Grand Haven Beach &Amp; Light House-
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Grand Haven Lighthouse & Pier | A Majestic Landmark in West Michigan

Along the shores of Lake Michigan, towering waves continually crash into one of the most iconic piers in the state. The Grand Haven South Pier is one of the most famous spots in this small, West Michigan town, and is beloved by travelers as well as residents.

Anchored by the Grand Haven lighthouse and its foghorn counterpart, this pier has played a role in the community’s past, and it will continue to be an important part of its future. Here’s everything you need to know about the lighthouse and pier during your next visit to Grand Haven.

Grand Haven Beach &Amp; Light House
Grand Haven Beach & Light House | photo via noun_photography

About the Grand Haven Lighthouse

Along the Grand Haven South Pier, you will actually find two lighthouses — the Grand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light and the Grand Haven South Pierhead Entrance Light.

Grand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light

The oldest light in Grand Haven, the South Pierhead Inner Light was first built in 1839. When it was first constructed, this lighthouse was situated on the shores of the beach, and it included a five-cottage home designed for the keeper and family.

While it played a critical role in assisting ships navigating along the shore, it was poorly placed. Erosion quickly took its toll on the light, and even a sea wall couldn’t save it. The original tower collapsed in 1852, leaving the port without a light for several years.

Eventually, the inner light was moved to its present-day location about 600 feet off the edge of the pier. Today, visitors enjoy walking down the pier to see this iconic, bright red lighthouse for themselves.

Grand Haven South Pierhead Entrance Light

The Grand Haven South Pierhead Entrance Light is located at the edge of the pier, where the waters routinely crash onto its concrete foundation. Similar to its inner light partner, this Grand Haven lighthouse is bright red, making it easy to spot from the lake as well as from the shores.

Its construction, however, is quite different. Built to be a foghorn, this tower appears more like a home than a traditional, cylindrical light.

Grand Haven Beach &Amp; Light House
Grand Haven Beach & Light House | photo via janelledarnell

History of the Grand Haven South Pier

The Grand Haven pier bravely juts into the waters of Lake Michigan off the coast of this tiny community. What most visitors do not realize is that the pier — which extends more than 1,400 feet into the lake — was built in 1893.

It was built as a navigational tool because the lighthouses that had previously been constructed along the shores were unable to withstand the whipping winds and endless erosion.

The Perfect Location

It took some time for the engineers and mariner experts in the early 20th century to figure out the best placement for the lighthouses along the pier. Different structures and towers were built and reconfigured until a permanent light was finally constructed in 1907.

The Grand Haven lighthouse was placed about 600 feet from the end of the pier, protecting the light itself but also offering ships the guidance they need to navigate the rocky waters.

Visitors now consider the pier and two lighthouses that reside on it to be two of the most important historical attractions in Grand Haven, highlighting the powerful role that shipping, boating, fishing, and transportation have long played in the community.

Grand Haven Beach &Amp; Light House
Grand Haven Beach & Light House | photo via whereintheworldwanderings

Touring the Grand Haven Lighthouse

Unfortunately, neither the inner light nor the entrance light is open for tours. Both lights are still operational and serve as a navigational aid for those on the water.

Visitors are welcome to walk along the pier, though, and take photographs in front of the lights. Also, many onshore photo opportunities highlight the Grand Haven lighthouse and foghorn in the background.

Visiting the Grand Haven Pier

The Grand Haven South Pier is a popular attraction, loved not only by visitors who are touring the town but also by locals who see the infamous red lighthouse towers on a daily basis. It has a catwalk that allows people to stroll between the two structures.

It is open throughout the year, but you are advised to use caution when walking down the pier. In the winter months, ice can collect easily along the pier, and the rough waters can cause waves to come crashing over the surface.

It can be slippery, putting you at risk of inadvertently falling into the lake below. Even during the summer, you should be mindful of the strength of the wind and the size of the waves before you embark on a walk down the pier.

Discovering the Grand Haven North Pier

The Grand Haven South Pier is the most well-known pier in the community, but the North Pier is worth visiting as well. This concrete pier is similar in size and scope to its southern counterpart, but there are no lighthouses along the pier.

