A Coastal Haven

Marinas

Grand Haven Municipal Marina
The City of Grand Haven Marina offers approximately 50 transient slips with a maximum length of 60 feet. Amenities include electricity, restrooms, showers and ice. Reservations are required through the Michigan CRS Customer Service Department or online through the Michigan DNR Harbor Reservation website. 800-447-2757; www.midnrreservations.com.

Holiday Isle Marina, Spring Lake
Located right next to the Holiday Inn, the Holiday Isle Marina offers transient slips with limited availability for boats 30 feet and above. Call for availability. 616-850-1434; www.holidayislemarina.com.

Grand Isle Marina
Grand Isle Marina is a full-service marina offering approximately 20 transient slips with a pool, hot tub, showers, laundry and internet access. Maximum boat length is 140 feet. Bike to town or call Harbor Transit for a ride. They are not a harbor of refuge, and reservations are recommended. 616-842-9330; www.grandislemarina.com.

North Shore Marina
Located at the entrance to the Grand River channel in Grand Haven, North Shore Marina has been in business since 1950 and offers a full range of marine services. Not only do you get a family pool, marina clubhouse, a 100,000-square-foot storage facility and in/out service, but North Shore Marina offers the best views of downtown Grand Haven and Lake Michigan. 616-842-1788; www.northshoremarina.com.

Resources

A Coastal Haven

by Mira Temkin
Michigan’s Grand Haven is a historic beach town, luring boaters with miles of shoreline, rolling dunes and clear, blue waters.

A historic downtown filled with lovely shops, outdoor cafés and glorious beachfront, Grand Haven is often called the “Michigan Riviera.” Located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Grand Haven is the only city officially designated “Coast Guard City USA.” Featuring 1.5 miles of lovely boardwalk, an endless sugar-sand beach and iconic 19th century lighthouse, it’s no wonder the town has received so many accolades. CNN Travel named Grand Haven the #14 “Must See U.S. Beach” in August 2013. In March 2012, Grand Haven was named as one of Travel + Leisure magazine’s “Best Secret Beaches on Earth,” and Good Morning America named the town one of the “Top Five Family Beaches in the U.S.”  

Grand Haven boasts a rich and glorious history that goes back more than 300 years, when fur trading and shipbuilding yards ruled Western Michigan. Once a leading port for ferries and passenger lines, Grand Haven became a city in 1867, as well as a stop on the Grand Trunk Railway (the former station is now the city’s transportation museum). Between 1900 and 1984, The Story and Clark Piano Company built baby grands here, and today this site stands as a retail and entertainment center. The city also was once home to U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba back in 1924, but she was sunk by the German Navy in WWII. Each year, Grand Haven hosts the popular Coast Guard Festival remembering the 101 sailors lost in the Escanaba sinking.   

One of the best things about Grand Haven is that you can just dock your boat and walk to the downtown area. But before you do, let the kids cool off in the high-tech Splash Pad, located right next to the municipal marina. Or play a round at Chinook Pier Mini Golf. Chinook Pier also may tempt you with its unique boutiques and nearby antique steam locomotive, Pere Marquette 1223.


Shopping and attractions in historic downtown

There truly is something special about downtown Grand Haven. You’ll feel a sense of the past as you visit the shops along Washington Avenue and take note of the historic architecture. Even the post office, built in 1872, currently houses a newly opened restaurant, Joe’s Wooden Nickel.

Since 1907, the Fortino family has been operating its old world specialty shop, where you’ll find an old-fashioned candy shop, lots of locally-made products like Blueberry Haven Muffin Mix, Peach Cherry Salsa and savory Wilde Thyme Soups. Be sure to check out their coffee collection — more than 50 varieties, freshly ground upon request.  

The sign in the window of Buffalo Bob’s General Store says “YETI Coolers - Holds ice for a week.” Now that’s sure to get your attention! Check out the coolers as well as their Maui Jim and Native polarized sunglasses. 

