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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

WATERFRONT OVERVIEW

Grand Haven:

  • 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”

Saugatuck:

  • 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

AGENDA

Tour will take place from 12–7 p.m.

Hosted by the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and Saugatuck and Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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).

ACCESSIBILITY

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.

TRIP LEADERS

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.

Grand Haven

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.