guests to eavesdrop on a typical day in President Ford's life in the nerve center of American democracy.
JW Marriott - Grand Rapids
235 Louis St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Reservations: (888) 844-5947
Toll Free: (888) 844-5947
Phone: (888) 844-5947
The first of its kind in the Midwest, the JW Marriott Grand Rapids is meticulously designed for both business and pleasure. Conveniently situated in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, it boasts 340 stylish, smoke-free rooms and suites on 23 floors, as well as 20,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art meeting and event space. A luxury hotel, the JW’s lush amenities include 37" flat screen TVs in every guestroom, designer bedding, a 24-hour fitness facility with steam rooms, and on-call housekeeping. Guests residing on the concierge floors also enjoy extended round-the-clock services and secured privacy, as well as access to the plush concierge lounge. In addition, the Executive Business Center offers 24-hour faxing, copying, printing, and shipping services. Connected by climate-controlled skywalk to DeVos Place Convention Center and the Van Andel Arena, the JW is also within walking distance to many other entertainment and meeting venues. As well as dozens of downtown restaurants, the JW’s own signature restaurant,, and destination lounge, Mixology, offer highly inspired cuisine in stylish, cosmopolitan settings.
Grand Rapids Art Museum
101 Monroe Center NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Reservations: (616) 831-1000
Phone: (616) 831-1000
Focusing on art, design and creativity, GRAM provides diverse platforms for experiences, ideas and dialogue that enrich the human spirit and build practical learning skills. Through dynamic exhibitions, collections, learning initiatives and community collaborations, GRAM increasingly serves as a cultural beacon and civic anchor. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Art Museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 5,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture and more than 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft. Programming at GRAM includes guided tours of the galleries, hands-on workshops or drop-in activities for a variety of ages, artist lectures, live music events and more.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
1000 East Beltline Ave., NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Toll Free: (888) 957-1580
Phone: (616) 957-1580
One of the world’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park serves nearly 650,000 visitors annually. Meijer Gardens was recently ranked in the top 100 most-visited art museums worldwide by Art Newspaper, the leading publication in global art news. The 158-acre grounds feature Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; one of the largest children’s gardens in the country; arid and Victorian gardens with bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; a carnivorous plant house; outdoor gardens; and a 1900-seat outdoor amphitheater, featuring an eclectic mix of world-renowned musicians every summer. The internationally acclaimed Sculpture Park features a permanent collection including works by Rodin, Oldenburg, Moore, Serra, Bourgeois and Plensa, among others. Indoor galleries host changing sculpture exhibitions with recent exhibitions by Picasso, Degas, di Suvero, Borofsky, Calder and Dine. In June 2015, the 8–acre Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened. Created by renowned designer Hoichi Kurisu, the garden features sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Jenny Holzer, Zhang Huan and Guiseppe Penone, among others.
Robinette's Apple Haus & Winery
3142 4 Mile Rd NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Toll Free: (800) 400-8100
Phone: (616) 361-7180
Celebrating its Centennial in 2011, this family owned and operated fruit farm, cider mill, bakery and lunchroom features (in season) apples, peaches, nectarines and cherries. In the fall, we have a corn maze, horse-drawn hayrides, and u-pick apples. U-pick cherries in July. An 1881 barn holds our wine tasting room, original West Michigan artwork and distinctive gifts. A 5.25 mile mountain biking trail starts in the orchard and enters rolling woodlands to the north. Visitors may cross-country ski throughout our orchards and in the county park adjacent to our farm. In 2006, Robinette Cellars winery opened featuring our own hard cider, Barzilla's Brew. We have a tasting bar in our cellar where you can taste our products and Michigan wines. Cost is $3 per person or $5 per couple and includes a Robinette Cellars wine glass along with six tastes of wine.
Coopersville Farm Museum
375 Main Street
Coopersville, MI 49448
Phone: (616) 997-8555
Celebrate farming and rural life in American. The 12,000 square-foot facility, built in 2001, showcases the John Deere collection of Ed Hanenburg, educational and interactive exhibits relating to farming, agriculture and rural life “Then & Now”. Changing exhibits include tractors, farm tools, art galleries, kid’s area, quilts, and showcased collections from the community. Open year round, Tuesday through Saturday. Hours vary by season. Admission. Barrier-free. Smoke-free. Special rates for facility use and groups with reservations. Coopersville Farm Museum offers a weekly Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 9am-1pm from May through October.
