Founded in the early 1800s by a group of fur traders, the first settlers to the Grand Haven area of lower West Michigan used the local natural resources to their benefit. Whether it was timber, trading posts, or general commerce, the residents of Grand Haven have often worked hard and looked for relaxation at the day’s end. With lakeside beaches, a breezy boardwalk to shops, and picture-perfect sunsets, Grand Haven is one postcard-pretty stop for your Michigan adventure. Take a hike on the picturesque wooded and grassy dunes near Grand Haven and marvel in this unique lakefront ecosystem. Options for camping include lots of lakeside offerings. The Grand Haven State Park offers not only camping right on the shore of Lake Michigan, but also views of the nearby Grand Haven lighthouse and boardwalk. Or, stay nearby in charming Holland, Michigan where you can choose a site on Lake Michigan, or Lake Macatawa.
SAND SCULPTURE CONTEST
You don’t have to be a professional artist, or even a permanent resident, to participate in Grand Haven’s annual Sand Sculpture Contest each summer. This free event is open to families, individuals, and those who just like playing in the soft sand while they soak up some sun. Relive your younger years sitting and making a drip castle that could take up a whole afternoon. Forget those adult cares while you get back to your roots.
VANDER MILL CIDER
While breweries, distilleries, and wineries can be found all over Michigan’s “mitten,” one must-visit in the Grand Haven area is Vander Mill, where you can sip on the best thing to happen to apples since Newton discovered gravity. Pressed from local apples, Vander Mill makes hard cider that takes a new look at what you can do with apples. From adding dried poblano peppers to one variety, to fermenting apple cider with honey in bourbon barrels for over a year, they’re always pushing the boundaries of craft cider. They also offer a full menu at the cidery, including a set of dishes for kids (families are definitely welcome at Vander Mill), and even a Sunday brunch.
GRAND RIVER HERITAGE WATER TRAIL
Not all water sports have to take place on Lake Michigan, when you’re in Grand Haven. The Grand River Heritage Water Trail offers 41 miles of slow-flowing water, perfect for lazy paddling through an afternoon. There are different access points along the river, from Grand Haven to just southwest of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s easy to take in local history along the water trail, with historic features you can map out on your trek thru downloadable maps. Canoe, SUP, and kayak rentals abound all along the water trail, with some outfitters offering guided trips to explore local wildlife, plants, and history.
Are you ready for an adventure?