Tag Archives: west michigan

Great Lakes Kite Festival, Grand Haven, MI

Photo by Rachel Kramer
Photo by Rachel Kramer

Bright colors swoop and soar through the sky above Grand Haven State Park during the annual Great Lakes Kite Festival. Organized by MacKite, the kite festival was first held in 1988 and has been held in Grand Haven every year since.

On Saturday, the festival opens at the Grand Haven State Park beach, where it runs from 10AM to 5PM on Saturday and 11AM to 5PM on Sunday. There’s a performance field featuring some of the nation’s top kite flyers demonstrating their skills, solo or in groups. There’s also a field of giant kites, some as big as buses, that fly all day Saturday and Sunday, an open flying field where festival-goers can fly their own kites, and an inflatable obstacle course where the kiddos can run off some steam.

If the sight of all those kites floating on the wind inspires you to get one for yourself, head over the outdoor kite store for a great selection of kites and assorted toys.

Whether you’re an avid kite lover or someone just looking for a fun way to spend a few hours, head down to the beach and check it out!

Great Lakes Kite Festival

The 2017 Great Lakes Kite Festival will be held May 20-21

Soccer in the Sand, Grand Haven, MI & Michigan City, IN

Photo by Victoria Pickering
Photo by Victoria Pickering

Each summer the Soccer in the Sand tournament takes place nationwide on beaches from San Diego, California to Rochester, New York, with stops in Chicago and at popular Lake Michigan beach towns Grand Haven, MI and Michigan City, IN.

Games in Grand Haven take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday and those in  Michigan City and Chicago take place over two days, Saturday and Sunday. The beach is divided into several soccer fields where teams made up of boys, girls and adults show off their skills to throngs of onlookers. Don’t be surprised if you spot players and spectators alike taking a dip in the cool Lake Michigan water in between matches.

Groups can sign up at the Soccer in the Sand website. There are 4 players and a goalie on the field per side, and event organizers recommend having 7 to 10 players per team. Players play barefoot or in socks, with special “sand soccer socks” available for purchase at the event.

The 2017 Soccer in the Sand tournaments on the lakeshore take place:

on June 23 – 25 in Grand Haven

on July 22 & 23 in Michigan City

on August 5 & 6 in Chicago

Spring Lake Heritage Festival, Spring Lake, MI

Spring Lake Village Hall
Photo by Fartripper, Flickr.com

Each year in mid-June the people of Spring Lake come together to honor their village’s history with a week long celebration of food and fun.

The festival features several events throughout the week, including a flea market, a dog walk, family fun night and the ever-popular Wings on the Water chicken wing cooking competition on Thursday night.

The weekend is chock full of festival related activities, including a car show, book sale and entertainment tent featuring live music in the evening. Saturday dawns with a 5K run and a pancake breakfast . In the evening the entertainment tent is open once again and the night closes with a spectacular fireworks display.

Please visit the Spring Lake Heritage Festival website for information about times and locations of the various events.

The 2017 Spring Lake Heritage Festival takes place from June 12 to June 17.

Venetian Festival, Saugatuck, MI

saugatuck venetian festival boat parade
Each year in July, Saugatuck stages its largest event, the Venetian Festival. The festivities begin Friday night with a kickoff celebration featuring a beer tent, food and live music.

On Saturday morning art lovers throng the downtown streets during the annual Art Fair, searching among the one-of-a-kind works for that perfect piece, or just enjoying the feast for the eyes to be found within the various booths.

saugatuck venetian festival dinghy pokerAround lunchtime the Dinghy Poker Run begins over at Coghlin Park. Teams in boats under 17-feet long travel to seven or eight stops along the Kalamazoo River, picking up a playing card sealed in an envelope at each stop. At the end of the run, the group with the best Poker hand wins. Lots of splashing and water guns are typically part of the fun, so be ready to get wet if you’re participating!

In the evening, boats bedecked with lights and decorated in the yearly theme parade past the crowds lining Saugatuck’s waterfront. Parade participants get creative with the themes, which have included Vegas, superheroes and aliens.The top three decorated boats win cash prizes. It really is a spectacular display.

Following the boat parade, the evening closes with fireworks over Kalamazoo Lake.

The 2017 Saugatuck Venetian Festival takes place on July 28 and 29.


Oval Beach, Saugatuck, MI

Oval Beach Saugatuck MI
Spent a lovely afternoon at Saugatuck’s popular and picturesque Oval Beach.

