Best West Michigan Summer Bucket List Ideas
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8 Unique Things to Do in West Michigan This Summer | West Michigan Summer Bucket List

West Michigan is best known for its Lake Michigan beaches, and while those are some of our favorite places to spend summers, there are so many more summer things to do in West Michigan!

Lakesideeporium Jennanibal
photo courtesy of @jennanibal

Let Nostalgia Take Over at the Lakeside Emporium in Muskegon

Summer is the season of nostalgia, and there’s no better way to conjure up those blissful feelings from the past than to step into a shop that specializes in vintage treats. The Lakeside Emporium in Muskegon is a locally-owned, old-fashioned candy shop that has earned a reputation for delighting people of all ages with its endless selections.

When you walk into this shop, you will be greeted by glass jars filled with every temptation you can imagine, and you also can purchase gourmet chocolates and soda shop drinks from this store.

If you are afraid that you won’t be able to eat everything during your vacation, don’t worry. You can easily have them package up what you want and save your favorite treats for when you return home.

Windmillislandgardens Tamera Kwist Photography
photo courtesy of @amera_kwist_photography

Experience the Beauty of Dutch Culture at Windmill Island Gardens in Holland

Perhaps this is the perfect summer to visit Holland — Holland, Michigan, that is. Located on the west side of the state near the shores of Lake Michigan, this community stands apart from the crowd.

It pays homage to its European namesake at nearly every turn, and one of the best places to appreciate the beauty and authenticity of this city is at Windmill Island Gardens.

Windmill Island Gardens is most famous for the iconic windmill that anchors the entire park, which was brought to Holland from the Netherlands and is known as De Zwaan. Surrounding the windmill are acres of fresh flowers, picturesque canals, and dikes, making visitors feel as if they truly are in Europe.

Ludington State Park Giffordoutdoors 3
photo courtesy of @giffordoutdoors

Soak Up West Michigan’s Natural Beauty at Ludington State Park

While there are plenty of fun-filled attractions and activities to enjoy on the western side of the state, it’s important that you take time to surround yourself with fresh air and gorgeous views. Fortunately, if you are on the west side, you can easily get to Ludington State Park, which is known as one of the most beautiful state parks in Michigan.

Ludington State Park is not only situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, but it also has miles of shoreline along Hamlin Lake. In addition, the Big Sable River runs through the park, ensuring that you can enjoy any type of waterfront activity there.

Some of the most popular recreational activities in Ludington State Park include biking on the Lighthouse Path in order to see the Big Sable Point Lighthouse and hiking the Skyline Trail in order to catch panoramic views of the sand dunes.

Mac Wood's Dune Rides
photo courtesy of @joe_lorenz94

Go Off-Road on a Dune Ride in Silver Lake

At Silver Lake State Park, the sand dunes have a dedicated section for off-road vehicles. Whether you bring your own dune-ready ORV, rent one from a nearby business, or take a dune ride with Mac Wood’s Dune Rides, you won’t want to miss exploring these natural playgrounds in West Michigan this summer!

In addition to riding the dunes, the area has miles of shoreline with beaches, scenic parks and trails, lush farmland, and historic sites. For instance, you can find great beaches at Charles Mears State Park and Claybanks Township Park.

Screenshot 2021 05 28 11.22.39 Am
photo courtesy of @di_davis_121

Connect with the Animals at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids

Animal lovers who are looking for up close and personal encounters with wild species from around the world will love strolling the grounds of the John Ball Zoo.

This Grand Rapids Zoo is home to a variety of exhibits and habitats, including the Wild Way Trail that houses wallabies, lemurs, and howler monkeys and the Idema Forest Realm trail that is home to the grizzly bears, tigers, and wolves that live at the zoo.

In addition to the animal exhibits throughout the zoo, you also can enjoy a variety of unique experiences during your visit. There aren’t many other zoos where you can feed Budgie birds, ride camels, or mine for gems in a sluice. 

Shrineofthepines Mrsmgfresh
photo courtesy of @mrsmgfresh

Pay Homage to the Michigan White Pine Tree at Shrine of the Pines 

In the heart of the Manistee National Forest is an unexpected shrine. On the outside, the Shrine of the Pines appears to be a typical hunting lodge that one might find in the wilds of Michigan. On the inside, however, this shrine is actually a museum and an art gallery that houses hundreds of furniture pieces made entirely of Michigan white pine wood.

These works of art were created by Raymond W. Overholzer in the early decades of the 20th century. Overholzer dedicated his life to showcasing the beauty of this local tree, particularly because he feared it was being over-logged and could possibly face extinction. 

Riverside Inn Celebrates 20 Years - The Awesome Mitten
photo courtesy of Alex Beaton

Sip Beer and Wine Along the Shores of Lake Michigan with Coastal Tours in Saugatuck 

While Saugatuck may seem like just another quaint Michigan town on the coast of Lake Michigan, it’s actually a haven for wine and beer lovers who enjoy imbibing their favorite beverages while soaking up the best views in the state.

In order to safely enjoy the best breweries and wineries in West Michigan, you can take a bus tour with Coastal Tours in Saugatuck. This tour company has small group, large group, and private tours available, allowing you to find the experience that is right for you and your travel party.

And don’t miss the West Michigan Beer Tours in nearby Kalamazoo!

Mudroom Themudroomgr2
photo courtesy of @themudroomgr

Get in Touch with Your Crafty and Creative Side at The Mud Room in Grand Rapids

Many of the items on your West Michigan vacation itinerary are likely going to be traditional tourist spots, such as picturesque hiking trails or fun-filled amusement parks. However, The Mud Room in Grand Rapids is more of an experience than a photo opportunity. This DIY art studio has been providing people with a spot to showcase their creativity for 25 years.

When you visit The Mud Room, you can choose from a variety of art projects and craft activities, such as working with the potter’s wheel to design your own ceramic piece or painting pottery with your friends and family members. If you would rather do art on the go, you can choose one of the curbside kits that are available and complete your project on your own terms.

More Things to Do in Michigan This Summer

Want more great West Michigan summer bucket list ideas? You’ll find those and more on our Ultimate Michigan summer bucket list!

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