When we started discussing summer vacation plans, my kids were dying to go to the beach like a number of their friends that were headed to South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, etc… The problems is, my hubby and I are wimps – at least when it comes to packing up the family in the minivan and heading somewhere more than 6 or 7 hours from home. The idea of hearing “Are we there yet?” for 12 or 13 hours sends chills up our spines, and makes us overcome with gut wrenching stomach pain and headaches. Not a good way to start a vacation. LOL
So, because of our wimpiness, our short 5 day vacation time frame, and the cost of gasoline these days, we decided to vacation closer to home. Michigan seemed like a good fit. Far enough away to feel like a real vacation, but still close enough that we would survive the car ride there. 🙂 What’s more, I have heard for years from lots of folks that Michigan indeed has some beautiful beaches.
What Does Grand Haven Have to Offer?
After doing some research, we decided we would focus most of our vacation time in Grand Haven, Michigan and surrounding areas. It boasts – and delivers – some of the best beaches in the Great Lakes region. Grand Haven State Park received an honorable mention from “Dr. Beach” who rated the often under appreciated Great Lakes beaches. We definitely felt transported to someplace more tropical on it’s wide, long sand beach. And, Grand Haven is surrounded by the Grand River and Spring Lake as well, so if the Lake Michigan waves are more than you like, calm waters are just a few steps away.
Grand Haven also won our hearts because of its small town, family oriented feel. The downtown is filled with quaint, historical buildings now housing an eclectic mix of shops and eateries. Neat stores like Michigan Rag Company, Makinaw Kite Company, and our favorite breakfast spot, The Coffee Grounds are all worth checking out.
If you’ve got the shopping bug, there’s plenty to keep you busy downtown, and around town. A few special places we found – like A & L Farm Market and Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders were a bit off the beaten path, but well worth the 5 or so mile drive to get to them!
Another plus is that Grand Haven has restaurants galore, meeting just about every budget and palate. Near the beach you can find family friendly hot dog and burger places, and one of our favorites, Butch’s Beach Burritos. Higher end restaurants like Kirby’s and SnugHarbor also hug the beach line. Right downtown, and right in the middle budget-wise is JW’s Food and Spirits. We had a wonderful, delicious meal there one evening.
What is There To Do In and Near Grand Haven?
Grand Haven’s visitor’s website has a great listing of all sorts of attractions close by, but I’ll highlight a few: bike riding or hiking on miles of prepared trails, museums, Grand Haven’s musical fountain (the largest in the world), Michigan’s Adventure Amusement Park, Teusink’s Pony Farm, sand dune tours, fishing charters, boat rentals, even Wind Dancer schooner cruises – what a treat!
Want a Closer Look at Our Stops Around Grand Haven?
Click on the pink links in this article for a closer look at some of our favorite stops along the way!