Planning a West Michigan getaway? Experience fun and interesting things to do in Muskegon MI all year!
The Lake Michigan shorefront is a relatively quiet stretch of land — dotted by small towns and charming cities along the way. Muskegon Michigan, however, sets itself apart from your typical Lake Michigan town.
West Michigan is known as the Sunset Coast because of the daily gorgeous sunsets over the waters of Lake Michigan. If you are looking for a bit of adventure, you should head straight to Muskegon.
With a population of nearly 40,000 people and a cultural scene that rivals some of the largest cities in Michigan, Muskegon offers residents panoramic harbor views, historical attractions, and artistic escapes. Because of that, there are tons of things to do in Muskegon MI.
This city is known for its love of outdoor recreation, commitment to culture and the arts, and sense of history and pride.
Outdoor Things to Do in Muskegon MI
Muskegon Michigan is considered an adventurous town, so you will find activities to enjoy outdoors throughout the year. These are the best outdoor things to do in Muskegon.
Spend a Day on the Water at Pere Marquette Park
Most locals will tell you that their favorite place to spend their free time in Muskegon is at the beach, and there is no better beach to visit than the one at Pere Marquette Park.
Located in the northern corner of the city, the park features one of the most well-maintained beaches in all of West Michigan. The soft-to-the-touch white sand is raked on a daily basis, making this a wonderful, safe, and fun place for beachgoers of all ages to enjoy.
In addition to having soft sand and cool waves, this city park has volleyball courts, a playground, and restrooms. Guests appreciate that an accessible walkway leads down to the beach, making this a welcoming and inclusive place for people of all abilities as well.
One thing that sets Pere Marquette Park apart from other beaches along the Lake Michigan shorefront is the burgeoning kiteboarding scene.
Kiteboarding has recently become one of the most popular activities. Visitors love to watch the colorful sails and talented athletes wind through the waters. If you’d like to experience kiteboarding for yourself, rental equipment is available at the park.
Paddle Down the White River
The White River is a mighty yet peaceful river that winds throughout the heart of Muskegon and into the depths of the local forests.
Paddling on the White River is a favorite pastime among locals and visitors alike, with most people renting from Happy Mohawk Canoe Livery, a local rental company that has been helping people traverse the White River for decades.
Whether you want to kayak or canoe down the White River, you will find that each trip is equal parts invigorating and peaceful. As you soak up the views that surround you, keep an eye out for local wildlife. It’s not uncommon to see blue herons, eagles, or muskrats along the water’s edge.
Try Out the Luge at the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park
The luge is one of those Olympic sports that mesmerizes people. It’s captivating to watch lugers slide down those icy tracks, and those who witness are often left wondering how you can become a luger in the first place. In Muskegon, you can try out one of only four ice luge tracks in the entire country.
The luge track at the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park stretches for more than 850 feet, slightly shorter than most other Olympic-sized tracks.
This was done to give experienced lugers a place to practice while accommodating those who have never tried the sport before. With six curves and two starting areas, it’s one of the most thrilling experiences in the city.
In addition to boasting the famous luge track, this sports park offers a wide variety of winter activities, such as skiing, skating, and snowshoeing.
And while it may sound like an attraction you would only visit during the winter, it actually transforms into an outdoor adventure playground in the summer. During warm weather, you can enjoy archery, rock climbing, a zip-line course, and a wheel luge experience.
Experience Thrills at Michigan’s Adventure Amusement Park
If theme park thrills — and savory snacks — are what you are craving on a summer day in Muskegon, then you won’t be disappointed at Michigan’s Adventure amusement park. Home to more than 60 rides and an attached water park, this theme park is the perfect family-friendly attraction for all ages.
Michigan’s Adventure opens for the season around Memorial Day and remains open daily until Labor Day weekend. In the fall, it opens on the weekends for spooky-themed fun, which has become a favorite tradition among local families.
Go Hiking at Muskegon State Park
In Muskegon State Park, you have the opportunity to choose your own hiking adventure. The many trails in this park wind their way through various landscapes and ecosystems, giving you the chance to experience what life is like at the bog or across the towering sand dunes.
There are six distinct trails at the park, ranging in length from less than 1 mile to more than 5 miles, allowing hikers to embark on an experience that suits their preferences and skill level.
Embark on a Local Lighthouse Tour
Across Muskegon County, you will find three lighthouses that serve as navigational tools for those who are on the waters of Lake Michigan — and two of those lighthouses are located in the city of Muskegon Michigan.
Each lighthouse has a unique story to tell, and you will be captivated by these towering beacons of hope. Your local lighthouse tour should include these Muskegon lighthouses.
Muskegon South Breakwater Lighthouse
Found at the very edge of a 1,500-foot pier in Pere Marquette Park, the Muskegon South Breakwater Lighthouse is easy to recognize in its bright red coat of paint.
