Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Muskegon, MI

  • Published 2023/01/07

See the beautiful lakes, historic establishments, and brilliant art collections in Muskegon, Michigan.

Established in 1837, the settlement was a popular provider for the growing lumber industry.

This allowed the city to thrive and enticed more travelers to reside in the area.

You’ll find a great variety of vacation-worthy spots within Muskegon County.

The city welcomes visitors on a budget thanks to public parks, libraries, art galleries, and excellent venues.

The city proves that you don’t need to spend much to explore the country’s wonders.

Check out the free things to do in Muskegon, Michigan!

Join the Festivals in Pere Marquette Park

Sunset at Pere Marquette Park

Tony Savino /

You’ll see the scenic Pere Marquette Park along the lengths of Channel Drive.

This beautiful park is home to a pristine, sandy beach.

It attracts travelers across the region, offering loads of water recreation and simple leisure.

Popular activities in Pere Marquette Park include riding watercraft, surfing, and beach volleyball.

It also hosts much-awaited events such as the “Burning Foot Beer Festival” and other community gatherings.

You can use the park’s complimentary amenities as well.

They’re equipped with field courts, picnic tables, and rentals for easy access to the park’s crystal-clear waters.

Pere Marquette Park is a splendid choice for activities, relaxation, or sightseeing.

Take a Walk along the Muskegon Lakeshore Trail

The Muskegon Lakeshore Trail offers endless views of the crystal-clear waters in Muskegon Lake.

You’ll also see unique sights like the South Pier Lighthouse, the channel, and the dunes.

It passes along some of Muskegon’s scenic parks as well!

With many available views, the Muskegon Lakeshore Trail can be a pleasing experience for those who enjoy walks.

It’s a great way to see some of the best natural wonders and landmarks within Muskegon.

Located east of Keating Street, this paved trail is a must-try experience in leisure and sightseeing.

It spans 12 miles along the length of Muskegon Lake.

It’s also conveniently connected to other trails in the city, like the Musketawa Trail and Laketon Trail.

Wander Downtown Muskegon

Aerial view of Downtown Muskegon

Jacob Boomsma /

Downtown Muskegon is the center of the city and is filled with vibrant buildings and new scenery.

It’s the region’s heart, containing pieces of Muskegon’s rich arts, long history, and unique culture.

This district showcases natural allure, artificial buildings, and a warm community.

It thrives with bustling markets, local establishments, and lively public events.

Buildings at Downtown Muskegon

WeaponizingArchitecture, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can join music concerts and listen to local music at designated areas in Downtown Muskegon.

Along Terrace Street, this place is perfect for those who want to explore and immerse in the city.

You can check out the sights, go people-watching, or enter some of the free parks in the vicinity.

Get a glimpse of the authentic Muskegon appeal in this downtown district!

Support Local Crafts in Art Cats Gallery

At Lakeshore Drive, Art Cats Gallery has existed for more than 20 years!

It may be a small business, but the place has had a steady stream of visitors from locals and tourists alike.

The gallery boasts a splendid assortment filled with dainty trinkets, creative artwork, and passion projects.

One of its best features is that they’re all made by local artists!

From painted glass pieces to small jewelry, sculptures, and crafts, there’s plenty to see in Arts Cats Gallery.

All these began with Louise Hopson, a clay artist, who took a chance to start up a cozy gallery in the city.

See the fruits of her hard work by visiting Art Cats Gallery!

Read a Book at the Historic Hackley Public Library

Exterior of the Hackley Public Library

Cheri Alguire /

The Hackley Public Library is a historic gem in Muskegon.

From its unique origins to its brick-like architecture, this library stands out from all the rest in Muskegon.

Built in 1890, the building was a gift from Charles Hackley for the city’s public education.

Along Webster Avenue, the library is home to extensive genealogy records, books of different genres, and preserved photographs.

Close view of the Hackley Public Library

Cheri Alguire /

Its stained windows are famous works of the esteemed Louis Millet from the 19th century.

With the help of public officials, the venue now features modern amenities like air-conditioning, ramps, and other energy-efficient appliances.

You can freely relax and read their books in a warm, old-age ambiance with the Hackley Public Library!

Go Boating at Harbour Town Beach

Harbour Town Beach is a park with a pristine, well-maintained beach.

It may not be as large as other beach areas in the vicinity, but it has a distinct charm that makes it a popular destination.

In truth, Harbour Town Beach is a favorite among locals for boating-related activities.

Whether fishing or sailing, the beach’s calm waters make it one of the city’s top attractions.

The venue is perfect for those who want to try water adventures in a relatively serene place.

If those activities interest you, don’t miss Harbour Town Beach!

It’s located along Fulton Avenue.

Treat Your Eyes at the Monet Garden of Muskegon

The Monet Garden of Muskegon takes inspiration from a globally renowned attraction in France, Claude Monet’s Garden.

It’s a project of the Lakeshore Garden Masters, a group of West Michigan gardeners who formed an independent organization.

The venue offers a scenic and peaceful oasis to anyone who needs a break from the city lifestyle.

It’s filled with colorful flowers and verdant plants, fostering a one-of-a-kind scenery.

The highlight of this garden is the iconic blue bridge, crossing a pond with a plethora of water lilies.

You’ll see an endless array of pleasing scenery in the Monet Garden of Muskegon.

Don’t forget to check it out at the corner of Fifth and Clay Street!

It’s conveniently nestled in the city’s downtown district so that you can make a quick pitstop.

Feel the Sand in Your Toes at the Norman F. Kruse Park

Sunset at Norman F. Kruse Park

cpparrothead /

Along Sherman Boulevard, Norman F. Kruse Park freely opens its door to the public.

