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Muskegon is a working waterfront in its truest form, featuring a cross-lake car ferry to Milwaukee, Wisconsin; science labs and research vessels; commercial docking; recreational marinas; commercial fishing operations; and ongoing redevelopment of former coal-fired power plant and paper mill brownfield sites.

Best suited for: Diverse waterfronts | Research and academics | Restoration and recreation


  • Largest population on Lake Michigan’s eastern shore
  • Dates back to Michigan’s early logging industry
  • Heavily industrial waterfront; designated as an Area of Concern (AOC) in 1985


Tour will take place from 12–7 p.m.

Depart Amway Grand Plaza Hotel (45-minute drive; boxed lunches provided for the road).

Begin at NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) Lake Michigan Field Station | 1431 Beach St.

  • Muskegon Channel
  • Historic U.S. Coast Guard facilities
  • Pere Marquette Park

Ride east toward Torresen Marine | 3003 Lakeshore Dr.

  • Certified Michigan Clean Marina
  • Commercial fisheries and marinas
  • Lake Express cross-lake ferry to Wisconsin

Visit Sappi property.

  • Former paper mill undergoing mixed-use redevelopment

Explore Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Annis Water Resources Institute | 740 West Shoreline Dr.

  • Multidisciplinary research facility with waterfront access and science vessels

Travel northeast along Muskegon Lake.

  • Residential zoning, boat launches, and commercial docks
  • Shuttered B.C. Cobb Consumers Energy power plant

Explore $10 million NOAA wetland restoration project.

  • 100 acres of restored wetlands designed to address algal blooms and declining lake oxygen

Depart Muskegon for Grand Rapids (45-minute drive).


The Muskegon tour will be predominantly on charter buses with occasional stops. Participants should bring comfortable walking shoes and a water bottle. Expect to encounter uneven sidewalks, staircases, and sandy beaches.


Dave Alexander is the executive director of Downtown Muskegon Now, Muskegon’s waterfront economic development and marketing organization. For three decades, Dave reported on business and government issues for the Muskegon Chronicle. He is an avid sailor and kayaker.

Kathy Evans has worked in the field of natural resources planning and restoration for the past 25 years. As the WMSRDC Environmental Program Manager for the past 10 years, Kathy works with West Michigan watershed groups, local governments and community organizations. Prior to 2007, Kathy worked for the Muskegon Conservation District, Lake Michigan Federation and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks Division. For her work on Muskegon Lake fish and wildlife habitat restoration, Kathy was recognized with the NOAA Restoration Center Excellence in Restoration in 2010.