While the beach at the state park is the biggest draw to Grand Haven, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy when you’re not relaxing at the shore. Spend a few hours shopping in Grand Haven’s downtown district centered around the west end of Washington Street where it meets the water front. The …
While on vacation my husband and I frequently lpause from our sightseeing to spend a few hours in a coffee shop, enjoying a rich, hot cup of java, munching on decadent sweets and reading or taking advantage of free wi-fi. Holland has several great coffee shops – here are a few favorite Downtown JP’s JP’s …
From May to October, Grand Haven’s Chinook Pier plays host to a semiweekly farmers market. On Wednesdays and Saturdays roughly 20 vendors set up shop from 8:00 to around noon in the parking lot next to the Chinook Pier shops, selling fresh fruit and vegetables from local farms, organically grown produce, jams & jellies, salsa, …
Photo by Amber Karnes Each year near the end of June the crowds take to the first 3 blocks of Washington Street, Grand Haven’s main drag downtown, browsing through the works of art offered for sale. There’s something for the teenager looking for a funky pair of earrings as well as the woman searching for …
A thought-provoking work of modern art hangs in the space usually taken by a painting of frogs sipping coffee at a local cafe, and people are traipsing into an auto parts store to admire the art. It’s Artwalk time in Grand Haven. During Artwalk visitors can enjoy Grand Haven’s small-town charm while viewing fun or …
A thought-provoking work of modern art hangs in the space usually taken by a painting of frogs sipping coffee at a local cafe, and people are traipsing into an auto parts store to admire the art. It’s Artwalk time in Grand Haven.
During Artwalk visitors can enjoy Grand Haven’s small-town charm while viewing fun or thought-provoking works of art in the city’s shops, offices and restaurants. The works are scattered from Centertown down to the waterfront, all within easy walking distance of one another. Maps are available online and at the venues.
After viewing the various works of art on display, festival attendees can vote on their favorites. Winning artists receive a cash prize.
It’s no secret to those of us on the lakeshore – but Grand Haven’s Lake Michigan beach made Travel & Leisure Magazine’s list of fifteen Best Secret Beaches on Earth. Grand Haven is listed alongside such far-flung locales as Mozambique and Turkey, as well as three other U.S. beaches.
The article cites Grand Haven’s “trolley cars, a 2.5-mile harborfront boardwalk, and two 19th-century red lighthouses give a sweet, old-time feel to this Lake Michigan town. Boaters and fishermen flock here, and hikers like the short-but-strenuous climb to Rosy Mound that includes 1,000 feet of stairs up and down the sand dunes to the shore of Lake Michigan. There are warm shallows for swimming, and the soft sand of two public beaches squeaks when you walk on it. After sunset, the local restaurants, ice cream parlors and shops come alive.”
The white-cap rushed in my direction. Just before it reached me I jumped and bobbed atop the wave as it swept past, then floated back down til I felt the ground beneath my feet and prepared for the next one. Another afternoon at a Lake Michigan beach? No, I was in the wave pool at Michigan’s Adventure.
Owned by Cedar Fair, proprietor of such well known amusement parks as Cedar Point and Great America, Michgan’s Adventure bills itself as two parks for the price of one. There’s the water park, Wildwater Adventure, and the amusement park with its exciting roller coasters, ferris wheel and spinning rides.
We started out our day in the water park. We had our choice of over a dozen body slides and inner tube slides, including my favorite, the Funnel of Fear. The kids spent some time in the splash pad area, Beach Party, with water guns, waterfalls, bridges and slides. The majority of our time, however, was spent floating in the lazy river or splashing about in one of the three wave pools of varying strength, which we all loved.
