It's hard to know where to begin when trying to describe all that encompasses the 48 acre Grand Haven State Park and its surrounding area. Located on Lake Michigan on the west side of the state and only a 35 minute drive away, I have been coming here for more than 40 years, summer and winter.
While standing at the shoreline, the beautiful sandy beach and shoreline stretches as far south as the eye can see. On the north side is the Grand River and the ever popular and beautiful Grand Haven pier and lighthouse. There are no dunes to climb here, just warm beach sand to sink your toes into.
If you are into camping there are 174 sites ready for your tent or RV at this state park and campground. Make sure to make reservations way in advance as this place is hopping in the summertime. Off season camp sites are also available which we witnessed firsthand when visiting the park last week, the Friday before Easter. There is electrical hookup and a new bathroom/shower facility built recently. Everything at the park is always clean and well taken care of.
If you are not a camper there are plenty of rental homes available, mostly high up on a hill overlooking the park, beach and a spectacular view of the Lake Michigan sunrises and unforgettable sunsets. You will need your climbing shoes to come down from these high perches and then have the energy to climb back up at the end of the day!! Rental properties are also available further down from the beach and into town.
The pier and lighthouse are located at the end of the Grand River as it empties into Lake Michigan. Standing at its present location since 1905 when the pier was extended, you can't miss the eye popping red lighthouse and the fog signal building. There is a catwalk that stretches from the beginning of the pier to the end. You will find people fishing off the pier from early spring to late fall. Caution walking the pier must always be advised as the waves can come crashing across at heights of 6 to 15 ft. It's a very somber feeling when you see the stone tribute to those that have lost their lives because they were swept off the end of the pier or they thought it would be fun to wave surf or swim around the end of the pier and get caught in a riptide.
Grand Haven, known officially as Coast Guard City, USA is home to the U.S. Coast Guard Station located to the north on the Grand River which empties into Lake Michigan. With active and reserve members it is always a pleasure to watch the life boats out in training and coming in off the lake. Every year we celebrate the Coast Guard Festival the last week of July and into the first week of August. This year will be the 85th festival with parades and activities as usual for everyone so be prepared for big crowds!
After spending a day on the beach you can head over to the Musical Fountain show, also located to the north on the Grand River and within walking distance from the state park. This water colored light show is on Dewey Hill and runs every night from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Times vary depending on when it starts to get dark. It can start as late as 10pm at the beginning of summer to 8pm in September. The show runs about 20-25 minutes and is definitely on our to-do list each year. Bleacher seating is available and I can honestly say I still haven't gotten tired of watching this show after all these years!
If you can't live without your computer while you are basking in the sun or relaxing at the camp ground there is WiFi day-use in certain areas of the park. If you are handicapped and want to get down to the water there are the coolest beach wheelchairs available free of charge. If you want to come just for a day and enjoy the sun and surf there are picnic areas with tables and small grills for you to use or there's a picnic shelter if needed. Public restrooms and a concession building is also located close to the beach.
There isn't much not to like about going to the Grand Haven State Park. There are daily rates for $6.00 and annual rates available for $24.00. Camping rates vary slightly but run from $27-$29 per night. If walking to town is not your thing then the Harbor Trolley is available to take you around the area. Grand Haven is full of unique shops and great restaurants with outside seating. I would recommend Snug Harbor located right on Grand River which serves spectacular food and will give you a front row seat to all the boats going into and coming in from the lake.