Blake Walsh

21 Best Things to Do in Grand Haven, MI

  • Published 2023/03/15

Grand Haven is a city and county seat of Ottawa County in Michigan.

Its name comes from the Grand River. It is a beach city with many beaches that attract visitors from across the country.

Fishing, sailing, boating are some of the popular activities in the city.

Incidentally, the city was one of the first municipalities in the US to have wireless internet throughout the city.

If you are visiting Grand Haven, then don’t miss out on visiting all the places compiled in this article.

These are the most popular places in the city.

Grand Haven Musical Fountain

View of Grand Haven Musical Fountain at night

Todd Maertz /

The Grand Haven Musical Fountain was the largest musical fountain in the world when it was first built in 1962.

It features a light and water show where the fountain ‘dances’ to music.

There are shows for 20 minutes duration that that plays after dusk.

Different shows are played from Memorial Day until Labor Day.

Tourists flock to Grand Haven to see the musical fountain.

The fountain can be viewed anywhere from the Grand Haven boardwalk.

People can sit in their cars and view the fountain.

They can even listen to the music on FM radio (88.7).

The location of the fountain on Dewey Hill makes it convenient for people to see it even from a long distance.

Grand Haven Lighthouse

Exterior of the Grand Haven Lighthouse

Dean Pennala /

The Lighthouse in Grand Haven was built in 1839.

There are two lights on the south pier and are connected by a catwalk.

Interestingly, the inner light is cylindrical in shape while the outer one is square.

The lights that stand on a strong concrete foundation are red in color.

Silhouette of Grand Haven Lighthouse during sunset

Dean Pennala /

The boardwalk near the Grand River is a popular place and people taking a walk here can see the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is 51 feet in height. It is located in the Grand Haven State Park.

Interestingly, the first lighthouse built collapsed due to shore erosion.

A new and stronger lighthouse was built in 1854.

Grand Haven Boardwalk

Walkway of Grand Haven Boardwalk

hakkun, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most popular places in Grand Haven is the boardwalk along the Grand River pier.

Anyone who visits the city would be sure to visit this place and take a leisurely walk enjoying the sights.

The boardwalk stretches for a distance of 1.5 miles.

It starts from Chinook Pier where you can visit the shops before taking a walk.

As you walk through, you will find restaurants and parks on the way.

There are also marinas and charter boat services that you will see here.

In case walking is not what you prefer, don’t worry.

There are grassy knolls nearby where you can relax watching the boards on the river.

The boardwalk is open throughout the year from dawn to dusk.

Grand Haven City Beach

A very popular attraction in Grand Haven is the city beach.

Of the various beaches in the city, this is one frequented most by visitors.

Located near the State park beach, this beach has a large beachfront that attracts families and large groups.

You can swim in the pleasant water or have an enjoyable time watching kids play in the sand.

It is a public beach open to everyone and there is no fee for entry.

The free parking facility is limited. Dogs are allowed but need to be leashed (allowed only before 11 am and after 5 pm).

The soft golden sands of the beach make it a place that you must include in your itinerary when you visit Grand Haven.

Tri-Cities Historical Museum

Interior of Tri-Cities Historical Museum

Gpwitteveen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Tri-cities historical museum is located on Washington Avenue in Grand Haven.

When you visit the museum, you can understand the culture and history of the city and Ottawa county.

There are a variety of exhibits displayed in the museum.

The museum invites members of the community to be curators and display their collections at the museum.

Schools tours are organized to the museum as a part of their learning.

Outreach and digital programs are conducted by the museum regularly.

If you love museums, then do visit this one. Entry is free but visitors are encouraged to make a donation.

The museum is open 10 am to 5 pm from Tuesday to Friday and 12 pm to 5 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Grand Haven State Park

Large kites at Grand Haven State Park

Kyle Schippa /

Grand Haven State Park is located along the banks of Lake Michigan to one side and Grand River to the other side.

The State park stretches over a distance of 48 acres and is one of the places you must visit when you are in Grand Haven.

Unlike most other parks, this park comprises of beach sand only.

Sunny day at Grand Haven State Park

The Global Guy /

As you walk through the park, you can view all the major attractions of the city.

You can see the musical fountain nearby. The Grand Haven pier and lighthouse is also nearby.

