Live Like A Local – A South Haven Guide To Culinary Delights

Greetings, fellow food enthusiasts! Nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan lies South Haven, a town as renowned for its scenic beauty and charming downtown as it is for its delectable culinary offerings. As a lifelong local and unabashed foodie, I’ve embarked on many a gastronomic adventure in our little slice of heaven. Today, I invite you to join me on a journey through the flavors that make South Haven a must-visit for every palate.

A Historic Bite
Onion Rings | Clementine’s

First up on our tour is Clementine’s, housed in a building that whispers tales from its past life as an old bank. But the real treasure here? Their hand-dipped onion rings, served on a wooden peg by the inch. Choose between 6 or 12 inches, but know this: with approximately nine miles of these crispy delights served yearly, paired with their house-made ranch, you’re starting your culinary journey with a local legend.

Crispy, Crunchy Heaven
Fried Chicken | Kitchen 527

No foodie’s quest is complete without the soul-satisfying crunch of perfectly fried chicken. Kitchen 527, nestled cozily in downtown South Haven, offers just that. Whether you opt for half or a whole chicken, each bite promises a seasoned, crunchy, and utterly divine experience. And the variety of sides? The perfect companions to your chicken indulgence.

Award-Winning Chili
White Chicken Chili | The Lodge

“The Lodge: where the locals go” — and for good reason. Tucked away outside of town, this cozy spot has clinched the chili competition at South Haven’s Ice Breaker festival three years running. Their white chicken chili, slightly spicy and irresistibly comforting, is served with warm, deep-fried saltines that rival the chili in deliciousness.

Family Style Comfort
Authentic Lasagna | Maria’s Taste Of Italy

Maria’s serves up more than just food; it serves stories woven into each layer of its lasagna. Tender pasta, meaty layers, a slightly sweet sauce, and creamy cheeses come together in a dish that feels like a hug from an Italian grandmother. Don’t forget to save room for a slice of cheesecake, the perfect sweet ending.

A Must Go Depot
The Edmund Fitzgerald Sandwich | South Haven Depot

Housed in an old depot train station, The Depot offers takeout that transforms a simple meal into an extraordinary experience. The Edmund Fitzgerald sandwich, featuring house-roasted wagyu beef, Hook’s 1-yr cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, and house-made horsey sauce on toasted sourdough bread, is a standout. But it’s not just about the food; The Depot also boasts an impressive selection of craft beer, wine, and liquor, catering to all tastes. Whether you’re a beer aficionado, a wine enthusiast, or someone who appreciates a fine spirit, there’s something here to complement your meal perfectly. Local Secret: You can spend the night in a Caboose train for a unique South Haven lodging experience.

Wing Cravings
3BB Michigan Cherry Wings | Three Blondes Brewing

Owned by three local sisters, Three Blondes Brewing is where large wings meet innovative flavor in the form of Michigan Cherry BBQ sauce. Paired with a Boom Boom Betty blonde ale, and perhaps enjoyed in one of their winter-friendly Blonde Domes, these wings are a flavorful testament to local ingenuity.

A Seafood Lover’s Brunch
Crab Cake Benedict | Phoenix Street on Broadway

After a venue upgrade to accommodate more visitors, Phoenix Street Cafe continues to wow with dishes like their crab cake benedict. Paired with crispy potatoes and perhaps a bloody mary or mimosa, it’s a brunch that elevates the classic to new heights.

Hidden Gem For Authentic
Quesabirria Tacos | El Paraiso Taqueria

El Paraiso Taqueria’s facade may be unassuming, but inside lies a treasure trove of traditional Mexican cuisine. The quesabirria tacos, with their perfect mix of flavor, crispiness, dipping sauce and homemade Verde, are a highlight. And the convenience of a drive-through window makes it easy to enjoy these gems on the go.

Cuisine With A Story
Potato Pancakes | Taste

At Taste, not only does the food speak of heritage and heart, but the story of its owners — a local couple who turned their meeting place into their dream — adds a layer of warmth to every dish. Overlooking the Black River Harbor, their potato pancakes are a nod to Chef Joel’s heritage. This vegan dish is served with apple chutney, sour cream, and chive oil. Pair it with an Elderflower Breeze martini for a truly unforgettable meal.

Summer Sweets And Soulful Delights
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake | Fruit Street Kitchen

The Fruit Street Kitchen food truck, a hidden gem next to Elkenburg Park, not only brings summer sweetness to life with their moist pineapple upside-down cake but also serves up an array of soul food that’s hard to find elsewhere. Among their unique offerings, the smothered turkey knuckles stand out as a must-try for anyone looking for an authentic taste of soul food. This dish, alongside their other non-traditional items, showcases the local owners’ dedication to diversity and flavor. Open only in the summer, the demand for their distinctive dishes encouraged the owners to expand, opening a sit-down restaurant 20 miles from South Haven in Lawrence, Michigan. Whether you’re there for the sweet treats or the soul food, Fruit Street Kitchen offers an unforgettable culinary experience.

