Discover Michigan! As with our two-stop trip in the town of St. Joseph, we also stopped twice in the town of Grand Haven. Located north of St. Joe, Grand Haven is exactly what its name would lead you to believe.
This scenic city of about 11,000 on the shore of Lake Michigan has a wonderful downtown with great shops, restaurants, and breweries, as well as an expansive beach that is part of Grand Haven State Park. The beach is so nice that it has actually been ranked as one of the top five beaches in the U.S.!
As there aren’t many hotels in Grand Haven itself – especially ones that allow dogs – we stayed in nearby Spring Lake, which is just across the bridge from town and easily accessed by car, foot, or bicycle, the latter two of which are thanks to a wonderfully-planned path system.
Water is everywhere here. Not only is there Lake Michigan, but there’s the Grand River through town and an actual lake called Spring Lake, which is the center of that village. There’s lots of boating, fishing, and other water activities here, so much so that Grand Haven is an official Coast Guard City.
We visited once by ourselves, and then took my parents back there for another round. That’s how much we enjoyed it. Now, let’s see what we did!
Just outside the door of our hotel in Spring Lake is the boat club, with a lot of green space and a boardwalk. It’s quite scenic and nice to be thrown right into the water-based lifestyle here.
Heading over to Grand Haven, it also boasts that aforementioned, wonderful downtown. Shops and historic buildings abound, as does delicious food.
We hit The Kirby House more than once, with its three restaurants in one, delicious food, nice people, and ice-cold Michigan beer.
It was also my parents’ anniversary when we were there the second time, so we treated them to dinner at the fancy side of the restaurant. Happy happy, folks!
As we always do, we had to track down a brewery as well. There are a few great ones in the area, but we headed to Grand Armory Brewing downtown for some suds on this particular occasion. They do it right, and they also share space with Aldea Coffee and Righteous BBQ. This makes for a three-in-one blast of whatever you could possibly want and need at any given time.
We loved the brews, and definitely recommend you swing through.
We didn’t get a chance to visit the renowned Odd Side Ales – another reason to go back! – but we did pick some up at the local beer shop. Another great brewery you should swing through in Grand Haven.
A Nihilist barrel-aged double IPA hanging out with another great Michigan brewer.
If you’re feeling whiskey, we also recommend grabbing a bottle of Cask & Smoke by New Holland in the town of Holland, which is south of Grand Haven.
Back to downtown and the shops, there are loads of specialty places where you can stock up on local goods, hard-to-find sundries, and typical tourist items. We particularly dug Grand Haven Vinegar & Oil, thanks to all their treats and the great time we had hanging out with Marilyn, who runs the joint.
Also along the route here, we jumped back in for some coffee and treats. We recommend almost everywhere in Grand Haven, but Jumpin’ Java and The Baker’s Wife both hit the nail hard.
The legendary Fortino’s is also a must-see here. The shop carries tons of local products as well as things we’ve never seen before. They also sell plenty of nuts, candy, and other things that’ll have your heart and stomach going crazy.
Grand Haven also has a “Before I Die…” wall, so we took advantage of that.
It’s easy to while away the day in Grand Haven, with so many interesting things to see, do, eat, drink, and buy. One thing you have to be sure to do before or after you hit the beach is to just walk along the river. It’s a gorgeous stroll and highly recommended.
If you walk all the way down the river, you’ll eventually end up at the Grand Haven lighthouse, pier, and catwalk. At the time of this writing, it’s being renovated, but it was all intact when we were there.
You can walk all the way out to the end, which gives sweeping views of the beaches, lake, and fancy beachfront houses.
And, how could we forget the beach? The glorious beach of Grand Haven State Park is a field day for adults and kids alike. The soft sand, the water, the volleyball courts. It’s all wonderful and anyone from the Midwest can truly appreciate how nice it is to have something like this so far from the ocean.
We also took a side trip to the booming, small city of Grand Rapids, just a half-hour to the east of Grand Haven. Our friend, Andrew, lives there, so we headed over there one day to have lunch with him at the impressive Downtown Market.
This central market has tons of local shops and eateries, and is well worth a visit.
While there’s plenty to keep you occupied for quite a while in Grand Haven, we do recommend a visit to Grand Rapids as well. We haven’t spent nearly enough time there, but it is a very exciting city with a lot going on.
Back in Grand Haven, puppy!
Grand Haven is where it’s at. We love this town and urge you to take some time off from the hustle and bustle of life, and spend some time in Coast Guard City, U.S.A.
‘Til next time!
Be sure to check out our other Fabric of America posts.
A very special and very big thanks to everyone in Grand Haven, especially all the fine folks we met at all the places we visited. Thanks to all of you for being so wonderful.
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Have you ever been to Grand Haven? If so, what’d you think? If not, what say ye? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!