As many articles on this site have shown, living in mid-Michigan can be wonderful. However, it can also be a bummer when the weather turns hot and we realize we’re at least two hours away from any of the Great Lakes. Thankfully, there are dozens of options for day-trips that can make us feel worlds away. One of my very favorite summer destinations is the ever popular Grand Haven, but I particularly enjoy the parts that are a bit off the beaten path.
Almost everyone in search of a good stretch of Lake Michigan is likely to head to Grand Haven State Park… along with every other tourist in the area. Luckily, the city has a few other options if you’re looking to avoid the crowds. City Beach is nestled between the State Park and the dog beach without being nearly as busy. You can still make your way out to the pier to view the light house, and you will still be close to the public restrooms. Yet City Beach isn’t as bogged down by visitors, possibly because the parking options are much more limited. Another great beach option is North Beach in Ferryburg, just two miles from downtown Grand Haven. The park includes public bathrooms, a playground and miles of hiking trails if sunbathing isn’t your thing.
I don’t know about you, but after a long day at the beach, I’m STARVING. You can head to downtown Grand Haven for any of the common hot spots, but there’s always the risk of a long wait as everyone funnels out from the State Park. Personally, I prefer to head to Righteous Cuisine on North 7th Street, which is about a 10 minute walk from downtown. Righteous Cuisine serves up all natural, local Mexican dishes that are out of this world. I’m pretty partial to the nachos and pork butt tacos.
Finally, I like to finish off the day back downtown in the old piano factory at Odd Side Ales. Odd Side opened in 2012 and offers a large variety of craft beers with unique flavors. My favorites are the El Dankerino and Hoplicated. If local beer isn’t for you, Odd Side also makes their own root beer. The brewery is open until midnight most evenings and offers live music on the weekends.
Whichever part of Grand Haven you choose to explore, you’re bound to quickly fall in love. Make sure to ask the locals about their favorites while you’re there, and you’re sure to miss out on the crowds without missing any of the fun.