The Grand Haven area is famous for its beaches but there is still plenty to see and do in autumn. With many of tree covered parks and trails, the Grand Haven area offers lots of opportunities to take in the fall colors. Here’s our list of the top fall things to see and do in the area!
The Grand Haven area is blessed with an amazing system of parks that offer trails through forests, along the rivers, over dunes, and with stunning views of Lake Michigan. Some of our favorite hiking spots are North Ottawa Dunes, Kitchel Lindquist Dunes, Hemlock Crossing, Pine Bend, Grand Ravines, and PJ Hoffmaster State Park.
With over 100 miles of biking trails in the Grand Haven area, seeing the fall colors via bike is a great option. Popular trails include the Lakeshore Trail from Grand Haven to Holland, the Lakeside Trail along Spring Lake, and the North Bank Trail.
Cheers to fall by visiting one of the local breweries in the Grand Haven area. Odd Side Ales, Trail Point Brewing, Grand Armory Brewing, and Burzurk Brewing Co. each offer many different locally made brew options as well as live music.
What’s geocaching? Geocaching is an anytime, anywhere real world adventure. All you need is a GPS or the free Geocaching app on your phone, a free account on Geocaching.com and you’re ready to go! This endless outdoor activity takes you to places near and far to find hidden caches in all shapes and sizes. Once you find one, sign the logbook and return it to its original location. Some caches have items inside of them for trade so its always fun to bring along your own items to trade out for new ones. You never know what you’re going to find on your next geocaching adventure.
Though the Grand Haven area is known for our beaches, we are home to many farms and u-picks. During the fall, Bethke Farms offers pumpkin picking, hayrides, a corn maze and more.
The Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and GVSU-Allendale Campus farmers markets are still in full swing during fall. You can stop by to grab seasonal produce including apples & pumpkins, as well as baked goods, flowers, meats, cheeses, and more.
Seeing the fall colors from a kayak along the Grand River, Spring Lake, Pigeon Creek, Pigeon Lake, and Lake Michigan is an amazing experience. You can bring your own kayak, canoe, or stand up paddle board – or you can rent one from Lakeshore Kayak Rental. This is also a great way to spot local wildlife including eagles, beavers, otters, Blue Herons, Sand Hill Cranes, turtles, muskrats, fish, deer, and much more!
Whether you are an avid birder or just desire to experience birds beyond your backyard, Ottawa County Parks & Recreation offers naturalist led birding walks and field trips throughout the fall.
Historic River Road Self Guided Auto Tour
If you are looking to cover a larger area during your fall color tour of the Grand Haven area, then by car is the way to go. Our favorite route to take is the stretch of road from Grand Haven to Eastmanville Bayou and back – known as the Historic River Road. Using the handy guide found on our website or at our Visitors Center, this self-guided auto tour brings you along the original River Road which is oldest byway in Ottawa County and one of the oldest in the state. Numbered signs along the way indicate stops and points of interest that mesh local history with our beautiful riverside and park system.
Surfing & Kiteboarding
We’ve been asked several times over the years if Lake Michigan has big waves…it does! While it doesn’t have a tide like the oceans, when the wind starts blowing we can get some pretty sizable waves here in the Grand Haven area. The fall and winter are the windiest times of the year so it is the perfect time for surfers and kiteboarders to take advantage of the wind and waves.
Fall is still an active time for fishing in the Grand Haven area. For a DIY experience, popular spots include Spring Lake, the bayous of the Grand River, and the north pier. To eliminate the guess-work, schedule a trip with a local charter captain. (Plus, they provide all the gear and hottest lures.)
GVSU Football Games
Grand Valley State University is located approximately 20 miles east of downtown Grand Haven and is home to the GVSU Lakers. Cheering on the team at GVSU’s beautiful Allendale campus is a fun fall tradition.
If you are looking for a unique view of the fall colors but aren’t up for a long hike you can find stunning views atop 5 Mile Hill, from the dune side stairs at North Beach Park, and from the top of the stairs at Rosy Mound Natural Area.
Nature Education Center
Ottawa County Parks & Recreation’s Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossing Park offers year round seasonal programs, guided hikes, kids activities, a wildlife viewing area and more. You can also find a kayak/canoe launch here! (Once you click link, be sure to refine your search by clicking the Kayak/Canoe Launches.)
Golfing at one of the many Grand Haven area golf courses is a great way to take in the fall colors as well as get those last few rounds in before the snow starts flying. Favorite courses include American Dunes Golf Club, Pigeon Creek Golf Course, Evergreen Golf Course, The Meadows at GVSU, Terra Verde Golf Course, and Three Fires Golf Course.
There is no better way to end a fun fall day than with a stunning sunset over Lake Michigan. While we have beautiful sunsets in the summer months, fall sunsets tend to be the most stunning and colorful ones of the entire year. Great places to watch the sunset include Grand Haven State Park, Rosy Mound Natural Area, the north pier, and North Beach Park. To learn more, check out this timeless guest blog post from area photographer Walter Elliott.