20 Best Things to Do in Grand Haven: West Michigan Travel Guide
Looking out for things to do in Grand Haven MI on your next visit?
Whether it’s a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or just a day trip, you’re going to want to bookmark this list. We’ll get right to it: Grand Haven MI is a must-see spot for any Michigander or tourist.
With the infamous long, spacious pier to walk on, nicely paved boardwalks, soft sandy beaches, and a perfect accommodating beach town, there’s not much more you could ask for when looking for a Michigan getaway.
It’s one of the top Michigan travel destinations, filled with a combination of outdoor activities and great shopping and dining, too!
You’ll want to plan your trip to the “Coast Guard City” soon!
Why I Love Grand Haven MI
Alongside Grand Haven’s great scenery and layout, the community and events Grand Haven hosts annually are also what puts the cherry on top for this Michigan city.
Growing up in the midwest of Michigan myself, Grand Haven was always a great trip with friends or family to escape to for chasing beautiful Michigan sunsets, planning long beach days, and enjoying the tasty food only Grand Haven has to offer.
Due to the amazing variety, it can get overwhelming to know where to start and what to visit.
Use this list of 20 Best Things to Do in Grand Haven to make sure you check off all the activities stored for you that can only be found in Grand Haven.
The Grand Haven Lighthouses and South Pier
The Grand Haven Lighthouses and South Pier are top attractions in Grand Haven. You’ll want to bring your camera: with a bright red inner light and square outer light, the Grand Haven Pier is a popular go-to for photos and scenic views.
You can access the pier from the Grand Haven State Park and boardwalk. Take a nice walk on the widely built pier with friends, family, or solo, and enjoy the crashing of the waves and beautiful view of the everlasting stretch of Lake Michigan’s horizon. Lined with a lighted catwalk, the pier can be strolled day or night.
The Grand Haven Pier is a popular sight to see and is a great way to start your Grand Haven adventure.
The Grand Haven Boardwalk
Connected to the pier, the Grand Haven boardwalk stretches 1.5 miles along the Grand River Harbor. It’s decorated with many restaurants, marinas, parks, and things to do, making it a fun walk after you’ve visited the pier.
From the boardwalk, you can observe the many different boats channeling out into the big waters of Lake Michigan. I recommend finding a grassy, shady spot to sit in, or a nice accommodating bench to take a breath and be fully present in your Grand Haven experience.
Grand Haven Bike Trails
Grand Haven outdoors fun doesn’t stop with the piers and boardwalks. It also extends to those looking for great biking in the Midwest region of Michigan. Grand Haven bike trails are a fun way to explore the beautiful, natural areas surrounding Grand Haven.
Biking these scenic routes are also a great way to have fun while staying active.
Check out Grand River Explorers Trail for a 30-mile trail from Grand Haven to another great Midwest city of Grand Rapids or take a ride on the Lakeshore Connecter Path for a 20-mile path that travels from Grand Haven State Park to another Midwest favorite of the Holland State Park, and many more biking trails that can be found throughout the city of Grand Haven.
Grand Haven Beach Day
Grand Haven serves as the perfect beach day getaway and is a great way to spend time outdoors while being close to other activities to do when your time in the sun is up. The Grand Haven State Park is a number one pick, close to downtown Grand Haven and right by the Pier and lighthouses.
This is the beach that will be filled with laughter and beach activities, with volleyball nets close by for use, and fun for friends and family to enjoy time out on the beach together. Grand Haven City Beach is another great popular option, still located close by downtown Grand Haven but is known to usually be a little less busy, located a bit further south.
For an even more secluded option, check out Olive Beach (a personal favorite of mine) for a wonderful private beach experience. A fair warning for this beach, you need to climb a lot of stairs and get your hike game on to get to the beach. The view is worth it – but be mindful of transportation and mobility for yourself and others.
More Grand Haven Beaches
Kirk Park is another great option for not only you but your furry best friend, with a specific section provided just for dogs to play and enjoy the Michigan water’s off-leash along the beach. Grab your suits and sunscreen and be sure to pack some snacks to prepare for a fun beach day out on Grand Haven’s offered shores.
North Beach Park, in nearby Ferrysburg, has a wide, sandy beach, and lots of amenities including a playground and sand volleyball court.
These are some of the most popular beaches in Michigan, so plan accordingly. Bring your sunscreen, a cooler, and get ready for some Michigan beach town fun!
Camping in Grand Haven
Camping is another great summer activity that Grand Haven is sure to provide, with a variety of great campsites to choose from.
Try Grand Haven State Park for a great first-time camping experience, close to downtown Grand Haven and right next to the beach. Wake up in the morning and take a stroll along the boardwalk and pier, walking distance from the campsite.
For a more dedicated camping experience, look at Outdoor Adventure Grand Haven Resort, a private membership campground that accommodates more of its guests with rental cabins, hookup campsites, and activities within the grounds such as putt-putt golf, pools, and even a go-kart track.
Check out Eastpointe RV Resort, a new luxury camping experience to bring your RV and be provided with all the amenities and more for a relaxing and fun Grand Haven camping experience.
