To-Do's
  • Early Morning (8 a.m.–9 a.m.) Breakfast Joints
  • Mid-Morning (9 a.m. - noon) Morning Activities
  • Lunch Time (noon-1 p.m.)
  • Afternoon (1 p.m.-5 p.m.) Afternoon Activities
  • Early Evening (6 p.m.-8 p.m.) Dinner
  • Dusk to Dark (8 p.m.-10 p.m.) After-Dinner Activities
  • After Dark (10 p.m.-1 a.m.) Night Life

What to do around town with just one day

If you’re here for only one day, you’re going to have to be strategic about what you see and do. Some tough choices are ahead, but don’t worry. We’re here to help with a dawn-to-dusk-plus-latenight list of possible must-sees and -dos (Psst … think beach, boardwalk, big burritos, bands and beyond) that are sure to translate into your idea of the perfect summer day.

1 Day
3-12 Hours

Features

Sun, Sand, Fun, Stuff, Adventure, Time, Beaches, Sand, Water, Entertainment, Food

Region

Grand Haven
MorningStarWaitress
1. Early Morning (8 a.m.–9 a.m.) Breakfast Joints

Fuel up and start your day with a smile

First, you’ll need to find Washington Avenue  — Grand Haven’s main street — and look for the purple facade. You’ve found Morning Star. The smell of their cinnamon rolls will lure you in, while the veggie fritattas and homemade oatmeal cakes will satisfy you in style. You need a little patience if you want to start your day here. There’s never an empty seat for a reason — the food is that good.

Prefer your breakfast more traditional? Dee-Lite Bar & Grill  should be your stop on Washington Avenue. With its old-time diner feel, classic egg/meat/toast combinations and large portions, you can’t go wrong.

 

Locations

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2. Mid-Morning (9 a.m. - noon) Morning Activities

Feel the sand between your toes

Our area is blessed with miles of pristine shoreline and mid-morning is the perfect time to beat the afternoon rush to the lakefront. Remove your shoes and embark on a stroll along a soft sand beach, wade in the water or stake out space to spread a beach towel to kick back and relax for a bit. Don’t be surprised by the friendly good morning greetings as you dally along. The choices for beachfront abound: Grand Haven City Beach, North Beach Park and Kirk Park hug Lake Michigan as does Grand Haven State Park and P.J. Hoffmaster State Park just north of Grand Haven. Or, if you want to move inland, there’s Lakeside Beach on Spring Lake, located at the northern end of Lake Avenue about five miles from downtown.

When done with the sand and shore, continue your stroll on Grand Haven’s boardwalk, which spans 1.5 miles from downtown to Lake Michigan. Be sure to have your camera ready at the boardwalk’s end, where you’ll see two postcard perfect bright red lighthouses that have guided ships on the Great Lakes for years.

Once off the boardwalk, look for the trolley-stop sign. You can hop on this historic mode of transportation for $1.50, rest your feet and catch a moving glimpse of more waterfront and downtown sights.

Locations

3. Lunch Time (noon-1 p.m.)

Food On the Go to keep you going

Keep lunch quick yet super tasty at Electric Cadillac Deli on Beachtree Street a couple miles west of downtown proper or at Lucy’s Market & Deli downtown on Columbus Avenue. Electric Cadillac is an offbeat sandwich shop that makes its own sauces and is known to melt the cheese atop your premium meat of choice with a blowtorch. Be bold and order the “A Cow, a Pig, and a Mango Walk into a Bar” — roast beef, ham, mango chutney on grilled sourdough. At Lucy’s, try the #21 (honey ham and smoked gouda). The pretzel bread is everyone’s favorite.

A trip to Grand Haven wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Butch’s Beach Burritos along the water’s edge on Harbor Drive. This isn’t meant to be gourmet, it’s just good, on-the-go food stand-style tacos and burritos. Order a Chiwawa Dog (hotdog topped with beef, beans, cheese and homemade salsa).

Looking for a light lunch? Opt for a fresh-baked pretzel or the focaccia at Baker’s Wife bakery. Or maybe you want to go straight for dessert. This bakery won’t disappoint with a selection of scones, pastries and a latte to go with.

Locations

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4. Afternoon (1 p.m.-5 p.m.) Afternoon Activities

It’s mid-afternoon and a shopping spree or sail boat ride is a must

Start downtown on Washington Avenue for the best variety of boutiques, speciality stores and gift ideas. Glik’s has been around since 1897 and sells apparel and accessories from familiars such as Hurley, Quiksilver, North Face and Billabong. The brands sold here may be big, but Glik’s still maintains its small-town feel.