Every year in July and August, the Coast Guard Festival is held here.

There are campgrounds available in the state park if you wish to camp overnight.

Harbor Trolley

The Harbor Trolley is one of the attractions of the city.

Visitors can take a trolley ride, which is a great activity for families to enjoy.

The Harbor transit summer trolley operates on all days of the week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

You can flag the trolley at any intersection or you can board at the designated locations.

The trolley fare is $1.50. It is $.0.75 for those below 18 and above 60.

The trolley will take you through most of the historic sites in the city, including Tri-Cities museum, Chinook Pier, etc.

The trolley operates 11 am to 8 pm on Sundays, 11 am to 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 pm to 9 pm on other days.

Rosy Mound Natural Area

Stairway at Rosy Mound Natural Area

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Rosy Mound Natural Area is a dune system with open dunes, high wooded dunes, and sandy beaches.

There is a 0.7-mile hiking trail for visitors who wish to explore the area by foot.

The trail takes them from the parking area to the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

There is a shade canopy and a boardwalk trail available near the beach.

Welcome sign of Rosy Mound Natural Area

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you visit from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you will need to pay parking fees.

The park is however open throughout the year for visitors.

You can enjoy swimming in the waters or relax on the beach.

There are observation areas that offer a scenic view of the area. Dogs are not allowed here.

Dune and grass of Rosy Mound Natural Area

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wind Dancer Charters

When you visit a beach area, one of the activities to take up is sailing.

A journey on the open water in a sailboat offers a great experience for tourists.

Wind Dancer charters offers a sailing cruise on Lake Michigan.

A sail on the river in their 63-foot sailboat is a great experience.

You can have an enjoyable time with your family and friends experiencing the sail ride.

You can help steer the boat and also help raise the sails.

Choosing the sunset sail ensures you have a truly memorable experience enjoying the sight of the setting sun amidst the waters.

Drinks are served on board so you can enjoy your ride.

Pronto Pups

If you are hungry after all the sightseeing you have done, then drop into Pronto Pups for an enjoyable outdoor meal.

Pronto Pups is an institution and is operating for more than 60 years.

The eatery is located in the Harbor district. You can experience West Michigan style cooking at this eatery.

The family-owned eatery is known for its great service by friendly staff.

If you haven’t eaten the corn dogs dished out by Pronto Pups, then you have definitely missed something.

The crispy hot dog on a stick is delicious and will make you want more. It is open on all days from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm.

Charter Fishing

One of the things to do in Grand Haven is to go on a fishing trip.

There are varied water in and around Grand Haven. These waters are home to fish like salmon, Bass, trout, bluegill, and walleye.

You can catch all these fish when you take a chartered boat for fishing.

The annual salmon festival during September is when fishing is at its peak.

You can book a chartered boat at Chook pier to take you on your fishing trip.

There are around 40 such boats available. The captain of the boats know the waters and will tell you where you can get the best catch.

You can even take the catch to a restaurant and have a fresh fish dinner.


No vacation is complete unless your shopping is complete.

One of the things people look for while shopping is antiques.

Tlaquepaque is a very interesting antique shop in Grand Haven.

Located on Washington Avenue, this antique shop has an eclectic collection of antiques and many other items for sale.

If you want to take home a souvenir from Grand haven, then this is the shop where you will find it.

The shop has good quality items on sale. Apart from local items, there are plenty of Mexican antiques on sale here.

Dolls, art, masks, pottery, natural soaps, carved sculptures, and a variety of jewelry can be found in this shop.

The variety available is the main attraction in this shop.

Chocolates by Grimaldi

Chocolates are something kids love and adults also don’t mind having.

Visiting a chocolate factory is a great experience, one that families would relish.

Chocolates by Grimaldi offers tours to their chocolate factory.

The tour will allow you to understand everything about chocolate.

You will learn how chocolates are made and will be shown each process in the chocolate-making cycle.

The tour is open from 9 am to 5 pm on Mondays, 9 am to 6 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays, and from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays. It is closed on Sunday.

Apart from visiting the production area, you can view the various products offered by the company and sample a few of them.

You can take home chocolates at a bargain price.

Escanaba Park

Escanaba Park is a beautiful park located in the Harbor district in Grand Haven.

