Things to Do in South Haven Michigan

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Things to Do in South Haven Michigan: Discover the Top Attractions in This Coastal Gem

South Haven, Michigan, is a vibrant lakeside community nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, offering a unique blend of picturesque landscapes, rich history, and an array of activities for all ages and interests. From its sandy beaches to its lively festivals, South Haven is a destination that promises an unforgettable experience.

Key Takeaways:

    • Explore South Haven’s Beautiful Beaches: Ideal for summer fun and relaxation.
    • Seasonal Activities: Enjoy year-round events and outdoor adventures.
    • Cultural and Historical Attractions: Visit museums and historical sites for a glimpse into South Haven’s past.
    • Family-Friendly Options: Numerous activities are suitable for all ages.

Brief History of South Haven

South Haven’s history is a tapestry of maritime, agricultural, and tourism threads. Founded in the mid-19th century, it quickly became a pivotal port for shipping and a haven for early settlers and later tourists. Key historical landmarks still stand today, testament to the town’s rich past.

Importance of Tourism in South Haven Michigan

Tourism plays a crucial role in South Haven’s economy and community spirit. The town’s scenic beauty, combined with its welcoming atmosphere and diverse attractions, make it a popular destination for visitors from around the world.

Things to Do in South Haven Michigan by Season

South Haven is a year-round destination, with each season offering unique experiences and activities.

Spring Activities in South Haven Michigan

Spring in South Haven is a time of renewal and outdoor exploration. Visitors can enjoy:

    • Blossoming Orchards: Witness the beautiful cherry and apple blossoms.
    • Bird Watching: The migratory patterns make it ideal for bird enthusiasts.
    • Fishing: Spring marks the start of fishing season in Lake Michigan.

Summer Activities in South Haven Michigan

Summer is the peak season in South Haven, offering:

    • Beach Time: Soak up the sun at South Beach or North Beach.
    • Boating and Water Sports: Experience sailing, jet skiing, and paddleboarding.
    • Festivals and Events: Enjoy the National Blueberry Festival and other summer events.

Autumn Activities in South Haven Michigan

Autumn brings a kaleidoscope of colors and harvest celebrations:

    • Fall Foliage Tours: Explore the stunning autumnal scenery.
    • Harvest Time: Participate in apple picking and wine tastings at local vineyards.
    • Halloween Events: Enjoy family-friendly Halloween festivities.

Winter Activities in South Haven Michigan

Winter in South Haven is a wonderland of activities:

    • Ice Skating and Snowshoeing: Enjoy outdoor winter sports.
    • Holiday Markets and Events: Experience the magic of winter festivals and markets.
    • Cozy Indoor Activities: Visit local cafes and shops for a warm retreat.
Things to Do in South Haven Michigan - Outdoor Activities
Kal-Haven Trail Black River Bridge

Things to Do in South Haven Michigan: Outdoor Activities

The great outdoors is where South Haven truly shines, offering a plethora of activities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

Beaches and Waterfront Activities

South Haven’s beaches are its crown jewels, with miles of sandy shores and clear waters.

South Beach: Known for its Iconic Red Lighthouse

South Beach in South Haven is renowned for its picturesque setting along the shores of Lake Michigan. This beach stands out with its beautiful sandy shores, offering scenic vistas and a vibrant atmosphere.

A key highlight of South Beach is the iconic red lighthouse, a symbol of South Haven’s rich maritime history. This lighthouse provides a captivating backdrop for stunning photos, adding to the charm of the beach experience.

North Beach: Offers a More Tranquil Beach Experience

North Beach is typically known for offering a more tranquil and quieter beach experience compared to South Beach. This makes North Beach an excellent choice for visitors looking for a peaceful day at the beach, away from the bustling atmosphere of South Beach.

The quieter setting is ideal for relaxing, reading a book, or just enjoying the serene environment. The beach has amenities suited for a comfortable day out, but it’s known for its less crowded nature, offering a more laid-back experience.

Exploring the South Haven Light

The South Haven Light, a historic lighthouse located at the entrance to the Black River on Lake Michigan, is a must-visit for its stunning views and significant historical value.

This lighthouse, operational since 1872, has a rich history intertwined with the maritime heritage of South Haven.

Biking and Hiking on the Kal-Haven Trail

The Kal-Haven Trail, stretching 34 miles from South Haven to Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a celebrated multi-use trail and a prime destination for biking and hiking enthusiasts. 

This trail, one of Michigan’s first rail-trails, is a testament to the state’s extensive rails-to-trails network and offers a delightful blend of natural beauty, historical charm, and recreational opportunities.

Nature Preserves and Natural Areas

The Sarett Nature Center, located in nearby Benton Harbor, is a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife, offering a rich experience for those interested in exploring the area’s biodiversity.