Coopersville & Marne Railway Train
311 Danforth Street
PO Box 55
Coopersville, MI 49404
Phone: (616) 997-7000
All aboard for a trip back in time on our historic passenger train! Specialty Railway offers charters, summer trains, theme rides, great trail robbery, Santa trains, pumpkin train rides... charters available beginning in mid March.....Our season starts in May for our Wednesday & Saturday excursion train rides.
Grand Haven State Park
1001 Harbor Ave
Grand Haven, MI 49417
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (616) 847-1309
This is a 48 acre park with beautiful sandy beach on the shore of Lake Michigan and the Grand River to the north. The park has 174 modern campsites on pavement, picnic area, and playground equipment, pier and lighthouse and the boardwalk from the park to Grand Haven are big attractions. Metal detecting area. No dogs allowed at the beach.
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park
6585 Lake Harbor Road
Muskegon, MI 49441
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (231) 798-3711
P. J. Hoffmaster State Park features over three miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, a 293 site modern campground, towering Lake Michigan dunes, and the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center. Miles of hiking and skiing trails offer stunning views of Lake Michigan and subtle beauty at every turn.
Holland State Park
2215 Ottawa Beach Road
Holland, MI 49424
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (616) 399-9390
There are four modern campgrounds. The Lake Macatawa campground is a traditional campground offering 211 campsites, the Beach Campground is nestled between sand dunes with 98 paved campsites and 31 full hook-up sites. Both campgrounds are within 50’ of swimming beaches and Lake Macatawa Campground is only ½ mile from Lake Michigan. Metal detecting area. a New camper cabin, The“Whitetail” has a view of the Holland channel and the “Big Red” lighthouse. It accommodates six people, and includes a refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot and electric heat. Outside the cabin, visitors will find a picnic table, grill and fire circle. This fully accessible camper cabin has three rooms and an outside deck that extends the cabin living space into the beautiful surroundings. With the cabin being available year round, we may inspire some campers to ‘GO-Get Outdoors’ and view the majesty of Holland and Lake Michigan in the off seasons.”
Big Red Lighthouse
2215 Ottawa Beach Road
Holland State Park View
Holland, MI 49424
Phone: (616) 394-0000
For a great view of Big Red, visit Holland State Park, and walk along the boardwalk to the north pier (wheelchair accessible). You can also view Big Red from Mt. Pisgah, where the dune stair case takes you 157 feet above sea level. Holland State Park is at the west end of Ottawa Beach Road on the northside of Holland; Mt. Pisgah is just east, near Third Ave. This three-story building- topped with a gray-shingled roof and square tower is one of the most photographed lights in Michigan. The twin-gabled structure reflects the Dutch influence in the area. Twice a year, the Coast Guard inspects the facility and maintains the light. The light can be seen for 20 miles. The use of a fog signal had been discontinued. The original lens is on display in the Holland Museum. Over the years, "Big Red" has taken on a life of its own, popular with painters, photographers, beach-goers and boaters. There's nothing more relaxing than sitting in the shade of a tree, and watching the river empty into Lake Michigan, while the red sentinel stands guard across the channel.
Saugatuck Dunes State Park
3834 66th Street
Saugatuck, MI 49453
Phone: (269) 637-2788
A day-use park along a secluded strip of Lake Michigan shoreline, Saugatuck Dunes State Park offers 2.5 miles of shore line. The park has fresh water coastal dunes that are over 200 feet tall. The park's terrain varies from steep slopes to rolling hills.
Crane's Pie Pantry Restaurant & Winery
6054 124th Avenue
Fennville, MI 49408
Phone: (269) 561-2297
The bakery and restaurant offer farm fresh products that will make you think it came right from grandma’s kitchen. Specializing in Michigan fruit pies and desserts, Crane’s bakery also includes bread, cinnamon rolls, muffins, cookies, apple cider donuts, and much more to make your mouth water. A complete menu of handcrafted meals including soups, salad and American mains, all served in an historic surrounding of memorabilia and antiques to remind you of the old century. As the latest addition to the Crane experience, Crane’s Winery continues to help support our family farm and Michigan agriculture. Crane’s Winery uses the absolute highest quality fruit and small-batch care, and we now feature some of Michigan’s best hard cider and fruit wine—continuing the tradition that we know would make those before us proud.
