Tag Archives: Grand Haven

Smaller Grand Haven Area Lake Michigan Beaches

While the Grand Haven State Park beach is by far the biggest and busiest beach in the Grand Haven area, there are other options. These beaches tend to be quieter than the State Park and are popular with families and seniors.

City Beach – This beach is adjacent to the Grand Haven State Park Beach. In fact, they look like one big beach. The parking lot is free, but fills up quickly so get there early in the day. Many find that the walkway down to the beach makes for a more pleasant experience slogging through hot, shifting sand. City beach has bathroom facilities, and the snack bar and pavilion at Grand Haven State Park is just a short walk away.

South Harbor Drive
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Kirk Park – Located south of Grand Haven along Lakeshore Drive, Kirk Park offers a beautiful beach, picnic shelters, grills, bathroom facilities and vending machines. Take a short walk along a wooded path and emerge at the top of a sand dune with the shining Lake Michigan waters stretching out before you. There is a parking charge.

9771 Lakeshore Avenue North
West Olive, MI 49460

North Beach – This Grand Haven area beach is found north of the US 31 drawbridge in Ferrysburg. It offers picnic tables and grills, vending machines, playground and bathroom facilities. There is a parking charge.

Directions: Located on Lake Michigan in the City of Ferrysburg approximately 2 miles north of the Grand Haven pier. From US 31, take the Ferrysburg exit and go west on 3rd Street to North Shore Drive. Turn west on North Shore Drive and travel about 2 miles to the park entrance.

Rosy Mound Beach – Guests arrive at this Grand Haven beach after half an hour of hiking through woods, up and down dunes and staircases. It’s a pretty beach, but not a good choice if you’re lugging a packed cooler, two beach chairs, a few sand pails and floaties. There is a parking charge.

13925 Lakeshore Drive
Grand Haven, Michigan 49417

Buchanan Beach – Townie beach. Tiny, no facilities, parking is along the side of the road, but hey, it’s free. This is a good option when the other beaches are full.

Directions: Take US 31 south of Grand Haven to Buchanan St. Head west on Buchanan St. until it dead ends at the beach.

Spring Lake Public Beach – This beach is not on Lake Michigan, but rather Spring Lake. Read more about it here.

Grand Haven State Park Beach

Grand Haven State Park Beach

While most beachgoers probably approach the Grand Haven beach from downtown, I like to take Grand Avenue. I’m driving down the road surrounded by homes and tall trees, then I turn a bend and suddenly the stunningly blue Lake Michigan stretches endlessly before me, breathtaking in its beauty.

evening beach
Evening at the beach – see the surfer on the right?

The Grand Haven State Park Beach is the biggest and most popular of the area’s beaches. Bordered by the South Pier, home to Grand Haven’s picturesque red lighthouse, the state park beach offers 48 acres of sandy beach, a campground and a generous parking lot.

At the center of the beach is a small building where hungry beachgoers can grab snacks like freshly grilled burgers or cones piled high wiith creamy Hudsonville ice cream. A shop inside sells floaties, sandpails with shovels, sunscreen, disposable cameras and other handy items that might have been forgotten, and there are bathrooms.

The state parks use a flag system to alert swimmers to dangerous swimming conditions. A green flag signifies calm water, a yellow flag means there are big waves, so use caution when swimming, and a red flag indicates hazardous swimming conditions.

Dimitri Beach2

Those with a state park pass can enter for free, otherwise cars pay at the kiosk while entering the park. Some lucky souls can snag the few street parking slots available and walk in.

See also Smaller Grand Haven Area Lake Michigan Beaches for more beach options

Grand Haven State Park
1001 Harbor Drive
Grand Haven, MI 49417


Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival

Tall ships stand in the harbor, throngs of people walk along the boardwalk and delighted screams of carnival-goers rise above the din. It’s Coast Guard Festival week in Grand Haven.

Each year at the end of July and beginning of August the town gears up to celebrate the Coast Guard and all that they do. Organizers schedule events for each day of the week long celebration, with the biggest draws happening near the end of the week. Most festival events take place along the waterfront and on the streets of downtown Grand Haven.

