Things to do in Grand Haven: The Ultimate Pure Michigan Trip Guide
Grand Haven is an all-American beach town, where life revolves around the water in summer. Located on the Lake Michigan shore, visitors are never more than a few minutes’ walk to the sugar-sand beach…and a beautiful evening sunset.
Have a Beach Day
Don’t let Grand Haven’s small size fool you. This beach town offers lots of public Lake Michigan access. Head to Grand Haven State Park to walk the pier, snap pics of the brilliant red lighthouse, swim, people-watch and camp on the sand. Just to the south is Grand Haven City Beach, which allows dogs in some areas and features an ADA-compliant beach walkway. If your family craves something quieter, head to Grand Haven’s North Beach Park where access to the water includes a network of beautiful wooded hiking trails and an off-leash dog beach.
Enjoy a Meal al Fresco
Summer is fleeting. Why not make the most of it with a meal outdoors? Indulge in an iconic lunch break at Pronto Pups, serving up addictive corn dogs from a tiny beach stand since 1947. Nearby, Butch’s Beach Burritos stakes their claim to fame on their classic burritos, tacos and fresh-made salsa. Downtown, feast at the Kirby House, home to three distinct restaurants. Dig into wood-fired pizzas and cocktails on the rooftop patio, K2, overlooking the boardwalk and Lake Michigan. Inside, dine at the casual Kirby Grill for salads, burgers and sandwiches, or head downstairs to the upscale Grill Room, a traditional chop house.
Discover Downtown Grand Haven
Follow the boardwalk from the beach to downtown Grand Haven, lined with picturesque, historic buildings and a day’s worth of pastimes. Stuff your bags with specialty foods, chocolate and wine at Fortino’s Old World Shopping, MACkite, with kites and toys for the beach and indoors; the Wet Mitten Surf Shop and Marushka with casual clothing. To learn a little more about the history of the Grand Haven area, check out the Tri-Cities Historical Museum. Not sure where to start? Hop aboard the Harbor Trolley for a narrated city tour (and a cheap ride back to the beach).
Take a Hike with Your Pup
Swimming and beach volleyball aren’t the only outdoor activities in Grand Haven. Head to the Rosy Mound Natural Area for a hike through a classic Great Lakes dune system. The winding trails, stairs and boardwalks pass through high wooded dunes, foredunes and a dune blowout en route to Grand Haven’s brilliant white beach. You’ll discover another beachside trail system—and an off-leash dog beach—south of town at Kirk Park & Dog Beach.
Enjoy a Festival
All of Grand Haven joins the party in late July and early August when the annual Coast Guard Festival celebrates Grand Haven’s designation as Coast Guard City, USA. Expect a parade, carnival rides, lots of food and a rare opportunity to tour a Coast Guard cutter. Other can’t-miss warm-weather events include the Great Lakes Kite Festival in May; the Grand Haven Art Festival in June; and the Grand Haven Sand Sculpture Contest in mid-August.
Sail the Big Lake
The Grand Haven pier and its beaches offer unmatched views of glimmering Lake Michigan. But nothing beats an afternoon sail on the Big Lake aboard the Wind Dancer Charters, a 63-foot double gaff-rigged schooner. Visitors are invited to help raise the sails, take the wheel or simply kick back and enjoy the beauty of the Lake Michigan shore. For a special treat, book a sunset sail for unforgettable views of Lake Michigan bathed in a glow of evening’s red and orange palette.
Lights, Water, Action!
Linger at dusk for a classic Grand Haven treat: the Musical Fountain. Since 1962 the Musical Fountain has delighted visitors of all ages with its 20-minute synchronized water and light show accompanied with music from Shakira to Lee Greenwood, from Jimmy Buffet to Disney and Star Wars soundtracks. On your way to see the fountain, be sure to grab an ice cream cone from Sweet Temptations to enjoy during the show. The perfect ending to the perfect summer day in Grand Haven!