Fenn Valley Vineyards and Wine Cellar
6130 122nd Avenue
Fennville, MI 49408
Phone: (269) 561-2396
Fenn Valley Vineyards is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery complex established in 1973. Our goal then, as it is now, is to produce world-class wines and ciders from fruit grown along the shore of Lake Michigan.
South Haven Lighthouse
Water Street
South Haven, MI 49090
Phone: (800) 764-2836
An image of maritime heritage, South Haven's Lighthouse on the south pier still stands today as a vision of seemingly magical qualities. Built in 1903, this distinguished landmark has welcomed travelers for more than 100 years.
Michigan Maritime Museum
260 Dyckman Avenue
South Haven, MI 49090
Toll Free: (800) 747-3810
Phone: (269) 637-8078
Experience the rich maritime heritage of the Great Lakes by visiting Michigan's most distinguished institution of maritime research, preservation and education. Step aboard an early 19th century replica tall ship and sail out into the great waters of Lake Michigan. Open all year, the Michigan Maritime Museum campus features several exhibits and self-guided tours along with the a Great Lakes historic replica tall ship, Friends Good Will, available for boarding and passenger sails and also check out the Great Lakes Research Library and the South Haven. South Pier Light.
Van Buren State Park
23960 Ruggles Road
South Haven, MI 49090
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (269) 637-2788
Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, Van Buren State Park has one mile of sandy beach and high dune formations. It’s the perfect place to lounge on the beach, walk through woodland trails and enjoy a picnic lunch. Located three miles south of South Haven, the 220 large modern campground is only minutes away from local shops and restaurants. Metal detecting area.
Kal-Haven Trail State Park
10th Street, Kalamazoo trailhead
Baily Street, South Haven trailhead
South Haven, MI 49090
Phone: (269) 674-8011
Kal-Haven Trail State Park is a 34-mile crushed limestone path connecting South Haven and Kalamazoo. The trail meanders through wooded areas, past farm lands and over rivers and streams. Trail highlights include a camelback bridge and covered bridge. Trails are great for cross-country skiing, hiking and biking. There is an 11 mile parallel section where horses are allowed. The staging area for horses is at 67th street and baseline.
Air Zoo
6151 Portage Road
Portage, MI 49002
Toll Free: (866) 524-7966
Phone: (269) 382-6555
The Air Zoo is a highly charged, multi-sensory atmosphere that goes beyond anything you've ever seen. It's like no place else on Earth. Voted the "Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners" and "Best Place to Spend a Day with Your Family" two years in a row, the Air Zoo features many amusement park-style rides, Full-Motion Flight Simulators, a newly upgraded RealD 3D/4D Missions Theater, Magic Planet and Paratrooper Jump, as well as historical exhibits and educational activities. The Air Zoo also displays the world’s only remaining SR-71B Blackbird and XP-55 Ascender.
Gull Meadow Farms
8544 Gull Road
Richland, MI 49083
Phone: (269) 629-4214
Our apple barn and bakery have everything you need to decorate your home in the fall, not to mention Southwest Michigan's best donuts and award winning apple cider. Even more fall fun with the apple orchard, pumpkin patch, wagon rides, corn maze and activities in pumpkin lane. Our orchard has over twenty acres of apple trees. You can take a wagon ride to the U-pick apple orchard to find that perfect apple directly from the tree. Get lost in the six acre corn maze. Travel through the miles of trails and find all the questions hidden throughout the maze.
Yankee Springs Recreation Area
2104 S. Briggs Road
Middleville, MI 49333
Phone: (269) 795-9081
The rugged terrain, bogs, marshes, lakes, streams and unique beauty of the park's 5,200 acres lend itself to many forms of recreation--hiking, biking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice fishing are popular winter activities. Nine lakes are located within the park boundaries providing fishing and water sports of all kinds during warm weather. A modern campground is located at Gun Lake, rustic camping at Deep Lake and equestrian and youth organization campgrounds are also provided. Maps available. Metal detecting area. Bridle trails available.