The nature center features over eight miles of trails that meander through its property, providing visitors with the opportunity to immerse themselves in various natural habitats. 

Van Buren State Park, another significant natural area near South Haven, offers a different yet equally enriching outdoor experience.

The park is known for its hiking trails, bird-watching opportunities, and stunning views of Lake Michigan. 

Visiting Local Farmers Markets and Orchards

South Haven, Michigan, is known for its rich agricultural heritage, which can be best experienced by visiting local farmers markets and orchards.

South Haven Farm Market: Located in the heart of South Haven, the South Haven Farm Market is a popular destination for both locals and visitors.

This market provides a wide array of farm-fresh fruits, vegetables, and gifts from local farms and vendors. 

Dutch Farm Market: Another notable destination is the Dutch Farm Market.

This market and orchard provide a leisurely escape with homegrown fruits and vegetables, homemade jams, and a farm bakery offering fresh donuts, cinnamon rolls, and fruit pies. 

Enjoying Live Music at Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park in South Haven, Michigan, is a central hub for live music and entertainment, especially popular during the summer evenings.

The Riverfront Concert Series showcases a variety of musical genres, appealing to a wide audience. The concerts are free and typically start at 7 pm, creating a perfect setting for an evening out.

Visitors are welcome to bring lawn chairs, blankets, and picnics to enjoy the performances in a relaxed atmosphere. 

Boat Tours and Fishing Charters

Exploring Lake Michigan via boat tours and indulging in fishing charters are some of the most exciting activities you can enjoy in South Haven, Michigan.

    • Boat Tours: One of the notable boat tour options in South Haven is Jensen Charters. They offer unique experiences aboard the Elsie J, a historic tugboat. Jensen Charters provides various tour options, including sunset cruises, private cruises, and even pirate treasure trips. 
    • Fishing Charters: South Haven Fishing Charters provides a range of packages to cater to different needs. They operate a 30’ SeaRay Amberjack Executive Cruiser, which is fully equipped with the latest navigational systems and radar for safety and effective fishing. 

Golfing Options in and around South Haven Michigan

South Haven, Michigan, offers golf enthusiasts a range of scenic courses, catering to all skill levels and preferences.

    • Hawkshead Links: One of the most popular courses is Hawkshead Links, an Arthur Hills resort layout paired with the Inn at Hawkshead next to Lake Michigan. This course is particularly appealing for those looking for a challenging game in a stunning setting.
    • Beeches Golf Club: Beeches Golf Club, situated around several lakes, offers a different but equally engaging golfing experience. It’s known for its scenic layout and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Additional Nearby Golfing Options: The region around South Haven also boasts other fine daily-fee courses in neighboring communities.

Lake Arvesta Farms Outdoor Adventure Venue

Lake Arvesta Farms offers an array of outdoor adventures that cater to a wide range of interests and ages. Spread over 188 acres, this venue includes:

    • Aqua Park: Featuring four inland lakes, the Aqua Park at Lake Arvesta Farms provides various water-based activities. Guests can enjoy floating obstacle courses, water slides, and cable wakeboarding.
    • Disc Golf: The facility boasts a challenging and scenic 18-hole disc golf course, extending over 9,600 feet, making it one of the most engaging courses in Southwest Michigan.
    • Pickleball: Lake Arvesta Farms is known for its world-class pickleball facilities, including 12 outdoor courts. These courts are notable for hosting national professional tournaments.

For dining, visitors can refuel at The Trough Concession Stand or the Fire Water Bar & Grill, which serves lunch and dinner.

Things to Do in South Haven Michigan - Indoor Activities
Michigan Maritime Museum

Things to Do in South Haven Michigan: Indoor Activities

For those preferring indoor activities, South Haven has plenty to offer.

Michigan Maritime Museum

The Michigan Maritime Museum is a distinguished destination for those interested in the maritime history of the Great Lakes and the state of Michigan.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the past, gain hands-on experience, and appreciate the beauty and significance of the Great Lakes’ maritime heritage.

Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum & Gardens

The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum & Gardens in South Haven, Michigan, is a tribute to Liberty Hyde Bailey Jr., known as America’s “Father of Modern Horticulture” and a founder of the “New Agrarian” philosophy.

This National Historic Site includes Bailey’s birthplace and childhood home. 

Michigan Flywheelers Museum

The Michigan Flywheelers Museum is an open-air museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing antique gas/steam engines and tractors. 

Spanning close to 80 acres, the museum features a rich collection of old farm machinery, including a sawmill and shingle mill.

The Mitten Children’s Museum

The Mitten Children’s Museum is an engaging destination designed to offer educational and fun activities for children.