The park is a tribute to the coast guard cutter Escanaba that arrived in the city in 1932.

You can get to know the history of the cutter and the exploits of its brave personnel during World War 2.

You can see the original mast of the boat along with other historical markers.

The Army Corp of Engineers own the Escanaba Park. They have leased it out to the city.

Located next to the Coast Guard station, the park is open for 24 hours a day on all days.

Kirby House

Kirby House is a family-run restaurant located on the corner of Washington and Jackson.

In operation from 1989, the building earlier was a hotel and a community hub.

There are three restaurants on the premises. Kirby House is a well-known restaurant that offers live entertainment on its premises.

The Grill room is the second restaurant that allows you to enjoy the best of grilled food.

K2 Pizzeria is where you can enjoy thin-crust pizza topped up with the best of Wisconsin cheese.

There is also a nightclub called Dark Room in the building. There is a game room at the Pizzeria that is an added attraction.

Grand Haven Escape Room

If the idea of spending time in an escape room appeals to you, then add this place to your itinerary.

The Grand Haven escape room is a great place for families and groups to spend quality time together while having fun.

You need to escape from the room working against time by solving clues and riddles.

The escape room session last for an hour and you need to crack all the puzzles and challenges before you can get out.

It is a great experience that offers fun, excitement, and makes you put your gray cells to work. Located on Jackson Street, it is open from 11 am to 10 pm on all days except holidays.

Experience Rustic Nature at Duncan Woods

Duncan Woods is an underrated spot in Grand Haven, as it offers roughly 40 acres of quaint forestry in the middle of the city.

There’s a lot to do at Duncan Woods, but exploring its nature trails is easily the best activity.

However, if you’re visiting during the winter, you can also try to do some sledding at Duncan Woods as it’s a popular local activity.

Lots of wildlife are found here as well, so bring a camera with you.

You can access Duncan Woods along Sheldon Road.

See the Quirky Houses at Midwest Miniatures Museum

Midwest Miniatures Museum is an awesome destination for everybody, whether for kids, couples, or even solo travelers.

It’s not everyday that you’ll find a miniature museum, sprawling with all sorts of unique designs in a compact space.

Midwest Miniatures Museum is exactly that, teeming with various intricate mini house sculptures that each have their own theme.

One of the most iconic you’ll find here is Vincent Van Gogh’s Yellow House.

A must-visit for architecture and art enthusiasts, find Midwest Miniatures Museum along South 5th Street.

Go Kayaking at Pottawattomie Park

Pottawattomie Park is a nice hangout spot in Grand Haven, located along its namesake bayou that connects to the Grand River.

It’s a popular place to launch kayaks and other boats here, letting you experience the Grand River firsthand.

Apart from that, the park also has a decent beach where you can do some swimming or sunbathing.

It’s a scenic spot, so picnics are also a popular activity.

Pottawattomie Park can be accessed along Comstock Street.

Have a Scenic Lunch at Snug Harbor

Snug Harbor is a restaurant in Grand Haven that’s famous for its riverfront location and fresh seafood.

One of the best-selling dishes at Snug Harbor are their sushi plates and poke bowls that accentuate the riverfront experience.

The aesthetic and ambiance are also great, making this a great daytime stopover with friends and family.

Don’t forget to check their viewing deck when visiting for the best views.

Snug Harbor is found along South Harbor Drive.

Have a Picnic at William Hatton Park

Located along North 4th Street lies another riverside attraction, William Hatton Park.

It’s a tranquil spot amidst the hustle and bustle in Grand Haven, as it’s located in a small neighborhood.

This makes the park a go-to relaxation spot, especially since it’s quite far from the busiest areas in Grand Haven with access to the river.

Tons of ducks can be spotted here, and its sprawling trails make this a great place to walk your dogs.

Overall, William Hatton Park is a great way to end your day.

Final Thoughts

Grand Haven is a huge city with so many things to do in Michigan.

With access to multiple bodies of water, this is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those with an affinity for boating and water sports.

Because of Lake Michigan, it’s no surprise that Grand Haven is also a scenic spot that’s perfect for photographers.

One of the prettiest cities in Ottawa County, don’t miss out on the best things to do in Grand Haven, Michigan.

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