Are you looking for a scenic Michigan road trip that you can take no matter the season or weather conditions? Consider the lighthouses and the surrounding beaches, shoreline and small towns that dot the Lake Michigan coastline: sun, rain, ice, snow, wind – this Great Lakes coastline is always showing off its beauty.
In December, getting anywhere near Lake Michigan can be a challenge, usually bringing feet upon feet of lake effect snow. An usually warm start to the season, though, made for an autumn-like feel at times, but nevertheless beautiful.
Before heading to the coastline in the morning, I recommend that you head downtown and grab a pour over coffee at Drip Drop Drink. If it’s later in the day, grab a pint and listen to some music at the brewery within the same space, Unruly Brewing Company.
Once at the coast, find a place to park at the sandy Pere Marquette Park along Beach Street. Here is your chance to checkout the homes that line the nearby streets with sand dunes instead of grass in their front yards. At times, you might not be able to see the pavement on the road either.
Heading onto the pier, you’ll usually pass fisherman as you’re walking towards the 53-foot tall Muskegon South Pierhead. The lighthouse is located on the south end of the channel connecting Lake Michigan to Muskegon Lake. Signs of winter are present with the pier resembling a skating rink in spots and beautiful ice forming on the lighthouse.
Tip: For a longer adventure, park at Beachwood Park and head onto the boardwalk for a fifteen minute walk to the pier alongside the sand dunes and shoreline.
Hop on US-31 south for about fifteen minutes and you’ll quickly be in the small resort town that was featured in the movie American Pie 2. Before heading to the lakeshore, be sure you grab a pastry and coffee at The Baker’s Wife, part boutique, bakery shop and coffee house. You’ll get that cozy, neighborhood type feel while inside.
The Grand Haven lighthouses sit within Grand Haven State Park and along the Lake Michigan shoreline at the mouth of the Grand River. Be sure you take a walk from downtown to the pier and lighthouse on the one-and-a-half mile boardwalk (Lighthouse Connector Park) that runs alongside the river.
The Grand Haven South Pierhead Entrance Light and Inner Light are connected to the mainland by one of four catwalks left in Michigan. Just off the pier, grab some panoramic views from up-top the sand dunes, as well, some more sandy open road shots await on South Harbor Drive.
Holland and Big Red
Are you still looking for more? Continue your drive south down US-31 for about twenty-five minutes and you’ll reach the town that’s home to the most photographed lighthouse in Michigan, Big Red. The Holland Harbor Light sits alongside the channel connecting Lake Michigan with Lake Macatawa.
The lighthouse sits on private property, so the ability to get up close is limited. The opposite side of the channel and Holland State Park is the best public viewing spot. While you’re there, be sure to walk the beach, boardwalk, pier and other sandy areas.
Head inland about fifteen minutes into the heart of town, and here you should grab a craft beer and some eats at New Holland Brewery, or a coffee at Lemonjello’s or JP’s Coffee. Now is the time to walk the downtown streets and popular shopping area, stopping in at Holland Peanut Store if you have a sweet tooth.
Stay tuned as the winter lighthouse themed, Lake Michigan road trip continues south to South Haven, St. Joseph and beyond.
Checkout more of the lighthouse and shoreline views and natural beauty to expect when in Muskegon, Grand Haven and Holland.
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Is there any places off-the-beaten path that you would recommend along Lake Michigan around Muskegon, Grand Haven or Holland?