This museum features Michigan-themed, play-based exhibits suitable for children of various ages and abilities. 

Michigan Theatre

The Michigan Theatre is a beloved historic venue that features three screens showcasing first-run movies.

Known for its old-time charm and reasonable pricing, the theatre’s matinee prices are family-friendly, making it an ideal spot for an outing. 

Art Galleries and Studios

South Haven, Michigan, is home to a thriving art community, with several galleries and studios that showcase the talents of local and national artists.

If you’re interested in exploring the local art scene, here are some notable destinations:

    • South Haven Center for the Arts: This center is a hub for local and national artwork, featuring rotating exhibits and galleries. Exhibits are updated monthly, showcasing the work of up-and-coming local artists. 
    • The Art Box: This venue is known for its interactive experiences, offering canvas painting and art classes. It’s a great spot for a relaxing and creative experience, especially suitable for those looking to engage in art-making activities​.
    • Water Street Gallery: Located in nearby Douglas, this gallery is known for its contemporary art collections. It’s ideal for those who appreciate modern artistic expressions and wish to explore a diverse range of artworks​​.
    • Blue Coast Artists: Although a bit further away in Fennville, this group of juried working artist studios is worth the visit. It includes a range of art and cultural points of interest, offering a broader perspective on the regional art scene​.

Shopping in Downtown South Haven

Downtown South Haven is a delightful destination for shopping enthusiasts, offering a charming atmosphere and a variety of unique stores.

Some of the top shops to visit in the area include:

    • Decadent Dogs: Specializes in breed-specific items, toys, puzzles, clothing, and accessories for dog lovers.
    • Lakeshore Trends: A trendy shop with a wide range of clothing, accessories, furniture, home decor, and other home goods.
    • Crescent Moon: Offers fashionable active and outdoor clothing, footwear, and interesting accessories and gifts.
    • The Blueberry Store: Specializes in everything blueberry, including fresh and frozen Michigan-grown blueberries, coffees, juices, syrups, dog treats, and more.
    • Olive Cart: Features high-quality aged balsamic vinegars and extra virgin olive oils, with a tasting room offering fresh-baked breads, pesto, pastas, and Michigan-made pottery gifts.
    • Emma’s Boutique: A boutique selling fashionable and elegant clothing for young women.
Things to Do in South Haven Michigan - Dining Options
Admiral Jack's

Things to Do in South Haven Michigan: Dining Options

South Haven’s culinary scene is as diverse as its landscapes, offering everything from casual lakeside eateries to fine dining experiences.

Here are some top restaurants in South Haven:

    • HawksHead Restaurant: Renowned for its American cuisine, HawksHead offers an upscale dining experience with a diverse menu. It’s particularly praised for dishes like lobster bisque, making it an ideal choice for a fine dining experience.
    • Admiral Jack’s: This is a great spot for those who enjoy American and bar-style food. With its casual atmosphere, Admiral Jack’s is perfect for enjoying a fish sandwich while taking in the scenic waterfront views.
    • Idler Restaurant: Unique for its location on an old docked riverboat, Idler Restaurant offers a distinctive dining experience. It’s a great place to watch the boats and enjoy American and bar-style food in a relaxed setting.
    • Maria’s Taste of Italy: This restaurant is a standout for its authentic Italian cuisine, featuring homemade favorites like lasagna, meatballs, pizza, and ravioli. The 100-year-old family recipe for Italian sausage and a selection of gelato and cannoli make it a must-visit for Italian food lovers.​
    • Su Casa Restaurante: For those who enjoy Mexican cuisine, Su Casa offers a mix of classic and unexpected dishes. From nachos and taco salads to made-to-order avocado dip and German hearty beef and pork stew, this restaurant has been delighting patrons since 1986 with its generous portions and affordable prices​.
    • Tello Italian Bistro: Tello’s menu tells a story with its authentic Italian offerings. The Bolognese sauce takes eight hours to prepare, and the Neapolitan-style pizza harks back to the original Italian pies created in Naples. Other hand-crafted favorites include butternut squash ravioli, salo’s calamari, and vegetable risotto​.
    • Taste: This restaurant offers a blend of American and international cuisine, with a diverse menu that includes sushi. It’s a great spot for those looking for a fusion of flavors​.