Owners Bob and Jill Hutchinson have been offering innovative products for boaters for more than 20 years. 
 
“We carry Mojo Boat Shirts with sun-protection built in,” says Jill. “These long-sleeved, tailor vented shirts are a handsome, must-have for men out in the open sun.” 

Designed and hand printed right in Grand Haven for more than 40 years, the Michigan Rag Company is the exclusive retailer for authentic Marushka shirts, dresses, bags and towels. Handprints feature decorative designs inspired by the shores of Western Michigan. 

Filled with kites, toys, games and puzzles, Mac Kite is the place for kids; big ones, too. Stop in for boogie boards, stand-up paddleboards (to buy or rent) and nautical signal flags for your boat. Kites are a popular commodity during Grand Haven’s annual three-day Great Lakes Kite Festival, which draws thousands of flyers from the Midwest each year. 

“One of the most popular sports is kitesurfing,” says manager Amanda Molenkamp.  “You stand on the board and the power kite propels you across the water. It’s absolutely exhilarating.” 

Give it a try. Mac Kite offers kiteboarding lessons, too. 

Odd Side Ales is Grand Haven’s own craft brewery, operating out of the old piano factory. Their popular brews include Afternoon Delight, Java Mint Stout, and Oh, Me So Hoppy to Wheat You. 

The Grand, located in the historic Grand Theatre on Washington Avenue, is now a converted bar and restaurant. First opened in 1927, the theatre originally operated as a mixed vaudeville, live stage show and movie venue. With the theater marquee and entrance still in tact, The Grand restaurant now operates as Grand Haven’s first sushi bar. 

Show the kids what life was like “back in the day” in Northwest Ottawa County at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum. The museum, built in 1871, features exhibits about Native Americans, fur traders and the Victorian Era. The newest exhibit showcases “Dancing Waters: 50 Years of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain,” once the world’s largest musical fountain, in a working scale model. 

Speaking of the Musical Fountain… don’t miss this gorgeous display of light, music and water every night at dusk through Labor Day. Grab an ice cream from Dairy Treat or Dairy Crème and head to the Waterfront Stadium to see the free, 20-minute show. Entertaining visitors and locals alike since 1962, this glorious fountain shoots up streams of water 150 feet into the air, pulsated by the beats of contemporary music. And it’s a different show every night. 

Dining delights 

From casual to upscale, you’ll find a wide range of welcoming places to dine in Grand Haven. 

Once a historic hotel that opened in 1873, Kirby House just celebrated its 25th anniversary as a restaurant. Whatever your mood, Kirby’s has a venue of bars and eateries to pair with live music, too. Try their Grill Room, featuring steak and seafood. Enjoy specialties of the house like Parmesan Chicken in the Kirby Grill. Head upstairs for K2 Pizza, where you can sip a cocktail or dine al fresco on the rooftop deck with exquisite lake views. Or get down to the DJ club on the lower level.  

Overlooking the boardwalk and Grand River Channel, Snug Harbor is the perfect place to watch the sunset on the outdoor deck. Grab one of their signature cocktails like a Summer Breeze or Bahama Mama and enjoy great nachos, salads, sandwiches and more. Catch your favorite sushi roll at Jelly’s, which shares the same location.    

Looking for a quick treat on the go? Grand Haven’s Pronto Pups is a local favorite, regularly boasting a lengthy line of people down Harbor Drive waiting to get their battered corndog on a stick. Right down the street, Butch’s Beach Burrito offers hefty burritos, tacos and specialty hot dogs. 

Lucy’s offers divine sandwiches like the Lakeshore Special, featuring oven gold turkey with dill Havarti cheese and honey mustard. They also serve breakfast, “coolers to go,” and made-from-scratch baked goods. 

“The Grand Haven boating community is growing each year,” says Melita Cioe, Lucy’s manager. “With all of our exciting festivals, like the Coast Guard Festival and Salmon Festival, Western Michigan is becoming a real destination for boaters.” 

