Last week, for the first time in my adult life, my brothers, sisters and I all met our mom in Grand Haven, Michigan for a week-long family vacation.
We started planning this vacation in January and knew we wanted a location near water, driveable for most of the group and near-ish to a major airport for those of us flying in. With people in Cincinnati, Chicago, Las Vegas and Denver, we settled on Grand Haven, Michigan. It’s a 3 hour drive from Chicago, less than 6 hours from Cincinnati and flyable into Chicago or Grand Rapids for my sister and I. We searched on VRBO.com for a rental house suitable for 8 people available for our desired week in July – as soon as I found one, I booked it and vacation was set!
We rented ‘The Retreat at 526′ through Grand Haven Cottage Rentals. Our rental started on Saturday afternoon and my family checked in and settled in. I joined them on Monday afternoon, flying into the Grand Rapids, MI airport – only 40 minutes away.
We really had no idea what to expect going into this vacation – no of us had been to Michigan for vacation – and we had an excellent time! If you’re vacationing in Grand Haven, here are some fun, active ways to spend your trip!
SILVER LAKE SAND DUNES
The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are just about an hour north from Grand Haven and is a perfect day trip activity. We packed some snacks and drinks and hit the road. These were impressive dunes – situated in the Silver Lake State Park, there are more than 2,000 acres of dunes to run up, roll down and lay on. The park also features an off-roading/dune buggy section that looked like a lot of fun. We spent probably too much time ‘long jumping’ off a dune ridge and racing each other up the sand hill but it was so fun. At the base of the dunes is the large Silver Lake, perfect for cooling off after running around on hot sand.
KAYAKING ON THE GRAND RIVER
We rented kayaks from Lakeshore Kayak Rentals and spent a beautiful 2 hours paddling around the Grand River. Many company rent kayaks (and canoes and stand up paddle boards) and initially, we tried to rent kayaks from a company near Grand Haven State Park (close to our rental house) but made reservations with Lakeshore Kayak when the other place was sold out and we’re so glad we did.
The scenery along the Grand River is stunning – beautiful lake houses, lily pads littered along the banks and wildlife hiding in the tall grass. Lakeshore Kayak Rentals had a few route options for 2 and 4 hour rentals and can point you in the direction for the type of afternoon you’re looking for (ie – more adventurous, more relaxing, one with stops for kiddos to get out and play). Rentals were affordable ($48 for a tandem kayak for 2 hours) and the staff was extremely accommodating.
PONTOON BOAT RENTAL on LAKE MICHIGAN
From the minute I showed up, my mom could not stop suggesting we book a pontoon boat rental and on the last night, we made her dream come true. We rented a pontoon boat from a local company for a 2 hour rental in the evening and had an absolute blast. We were able to bring on our own snacks and drinks and the boat had an auxiliary input for music – we had ourselves a regular boat party! Just under an hour into our rental, we parked the boat and hopped into the lake, cannonballing and flipping our little hearts out. It was pure, unadulterated joy just being a kid again.
BIKE RENTAL in GRAND HAVEN
Many places in Grand Haven will rent a bike for hourly, daily or weekly rentals. Our rental house had 3 bikes for us to use and my family rented 3 additional bikes ($50+ for a week). Where we stayed in Grand Haven, biking is an excellent way to get around. We were just over a mile from the beach and downtown area with shops and restaurants. Grand Haven has one busy street that is a bit scary for riding a cruiser bike but the majority of the town consists of quiet neighborhood streets which are great for bike commuting.
Overall, we had such a blast exploring and playing in and around Grand Haven. The quiet town offered the perfect mix of active adventures and quiet mornings and evenings with really excellent warm weather with blue skies. As we packed up on Saturday to head back to reality, we all agreed that we will keep Grand Haven, Michigan on the short list for future summer vacations.