Local Breweries and Wineries

South Haven, Michigan, offers a fantastic selection of breweries and wineries, each providing unique experiences and flavors.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best options you can explore:

    • South Haven Brewpub: Located in the historic Old Harbor Village, South Haven Brewpub is the first brewery in the area. It offers a comfortable atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating, featuring eleven of their own beers on tap, three house-made shandys, a full line of spirits, a robust food menu, and a variety of wines. It’s a family-friendly location, perfect for enjoying hand-crafted beer and cocktails​.
    • Harbor Light Brewery: Situated in a 130-year-old building, Harbor Light Brewery is known for its craft brews. The brewery is located along the coast of Lake Michigan and offers a selection of beers and wines. The setting in a historic building adds to the charm and appeal of this brewery​.
    • Three Blondes Brewing: This brewery provides a casual dining atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating. They serve quality craft brews along with creative and eclectic pub fare, including pizza, hamburgers, sandwiches, and shareable plates. It’s a great place to enjoy a relaxed meal with friends or family​.
    • Warner Vineyards Tasting Room: One of Michigan’s oldest wineries, Warner Vineyards offers a chance to explore and taste award-winning wines and champagnes. Located in a historic setting, the vineyard provides a variety of 22 different wines, ensuring there’s something for every palate​.
    • McIntosh Apple Orchard & Cider Mill: This orchard and cider mill is an excellent destination for a day trip. Here, you can enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables, gifts, donuts, pastries, and fudge. They also offer tours of their cider mill where you can see how sweet cider is handcrafted into hard cider​.
    • Cogdal Vineyards: Just a half-mile from the shores of Lake Michigan, Cogdal Vineyards has an inviting tasting room where visitors can experience innovative wines in an intimate setting. The vineyard offers both indoor and outdoor service and is known for its excellent wines and beautiful views​.
    • New Holland Spirits – South Haven Tasting Room: Ideal for happy hour cocktails or an after-dinner nightcap, they offer tasting flights and cocktails made with award-winning spirits. Along with light snacks, there’s a retail area with bottles to go​.
    • 12 Corners Tasting Room: A boutique winery, 12 Corners Vineyards is set on a 115-acre estate and offers a range of wines from Riesling and Cabernet Franc to Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer. The vineyard provides a unique tasting experience, celebrating the rich winemaking heritage of the region​.
Things to Do in South Haven Michigan - South Haven Light

Things to Do in South Haven Michigan: Final Recommendations

South Haven is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, cultural enrichment, or culinary delights, this charming lakeside town has something for everyone.


    • For Families: Enjoy the beaches, visit The Mitten Children’s Museum, and explore the nature trails.
    • For Couples: Experience romantic waterfront dining, sunset walks along the lighthouse, and cozy wine tastings.
    • For Adventure Seekers: Engage in water sports, hiking, and exploring the Kal-Haven Trail.
    • For History Buffs: Visit the Michigan Maritime Museum and historical landmarks in the area.
Things to Do in South Haven Michigan

Things to Do in South Haven Michigan: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Best Time to Visit South Haven, Michigan?

The best time to visit South Haven depends on your interests. Summer (June-August) is ideal for beach activities and festivals. Spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) are perfect for those who prefer less crowded times and enjoy natural scenic beauty.

Are There Any Family-Friendly Activities in South Haven?

Yes, South Haven is great for families. The beaches, The Mitten Children’s Museum, Riverfront Park for live music, and various outdoor activities like biking and hiking are perfect for a family outing.

Can I Find Accommodations Near the Beach?

Absolutely. South Haven offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts, many of which are conveniently located near the beaches.

What Are Some Must-Try Foods in South Haven?

Don’t miss trying the fresh seafood, especially during the summer months. Also, South Haven is known for its blueberries, so any dish or dessert featuring them is a must-try.

Is South Haven Suitable for a Romantic Getaway?

Yes, with its stunning sunsets, tranquil beaches, and cozy dining options, South Haven is a perfect destination for couples seeking a romantic getaway.

What Outdoor Activities Are Available in South Haven?

South Haven offers a variety of outdoor activities, including swimming, sunbathing, fishing, boating, hiking, and biking. In winter, activities like ice skating and snowshoeing are popular.

Are There Cultural Attractions in South Haven?

Yes, South Haven is home to several cultural attractions like the Michigan Maritime Museum, Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum, and art galleries showcasing local artists.

How Accessible is South Haven for Visitors?

South Haven is easily accessible by road and is a short drive from major cities like Chicago and Detroit. The town is also pedestrian-friendly, making it easy to explore on foot.

Can I Participate in Water Sports in South Haven?

Absolutely. South Haven offers water sports such as jet skiing, paddleboarding, and kayaking, especially in the warmer months.

What Are Some Unique Shopping Experiences in South Haven?

Downtown South Haven offers unique shopping experiences with its boutiques, antique stores, and local artisan shops, perfect for finding unique souvenirs and handcrafted items.

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About Me

Mike Andrea and Bruce in Dillon CO

Michael and his beautiful partner Andrea travel full-time with their fur baby Bruce Lee the Pug in a used Class A RV, they have named Dolly. Michael is also the founder of Traveling Gatherings.

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