Day Trip to South Haven Michigan

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Summer of 2020, our family set out on a multi-day trip along Michigan’s Southwest coast of Lake Michigan. It was difficult to decide which cute coastal town we’d stay in, so we chose Holland. We knew it would be close enough to make a day trip into South Haven Michigan.

South Haven Sign

South Haven, Michigan is a beach town, founded in 1869, but with history of it’s beginnings back to the early 1830’s. With deep roots as a vacation destination, I can see why families choose to own summer homes here. 

On Our Way

Field of Poppies

Several of my friends on Facebook were posting about a poppy field over in West Michigan, Pleasant Hill Farms. When I looked it up, I was happy to see it just North of South Haven. Although we missed peak bloom by about a week, the pictures we snapped were worth going a bit out of our way.  

A couple of my favorites with some simple annual fleabane. 

What is South Haven Michigan known for?

South Haven is known for fishing history, shopping, blueberry festival, lighthouse, and Lake Michigan beaches. This quaint little beach town has a lot to offer when it comes to fun on the water and off.

Old Harbor Village and South Haven Brewpub

Old Harbor Village shops & sign

Along the south shore of Black River you can find Old Harbor Village. Filled with shops, restaurants, and even a brewery. I know, imagine that, we found a brewery. 

Day trip to South Haven Brewpub

One thing I was looking forward to during our Michigan trip, was having perch. I grew up fishing the Great Lakes of Michigan. Catch, scale, clean, cut, prep, and cook. We did it all! 

Perch dinner at South Haven Brewpub

Therefore, when we got to South Haven Brewpub, and perch was on the menu, I had to get it! Good portions, and great beers to go with. 

Couple with beer outside South Haven Brewpub

Loved the old river front building in Old Harbor Village, and we did end up being seated outside.

Teen girl in Old Harbor Village

While walking about Old Harbor Village, the buildings are quite charming, and make perfect spots for photo opportunities.  

Does South Haven have a downtown area?

Walking Around South Haven Michigan

South Haven most certainly has a downtown area, and it’s filled with shops, restaurants, and more. From Old Harbor Village, we headed south on Center St, and made a pit stop at The Flying Saucer coffee shop. Our oldest needed a little pick-me-up. 

Shops in South Haven

Phoenix St seems to be the “Main St” and where you can find the “Welcome to South Haven” sign. With more shops than we had time to visit, I was happy to find The Blueberry Store. South Haven is known for their annual Blueberry Festival, and is one of the country’s oldest continuously-running fruit festivals. You can find all things blueberry at the store, and I picked up some cider, jam, and salad dressing. 

Teen by clock in South Haven

Also found lots more places to snap some cute pictures. Like this one at the park, just outside the farmer’s market pavilion. 

Yes, we found ourselves another brewery. Harbor Light Brewery is named after the original South Haven Lighthouse. Loved the building with exposed brick, reclaimed wood, and nautical theme. Because of my love of lighthouses, I had to get myself a shirt with their logo. 

Does South Haven have a beach?

Does South Haven have a boardwalk?

South Haven South Pier Light and South Beach

South Haven street to lighthouse

South Haven has more than one beach, so don’t leave South Haven without heading West on Water St to South Beach. If weather and time permit during your visit, take a stroll along the beach, swim, and take a walk out south pier to the Lighthouse. Lake Michigan sunsets are some of the most beautiful you will ever see. So, if you’re there at dusk, you’ll want to be at the beach. There is a fee for parking, but we arrived in the early evening, just when parking was becoming free for the night. 

South Haven South Pier Lighthouse

I would say you can consider the walk out the the lighthouse, a boardwalk. The concrete pier allows more than enough space to comfortably, and safely walk out to the lighthouse. 

South Haven Lighthouse was originally built out of wood by the United States Lighthouse Board in 1873. After the turn of the century, the lighthouse was rebuilt of steel, and has been since 1903. However, the current lighthouse still retains the original roof from what once was the first Harbor Light. In 2012, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred from the United States of America to the Historical Association of South Haven.

South Haven beach

From the end of the pier, you get a beautiful view of South Beach, and beyond. 

family walking back from South Haven Lighthouse

South Haven Lighthouse is well known for being “iced over” during the harsh winters. As Lake Michigan produces large waves, up over the light, it freezes over. A very popularly photographed sight. If you Google “South Haven Lighthouse in winter” prepare to be amazed! 

Map provided by Wanderlog, a travel planner on iOS and Android

Is South Haven Michigan worth visiting?

Clementines in South Haven

Having only spent part of a day in South Haven, we could see there is more than enough to visit and see for days. Not sure what all the hype is yet, but when I do make it back, Clementine’s will be on my list of places to check out. This was the only place we noticed a long wait to get seated, so it must be good! We would definitely go back to spend more than a day in South Haven Michigan.

Day Trip in South Haven Michigan

Also, if the Michigan Maritime Museum had been open, I would have visited. So I guess we need to make a trip back. 

Is South Haven or Saugatuck better?

This would for sure be preference, and we thoroughly enjoyed visiting both these Lake Michigan beach towns. If you would like to know more about what Saugatuck is like, you can check out our post HERE.

You can find more of our Michigan adventures here:

Things to do in Michigan’s Thumb

What to do in and Around Detroit

Grand Rapids: Beer City USA

Breweries to Visit in and Around Detroit

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4 thoughts on “Day Trip to South Haven Michigan

  • September 7, 2020 at 8:35 am

    South Haven looks like such a cute town! I love visiting small towns. And those poppy field photos are beautiful! I pinned this to my U.S. board.

    • November 2, 2020 at 9:10 pm

      Small towns have so much character. We love them too!

  • September 8, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    Such fun for sure. I love lighthouses as well – so good for you for getting a t-shirt. Looks like a great trip and the pics are great. Thanks.

    • September 16, 2020 at 9:28 am

      Thank you!

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