On any given day, you might find locals fishing along the north pier or simply waiting for the next breathtaking sunset. It’s an ideal place to take in a panoramic view of the mighty south pier and its grand, red lighthouse and foghorn.

Morning Star Cafe-Grand Haven
Morning Star Cafe | photo via ashleerwillis

Dining at Restaurants in Grand Haven

In addition to being the home of two of the most famous lighthouses in West Michigan, Grand Haven is also known for its local restaurants. Serving flavorful meals throughout the day, these restaurants represent the warmth and hospitality of this lakefront city.

Morning Star Cafe

There’s a reason that it’s known as the most important meal of the day — breakfast provides the fuel you need to explore the entire city of Grand Haven. Locals will tell you that the Morning Star Cafe is one of the best breakfast spots in town.

Featuring affordable meals and classic breakfast dishes, you are sure to find the meal that you are craving before you head out to the Grand Haven lighthouse and pier.

The Toasted Pickle

Downtown Grand Haven is just a short walk from the pier, making this one of the best places to stop for a midday break and some lunch. The Toasted Pickle is a sandwich shop in the heart of the downtown area, but it’s not your typical sub shop or delicatessen.

This fast-casual eatery serves hand-crafted sandwiches, often highlighting the unique flavors of the area. The menu changes frequently, but there are always new specials to try.

Some examples of menu items include a corned beef sandwich with the trademark Kickin’ Pickle sauce and a turkey sandwich with creamy pesto piled on top.

The Toasted Pickle-Grand Haven
The Toasted Pickle | photo via ashleerwillis

The Pump House

If you happen to be in Grand Haven on a day when the sun is setting, you simply have to grab ice cream before you take your walk down the pier. The Pump House is a frozen yogurt bar located along the harbor and about 1 mile from the pier.

With more than a dozen flavors to choose from and endless toppings, you can design a custom frozen treat that will tempt your taste buds.

Snug Harbor

Once you have explored Grand Haven and all it has to offer, the best way to end the day is with dinner at one of the finest local restaurants in town. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to decide, but Snug Harbor makes the choice easy.

This restaurant on the harbor offers breathtaking views from its large patio and rooftop deck, and its menu has something for every type of diner.

Along with fan-favorite menu items like burgers and sandwiches, it has incorporated Asian fusion cuisine and Tex-Mex into the menu, giving you a chance to enjoy flavors from around the world while soaking up some of the best views in Michigan.

Grand Haven State Park-Grand Haven
Grand Haven State Park | photo via mi_scapes

Staying at Hotels in Grand Haven

By opting for a locally-owned hotel or a vacation rental in Grand Haven, you can fully immerse yourself in the charm of this community. Many visitors choose to stay in bed and breakfasts because it allows them to enjoy the amenities of a hotel combined with the hospitality of the residents.

Harbor House Inn

The Harbor House Inn is one of the local B&Bs in Grand Haven, offering spectacular views of the harbor from its quaint covered front porch. With 19 rooms to choose from, you are sure to find one that suits your personal preferences.

Looking Glass Beachfront Inn

Another beloved B&B in the community is the Looking Glass Beachfront Inn, which is an intimate, five-room hotel known for its incredible lakefront views. During the summer season, you can book the entire property for a large travel party.

Eagle’s Nest

Another way to experience the local lifestyle in Grand Haven is to book a vacation rental. There are many short-term rentals in Grand Haven to choose from, including the Eagle’s Nest home.

Overflowing with history, this vacation rental is located in Old Town Grand Haven just a short drive from downtown and the Grand Haven lighthouse and pier. Featuring one bedroom and one bathroom, this cozy home can sleep up to four people.

Grand Haven
Grand Haven | photo via wmichsunset

Book Your Grand Haven Lighthouse & Pier Adventure Today

A stroll along the Grand Haven South Pier is one of the best ways to experience the strength and might of Lake Michigan, which is known for its thunderous, crashing waves. It is a walk that embodies the best that Grand Haven has to offer — majestic beauty, freeing peace, and total relaxation.

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