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Grand Haven Michigan Explored: Best Travel Secrets

Your Grand Haven Michigan Travel Guide

Ask anyone who has spent a summer vacation in Grand Haven MI and they’ll agree: Grand Haven is the perfect beach vacation destination.

It’s walkable, swimmable, friendly and fun…is there really anything more?

Whether it’s the spectacular views of Lake Michigan with the Grand Haven lighthouses as a backdrop, the wide, soft sand beaches or charming downtown Grand Haven, this west Michigan beachtown is special. In fact, the city of Grand Haven and the surrounding natural areas are one of the top travel destinations in Michigan. It’s a perfect spot for a family vacation, romantic getaway or even a day trip.

We’ve put together a travel guide of everything you need to know to plan your trip to the Grand Haven area, along with a handy map to help you get around. Included are suggestions for hotels in Grand Haven, vacation rentals and a Bed and Breakfast or two.

Read on to learn more about Grand Haven, one of the top beach towns in the United States. You can also scroll to the bottom to use the interactive map.

grand haven lighthouse

Visit Grand Haven…

With two popular Lake Michigan beaches and the meandering Grand River running through town, it’s easy to see why Grand Haven is known as the “Coast Guard City.”

Located in Ottawa County, not far from Grand Rapids, Holland and South Haven, Grand Haven is a popular spot with boaters and vacationers eager to explore the sparkling water and beautiful beaches.

Surrounded by sandy hills and small dunes, you’ll find acres of natural area filled with biking and hiking trails leading to amazing Lake Michigan vistas. In addition opportunities for outdoor activities, you’ll find lots to do here in the downtown area, too.

Grand Haven has quaint and walkable downtown shopping and dining area; historic sites and a historical museum. You can also ride city trolley to the charming town of Spring Lake, with its own walkable downtown area. At night, watch the as the synchronized Grand Haven Musical Fountain lights up the night sky.

Grand haven boardwalk - best thins to do in grand haven Mi

What is Grand Haven is Known For?

Grand Haven is known for…

  • The colorful, dancing lights and water of the magical Grand Haven Musical Fountain
  • The Grand Haven Boardwalk that leads to the picturesque Grand Haven Pier and Lighthouses
  • A happy, resort-town vibe that envelopes the friendly downtown shopping area.
  • It’s embrace of boating, fishing and all types of maritime life, earning its monniker “The Coast Guard City.”
  • Sprawling, sandy public beaches at Grand Haven City Beach and the popular Grand Haven State Park.
  • Amazing beachfront camping at Grand Haven State Park… prime camping real estate
  • Spectacular Rosy Mound Natural Area, over 160 acres of Lake Michigan dunes and shoreline. Hiking trails, a dune boardwalk trail and Lake Michigan overlook are favorite destinations at this spot. Rosy Mound Natural Area is part of the Ottawa County Parks system, a permit – which can be purchased onsite – is necessary to visit the park.
grand haven sunset

Grand Haven MI Sunsets

Lake Michigan sunsets are must for any travelers to Grand Haven: watching as the brilliant sun sinks into the lake, surrounded by the natural beauty of the dunescape that is southwest Michigan.

It is truly memory-making, so grab a towel or blanket and head for the beach in the early evenings and enjoy.

Grand Haven Weather

The weather here area is typical west Michigan: cold and snowy in the winter and delightfully warm in the summer with amazing Lake Michigan breezes.

Expect temperatures to range from 70 F to 80 F during the day from June-September. During the summer months, mornings and evenings may be cooler; typically lower 70 – 60 F.

grand haven

Best Beaches in Grand Haven MI

In addition to the Michigan State Parks, there are many public beaches dotting the shoreline. These beaches are some of the best in Michigan, with a wide variety from which to choose. You can use the interactive Grand Haven Travel Map at the bottom of this post for beach locations,

Grand Haven City Beach

Beach, Swimming, Restrooms, Concessions, Dog Friendly – check time restrictions

Grand Haven State Park

Beach, Swimming, ADA Accessible, SAND Wheelchairs, Restrooms, Playground, Pier, Lighthouse, Camping, Fishing, Volleyball

Kirk Park

Beach, Swimming, Restrooms, Dog Beach, Picnic Shelter, Lodge, Picnic Tables, Grills, Playground, Hiking, Horseshoe Pit

