1001 Harbor Avenue Grand Haven MI, 49417
8 AM-11 PM (Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day) 8 AM-Dusk (regular hours)
I recently sat down with Grand Haven State Park Supervisor Joyce Rhodes to talk about the park’s beach, today’s featured contender.
AM: What would you say is an average day during the summer as far as visitors, and how many do you usually have visit over the course of the summer?
JR: Attendance, we can have as many as 12 thousand people in the park, on the beach, and on the channel. For the total season-we go by October 1st to September 30th-we get about 1.5 million visitors a week for the year. Of course most of those occur in June, July and August.
AM: What Demographics would you say you cater to the most, and why?
JR: It varies a great deal. We try to keep the park and the beach a safe and enjoyable place for everyone. We do get a good amount of families and campers staying at the park, but we also have a lot of foot traffic and bicycles coming through from around the area. Also, we’re gearing our park more and more to being handicap accessible. We’ve got a beach wheelchair and a couple water wheelchairs so that our visitors with disabilities can go swimming in the lake. We want everyone to be able to come and enjoy the beach.
JR: We have several volleyball courts on the beach, we have sand-soccer tournaments, and we are working on getting horseshoes. Of course we have a lot of visitors coming to swim, but we also offer a lot of different activities. Every year we have the Beach Survival Challenge, which is a series of various team events that teach people lake survival skills, like what to do in a rip current. We also have the 4th of July festival coming up, as well as the annual Coast Guard Festival.
AM: Are your visitors mostly local?
JR: We definitely get a lot of locals frequenting the beach. People can walk or bike to and from town pretty easily. They spend a couple of hours here and then head back in town to shop or stop for lunch. As for our campers, about 85% of them come from within a 50 mile radius of the park. Grand Rapids and its outlying areas is where we get most of our folks from, but we draw them from all over. We do get a good amount of people from out of state and even internationally.
AM: What makes this beach the best in the state?
JR: Well, as you can see we’re not the largest beach, and we’ve got a pretty small staff, but we do our best to keep the beach clean and safe for visitors. We really try to offer everyone who comes here the best experience possible.