While the lighthouse is not open for tours, you can walk down the pier to get an up-close-and-personal glimpse of the historic light, which was built in 1931.
Muskegon South Pierhead Light
Located not far from its red counterpart, the Muskegon South Pierhead Light can be found on the other end of Pere Marquette Park.
Stretching nearly 50 feet into the air and painted a bright red hue, this lighthouse is one of the most iconic sights in Muskegon. It is open for tours seasonally, giving visitors a chance to learn about the history of this light, which was built in 1903.
White River Light Station
Built in 1875, this lighthouse is the oldest in Muskegon County. Located in Whitehall, it has a storied past – complete with a few haunted rumors — and visitors are able to tour this stately lighthouse during the summer season.
Complete a Historic Home Walking Tour in Downtown Muskegon
As you walk through the heart of downtown Muskegon, you will quickly see that many of the ornate Victorian homes from the early years of the city’s development remain intact.
The style of each home varies, making a walk through the local historic districts both an interesting and inviting prospect. If you are looking for a good place to start your walking tour, consider the Jefferson Historic District, which is known for its high-quality historic homes and excellent preservation efforts.
Indoor Things to Do in Muskegon MI
If you’d prefer to spend the day inside, you won’t have trouble finding something to keep busy. These are the best indoor attractions to visit in Muskegon.
Visit the USS Silversides Museum
Michigan has long been known for its nautical past, but there is no other place in the state where you can step back into the World War II era and experience life aboard a submarine. The USS Silversides is a preserved World War II submarine that has been transformed into a living history museum.
Visitors can step on board and see the vessel where military members served their country in ocean waters. In addition to the immersive submarine exhibit, the museum has a separate facility with permanent and rotating exhibits about the roles that submarines played in military history.
It’s an unforgettable experience that can be enjoyed by people of all ages – and one that is completely unique to Muskegon.
Spend a Day at the Lakeshore Museum Center
The Lakeshore Museum Center is the one place in Muskegon where you can take a comprehensive look at the past, present, and future of this community.
With some exhibits exploring what life was like 400 million years ago — and others taking a peek at some of the latest scientific advancements of today — this museum provides a whirlwind experience for learning a little about a lot.
In addition to operating a museum facility in downtown Muskegon, the Lakeshore Museum Center owns and operates several historic sites throughout the community, including the Hackley & Hume Historic Site, the Fire Barn Museum, and the Scolnik House of the Depression Era.
Each site transports visitors to a different chapter in Muskegon’s story, proving that this place is committed to preserving the past.
Surround Yourself With Beauty at the Muskegon Museum of Art
Whether you are a passionate art enthusiast or just beginning to appreciate the in-depth beauty of fine art, you will find everything you are looking for at the Muskegon Museum of Art.
This art museum is considered one of the best of its kind in the Midwest, and it is particularly well-known for its extensive collection of European paintings. Also, the glass gallery should not be missed because it contains works from Dale Chihuly, Dominick Labino, and Debora Moore, to name a few.
Restaurants in Muskegon Michigan
From waterfront dining to intimate cafes tucked in a secluded corner of the downtown area, Muskegon offers dining options for every type of traveler. The local food scene is considered one of the best in West Michigan with new restaurants constantly popping up in the area.
Casual Restaurants for Everyone
With so many opportunities for adventure in Muskegon, it’s easy to work up an appetite. Here are a couple of casual eateries that will satiate your hunger.
The Station Grill
If you are looking to satisfy your cravings in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, one of the best places to go is The Station Grill. Known for its retro vibe and mouthwatering burgers, this is a place where locals love to bring their friends and family from out of town.
Fatty Lumpkins Sandwich Shack
If you would rather grab a quick bite, then Fatty Lumpkins Sandwich Shack is a great option. On the outside, it may seem like your typical grab-and-go sandwich shop, but this local gem is known for its handcrafted artisan sandwiches. Plus, the menu rotates frequently based on what’s in season.
Upscale Dining Experiences
When you are in Muskegon, you don’t need a good reason to indulge in a fine dining experience. Simply being in the city and wanting to soak up the best views while savoring premium flavors is reason enough.
The Lake House Waterfront Grille
For one of the best upscale dining experiences in Muskegon, consider getting a table at The Lake House Waterfront Grille. True to its name, this restaurant offers waterfront dining both indoors and outdoors. It is best known for its fresh seafood dishes, but the menu includes options for every palate.
Lake Bluff Grille
Another restaurant that offers spectacular views of Muskegon Lake is Lake Bluff Grille, which has recently been renovated to give guests a more contemporary dining experience in the heart of Muskegon.
Its eclectic menu features a mix of flavors, ranging from classic steak and seafood to flavorful touches of Mexican cuisine.
Coffee, Ice Cream, & Sweet Treats
Muskegon’s walkable downtown area and miles of shoreline lend themselves to coffee houses, ice cream shops, and bakeries. Here are a couple of the top places to stop.