Boating in Grand Haven
From walking to biking, beaches to camping, what would Grand Haven be without boating? Grand Haven provides boat rentals, marinas, and clubs for all the boat activities during the summer months.
Grand Haven Boat Rental offers great service and rental options to enjoy a special boat day out on Lake Michigan, from pontoons to sports boats to accommodate your desired boating experience. Got a boat of your own?
Check out Grand Haven Municipal Marina for docking your boat, providing a secure and safe spot to keep your boat secure after voyaging out on the freshwater. The Grand Haven Yacht Club offers a premium experience located within walking distance from downtown Grand Haven and has special offered amenities to make your experience luxurious as you board your boat for the day or overnight.
Grand Haven Hiking Trails
If you’re looking for something more than the beach walks, boardwalks, and strolling the pier, Grand Haven offers great hiking trails as well to surround yourself more in-depth with Michigan nature. Rosy Mound Natural Area Trail is a great trail to travel upon, offering 2.2 miles of sightseeing through Michigan woods and leads to the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. This is a great moderate trail for family, but keep in mind no dogs are allowed.
Another great trail option is Hofma Park Trail, providing a longer distance of 4.4 miles and the option to bring your dogs on a leash to walk. This trail is full of wildlife and can be found to be more secluded at certain times of the day.
These trails are great nature-focused trails that serve as a nice break from downtown Grand Haven. The trails also show more of the wildlife beauty that Grand Haven holds other than its great beaches.
Tri Cities Historical Museum
This historical museum will really surprise you: there are some cool exhibits here. The museum showcases the history of the region in a series of permanent scenes. Travel through time to explore the histories of the Odawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomie, fur traders, pioneers, Victorians, and various industries such as lumber, agriculture, and retail sales.
Don’t miss the two permanent exhibits on the second floor, the museum has installed two permanent exhibits showcasing more recent histories of the Tri-Cities: the US Coast Guard and the Bastian and Blessing Soda Fountain.
The Toasted Pickle
112 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
The Toasted Pickle is a special local sandwich shop that for sure makes the list of Grand Haven’s best things to do. These sandwiches aren’t just any sandwiches- they’re made with top-quality ingredients to create unique, flavorful, gourmet meals, all served with a pickle on the side.
Try The Classic Crusty Cuban sandwich for mouthwatering pulled pork with sweet and spicy pickles on top – or go for another classic All-American Burger made with their special Kickin’ Pickle Sauce. Pair it off with their unique sides ranging from pickle poppers, different flavored fries, mac, and cheese, and pulled pork nachos.
These items are just the tip of the iceberg that The Toasted Pickle menu has to offer, so make sure to stop by and experience the rage of high-rating reviews that this Grand Haven local sandwich shop has earned.
PRO-TIP: You’ll also want to check out Pronto Pups, a popular corndog stand on the boardwalk. You’ll recognize them, from the long lines down the boardwalk. You’ll also want to make your way to Fricano’s for a slice of the best thin crust pizza you’ll ever have. Home to the best pizza in Michigan, Fricano’s Pizza Tavern has been serving up slices for more than 60 years. Don’t miss it.
Food Trucks in Grand Haven
What’s more summery fun than going to an outdoor food truck for a nice, tasty meal? Grand Haven provides spaces for food trucks to stop for guests and residents to visit and enjoy, making a great quick and easy experience to have either to start your beach day right or to end off on your way back.
Righteous Cuisine is a classic, serving great Mexican tacos, along with The Wandering Cow which serves yummy locally made frozen yogurt, and their famous deep-fried mini donuts. Voyage Food bowls are known for their acai bowls and coffee, and is a great refreshing stop to make. Or catch Whipped, a Brunch Truck, serving great on-the-go brunch foods and sweet desserts.
These food trucks are just a handful that made Grand Haven their main city and are found across the boardwalk, so keep your eye out on the streets of Grand Haven for any other differing food trucks that you could experience.
Morning Star Café
711 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
Morning Star Café is a popular Grand Haven breakfast and lunch place to visit and is worth the stop. Winner of the people’s choice award of Grand Haven, this café serves a scrumptious menu made with a southern twist.
From savory to sweet, this café will satisfy all your breakfast and lunch cravings while still adding that homemade, hearty touch. Don’t leave without trying one of their bakery items, which are all made homemade. The Morning Star Café won’t leave you disappointed and will only have you planning when you’ll be able to stop by next for another round of wonderfully made food.
Side Bar Coffee
41 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
If you’re like me, you know I can’t travel anywhere without stopping by for some coffee. There is something extra about holding a nice, gourmet iced coffee that truly enlightens my mood and puts a pep in my step when exploring new towns.
Side Bar Coffee is the place for you when looking for coffee and is a Grand Haven favorite. Open from 8-5 every day, this aesthetically pleasing shop makes great coffee, while also offering specially made cocktails on their menu. This one-of-a-kind coffee shop is worth the visit in Grand Haven and makes a great stop to enjoy specially crafted drinks.
Shop in Grand Haven
When in a new Michigan Beach town, it’s essential to get a t-shirt to rep it. Or if you’re a Michigander like myself, I take my collection of Michigan attire very seriously- so of course, Grand Haven retail makes the list for something you must do when you find yourself in the town.
