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South Haven Travel Guide 2023

kids on a beach in south haven mi

Visit South Haven MI: Best Michigan Beach Town

We’ll get right to it: we love charming South Haven, MI and we’re not alone.

Stunning South Haven is favorite beach vacation destination for travelers, and the wide, sugar-sand beaches are only part of the reason.

From the annual national blueberry festivals, to watching the tiny sailing regattas along Lake Michigan to splashing along the beaches, memories that last a lifetime are made here.

We’re sharing our favorite things about this fun Michigan beachtown, so read on to discover what’s so special about this must-visit destination.

south haven lighthouse

About South Haven, MI

Charming South Haven is the ultimate Michigan beach town. From it’s well-manicured lakefront, complete with picturesque pier to it’s walkable downtown area, it’s the perfect summer getaway spot.

Small enough to retain quaint charm, it’s also large enough for a chic vibe that attracts visitors from around the country ready for some beachside fun.

Downtown South Haven is Michigan beach town perfection: the streets are lined with toy shops, beachwear and gift retailers and other specialty shops. The quaint downtown shopping district is completely walk-able and dripping with brightly-colored flowers along the wide sidewalks.

This southwest Michigan beach town is big on natural charm, too. You’ll find endless mils of hiking trails, nature preserves and meandering waterways for kayaking, paddle boarding and exploring.

South haven bluff

South Haven, MI is known for…

  • Excellent accessibility to Lake Michigan’s stunning beaches for families, users of wheelchairs and other mobility devices and others
  • Rolling sand dunes of Van Buren State Park featuring a mile of Lake Michigan beachfront
  • Having a charming walk-able Michigan beach town vibe filled with unique stores, eclectic eateries, wine-tasting rooms and more
  • The National Blueberry Festival – one of the country’s oldest fruit festivals – celebrating South Haven’s blueberry industry and the area’s rich farmlands
  • Spectacular Fourth of July fireworks display over Lake Michigan – one of Michigan’s best fireworks shows

South Haven, MI Weather

South Haven, MI weather is typical Michigan: cold and snowy in the winter and delightfully warm in the summer. 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.

Beach in south haven Michigan

South Haven MI Beaches

South Haven’s beach vibe is reminiscent of the beach towns along the East Coast.

You’ll find a busy harbor complete with an iconic (and much-photographed) lighthouse; a long and walk-able pier that stretches way out into bright blue waters; and one of the cutest beach towns along the Lake Michigan coast.

Combine all of this with a well-groomed, gorgeous wide beaches and you’ll come up with pure Michigan summer fun.

South haven beach guide

Our South Haven Beach Guide shares beach access points and information regarding all of the public beaches near South Haven. You’ll find important information about dog friendly beaches; which beaches have amenities like picnic tables; play equipment or even a concession stand.

You’ll find details about our favorite spot at North Beach; the hiking trails at Pilgrim Haven Natural Area and other beaches like Newcome Beach, Dyckman Beach, Deerlick Creek, Packard Park and more.

Learn about South beaches access to the big red lighthouse and the beaches along the historic Blue Star Highway.

south haven pier sunset

South Haven, MI Sunsets

Watching the sun sink into Lake Michigan on clear evening from a cozy South Haven beach is pure bliss.

Surrounded by the natural beauty that IS southwest Michigan, gazing at the brilliant sunset as it sends orange and yellow light beams across Lake Michigan is truly memory-making.

If you visit South Haven, you’ll want to be sure to grab a towel or blanket and head for the beach in the early evenings and enjoy.

Downtown South Haven Shopping

If you visit South Haven, don’t miss these spots as you travel down Phoenix St:

Bayberry Cottage, featuring a selection of home furnishings and accessories ranging from country primitives to fine linens. Find whimsical clocks, lamps, candles, bath and bedding tucked into two floor-to-ceiling showrooms and more.

Center Street Emporium, with a collection of work made by local artists and artisans from West Michigan. The work ranges from traditional art such as paintings, prints and ceramics to jewelry, mobiles, baskets, photography, wood, fiber, natural soaps and balms, and locally made, natural jams, syrups, honey, dip & drink mixes.

Harbor Toy Company is a toy store for ages newborn to 99 and carries kites, educational toys, travel games, beach toys, sand toys, water toys, puzzles, board games and more.