Fewer Chills, More Thrills with Holiday Shopping in South Haven

It’s never too early to form a shopping game plan— especially when it comes to avoiding long lines, excruciating traffic, and delayed shipping dates. Forego any retail woes and satisfy everyone on your shopping list with these important dates:


Dine On Us
November 1, 2022 – May 15, 2023
Participating Lodging Members & Restaurants

Dine on us

Discover South Haven’s winter charm and local flavor with a $25 DINE ON US card, available when you book a stay at select lodging properties. Certain restrictions apply, Click the link above for a full list of participating locations and upcoming events.

Offer valid November 1, 2022, through May 15, 2023. Some restrictions may apply.  Exact details of promotion vary at each participating lodging member property; check for details.  Must book directly with lodging property and mention the Dine on Us promotion to receive a card.  Not valid with any other promotion.  Not valid during Holidays and special event days or special event weekends. 


2nd Annual Women’s Shop ‘Til You Drop Saturday
Saturday | November 12th | 10 am – 6 pm
Over 30 Participating Locations
After-Party at Harbor Light Brewery | 6 pm

Womens Shopping Saturday

Tag the girls: Women’s Shop ‘Til You Drop Saturday is back with over 30 participating locations offering exclusive deals, fun activities, crafts, complimentary treats, and drinks! Spend $15 at a participating shop and receive (1) stamp on your Shopping Passport. Turn in your card with six stamps to be entered in a drawing for awesome gift baskets at the after-party! Gift baskets contain 5-6 gifts valued at $40 or more. Visit the Facebook Event to browse promotions and live updates.



36th Annual Mistletoe Market
Preview: November 18th | $20 Members / $25 Non-Members | 6 pm
Free Admission | November 19th – December 11th
South Haven Center for the Arts

Mistletoe Market SHCA

This holiday-based consignment shop transforms the SHCA into a fine art market from November 19th through December 11th. Get a sneak peek at vendors and artist-curated showcases during the Mistletoe Market Preview Party on November 18th. The evening includes live music, good food & wine, a raffle, and fun while supporting the arts!


Small Business Saturday
November 26 | Downtown South Haven

Small Business Saturday

Looking for a more relaxed pace of holiday shopping? Visit downtown South Haven on Small Business Saturday where you’ll find unique gifts and deals at boutiques, antiques, toy stores, and candy shops, not to mention fabulous dining options where you can relax after crossing the final name off your “Nice” list.


Most Romantic Things to Do Along the Michigan Beachtowns

Michigan Beachtowns Romantic Trip Ideas

If you are looking to plan a romantic getaway look no farther than the quaint and friendly towns along the Lake Michigan Beachtowns! We offer traditional wine & dine experiences along with some adventure, quiet time for just the two of you, and the most stunning sunsets you will ever see in your lifetime.

Michigan Beachtowns Hiking

Go for a Hike

The parks and trails along the Lake Michigan Beachtowns provide a romantic backdrop for a hike for two all year long. Muskegon State Park and PJ Hoffmaster State Park have miles of wooded trails and sand dunes over looking Lake Michigan and are dog friendly.  Hoffmaster’s trail system connects to the North Ottawa Dunes trails, the new Ottawa Sands Park, and the Kitchel-Lindquist Hartger Dune Preserve north of Grand Haven if you are looking for a longer hike. To experience something otherworldly, head to the Silver Lake State Park Pedestrian Dune Access area to see mountains of sand dunes and watch hundreds of ORVs fly through the trails. Climb to the top of Mount Pisgah in Holland for a stunning view of both Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan. For those who are not afraid of heights, the steep, wooden stairs of Mount Baldhead bring hikers to the top of a 794 foot overlook of Saugatuck. Black River Preserve in South Haven has easy-to-difficult hiking trails with a one mile frontage of the Black River and other area streams. Weko Beach & John DeeDee Howard Trail is the Saint Joseph area are great spots for a hike.

Spend a Day at the Beach Michigan Beachtowns Beaches

Pack a blanket, your favorite snacks & beverages, towels, chairs, some books & magazines, your headphones, sunglasses, and sunscreen and prepare yourself for a relaxing day for two. If you are looking for a day at the beach close to all of the action Silver Lake Beach, South Beach, Oval Beach, Holland State Park, Grand Haven State Park, Pere Marquette Beach, and Little Sable Lighthouse Beach are perfect for people watching and catching some rays. Looking for something a little more quiet? Muskegon State Park, Newcome Beach, Rosy Mound Natural Area, Tunnel Park, Grand Mere State Park, & Douglas Beach are for you! If you want to add in a little adventure, consider renting ORVs at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and finding a spot along Lake Michigan for the two of you. Learn more about all of the Michigan Beachtowns beaches here!