It spans 52 acres, containing sandy beaches, built pavements, and recreational facilities.

Whether you’re into active fun or tranquil rest, this park has something for you and your fellow travelers.

It also has a beach for dogs to run around as they want, as long as they are leashed.

The park’s attractions include nature trails, open dune walks, a children’s playground, and a basketball court.

The Norman F. Kruse Park is a splendid destination, no matter your mood and preference!

Enjoy gorgeous natural views with recreational opportunities.

Drop by the Muskegon County Convention and Visitors Bureau

If you’re unsure where to go, drop by the Muskegon County Convention and Visitors Bureau!

This place is home to friendly travel guides who’ll tell you everything about Muskegon.

The bureau is equipped with firsthand knowledge and information as the official tourist information center.

It’s housed in the historic Union Depot building, a remnant of the city’s former train station.

They could also provide you with helpful pamphlets or maps for attractions like parks and lighthouses.

The Muskegon County Convention and Visitors Bureau is a great place to jumpstart your trip into the bright city.

Learn the free history and get local insight from the people in the bureau!

See the Sunset at Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse

Silhouette of the Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse

Kingfishcafe /

The Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse is one of the city’s top historical attractions.

In 2010, it was given to the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy for its preservation.

You can see it up close through the public pedestrian walkway leading you straight to the tower.

It’s colored in a bright, vibrant red that makes it easily visible to ships and people from far distances.

Exterior of the Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse

Aaron headly, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll also get great views of Lake Michigan which surrounds the lighthouse.

With a clear view of blue skies, the Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse is one of the best places to watch the sunset.

It’s located along Beach Street.

Check it out to glimpse an essential part of the city’s nautical history!

See Cool Ships at the Margaret Drake Elliott Park

With the gorgeous Muskegon Channel as its backdrop, Margaret Drake Elliot Park is famous for picnics.

The place is covered in grassy plains, shaded by lush trees, and a few built structures.

Since it offers a clear view of the water channel, it’s also become a perfect spot for boat-watching!

From ferries to cruise ships and transport vehicles, you can see various boats from Margaret Drake Elliot Park.

Other amenities include a playground for kids, picnic shelters, charcoal grills, and public tables.

You can easily find this park on Beach Street if you’re interested.

It is also close to Lake Michigan beach, just within walking distance.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

Ride an Electric Chair at Muskegon State Park

The sands of Muskegon State Park

Jennifer Uehlein Reynolds /

Located 14 minutes from Muskegon, the wonders of Muskegon State Park await you.

It was established in 1923 after the government offered the land to the city’s Conservation Department.

Since then, the park has become a staple source of tranquility and outdoor adventures for residents and tourists alike.

The place has mile-long trails, campgrounds, the historic Blockhouse, and an on-site adventure park.

Historic blockhouse at Muskegon State Park

paul lehman /

The park also offers its guests free to ride their modern electric chairs!

It’s a thrilling experience that can take you through rough terrains, sandy areas, and even snow in the winter.

Travelers can also use the park’s fishing piers, swimming facilities, picnic areas, and public boat launches.

Plenty of recreational opportunities are in Muskegon State Park.

The waters of Muskegon State Park

Wildnerdpix /

Explore the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve

The Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve is a haven for nature and outdoor enthusiasts at Lake Avenue.

It’s a piece of the environment that the Muskegon Environmental Research and Education Society carefully preserves.

They plant native flora, nurture natural habitats, and remove invasive species.

As a result, the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve has grown beautifully as a representation of Muskegon’s environment.

Visitors can enjoy the preserve’s scenic trails, paved bike paths, and a wetland walkway.

There’s also an outdoor pavilion classroom for educational opportunities!

This preserve is a sanctuary for all kinds of animals, most especially birds and fish.

If you’re interested in fishing or birdwatching, this is one of the best places in West Michigan!

This preserve is in North Muskegon, Michigan, six minutes from Muskegon.

Check Out Sand Dunes at Dune Harbor Park

Dune Harbor Park was transformed from a former sand mine into a unique, natural wonderland.

It’s filled with hilly, forested dunes, an artificial lake, and beautiful grassy plains.

Dune Harbor Park opened in 2021 with the help of a lofty trust fund given to Muskegon County.

While it still has damage from past mining activities, volunteers have tried restoring it to its former state.

From native plants to animal wildlife, the ecosystem has slowly reverted to its past prestige.

People have spotted animals, such as white-tailed deer, coyotes, rabbits, and bald eagles, on the premises.

You can find the place along Seminole Road in Norton Shores, Michigan.

It’s less than 15 minutes away from Muskegon!

Explore the Hart Montague Bicycle State Park

Located 30 minutes from Muskegon, this park presents a challenging experience for bikers of all levels.

The Hart Montague Bicycle State Park was one of Michigan’s first “Rails to Trails” projects in the region.

With its success, many other paths were carved similar to this park.

The appeal lies in how it connects towns and cities in a way that pedestrians and bikers can easily access.

People can take leisure walks or bike rides through paved pathways from one community to another.

Along the way, you can enjoy the calming ambiance of rural forests.

The trails are ongoing since they aim to connect most of the communities within the Michigan region.

Start your trip on the trailhead between Spring Street and Water Street inside Montague.

Final Thoughts

There’s a mix of parks, natural destinations, and quaint buildings within the bustling place of Muskegon.

The best part is you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the city.

Roam the lively downtown district, explore natural preserves, or spend the day at a beach.

Enjoy the free things to do in Muskegon, Michigan.

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