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For Labor Day this year, I wanted to visit the beach before the nice summer weather has disappeared. We decided to adventure to South Haven for the first time.

South Haven is beach town on the coast in the Mitten and it is instantly welcoming to visitors. There are historic homes, a quaint downtown, beaches, a lighthouse and more.


Despite the higher Holiday traffic volume, we were fortunate to park downtown finding a prime spot on the main street in front of the shops. First stop was the local Visitor Center to pick up a couple brochures and maps that highlighted shopping and dining. This is quite a robust center and hosts helpful information and literature for the area. It was recommended to check out the lighthouse, beach, local shops & restaurants and the Michigan Maritime Museum during our initial day visit.


Arriving hungry after the two hour drive, we decided to have lunch at Black River Tavern. This was a great experience and you can read my separate entry for more details.

The weather forecast showed the possibility of rain in the afternoon so we decided to head to the lighthouse and beach after lunch. The lighthouse was constructed in the early 1870s and has changed over the years. Originally a 30′ wood tower, it was replaced with a metal 35′ cylindrical metal tower in 1903 due to harsh Lake Michigan weather. In 1940, the lighthouse received it’s distinctive red exterior.  Though it is a smaller lighthouse, it highlights the 1200 foot pier surrounded by Lake Michigan and is fun to see.


The beach was crowded with many families enjoying the Holiday. The sand was light, clean and warm. I enjoyed walking along the beach and dipping my toes in the water. I look forward to another visit where I am able to spend time just relaxing on the beach.  Along the pier, before the walkway to the lighthouse, is a vendor stand featuring cold drinks, ice cream and shave ice treats.


GLB_201509070134_7608After the beach, we walked the downtown streets and browsed the shops. There are a variety of unique boutiques presenting antiques, art, clothing, jewelry, toys, books, gifts, gourmet food, collectibles and even doggie luxuries. The Blueberry Store owned by True Blue Farms showcases the area’s top crop and offers a wide variety of blueberry products. The Olive Cart offers a huge selection of olive oils, balsamic vinegars and olives for the foodie. And my personal favorite, Decadent Dogs, promoting products for your dog and the dog lover including “made in” Michigan goodies. Gucci and Tucker were very disappointed when we left that morning without them so I used this opportunity to purchase a Michigan shaped dog cookie and cute raincoats that fold into travel pouches.


By late afternoon, it had started to sprinkle so we decided to save the Michigan Maritime Museum for a future visit and headed home. South Haven is on my definite list of places to research for future vacations perhaps renting a beach house or visiting one of the many local Bed and Breakfast establishments. Hopefully, we can even find some dog friendly options for the future. I highly recommend visiting South Haven during your adventures in the Mitten.


Liz Ball

About Liz Ball

Liz Ball is a freelance writer focusing on Michigan travel and local events in her community.