Lake Michigan Shore Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Lake Michigan Shore Trip Guide

Pretty small towns, sandy beaches and rolling dunes await visitors to the southeast side of Lake Michigan.

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  • 1
    Thrills abound at Saugatuck Dune Rides.
    Thrills abound at Saugatuck Dune Rides.
  • 2
    Shoppers delight in St. Joseph's boutiques and galleries.
    Shoppers delight in St. Joseph's boutiques and galleries.
  • 3
    Blueberry pavlova at Bentwood Tavern in New Buffalo
    Blueberry pavlova at Bentwood Tavern in New Buffalo
  • 4
    Oink's Dutch Treat in New Buffalo
    Oink's Dutch Treat in New Buffalo
  • 5
    Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor
    Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor
  • 6
    Old Boys' Brewhouse in Spring Lake
    Old Boys' Brewhouse in Spring Lake
  • 7
    Holland's Window on the Waterfront Park bursts with color during its spring tulip display.
    Holland's Window on the Waterfront Park bursts with color during its spring tulip display.
  • 8
    Take the Lake Express ferry to Muskegon.
    Take the Lake Express ferry to Muskegon.
  • 9
    The lakeside Captain Lou's serves pub food and cold beer in a laid-back setting.
    The lakeside Captain Lou's serves pub food and cold beer in a laid-back setting.
  • 10
    The coal-fired S.S. Badger ferries between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
    The coal-fired S.S. Badger ferries between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Holland area

The shore towns west of Grand Rapids have Dutch heritage and pretty boardwalks. 

What to do

Grand Haven State Park A 48-acre recreation area has a popular beach and views of the Grand Haven pier and lighthouse. See reviews and ratings. (616) 847-1309; michigan.gov/dnr 

USS Silversides Submarine Museum Tour a World War II submarine and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter permanently moored along Muskegon’s waterfront. (231) 755-1230; silversidesmuseum.org

Holland shopping Boutiques, galleries, gift shops and cafes line 8th Street downtown. Tikal displays handmade jewelry and funky fashion; Reader’s World stocks best sellers and magazines (and sells hardcover best sellers at a discount). (800) 506-1299; downtownholland.com

Holland State Park Eight miles west of Holland, this Lake Michigan park has an expansive beach and great views of nearby Big Red, a much-photographed lighthouse. A boardwalk and stairs access Mount Pisgah’s towering sand dune. See reviews and ratings. (616) 399-9390; michigan.gov/dnr

Ludington State Park Walk from the shady campground through the dunes to the Lake Michigan beach and Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Rent a canoe and trace the shore of inland Hamlin Lake. See reviews and ratings. (231) 843-2423; michigan.gov/dnr

Michigan Rag Company T-shirts, cozy sweatshirts and flannel pajamas are handprinted in Michigan. Kitschy designs include log cabins, cats and moose. (616) 846-1451; michiganrag.com 

Veldheer Tulip Gardens The largest tulip farm in the Holland area also has a delftware factory on-site. Admission charged to the gardens. (616) 399-1900; veldheer.com 

Windmill Island Gardens In Holland, a 250-year-old working windmill, with the only female Dutch-certified miller in North America, towers above a 36-acre island. See reviews and ratings. (888) 535-5792; windmillisland.org 

Where to eat

Alpenrose Restaurant and Cafe Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France influence the dinner menu. Diners select entrees such as pretzel-crusted walleye. (616) 393-2111; alpenroserestaurant.com

Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant Overlook the lake while you dine on seafood and other specialties at this Holland restaurant. The family-friendly place serves breakfast on Sundays. (616) 396-0600; boatwerksrestaurant.com

Butch’s Restaurant Relax at downtown Holland’s restaurant-slash-wine shop. Dinner options include grilled Alaskan halibut with sticky rice. (616) 396-8227; butchs.net

DeBoer’s Dutch Brothers Bakery Visitors stop into the bakery-restaurant combo in Holland to pick up fresh breads and buttery kraklingen cookies or to nosh on pigs-in-a-blanket and pea soup. See reviews and ratings. (616) 396-2253; deboerbakery.com

Morning Star Cafe This Southwestern-style breakfast and lunch spot in Grand Haven bakes its own foccacia, biscuits and pastries. (616) 844-1131; morningstarcafe.org

Old Boys' Brewhouse An exceptional budget meal awaits at this Spring Lake stop. Artisanal beers and specialty sodas accompany build-your-own pizzas on brewer's malt crusts. (616) 850-9950; oldboysbrewhouse.com

Where to stay

Crimson Cottage Inn the Woods It’s worth the search for this hard-to-find B&B. Charming guest rooms have king beds, Wi-Fi and small fridges with ice water. Guests can borrow bikes to explore nearby trails and choose to have breakfast delivered. (616) 994-0922; crimsoncottageinn.com 

Haworth Inn Cherrywood and burgundy accents deck tasteful guest rooms. Walk to downtown Holland or stroll the campus of nearby Hope College. From $150. (616) 395-7200; haworthinn.com

Serendipity Resort Visitors craving privacy enjoy this Grand Haven cottage resort, which includes six vacation homes. From $165. (888) 205-7677; serendipityresorts.com

For information: Grand Haven Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 303-4092; visitgrandhaven.com

Holland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 506-1299; holland.org

Ludington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (877) 420-6618; pureludington.com

Muskegon County Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 250-9283; visitmuskegon.org

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