All Ages Fun in West Michigan’s Coast Guard City
With amazing beaches and plenty of options for low cost activities and dining, Grand Haven is an ideal midwest destination for families. This vacation town is a family friendly getaway with nationally recognized beaches and a quaint downtown district just minutes from the water. The official website has tons of ideas for travelers but here is an inside look at options for maximizing the good times.
Water Sports, Biking, and Hiking in West Michigan
Grand Haven’s beaches are recognized by Good Morning America’s Travel Mom as one of the top five beaches in the United States and by the Automobile Association of America as the best Michigan beach. The clean Lake Michigan waters and white sand as fine as sugar are the reason for these distinctions. Families can enjoy this jewel of a coast at Grand Haven State Park or Grand Haven City Beach. Be prepared to pay for parking at each.
For those who want more active enjoyment, Lakeshore Kayak Rental is where families can get canoes and kayaks. For pedaling fun, Rock ‘n’ Road Cycle rents bicycles. One of the most popular paths is the sidewalk trail that follows Lakeshore Drive. This route goes by Tunnel Park, Kirk Park, and eventually ends at Holland State Park 20 miles away.
Families interested in exploring the natural dunes habitat can visit nearby P.J. Hoffmaster State Park or Rosy Mound Natural Area. Both offer amazing hikes through landscapes unique to the Lake Michigan coast. Hoffmaster has ten miles of trails and a challenging stair climb with a rewarding view. The boardwalks and paved trails at Rosy Mound make hiking a little easier but the views are not as good. Both locations also offer beaches.
Downtown Grand Haven
Downtown Grand Haven is pedestrian friendly and only a few minutes walk from the water. The shaded streets are lined with clothing boutiques and art galleries. Grand Haven’s most unique shop is Mackinaw City Kites and Toys. This colorful store is filled with beach games and wind toys.
During the summer months, families will also want to check out the world’s largest musical fountain, which plays a free water and light show at sunset at Waterfront Stadium on the Grand River.
Family Dining in Grand Haven
For casual dining, Pavilion’s Wharf Bar & Grille is one of Grand Haven’s best restaurants. They offer a wide selection of burgers and sandwiches; including their bacon and jalapeno filled Magnificent Stuffed Burger. A favorite breakfast spot is the Great Harvest Bread Company. A slice of their fresh baked cinnamon or raspberry swirl bread slathered with butter is better than a breakfast pastry. But families should get there early, they sell out quickly.
A short drive from downtown is Fricano’s Pizza. They have roots going to the 1950s and claim to be Michigan’s first pizzeria. They still make their authentic pies the same way they did back then. For waterfront dining, Snug Harbor is the place to be. They offer outdoor seating and a menu selection ranging from sandwiches to steaks. Located where the Grand River empties into Lake Michigan, its the perfect spot for watching cruiser yachts and powerboats zipping along the water.
Great Beaches in West Michigan
Grand Haven’s best attribute is that it has nationally recognized beaches but is still undiscovered. With no crowds and an abundance of low cost options for shopping and dining, Grand Haven is a prime destination for vacationing families.