Keep your eyes peeled for Down to Earth, Michigan Rag Co. and Lee & Birch for more one-of-kind apparel and gift items. Be sure to enter the reading realm of The Bookman. This store exudes attitude and thinks of books as children. Browsing as well as buying is recommended. Stop by Buffalo Bob’s and check out his boards — skate, snow and skim. Even if you’re not into a board sport, a chat with the staff here is refreshing and educational. When you see the colorful sign of Mackinaw Kites & Toys, run toward it. Kids, and adults, can test-play with toys before purchase.

Sure, we’re not California, but we do have surfers and paddle boarders here. Lake Michigan has been known to kick up some pretty good swells for the adventurous and can be smooth as glass for the paddlers. If either are your thing, stray off Washington Avenue, make your way to North Harbor Drive and visit the Surf Shop or Wet Mitten for all the latest SUPs (stand up paddle boards) and surf accessories.

When you’re ready for a break from your retail therapy, you can immerse yourself in a little bit of Grand Haven history at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum, located in the Akeley Building on Washington Avenue. Admission is free.

If you’ve still got afternoon time on your hands, fit in a Wind Dancer Charters sail. The double gaff-rigged schooner departs daily from Chinook Pier on the boardwalk. Enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Michigan from the 52 foot deck where you can relax and soak it all in or join the action and help hoist a sail with the crew of the 65 foot vessel. We recommend sampling the boat drinks. Afternoon sails last about 1.5 hours.

Locations

5. Early Evening (6 p.m.-8 p.m.) Dinner

Discover dining for two or the entire family

If you’re looking for dinner with a view, Snug Harbor on South Harbor Drive is your destination. Sit on the outdoor patio, order the burgundy mushrooms au gratin and watch the boats pass in Grand Haven’s Channel. (Insider tip: you can also order sushi from Jelly’s, the restaurant upstairs.)

The Kirby House is three restaurants and a night club in one on Washington Avenue. Kirby Grill and the Grill Room plus K2 Pizzeria upstairs. In the basement, you’ll find The Dark Room for late-night fun. The mahi tacos are a must-order, and there’s prime rib and steaks, of course. Or go veggie and bite into the black bean burger with spicy slaw. Ask the wait staff about drink specials.

Also on Washington Avenue is The Grand Seafood & Oyster Bar, an old theater turned fine-dining establishment. The oysters are signature and the Guoi Tiao (Thai beef soup) is super tasty. The lobster mac ‘n cheese is also a patron favorite. The Grand has a huge beer and cocktail selection. Order your favorite drink and ask about the haunting story of John the Janitor.

Locations

6. Dusk to Dark (8 p.m.-10 p.m.) After-Dinner Activities

It’s time for sunsets and sweets

things_musical_fountainWatching the sunset over Lake Michigan and eating ice cream is a perfect summer evening pairing. Pier Peddler is on the boardwalk near Escanaba Park. Grab a cone of your favorite flavor, a souvenir T-shirt and don’t forget to ring the Coast Guard bell that hangs nearby. Sweet Temptations, on Jackson Street less than a mile off the shoreline, serves up its own homemade ice cream in homemade waffle cones. The scoops are BIG. Try the salted carmel.

If you’re still near the boardwalk after dark, catch the 20-minute synchronized water+light+music wonderment of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain. Best view is from Waterfront Stadium.

If a sunset cruise with a cocktail is more your style of nightly entertainment, Wind Dancer Charters has two-hour evening schooner sails. Remember to wear shoes with light-color soles or you might be asked to go barefoot.

Locations

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7. After Dark (10 p.m.-1 a.m.) Night Life

Wrap it up with a little nightlife

Make the trip to the basement of Kirby House on Washington Avenue and enter The Dark Room, for late-night entertainment. The crowd here is good-rowdy and the DJs are skilled at packing the dance floor with ’80s, ’90s and contemporary hits. Ready for a martini and soft jazz?

Theatre Bar is Grand Haven’s martini bar on Washington Avenue that’s open until 1 a.m. on weekends and has live music seven nights a week. Grand Haven Brew House is a pub with a stage, an eclectic schedule of live performances and 30 beers on tap. Beer specials on Mondays until midnight.

Jack’s Waterfront Bistro & Bar is tucked inside the Holiday Inn Grand Haven in Spring Lake. Comedy nights on Thursday, no cover. Catch the view from the outdoor Tiki Bar and don’t leave until you taste Jack’s famous Rum Bomber.

Locations

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Grand Haven
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