Visitors can take part in numerous activities and events all week long. There’s a 5k and 10k run, classic car show, quilt show, kids parade and pancake breakfast on the first weekend. Ships parade into the harbor at 1:00 on Monday, and the Coast Guard ships are open for tours the rest of the week. There’s a kids day, a senior day, and a carnival opens downtown on Tuesday. A street dance occurs during the week, and on Friday festival goers can shop for everything from paintings to hair ribbons at the arts & crafts show across the street from the library.

What many consider the highlight of the week is the second Saturday, when the floats and bands of the Coast Guard Parade march through town and spectacular fireworks explode in the night sky over the harbor. Saturday is also the last day of the carnival. Parade lovers stay up Thursday night until midnight, when they can reserve their spot for the parade or fireworks with chairs or blankets.

These are just a few of the things going on during Coast Guard week – to see the full schedule of events, please follow the link below.

Website: Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival

The 2017 Coast Guard Festival takes places from July 28 to August 6.

Feast of the Strawberry Moon, Grand Haven

Feast of the Strawberry Moon 2

Every June the Feast of the Strawberry Moon takes over Grand Haven’s Harbor Island and recreates life in the 1700’s. The event seeks to provide a glimpse into every day life in a time when fur traders regularly passed through, Native Americans lived nearby, merchants peddled their wares and the military was ready to act.

feast of the strawberry moon 3

The scent of log fires perfumes the air as visitors walk among the dozens of campsites manned by reenactors dressed in typical clothing of the period, who can explain the roles of the figures they are portraying. One campsite might feature a midwife while a fur trader sits at another, a woman spins wool into yarn at a third and a few Native Americans gather around a teepee.

feast of the strawberry moon 4

Entertainment for the event typically includes reenactments of military exercises, an 18th century-style magic show, musicians and novelty acts like fire eaters.  Merchants are on hand selling refreshments as well as common items from the 1700s like rock candy and simple wooden toys.

Feast of the Strawberry Moon 1

The Feast of the Strawberry Moon

Visit Grand Haven: Feast of the Strawberry Moon

Facebook: Feast of the Strawberry Moon

The 2017 Feast of the Strawberry Moon will take place June 10-11.

Grand Haven Farmers Market and Spring Lake Farmers Market

Browsing at the Farmers Market in Grand Haven, Michigan.

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, dips, loaves of bread, cut flowers, plants, donuts, caramel apples and more. If there are no spots in the market parking lot, customers can park in the lot next door or the parking lot across the street.

The market is next to a small playground, so families can reward good behavior on the part of little ones with some time on the slides and swings, or they can walk over to the walk fronting the Grand River with a couple of slices of bread for feeding the ducks that
hang out there.

On Thursdays there’s a farmers market in neighboring Spring Lake on the street next to the library.

Grand Haven Farmers Market
Chinook Pier
Harbor Drive & 1st Street
Grand Haven

Spring Lake Farmers Market
Church Street
Next to Spring Lake Library
Spring Lake

Grand Haven’s Boardwalk, Musical Fountain and Charter Fishing

The boardwalk runs along Grand Haven’s harbor from the lighthouse to the downtown area and locals and visitors alike love to stroll along it, stopping to enjoy a tasty ice cream cone and  watch the pleasure boats head in and out of Lake Michigan.

Seating for Grand Haven’s noted musical fountain is located along the boardwalk, while the fountain itself is situated in the hills across the river from the bleachers.  Each night from Memorial Day to Labor Day and on weekends through September, crowds gather after sundown to watch the colorful, mesmerizing lights illuminating the water sprays in time to music, which runs the gamut from classical to pop songs.  The show is different each night, with different songs.  Swing by during the day or check the local newspaper for show times.

Charter fishing boats are also located along the boardwalk near the shops of Chinook Pier.  Get a group of friends together and hire a boat for an afternoon of salmon fishing on Lake Michigan.  The charter operators will even clean the catch when the boat gets back to shore!

Shopping in Grand Haven

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 district offers a nice mix of businesses, including clothing stores, antique shops, toy stores, souvenir shops, bakeries, greeting card shops and cafes.

At the far end of the boardwalk you’ll find Chinook Pier, a cluster of shops offering coffee, sweets, clothing, gifts and pizza. On Saturday and Wednesday mornings through the end of October a farmer’s market is held under the awning in the parking lot next door, where you’ll find flowers, farm fresh vegetables, honey, baked goods and more.