Visit a Vineyard or a Tasting Room

Cheers to spending time together at one of the many vineyards or wine & cider tasting rooms located along the Michigan Beachtowns. The Fox Barn Winery is the Silver Lake Sand Dunes-Hart area is a unique setting within a restored barn where you can taste their wines along with a ‘Barn Bites’ food board. 12 Corners Vineyards & Winery is located in Benton Harbor but they also have tasting rooms located in Grand Haven and South Haven. Oceana Winery & Vineyard is located in New Era between Silver Lake Sand Dunes & Muskegon but you can also try their wines at their tasting room downtown Muskegon. Fenn Valley Winery has been around since 1973. Their vineyard hosts tours throughout the year and they have a tasting room in Saugatuck. Virtue Cider is located on a working farm complete with tours, sheep, pigs, and chickens. Learn more about the Michigan Beachtowns Beverage Trail here!

Micihgan Beachtowns Paddle SportsPeddle & Paddle

Each of the Lake Michigan Beachtowns offer a variety of ways venture around the area by bike, by kayak, or by SUP. Bring your own or rent from many local rental companies by the hour, by the day, or by the week. The Michigan Beachtowns have hundreds of miles of biking paths and trails for the serious biker and those looking for a casual, scenic ride. While the big lake can be friendly to paddlers, the inland lakes and rivers offer up a relaxing day on the water without worrying about large waves. For the more adventurous paddlers, surf board rentals and lessons are available through Third Coast Surf Shop in Southwest Michigan or you can try Kiteboarding with the help of MacKite.

Listen to Live Music at a Brewery

Grab a tasting flight and cozy up together at one the Lake Michigan breweries. Our Brewing Company in downtown Holland is a nano-brewery and was founded by two couples and their motto is “Smaller on Purpose.” Saugatuck Brewing Company is the only brewery in Michigan to feature a Brew on Premise Program where you can work with their master brewers to create your own special beer. Oddside Ales in Grand Haven recently expanded its downtown taproom complete with garage doors that open up for alfresco drinking and dining. Unruly Brewing Company in downtown Muskegon is the first brewery to brew been in Muskegon since 1957 and offers an outdoor beer garden in the warmer months. Big Hart Brewing Company in Hart hosts live music, karaoke nights, and Trivia nights. Three Blondes Brewing was founded by 3 sisters who were born and raised in South Haven. During the winter months you can snuggle together in one of their igloos nicknamed the Blondomes. In the Saint Joseph area, pick up a free Makers Trail passport and start collecting stamps from more than 40 participating craft breweries, wineries, and distillers.

Discover Iconic LighthousesHolland Michigan Lighthouse

The most romantic times of the day to view and visit one of the Lake Michigan Beachtowns lighthouses is first thing in the morning or leading up to sunset. Walk the pier, beach, or nearby boardwalk hand-in-hand. Saint Joseph’s lighthouses are accessible from Tiscornia Park. South Haven’s lighthouse is a short walk from downtown via the boardwalk. Holland’s Big Red is best viewed from Holland State Park. Grand Haven’s lighthouses can be found where the boardwalk ends at Grand Haven State Park. Muskegon’s lighthouses keep guard over the Muskegon Lake channel. Little Sable Lighthouse is located at Silver Lake Sand Dunes State Park and is open for tours during the warmer months. Before your trip, join the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s Passport Program and collect stamps and stickers at each of the Beachtown lighthouses!

Share a Romantic Meal

Houndstooth Restaurant in Benton Harbor is a New American restaurant that was founded by two siblings and features a fine dining experience without the pretense. The menu ebbs with the season and with the culinary duo’s mood. Menu items include Blue Crab Dumplings, Roasted Chicken, and Creamsicle Poke Cake. Taste in downtown South Haven is a small plates restaurant and martini bar with items to share including sushi, sweet & spicy shrimp, a Michigan cheese plate, and signature martinis. Salt of the Earth in Fennville offers scratch cooking from fresh local ingredients. Their menu changes seasonally including their selection of entrees, shared plates, and wood fired pizza. Seventy-Six is located downtown Holland and serves up modern, American comfort food. They offer lunch & dinner along with changing list of modern cocktails like the Tequila ‘Mockingbird’ and a Winter Margarita with elderberry and pear puree. Noto’s at the Bil-Mar in Grand Haven has one of the most spectacular views of Lake Michigan you can find along the shoreline. Noto’s offers spins on Italian classics, wood fired pizzas, apps, and small plates. The Lake House on Muskegon Lake has a marina view and a menu fitting for a fine dining or casual dining experience. What’s not to love about Big Hart Brewing? They serve up their craft brews along with a large menu of small plates, burgers, sandwiches, and entrees.

Lake Michigan SunsetWatch the Sunset Over Lake Michigan

There is no better way to end a romantic day than with a breathtaking sunset over Lake Michigan. All of the Michigan Beachtown beaches offer stunning sunsets all year long. The ‘golden hour’ leading up to sunset provides the best lighting for romantic selfies.

Stay at a Charming Inn, Bed & Breakfast, Hotel, or Vacation Rental

There is quaint and romantic place for the two of you to stay no matter what season along the Lake Michigan Beachtowns. Check out the latest lodging and getaway specials here!

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For more Michigan Beachtowns articles, visit our blog here!