Grand Haven, Michigan
Grand Haven’s signature attraction is its famous musical fountain, which shoots water into the air with more than a thousand nozzles creating water formations synchronized to lights and music every evening during the summer. It’s been entertaining visitors since 1962, after a local dentist and former Grand Haven mayor began drumming up support for the project. He managed to make his vision come to life through local funds, volunteers, and repurposed old municipal pipes.
The city’s other key attraction is its iconic lighthouse, which dates back to 1839 and is connected to the shore by a catwalk that lights up at night. Many anglers fish from the pier, but most visitors just stroll from the catwalk along a continuous boardwalk that follows the Grand River for one-and-a-half miles. A few different fishing charters also push off from the channel, and every September, Grand Haven is home to an annual Salmon Festival.
The beach near the lighthouse is part of Grand Haven State Park, which also has a playground and RV campsites right on the beach. The 20-mile Lakeshore Trail leads north from here to Holland State Park and is dotted with several natural areas and parks. Visitors can also rent a range of water craft – including kiteboards – to get out on Lake Michigan.
Beachgoers interested in a strenuous and scenic hike through nearby dunes can park at the Rosy Mound Natural Area. The hike to the beach from here is less than a mile, but the 1,000 feet of stairs up and down the dunes get the blood pumping. But leave the four-legged friends at home: both Rosy Mound and the nearby beaches are dog-free zones.
And there are a few 18-hole golf courses in and just outside of town.
Given the watery landscape, there are several places in the area that attract bird-watchers, though Linear Park on Harbor Island might be the most popular. As of 2018, it was home to a rare peregrine falcon nest.
In the winter, Pigeon Creek Park in nearby West Olive offers ski rentals, lessons, and groomed trails that are lighted for night skiing.
Older kids and history buffs enjoy Tri-Cities Historical Museum, which includes several permanent and special exhibits that give visitors a feel for what life here was like in generations past, with exhibits that allow visitors to enter a full-size wigwam, a logging camp, and an old general store.