Two of west Michigan’s most popular summer beach destinations, Grand Haven and Saugatuck offer many recreational boating and coastal tourism opportunities.
Best suited for: Vibrant coastal communities | Seasonal recreation and tourism | Diverse waterfronts
- Picturesque beach town on the Grand River and Lake Michigan estuary
- Named one of the “Best Places in the World to Retire” by Conde Nast, “#2 Best Freshwater Beach in America” by USA Today, and “#2 Best Beach in America” and “Happiest Seaside Town in America” by Coastal Living
- Known as “Coast Guard City USA”
- Sleepy resort town on the shores of Kalamazoo Lake near Lake Michigan
- Recipient of USA Today’s “Best Coastal Small Town” designation in 2015
- Quaint and artsy commercial district
- Bustling recreational boating scene
Tour will take place from 12–7 p.m.
Depart Amway Grand Plaza Hotel toward Grand Haven (45-minute drive; boxed lunches provided for the road).
Visit the Port of Grand Haven to explore the Bottoms Up Topsoil Program | 705 2nd St
- Creating a sustainable harbor through reuse of dredged material
- End product is topsoil
Explore revitalized riverside commercial district on foot | 301 N Harbor Dr.
- Fish cleaning station and docked charter boats at Chinook Pier
- Municipal marina featuring public slips and charter boat operators
- Waterfront stadium, a $1 million project still under construction
- Grand Haven Musical Fountain and “Coast Guard City USA” sign
- Historic downtown Grand Haven: bustling shops, rental outlets, and restaurants
Hop back on the bus and head south along Harbor Drive toward Lake Michigan | 1001 S Harbor Dr.
- Boardwalk, Army Corps of Engineers HQ, and Coast Guard Station
- Many festivals that frequent Grand Haven (Coast Guard, salmon, kite festivals)
- Grand Haven State Park and Campground, as well as City Park and beach
- Pier and catwalk and historic lighthouses (1839, 1905)
Depart Grand Haven, heading south towards Saugatuck (45-minute drive)
Arrive near Sergeant Marina, Kalamazoo Lake | 31 Butler St.
- Boardwalk leading toward commercial district
- History of recreational boating, contamination, and development
Experience the Saugatuck Chain Ferry | 500 Water St.
- U.S. Coast Guard-certified hand-propelled passenger ferry crossing the Kalamazoo River; in use since 1838
Depart Grand Haven, heading east back to Amway Grand Plaza Hotel (45-minute drive).
The Saugatuck and Grand Haven tour will be predominantly on-foot with frequent stops. Participants should bring comfortable walking shoes and a water bottle. Expect to encounter uneven sidewalks, staircases, and sandy beaches.
Charles (Chuck) Pistis served as Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator in southwest Michigan from 1977-2006 and as Michigan Sea Grant Extension program coordinator from 2007 until his retirement in 2012. He has also been an advisor to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and a member of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Fisheries Citizens Advisory Committee.
Joy Gaasch joined the staff of the Chamber of Commerce – Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg as President in 2000. She is a graduate of The Institute for Organizational Management, Notre Dame and has spent 31 years in the management of not for profit organizations. She is a member of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives and is a member of the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals, as well as serving on its Board of Directors in the capacity as treasurer, vice chair and chair.