Grand haven beaches - best beaches in grand haven

North Park Beach

Beach, Swimming, Restrooms, Accessible Beach Wheelchair Available, Wheelchair Accessible Beach Walk, Dune Overlook Deck, Volleyball Court, Playground, Picnic Tables, Grills, Wooden Dune Stairway

Olive Shores Beach

Beach, Swimming, Restrooms, Barrier-free Trail Loop, ADA Accessible Walk to Beach, Stairs to Beach, Dunes

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

Beach, Swimming, Restrooms, ADA Accessible, Camping, Hiking, Dunes, Grills, Picnic tables, Picnic shelter, Volleyball

Use the Holland MI Travel Guide for information on top beaches in nearby Holland Michigan!

ADA accessible beaches in traverse city

ADA and Wheelchair Accessible Beaches in Grand Haven

Both Grand Haven offers excellent accessibility to the Lake Michigan shoreline for users of wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Both Michigan State Parks have beach wheelchairs available on a first come, first serve basis; please inquire at the park office.

Grand Haven State Park
Grand Haven Beach Wheelchair

Located on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, Grand Haven State Park offers an accessible playground, fishing pier, beach houses, picnic shelters, and specially equipped sand wheelchairs that are available for use on a first-come-first-serve basis.

dog friendly beaches in michigan

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Grand Haven

Kirk Park
Dogs Allowed on Beach OCTOBER 1 TO MAY 1

North Beach Park
Dogs Allowed on Beach OCTOBER 1 TO MAY 1

Grand Haven City Beach
Leashed Dogs Allowed Anytime South of Southerly Buoy

15 incredible things to do in grand haven mi

Things to Do in Grand Haven

The amazing parks in and around the Grand Haven, coupled with the vibrant, downtown shopping and dining scene, make for endless opportunity for things to do. Here are some of our favorite activities in Grand Haven, and be sure and use our guide to incredible things to do when visiting the Coast Guard City! All of these fun spots can be found on the travel map as well.

Walk the Grand Haven Pier

A walk along the South Pier is a must for visitors to the area. The resurfaced pier leads to the iconic South Pierhead Inner Light and is smooth and easily accessible for all.

Stroll the Boardwalk

Start with the boardwalk, dotted with beautifully appointed parks, tiny boutiques and comfortable, clean benches to sit watch as boats come slowly into harbor from Lake Michigan. Walk along the pier that juts out into the lake that features not one but TWO lighthouses dating back more than 150 years.

See and Hear the Magical Grand Haven Water Fountain

Head to the Lynn Sherwood Waterfront Stadium at dusk to see an amazing light show. Watch as this amazing water fountain on Dewey Hill (across the harbor) come alive in a synchronized water and light performance. This popular attraction is open from Memeorial Day until Labor Day. It is free to the public and is a Grand Haven don’t-miss!

Rosy Mound Natural Area

This sprawling natural area includes a Great Lakes dune system bordering the Lake Michigan coastline. Hike the .7 mile-trail which includes 1,000 feet of stairs up and down to the beach, where you’ll find a boardwalk and shady canopy of hardwoods. You’ll also find restrooms, picnic tables and grills. Please note that a County Parks Daily Pass – around $8 – is required to enter the park.

Check out Some Grand Haven MI Parks

More Grand Haven Parks to Explore include:

  • Escanaba Park – This pretty little park along the boardwalk commemortaing the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Escaba is a great spot to take in some spectaular harbor views.
  • Hofma Preserve Township Park – 4.5 miles of traisl and an alsmost 1,0000foor “floating bridge”
  • Veterans Memorial Park – This park includes a touching memorial featuring nine life-size statues of soldiers placed in a circle surrounding an 18-foot-tall obelisk topped with an American eagle.
  • Mulligan’s Hollow – The amazing kid’s play structure, “The Imagination Station,” is located here
Guide to the Grand Haven Musical Fountain

Shop Downtown Grand Haven MI

Spend some time exploring the fun shops and boutiques on Washington Avenue, where you’ll find a collection of everything from beachware and T-shirts to upscale fashion, home goods and kitchenware. It’s an eclectic mix, there’s even a pawn shop with interesting items mixed in among the boutiques. Don’t miss:

  • Blueberry Haven – West Michigan is blueberry country, and you’ll find everythin from homemade salsa and jams to muffins and other tasty treats.
  • Buffalo Bob’s – This hip skate shop stocks all the latest brands for skating, snowboarding and skim boarding, as well as the latest gear, too.
  • Lemongrass Life and Style – This home decor store offers beautifully curated lifestyle store blends all the natural elements of soft and calming color, texture, style and decor.
  • Marushka – Unique, silk-screened handmade T-shirts, hoodies and other apparel.
  • Must Love Dogs – Grand Haven is a very dog-friendy town, and this cute shop is a testament to that. Find all-natural foods dog and cat foods, bakery treats, toys, collars, leashes, beds and bowls to clothing, jewelry, housewares, spa products and more.
  • Yankee Pedlar – A perfect mix of gifts, antiques, collectibles and home decor. It’s a friendly, reasonably-priced shop with a great selection, and I always find something perfect!
sandwich at a grand haven restaurant - ultimate grand haven Mi travel guide

Explore More of Grand Haven MI

Discover Amazing Grand Haven Restaurants

  • Aldea Coffee – Local, sustainable coffee shop in a bright and comfortable setting.
  • The Cooper Post – One of my favorite spots in West Michigan! You’ll find great burgers, beers and sandwhiches at this relaxed spot with outside dining.
  • Grand Armory Brewing – This craft brewery, is home to seriously good chili, along with a full menu of other tasty food. Located in an 155-year-old building, you’ll also find 20 taps and a wide variety of ales, hand-crafted ciders, and wine.
  • The Kirby House – This popular B and B, on a prime corner spot just across from the boardwalk, also features live entertainment. Find a wide menu here, and do not miss the whitefish dip!
  • Lemon Creek Winery – You’ll love this tasting room for the Berrien Springs-based Lemon Creek winery. One of the top spots along the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, Lemon Creek offers a variety of delicious reds, whites, and sparkling wines.
  • Long Road Distillers – There’s a nice mix of shareables, sandwiches, and salads, in addition to some amazing entrees, like the lambchops with reskin potatoes. This Grand Rapids based distillery also offers a full menu of craft cocktails.
  • Pronto Pups – This popular corn-dog hut is easy to find: just look for the long lines on the boardwalk!
  • Toasted Pickle – One of the top sandwich West Michigan, the Toasted Pickle is home to one of the best Cuban sandwiches I’ve ever tried. Take your time choosing, you’ll find an extensive menu of artisanal offerings and each one is amazing!
Grand Haven Trolley - Grand Haven Michigan Travel Guide

Ride the Grand Haven Trolley

The Grand Haven transit offers historic trolley rides are available to residents and visitors each summer from Memorial Day thru Labor Day. Enjoy an historic narrative tour that starts at Chinook Pier, travels the waterfront, the downtown and east town areas providing a look back in time.

Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival

Grand Haven IS “Coast Guard City, USA,” and it’s celebrated at this popular summer festival held every August. The celebration features a wide variety of fun activities for all ages, including a carnival, a boat race, a flea market, a car show and much more!

Hike Olive Shores

Beautiful barrier-free trail loop around a 20-acre site that includes a mature beech-maple-hemlock forest. Barrier free facilities include parking lot, restrooms, and picnic tables. Some trails are wheelchair accessible and all stairs are designed to be ADA accessible.

Bed and Breakfast - Grand Haven Michigan

Grand Haven Hotels, Inns and B and B’s

Where to Stay in Grand Haven: I mix it up when I visit Grand Haven, because each spot offerds a unique experience. The Harbor House Inn is a large, friendly, Victorian Bed and Breakfast located right across from the Boardwalk. The Looking Glass Beachfront Inn is another lovely spot; a little smaller with only 5 guest rooms. It’s set on a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan with an electric trolley to take you up and down to the beach. Another spot is this bright, Grand Haven home with a 5-minute walk to the beach. It’s big aand roomy with a nice patio for relaxing, too!

Hotels in Grand Haven: If you’re looking for a more standard hotel, try the Holiday Inn in nearby Spring Lake (great indoor and outdoor pools). You can also try the Baymont by Wyndham Hotel, which is clean, comfortable and also offers a free breakfast. The Rodeway Inn is a good, budget-friendly option.

Grand Haven Travel Map

Grand haven travel map

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