There are a variety of cute retail shops that rep the Grand Haven logo, including Grand Haven Beach Co., Michigan Rag Co., and the Surf Shop. Cute t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and more await your purchase to rep your Michigan love in a stylish way.
Be sure to check out the many more little shops and boutiques that line the streets of downtown Grand Haven.
PRO-TIP: You could also rep a My Michigan Tee or hoodie from the Michigan Beach Store!
Grand Haven Musical Fountain
The Grand Haven Musical Fountain a must-see on any visit to Grand Haven. Wait until dusk and make your way to Waterfront Stadium downtown for an amazing show. A community favorite, the Grand Haven Musical Fountain displays synchronized shows of water and lights to music in a mesmerizing performance. You’ll watch in delight as the fountain comes alive and the water dances to the music.
Shows start nightly from Memorial Day through Labor Day starting at 10:10 pm. Each 30-minute performance is free and open to the public, creating a fun, easy, and memorable experience for all ages.
Right next to downtown, it’s a great way to get ice cream or a drink and enjoy the beautiful show of Grand Haven’s Musical Fountain. It’s a perfect way to end your Grand Haven evening!
Coast Guard Festival
July 29- August 7, 2022
Grand Haven’s Coast Guard Festival is a classic summer tradition and is sure to be a memorable time. It’s the busiest time of the year, so be sure to be prepared and come ready for a full day or a couple of days of fun at this top Michigan festival.
The coast guard festival celebrates and honors the men, women, and families of the US Coast Guard, and the boardwalks and streets of Grand Haven come alive with carnival rides, fireworks, food, crafts, car shows, and more.
Musical entertainment fills the air and people fill the beaches, creating a true lively festival environment. Starting July 29- August 7, the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival is a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t forget.
Bonus: 7 More Things to Do in Grand Haven
Chinook Pier Park: See the Pere Marquette Train
Bring your kids to see the Pere Marquette 1223 train car at this pretty park with picnics tables and a playground. You’ll also find the Grand Haven Farmer’s Markets, one of the top farmer’s markets in west Michigan.
Midwest Miniatures Museum
You’ll see amazing scale-model miniatures displayed in a gallery setting for enthusiasts, curious visitors, and families alike.
Ride the Harbor Trolley
If you’re visiting Grand Haven with a group, you might want to rent a historic trolly car to take you around Ottawa County.
The Kitchel Lindquist Dunes Preserve – Lindquist Dunes Preserve
You’ll find 115 acres of protected dunes, forest, and wetlands to explore at this natural area across the harbor from downtown Grand Haven. You’ll have to have to enter from Ferrysburg,
Grand Haven Room Escape
You’ll work against the clock to escape this room and have fun while solving the puzzle.
Don’t miss the oldest artist-operated art gallery in the state of Michigan. Explore the work of local artists.
This 80-acre park is a year-round hub of outdoor activities. You’ll find a ski hill, tennis courts, pickleball court, soccer fields and a skatepark.
Visit Lemon Creek Winery Tasting Room
Lemon Creek Winery, a popular southwest Michigan winery on the Lake Michigan Shore Wine trail, has a tasting room in downtown Grand Haven. Stop in to discover the delicious tastes of Michigan’s fruit belt.
Where to Stay in Grand Haven MI
Here are some of my favorite places to stay when I visit Grand Haven. You might also want to consider staying in nearby Grand Rapids, Michigan, just a 35-minute drive away from the Grand Haven beaches.
The Baymont by Wyndham Grand Haven is conveniently located on US-31, the main highway through town. It’s clean and reliable, with a swimming pool and hot tub. You’ll also find a free. hot breakfast.
One of my favorite spots to stay, this Victorian Inn is just steps from the beach and boardwalk. You can choose from 19 cozy room, each with a private bath. The Harbor House is a friendly, comfortable and clean, and definitely worth checking out.
If you want to stay beachfront, consider the Looking Glass. It’s set almost 80 steps above the beach, but don’t let that deter you: you can ride up and down to the beach on the electrci trolley! This is a smaller bed and breakfast, with five rooms, and it’s just a lovely spot. It’s the gorgeous deck with Lake MIchgan views that keeps me returning year after year.
If you’re looking for a clean and dependable choice, try the Holiday Inn in nearby Spring Lake. Just a short 5-minute drive from downtown Grand Haven, it’s very clean and has comfortable beds. You’ll find a good resturant and both an indoor and outdoor pool, too. The Holiday Inn is perfect for both families and romantic getaways.
BlueWater Inn Grand Haven
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About the Author-
Ella Graber is a content writing Intern for My Michigan Beach. She grew up in the Grand Rapids area of Michigan and is currently attending Grand Valley State University, majoring in writing. Creative writing has been an interest of Ella’s ever since middle school, and she continues to be inspired by reading and writing. She is excited to share her love of the great state of Michigan. Outside of writing, Ella can be found enjoying the outdoors on runs and walks, exploring new coffee shops, and visiting the beautiful Michigan beaches with friends.