An extra $60 (as of summer 2012) bought us a private cabana: a tent with four shaded lounge chairs and a table with four chairs. You can have up to six people per cabana, so that works out to $10 a person. Seating at the waterpark is limited, and seating under one of the few umbrellas more limited still. My husband prefers to spend most of his time reading while the kids and I enjoy the waterpark, and the last time we went he scored one of the coveted shady spots beneath an umbrella, and soon found himself hemmed in on all sides by strangers. Loud, obnoxious strangers. The cabana was the perfect spot for him to relax and for the kids and I to rest in between slides and dips in the pools. We decided to go to Michigan’s Adventure on a whim, and called that morning to reserve a cabana. We were able to get the last one, but I advise calling in advance to be safe.
We left the waterpark for the amusement park, but waited to change out of our swimsuits until after we’d gone on a few of the wetter rides, like Grand Rapids and Adventure Falls. Adventure Falls ends with a white wall of water coming towards you, a splash so big that it not only soaks the people in the boat, but those standing on the bridge above as well.
Michigan’s Adventure has introduced new “Fast Lane” passes. For an extra fee, you’ll be able to use the special Fast Lane entrance to the ride, which leads right up to the boarding area. The pass is good for 14 of the amusement park rides, and includes several premium rides like Shivering Timbers and Thunderhawk, as well as less thrilling – but still fun – rides like Tilt-a-Whirl and bumper cars. My family took advantage of the Fast Lane passes and were pleasantly surprised to find that lines were almost non-existent in the Fast Lane – while regular riders waited an hour in the beating sun, we’d encounter maybe one other group ahead of us. Also, Fast Lane riders were allowed first pick of seats on some rides, so we could get those front row spots that the kids love. The ride operators seemed exceptionally courteous as well, which is always nice. These advantages came at a price though. The cost of the passes varies depending on the day and size of the group. For example, our party of four on a Saturday paid $40 each, on top of the cost of admission, but a couple would pay $50 per person. On Wednesday it would have been less, but then, the lines tend to be shorter on weekdays.
Take a break from the beach and head over to Lost City for a few games of laser tag.
Your group will be led into a prep group where you’ll be outfitted with a vest, headset and laser gun. A Lost City employee will review the rules and you’ll split into two teams, red and green. The play arena is dark, with low neon lighting and fast music. It’s split into two areas, one for each team, with plenty of places for players to hide while they shoot lasers at members of the opposing team. The headset alerts you when you’ve been hit, and after three hits you must recharge your gun at a charging station. At the end of the game you’re given a printout of your stats.
Lost City recommends groups of at least five people for laser tag, but I’ve seen them add smaller groups to a larger group that’s playing.
In addition to laser tag, Lost City offers an arcade where players earn tickets they can redeem for prizes, indoor glow-in-the-dark mini golf, miniature bowling and a snack bar.
Lost City is easy to get to, located off US 31 by the Star Theater cinema in the Holland Town Center Outlet Mall.
The Lost City Laser Tag
12330 James St.
Holland, MI 49424
When the weather outside is gloomy and gray, head to the Holland Aquatic Center for fun in the water.
Here you’ll find a variety of swim facilities for all ages and skill levels. The little ones can romp around in the shallow Splash Zone, while bigger kids can head down the Yellow Streak Slide, climb the Saturn or test themselves on the Aqua Challenge obstacle course. More serious swimmers can lane swim.
Please check the Holland Aquatic Center’s schedule for pool open hours. Daily admission for non-residents is $5.50 per person.
Holland Aquatic Center
550 Maple Avenue
Holland, MI 49423
When the weather refuses to cooperate, families can head to the Spring Lake Aquatic Center’s indoor family pool for some fun in the water.
The family pool is more of a small indoor water park, with a lazy river, big water slide, splash pool, lily pads and more. Adults can relax in the soothing hot tub, or join in the fun in the pool. Kids under age 13 must be accompanied by an adult.
The daily admission price ($10 per person in 2012) includes access to the exercise facilities, so if you prefer, one parent can work out while the other stays in the pool with the kids.
The open hours for the family pool vary, so be sure to check the schedule before going.
The Spring Lake Aquatic Center is located within Spring Lake High School.
Spring Lake Aquatic Center
16140 148th Avenue
Spring Lake, MI 49456
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