Ready for fun

Hop aboard the Grand Haven historic trolley, which runs seven days a week through Labor Day. The route starts at Chinook Pier with stops at the Boardwalk, State Park and other locations. Take a trip back in time as you learn more about the area on a narrated tour that travels the waterfront and downtown. 

Check out the many festivals Grand Haven hosts each year, including the popular Coast Guard Festival, Great Lakes Kite Festival and the Grand Haven Salmon Festival. The Salmon Festival is a three-day event that promotes the area’s fall harvest season and local salmon migration. 

Hike it or bike it out to the historic lighthouse through Grand Haven State Park, right on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. Join the crowd as they walk, run, bike or skateboard along the boardwalk. Originally built in 1839, the iconic red lighthouse stands more than 50 feet tall and is still active today. After your jaunt to the end of the pier, you’ll be rewarded with expansive views and great fishing. 

Another great hiking spot is Rosy Mound Natural Area, featuring 1,000 feet of stairs overlooking scenic views of Lake Michigan. Rosy Mound also is a great location for family gatherings, with picnic tables and a unique shade canopy near the beach. 

Shop fresh and local at the Farmers Market Wednesdays and Saturdays through October 29. Pick fresh produce, flowers, breads and baked goods from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m at Chinook Pier. Or gather your own blueberries and strawberries at the many you-pick farms in the area. 

Want to take a swing or two? The Grand Haven Golf Club has been rated by Golf Digest as one of the nations Top 50 Courses for 13 years running, plus the rates are reasonable.

Nearby Spring Lake 

Welcome to the Village of Spring Lake, just a few miles from Grand Haven and a quick boat ride down the Grand River, where you’ll find several marinas, the Spring Lake Yacht Club and great dining establishments. A part of the Tri-Cities area with Ferrysburg and Grand Haven, Spring Lake shares a rich and colorful nautical history, as well as being a popular boating destination.

Humans and dogs alike are guaranteed to have a good ol’ time at Old Boys’ Brewhouse. Old Boys’ canine-inspired theme pays homage to a local-celebrity Chocolate Labrador named Brutus, the snake, Malone, a.k.a. “Old Boy,” dearly loved by restaurant owner Melissa Brolick. Old Boy had a special ability to interact with people and make himself known in local circles — by catching fish right out of the lake, for example — and Old Boys’ Brewhouse celebrates his memory with its Brutus-inspired logo. Families are always welcome and will find this a great stop for lunch or dinner. A fixture in Grand Haven since 1997, Old Boys’ makes its own handcrafted ales — and even root beer — like you’ve never tasted. Want to see how it’s done? Call brewmaster Dave Bayes to schedule a tour. 

Enjoy salads, sandwiches, pizza, wings and more. The Superfruit Spinach Salad, with blueberries, cherries, cranberries and more, is fabulous, as is the award-winning pizza. The Brutus Burger, named after Brolick’s beloved lab, is one of the most popular menu items. And dogs will salivate over the scrumptious Kanine Krunchies. Enjoy a full selection of “Grab and Go” items perfect for bringing back to the boat. Don’t miss Old Boys’ decadent homemade desserts. There are slips located right next to the restaurant, so just dock and come on in!  

The Holiday Inn Grand Haven-Spring Lake is the only full-service hotel in the area, and it’s right on the Grand River with convenient slips at the Holiday Isle Marina. Both heated outdoor and indoor pools, as well as a game room, are great for families. 

Every night is happy hour at the hotel’s Jack’s Lounge. Sip the signature Rum Bomber as you watch the sunset at the outdoor tiki bar. Enjoy morning coffee while strolling along the docks. Jack’s Waterfront Bistro and Bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with phenomenal views of the Grand River. If you’re just coming to dine at Jack’s, there’s a complimentary slip next to the hotel. 

Make plans to dock in Grand Haven this summer. You’re sure to find it a welcoming beach town for couples to enjoy or create lasting memories for your family. Grand Haven is grand, indeed!