Visiting Muskegon, MI on a Budget

White River Light House
Downtown Muskegon Splash Pad: Photo Credit Adam Alexander

Visiting Muskegon, MI on a budget

Traveling on a budget can be hard, with transportation and accommodations taking up a chunk of the budget, it can be hard to find interesting places and activities to visit while on a trip. Muskegon, MI, however, plays host to a range of activities that will satisfy all travelers, all at an affordable price.

Located in the state of Michigan, Muskegon is also the largest populated city on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan and has a plethora of activities for the budget traveler. From unwinding and relaxing at a picturesque park to strolling down a scenic beach, and wandering through insightful museums, we’ve compiled a list of activities for you to do – all without breaking the bank.

Muskegon Lighthouses: Photo Credit Barb Lowry


Photo Credit: Adam Alexander

Take a stroll at Pere Marquette Beach

Either than having the largest complimentary beach on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, it’s also one of the most beautiful beaches in the state. It’s a pristine beach that’s Clean Beaches Council certified and has hiking trails and even a playground to cater to the little ones. There’s also a dog beach that’s just a block away if you’re thinking of bringing along a furry friend.

At Pere Marquette Beach, there’s plenty to do from playing volleyball at one of the courts to cycling around the beach area and taking in the stunning shoreline. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot a windsurfing, kiteboarding or professional volleyball competition taking place as tournaments are commonly held there.

See two historic lighthouses while there.  Walk the one-half mile pier to visit the South Breakwater Lighthouse,  a 63-foot tall pyramidal light tower built in 1931. Then catch a tour and climb to the top of the 48 foot tall, ironclad Muskegon South Pierhead Light, built in 1903 The lighthouse boasts unparalleled views from the lantern room at the tower top. During summer, children will enjoy free Storytime with the Lighthouse Lady every Monday at 2 p.m.

The Blockhouse at Muskegon State Park

Go on an adventure at Muskegon State Park

After you’ve had your fill at the beach, it’s time to explore Muskegon’s State Park that’s situated on the shore of Lake Michigan and peppered with hiking trails, lush forests, and gently rolling hills. While most parks are closed during the winter time, you’re still able to enjoy Muskegon State Park’s breathtaking beauty during the winter months. Be sure to visit the Blockhouse while there. Open year round, with no admission fee, this historic replica of Fort Dearborn offers amazing views of Lake Michigan.

While there are campgrounds, picnic areas, swimming, and fishing available during the warmer months, there are also a variety of winter recreation options available at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex during the colder months. From an Olympian-designed luge track to a sledding hill, and an ice skating trail through the woods, there’s plenty to do. Day passes start at an inexpensive price of $5 during the weekdays and $10 during the weekends. Children under the age of five can even enter for free.

Sunset at Heritage Landing

Relax at Heritage Landing

Heritage Landing is essentially the waterfront of Muskegon Lake and is the perfect place to relax on a warm summer day. During the summer months, there’s also a lot that goes on at Heritage Landing from concerts to carnivals, music festivals, and events. Either than partaking in the festivities, you may even get to see fireworks display while having a drink at a beverage tent.

Heritage Landing is also an ideal location to unwind as it has a large children’s playground area, as well as picnic, and fishing areas. Since it’s conveniently located, you can easily head there for a day out from downtown Michigan.

Take in the views at Kruse Park Lake Michigan Beach, with you dog!

Another fantastic beach to head to is Kruse Park Lake Michigan Beach, offering breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, it’s also a fantastic picnic area since it has a total of four picnic shelters and an accessible ramp to the beach and dunes.

While children will enjoy the playground, there are also nature trails for the avid hiker, barrier dunes, and even a basketball court. At the northern section of the park.  There’s also a designated beach for you and your furry friends., complete with “doggy stations” to keep the area clean and safe.

Hackley House and City Barn: Photo Courtesy of Lakeshore Museum Center

Go back in time at the Hackley & Hume Historic Site

Once you’ve had your fill of beaches and parks, time to go back in time by visiting the Hackley & Hume Historic Site. While it isn’t complimentary (adults pay $10, and children 5- 17 pay $5 with children under 4 getting in for free), it does allow you access to four locations. And, you can combine this with a visit to the Lakeshore Museum Center for more affordable tickets.

The historic site consists of the Hackley House, Hume House, City Barn, Scolnik House of Depression Era and City Fire Barn Museum. Both historical Victorian homes were built around 1889 and are preserved to feel as though you’ve traveled back in time to 1913. The Hackley House is a unique example of both Victorian architecture, and 19th-century interior decorative arts. The Hume House, on the other hand, is tastefully decorated and has over nine bedrooms. The City Barn was shared by the families and was used to house horses, equipment, and coachmen.The Scolnik House of the Depression Era tells the story of families living in Muskegon during the Great Depression. The house is also a gentle-touch historic house. Visitors can try on period clothing, help do laundry, and explore the garden all while learning of the hardships brought about by the Great Depression. The Fire Barn Museum serves as a living memorial to the brave men and women who have served as Muskegon County firefighters and  featurs a collection of antique fire fighting apparatus.


Admire the pieces at the Muskegon Museum of Art

The Muskegon Museum of Art is the perfect place to immerse yourself in a variety of art with exhibits that change frequently. There’s also an extensive collection of art pieces that are painted by women and African Americans. In every decade since the 1940s, the Walker family has continued to give significant works of art to the museum.

While wandering around the museum, take your time to appreciate the permanent art collection that’s the envy of many other museums in the art world. Otherwise, enjoy the temporary exhibits that display art pieces from artists that reside all around the world. Access to the Muskegon Museum of Art is complimentary on Thursday’s from 4 pm to 8 pm. On other days, you’d have to purchase a ticket to admire the amazing art collection.

Mastodon at Lakeshore Museum Center: Photo Courtesy of Lakeshore Museum Center

Expand your knowledge at Lakeshore Museum Center

You can easily spend a day at this museum that’s comprised of the main building along with five historic structures. Focusing on natural and cultural topics, the museum has both temporary and permanent exhibits to pique one’s interest.

At the permanent exhibits, you can take a 10,000-year journey and see a Great Lakes Schooner, mastodon and sawmill. Children can also participate in hands-on activities such as building a meal, riding an exercise bike, and visiting other interactive stations. Combine this with a visit to the Hackley & Hume Historic Site for more affordable tickets. Otherwise, tickets are $3 for adults, while children two and under get in for free.

White River Light Station and Museum

While at Muskegon Michigan, don’t forget to visit the White River Light Station that was built in 1875. You’ll be able to delve into history by climbing a spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse tower, browse vintage photographs, and examine a collection of nautical artifacts. Don’t forget to take in the view of Lake Michigan while you’re at the top of the lighthouse.

After visiting the lighthouse, pop by the museum to take a look at photographs, paintings, and stories as you immerse yourself in the knowledge of Maritime history. You’ll also get to take a look at navigational devices such as a bilge pump, chronograph, ship helms, and more. You can do all of the above at an affordable price of $5 for adults, and $2 for children 12 and under.


At Muskegon Michigan, there are plenty of activities for you to partake in even while traveling on a budget. Take your time to explore all the sights, museums, and beautiful scenery that Muskegon has to offer. Heading to Michigan and looking for more travel tips? Check out Trip101.