The beach was clean and pretty and relatively narrow, which I liked. Trudging through a wide expanse of thick, hot sand to get from the parking lot to the water’s edge is not one of my fave activities – not an issue at Oval Beach.

Oval Beach SaugatuckWhile on the small side, Oval Beach offers a variety of amenities. There is a pavilion with a bathroom, showers and changing facilities. The snack bar sells concession stand faves like hot dogs, cold drinks and ice cream, as well as beach toys. Tables and grills are situated on a hill above the beach, affording picnickers a fabulous view of Lake Michigan, and there’s a swing set for the little ones.

If you’re driving, there’s a parking fee – please follow the link below for more information. Oval Beach is operated by the city of Saugatuck, so Michigan state park passes do not apply.

Oval Beach

Holland State Park Beaches

big red holland mi
I find there’s nothing like a walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline to soothe my frazzled nerves. Thus, when I found myself alone and with a few minutes to spare after dropping my daughter off at science camp at Hope College, I headed down to the beach at Holland State Park for a little reflection.

holland state park pavilionHolland State Park has all the amenities that make for a comfortable day at the beach. There’s plenty of parking, and if your ideal day at the beach includes grilling a juicy burger, you’ll find picnic tables and grills. In the modern beach pavilion there are restrooms and changing rooms for getting beach-ready. The Beach Place Cafe sells all the fave concession stand eats like hot dogs, burgers, ice cream and slushies, as well as beach gear like floaties and sandpails.

In addition to its Lake Michigan beach, Holland State Park boasts a beach along Lake Macatawa. Soon after arriving in the area, Dutch settlers sought government funds to dig a channel from Lake Macatawa to Lake Michigan in order to create a harbor for their new town. They didn’t receive the funds, but undeterred, they dug the channel themselves.

The entrance to the channel is guarded by “Big Red,” Holland’s bright red lighthouse, which holds the distinction of being Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse. While the lighthouse is situated in a private neighborhood across the channel from the beach, you can get pretty close on the boardwalk that runs along the north pier.

holland state park beach
That boardwalk continues along a second pier, popular for fishing and walking. If you’d like a little more of a challenge, there’s a hiking trail that winds up a dune on the east side of the park.

The park offers two campgrounds, one on Lake Michigan, the other on Lake Macatawa.

Holland State Park

Muskegon Beaches

Muskegon lighthouse
Muskegon offers a selection of beautiful Lake Michigan beaches, boasting both state park and city beaches, including one of Michigan’s few nationally certified clean beaches,Pere Marquette Beach.

Pere Marquette Park Beach
Not only does Pere Marquette Park have what is considered by many to be Muskegon’s finest beach, but it’s free to enter. As you might expect, this can lead to crowds on weekends, so get there early. Pere Marquette offers picnic tables and grills, a snack bar, playground and a 200-foot walkway down to the beach, so you don’t have to slog through thick sand in order to arrive at the water’s edge. Then there’s that great view of Muskegon’s picturesque red lighthouse. Pere Marquette hosts a number of events throughout the summer months, including a popular family “movie on the beach,” held once a month, please check the Visit Muskegon events calendar for more information about this and other beach events.

Pere Marquette Beach

Hoffmaster Park DunesP.J. Hoffmaster State Park Beach
Located south of town, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park features three miles of beach along Lake Michigan. Visitors can hike along the dunes and check out the view from the observation platform, or pop into the visitor’s center to learn about the plants and critters that call the park home. There’s concessions, a beach house, picnic facilities and a campground.

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

Muskegon State Park Beach
This little gem of a park boasts miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake, camping and one of the few public luge runs in the country. The Lake Michigan beach offers a beach house, great views of Muskegon’s lighthouse and there’s a picnic shelter and boat launch along Muskegon Lake. The park offers a choice of two campgrounds: a 105 site space along Lake Michigan or 139 sites on Muskegon Lake. If you’re a thrill seeker, check out the winter sports compound located at the north end of the park, which offers a luge run in winter and a wheeled luge run in summer.

Muskegon State Park

Kruse Dog Beach Muskegon
Norman F. Kruse Park Beach & Dog Beach

Norman Kruse Beach is a small, picturesque beach on Lake Michigan, with a separate dog beach for your favorite four-legged friend.

Kruse Park