West Michigan Pike

Heritage Tourism in Michigan

First came the cars. Then came an idea: to build an automobile touring route that stretched from New Buffalo to Mackinaw City. They called the idea “the West Michigan Pike,” and as it grew, West Michigan’s shoreline became a celebration of the road, the people, and the places along the West Michigan Pike.

The West Michigan Pike was developed and constructed between 1911 and 1922 as one of the nation’s first “tourist” roads, designed specifically to bring vacationers from Chicago to Michigan’s West Coast to escape the sweltering summer heat of the Windy City. A full-blown tourism industry with lodging, restaurants, and attractions grew up along the West Michigan Pike and flourishes to this day. The communities along the “Pike,” collectively known as Michigan Beachtowns, include the historic communities of St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, South Haven, Saugatuck/Douglas, Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, and the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.

The West Michigan Pike

by Amy Arnold, published by MISHDA

Because of its size, this report has been broken into multiple PDFs. These files may also be found on the Michigan.gov site.

Volume 1: Historic Context Narrative

Volume 1: Historic Resource Survey