Top Things To See & Do This Fall in the Grand Haven Area

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.

Grand Haven Michigan Hiking - Photo GHACVB
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.

Grand Haven Michigan Breweries - Photo Marci Cisneros

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 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.

Pumpkin Picking
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.

Grand Haven Michigan Pumpkins - Photo Marci Cisneros

Farmers Markets
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.

Grand Haven Michigan Farmers Markets - Photo Marci Cisneros

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!

Grand Haven Michigan Kayaking - Photo Geno Mallo

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.

Grand River Park Grand Haven - Photo Marci Cisneros

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.)

Grand Haven Michigan Fishing - Photo Brian Fett

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.

Scenic Overlooks
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.

Rosy Mound Natural Area Grand Haven Michigan - Photo Marci Cisneros

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.

Grand Haven Michigan Sunset - Photo Bob Peskorse

Be sure to share your Grand Haven area fall photos and videos with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! #VisitGrandHaven

14 Reasons to Visit South Haven This Summer

South Haven is a small community situated comfortably within walking distance of the Lake Michigan shoreline. With a diverse array of lodging & dining options, as well as a legendary history of summer festivals and hospitality to match, South Haven is the perfect place for friends and families to visit and begin new traditions. Here are 14 Reasons folks visit (and revisit) South Haven the most:

1. Sugar Sand & Rocky Beaches
The number one reason why people visit South Haven in the summer is to spend time on the city’s beautiful beaches. Along the Great Lakes you will find different terrains on the shores, from rocks to dunes to soft and silky sand. South Haven’s public beaches (there are seven!) are full of groomed, sugary sand that is perfect for relaxing, building sand castles and enjoying the sunshine.

Photo Credit: @jenninthesun

Photo Credit: @jenninthesun

2. Walkability
You can park anywhere in town and walk from the downtown shopping area to the beach with relative ease. Getting to and from locations is simple in South Haven, and there are several hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals within walking distance to all the excitement of the downtown and nearby beaches. This makes it easy to rent a scooter, a bicycle or a golf cart and have fun around town! It’s easy here!

photo credit: @timlargentsr

Photo Credit: @timlargentsr

3. Variety Of Accommodations
There is a huge variety of places to stay in the city and township. Two locally-owned hotels are located directly downtown, while four chain hotels lie just a mile down from the main strip on Phoenix Street. You’ll also find several bed and breakfasts, an abundant amount of vacation rental homes, unique inns and camping cabins.

The Caboose Inn

Photo Credit: Mark McCulfor

4. Exciting Adventures
Kids will love splashing around at the Friends Good Will Splash Pad, located near South Beach. The Splash Pad is an enchanting and safe place to allow small children to frolic Also, located just 4 miles from downtown, Arvesta Sport Complex contains two wibbit play areas, a cable park for skiing, wakeboarding and kneeboarding (no experience required), waterslides, a drink bar and more!

5. On-Water Experiences
There are so many different options to suit your taste for adventure, relaxation and fun:
• SoHa Surf Shop sets up camp at North and South Beaches with kayak and paddle board rentals.
• The Michigan Maritime Museum hosts a fleet of historic and replica boats, including tall ship Friends Good Will, an experience you can’t miss out on!
• The Sunsetter is docked at the South Marina and is a relaxing cruise that offers views of the lakeshore.
• Elsie J, a renovated 1945 Tugboat, takes day trips and sunset cruises.
Try one, or try all!

6. Pure Michigan Trail Town
In 2019, South Haven was one of the first four communities to be designated as a Pure Michigan Trail Town. Rent a bicycle from Rock n’ Road Cycle and hop on the Kal-Haven and Van Buren Trails for a scenic ride, or a casual stroll. Rent a kayak at Black River Park and paddle up river on the Bangor/South Haven Heritage Water Trail. Visit one of the township’s four nature preserves and hike along dunes, wooded paths and even search for beach glass. There are so many ways to enjoy South Haven’s trails, and each trail has its own unique aspects.

7. Waterfront Bars
If you’re looking for a fun atmosphere to grab a bite or have a drink, look no further than Captain Lou’s, Admiral Jack’s and the Idler Riverboat. All three are situated around South Haven’s harbor and you can very easily walk to and from each bar. Live music is a frequent occurrence on the weekends in the summertime.

Photo Credit: Radiant Landscapes Photography

8. Handcrafted Haven
Three breweries, one craft beer tasting room, three wine tasting rooms, a winery and a cidery all exist within the South Haven zip code. You can find even more if you venture further afield in all directions. There are so many flavors to try!

9. Michigan’s Fruit Belt
Fresh produce is a staple at South Haven’s downtown farm market, which runs every Saturday from mid-May to mid-October and every Wednesday from June-August. There are several surrounding farms offering u-pick strawberries, raspberries, peaches and (of course) blueberries. Summer fruit is a must have, and in South Haven there is PLENTY to go around!

South Haven, aka The Blueberry Capital of the World!

10. Locally-Owned And Quaint Downtown
South Haven’s downtown is full of locally-owned shops and restaurants. You’ll find a variety of stores, from t-shirt shops to jewelry, women’s clothing, home decor, candy, toys, books and so much more. Make it an adventure with in-store experiences like 42N Naturals‘ fragrance and terrarium bar, and Kalamazoo Candle Company‘s candlemaking workshop!

11. Eating Across Downtown
Whether it’s a burger and beer or a martini and chef’s plate, you’ll be able to satisfy your craving at one of the many South Haven restaurants. There are classic American diners, upscale destinations, pizza joints and ethnic options. On the water, the beach, in town, or in the country, there’s a place to eat in nearly every corner of South Haven. With vineyards and craft breweries to tour as well, you can try something new every day. Eat your way through South Haven’s restaurants and maybe you’ll even find your new favorite food spot!

The Reuben Sandwich at The Lodge

12. Sherman Dairy Bar’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream
Sherman’s has been a local favorite for 63 years and for good reason! Their old-fashioned ice cream is made one batch at a time with rich flavors. You’ll find classic flavors along with fun and unique choices, and of course the midwestern favorite, blue moon!

13. Historic Movie Theatre With Throwback Prices
Rain or shine, a movie at the historic downtown Michigan Theatre is a fun way to spend your time. The prices have not changed since the 90’s so you can see a matinee for only $4, and an evening show for $5.50. You can’t beat that!

14. Sunsets Over Lake Michigan
Cozy up in the sand, gather in front of the lighthouse, or find a spot among the bluffs. Sunsets are a magical sight and they are a great way to wind down from the day. If there is anything we highly recommend, it’s witnessing a stunning, colorful sunset. That’s a South Haven specialty! Click here for our 2023 Sunset Schedule.

photo credit: @timlargentsr

Photo Credit: @timlargentsr