Lakeshore Trends, a modern boutique with vintage charm. Find apparel, home decor, gifts, furniture, jewelry, and paint.

Dog-Friendly South Haven

South Haven is extremely dog-friendly: witness the full bowls of water constantly being refreshed by shopkeepers. In fact, some retailers, like Decadent Dogs, welcome both you and your pooch. You’ll even find pet-friendly hotels.

South Haven Restaurants

Clementine’s is a well-known South Haven destination: a casual dining family restaurant located in a refurbished former bank. The building itself is historically significant, built in 1896 and featuring a golden cupola. Try the famous “Matilda’s Cheese Dip,” made with fontina and parmesan cheeses baked with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and baby spinach…it’s just marvelous.

Golden Brown Bakery on Phoenix Street has been a South Haven staple since 1938. This full-service bakery also offers breakfast and lunch in their adjacent dining room. Cakes, cookies, brownies, pies and donuts are just some of the tasty goodies you’ll find here; they also have an espresso bar.

south haven breweries

South Haven Breweries

South Haven is becoming a destination for craft beer aficionados, with more than seven craft breweries in the area. Discover our favorite South Haven breweries and start planning your visit.

south haven wineries

South Haven Wineries

As part of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, the South Haven are is making its mark in the wine industry.

Read More about South Haven’s award-winning wineries in out Guide to the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail.

Things to do in South Haven, MI

Kal Haven Trail

This 33-mile former railroad bed has a limestone/slag surface and links the city of South Haven to the city of Kalamazoo. The trail crosses over bridges, passes through small towns and by points of historical interest, and is a preferred destination for those who enjoy hiking, biking, cross county skiing and snowmobiling.

South Haven Lighthouse
The historic South Haven Pierhead Light has guarded the entrance of the Black River for over 100 years. Walk along the 1200-foot pier and enjoy Lake Michigan vistas.

Van Buren State Park
One full mile of sandy beaches and towering dunes and trails to wander through makes Van Buren State Park a must-see on any trip to the South Haven area. In addition to camping, there is also biking, hiking, and metal detecting as well as a picnic area with shelter, playground, and restrooms for day use.

South Haven Blueberry Festival
Blueberries and South Haven are practically synonymous around the west Michigan area. Every August, celebrants come from far and wide to pay homage to this delicious local treat during the National Blueberry Festival.

South Haven Fourth of July Fireworks

This is town that knows how to celebrate: check out the spectacular South Haven Fourth of July Fireworks celebration- aptly named “Light up the Lake” – that draws massive crowds annually to the skies over Lake Michigan.

Michigan Maritime Museum

Much of the fun and excitement in South Haven is centered around the town’s nautical ties, carefully preserved and celebrated at the Michigan Maritime Museum. The perfect spot for every Great Lakes enthusiast, the Michigan Maritime Museum has hands-on exhibits at their waterfront campus and historically immersive experiences aboard the on-water fleet.

You can even ride the waves on a square-rigged sloop: a reproduction of an 1812 warship called the “Friends Good Will.” The Friends Good Will is part of a five ship fleet docked at the museum.

Casco Township Nature Preserve

Located in Casco charter township, you South Haven vacation is not complete without a trip to this nature preserve overlooking Lake Michigan. Follow the steep stairs up the bluff to a paved pathway, where you’ll find restrooms and picnic tables. South Haven is a trails town, you;ll find many nature trails throughout the area.

Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum and Gardens

Visit this National Historic Site, garden, park, museum and educational outreach center celebrating the life and contributions of the South Haven-born Father of Modern Horticulture. Many of the items in this museum have been left unchanged

South Haven Cultural Attractions

The South Haven Visitors Bureau shares updated information on local cultural attractions. Click here to to to the Visitors Bureau.

Where to Stay in South Haven, MI

Lodging options in South Haven are abundant and are available at a wide-range of price points. Options range from elegant beach-front private homes to comfortable cottage and condominiums in town or in nearby Fennville. In addition, there are many Bed and Breakfasts that operate year-round, as well as hotels and motels offering rooms.

Local state parks and private campgrounds offer both camping sites and cabins for rent. All of these, including hotels in South Haven, can be found on our South Haven Lodging Guide.