The Coffee Factory
If you need an afternoon pick-me-up, consider stopping by a local favorite — The Coffee Factory.
While this downtown coffee shop is known for its excellent coffee beverages, it also offers so much more. Most visitors are surprised to find out that there is always a wide selection of freshly-baked cakes available for purchase.
The Frosty Cove
If you are looking for a frozen dessert, head to The Frosty Cove in Pere Marquette Park. With both a drive-through and a walk-up window, as well as a play structure for the smallest visitors, this ice cream shop is the best place in Muskegon to grab a scoop of your favorite flavor and enjoy the view.
Breweries in Muskegon
Like many of the communities in West Michigan, Muskegon has a thriving craft beer scene. In fact, many people will embark on brewery tours, stopping at various locations to sip on their favorite brews.
Muskegon Michigan Hotels & Other Lodging
Muskegon may be a popular Michigan day trip, but you will get so much more out of your time in the city if you extend your stay a while. These are the best lodging options in Muskegon.
Boasting harbor views and being within walking distance of some of the city’s best beaches and attractions, The Pidge Inn is easily the top locally-owned hotel in Muskegon.
Guests love the fact that they are only a short walk from Lake Michigan, and they appreciate the simple touches of luxury that can be found around every corner.
Each room at The Pidge Inn includes access to a private patio or balcony, and there are larger suites and rooms available for those who would like some extra space. Described as an all-season hotel, it’s an ideal option for anyone who is traveling to Muskegon and looking for a charming place to stay.
Vacation Home Rentals
All along the shores of Muskegon Lake, vacation rentals are available for travelers to book, particularly if they are hoping to enjoy an immersive experience in the city.
One short-term rental to consider is the Peaceful Pastel home, an intimate two-bedroom, two-bathroom rental that can sleep up to four people.
Located in the Lakeside District, this home offers premier access to some of the best restaurants in the community and is situated within walking distance of the Lakeshore Bike Trail.
Camping in Muskegon
With so much natural beauty within reach, it’s not surprising that camping is a popular activity in Muskegon. From private campgrounds like the beloved Muskegon KOA to campgrounds within Muskegon State Park, any camper can find a campsite where they can settle in with their tent or RV.
More to Know About Muskegon Michigan
Having earned a reputation as a top tourist destination in Michigan, Muskegon receives more and more visitors with each passing year. Travelers come to experience the beauty of the region and learn a little bit more about what life is like in this corner of the world.
A Look Into Muskegon’s Storied Past
For thousands of years before European settlement, the area known as Muskegon Michigan today was home to tribes of indigenous people.
In the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries, the area was primarily inhabited by the Pottawatomi and the Ottawa Tribes. Then, it eventually became the exclusive home of the Ottawa people.
By the late 17th century, there were signs that European explorers had arrived. French maps that date back to that time period note the presence of the Muskegon River.
European influence at this time, however, was limited to explorers who were passing through and to fur trappers who were simply working their way through the area.
During the early decades of the 19th century, several fur traders had set up posts in the area, but the first true settlement was not established until 1837.
A Settlement Is Established
Quickly after the settlement was established, Muskegon became known as a prime spot for those who were interested in investing in the lumber industry. By the late 1880s, there were nearly 50 sawmills around Muskegon Lake alone.
Lumber played a powerful role in the development and growth of Muskegon, but the golden age of lumber quickly faded once the 20th century began. After the demise of the lumber industry, local residents knew that the path forward required diversification.
Since the early days of the 20th century, Muskegon has been a community that has long attracted businesses and corporations from various sectors. While not immune to the ebbs and flows of outside economic factors, this diversification has allowed Muskegon to continue to prosper.
What to Expect From Muskegon Michigan Weather
Today, Muskegon is a tourist destination that attracts visitors throughout the entire year, which begs the question: What is the weather like in Muskegon?
Winter visitors who want to try out the luge or spend their days snowshoeing along the trails will appreciate that the snow season is long and plentiful in Muskegon. Its location just off the lake, and its predisposition to lake-effect snow, means that that fluffy white powder almost always blankets the ground throughout winter.
In the spring and summer, temperatures start to rise and sunshine becomes the norm once again. Summer temperatures typically hover between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is practically perfect beach weather.
During the fall, the temperatures cool down, but the colors in the trees make it worthwhile to stay outdoors. While temperatures in September and October can range from 65 to 75 degrees, there’s a quick drop-off in November when the average daily high is closer to 45 degrees.
Plan Your Muskegon Michigan Getaway
Those who are searching for the hometown atmosphere of a small West Michigan town combined with the dynamic downtown area of a larger city will find everything they want and need in Muskegon.
This four-season destination is perfect for people of all ages, so now is the best time to begin crafting your itinerary of things to do in Muskegon MI.