Summer in Michigan Means Grand Haven State Park
Summer in Michigan is marked by trips to the lake, sunny beaches, and loads of fun, but with so many beaches and lake towns to choose from, deciding where to spend your vacation time is a challenge.
We’ve traveled the state and there’s nothing quite like Grand Haven State Park in Grand Haven, MI.
With its boardwalk, beach volleyball courts, marina, and sugar sand beach, this is the perfect spot to find yourself for a little sand, sun, and fun for the whole fam.
South Pier Lighthouse and beach at Grand Haven State Park
We’ve curated our ultimate guide to Grand Haven State Park right here, and we’ll spill all our insider tips on how to make the most out of your trip to this one-of-a-kind state park.
Table of Contents
Grand Haven State Park Overview
Grand Haven State Park is located in West Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan and right near adorable summer town Grand Haven.
With over 48 acres of land, stunning Lake Michigan vistas, and charming boardwalk that passes marinas, playgrounds, and restaurants on its way to downtown Grand Haven, it’s no wonder why this state park snags the top spot on so many “Best Of” lists.
The Boardwalk at Grand Haven State Park
Between fishing, boating, hiking, shopping, swimming, and beach volleyball, there’s room for everyone on your crew to have a blast.
So whether you hope to catch a little sun at the beach or bring the camper for a unique camping experience, Grand Haven State Park is sure to deliver.
Grand Haven State Park Beach Fun
Grand Haven State Park is made up entirely of beach sand and claims half a mile of Lake Michigan shoreline. With this much beach real estate, it’s not hard to guess what this state park’s main attraction is.
And if your ideal beach day involves more than sand and surf then this beach is gonna be your favorite.
What’s more – it’s clean, spacious, and family-friendly.
Beach Volleyball Nets
For those looking for a little sporting fun, Grand Haven State Park has 18 beach volleyball nets set up right on the beach. Nets are typically put up in late May.
Occasionally, beach volleyball tournaments are held here if you’d like to play or watch.
If the courts are open, just bring your favorite volleyball and challenge your friends to a match or two.
Food Trucks & Treats
Whether you’re playing in the sand or water you’re sure to work up an appetite. Take a short walk down the beach or boardwalk and perhaps you’ll find a food truck on site. If you’re visiting during a festival, you’ll be in luck.
Food trucks at Grand Haven State Park
The Wandering Cow is a local favorite food truck. The self-serve style lets you top your ice cream or frozen yogurt with as many fun and crazy toppings as you want!
PS – More food trucks hang out at Chinook Pier Food Truck Park on the other side of Grand Haven.
If you have young kids with you and the sand castles just aren’t cutting it, bring them to the beach playground.
You’ll find this playground located right near the front entrance. It’s barrier-free and suitable for kids of all abilities.
Restrooms at the Beach House
Worry less and play more knowing the Beach House – located right on the beach – offers restrooms and changing rooms for your use.
Concessions are also housed here.
Weather and Beach Safety
Before you head out to Grand Haven State Park, be sure to check their Facebook page for water temperature and swim conditions, which are posted daily during swim season.
There are no lifeguards at Grand Haven State Park, and currents can be strong. Always swim within the buoys and don’t swim alone.
Red Flag at Ludington State Beach
Also, be sure to check the red-flag water system before your visit.
These flags are used to communicate the safety of swim conditions, and will change regularly depending on weather conditions and currents.
Camping at Grand Haven State Park
Each campsite is fully paved, and electric hookups are available, but the beautiful Lake Michigan views are the real showstopper here.
The location of this campground cannot be beat – it’s right on the beach!
From your campsite, enjoy a walk along the boardwalk into downtown Grand Haven, or down the pier to see the Grand Haven Lighthouse. At the campsite, you’re truly in the middle of it all.
A big challenge campers face here is the smaller size of each site – parking an RV can be tricky!
Also, there is less privacy here than other campgrounds can offer, so be prepared to settle in and get to know your neighbors.
Making a reservation for a campsite here is pretty simple. Follow this link to book your site in just a few minutes time if there are spots to be found. (Reservations can be booked up to six months in advance.)
Use the Harbor Trolley
If you’re only here for a day, one of the best ways to get to the beach is to take the Harbor Trolley. Parking at the State Park can fill up quickly but that doesn’t mean you need to give up a day in the sun and sand.
Catch the free trolley from at one of the inland stops and enjoy a stress-free beach day.
You can ride the trolley through downtown, past the beach, through Grand Haven’s historic neighborhoods, and back into downtown.
The Lakeshore Trolley runs seven days a week starting the day after Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.
Parking and Admission
If you have the Michigan Recreation Passport, parking is free. Without the passport, parking costs $9/day for non-residents.
Visitors have the option to purchase a Michigan Recreation Passport at the gate for $17, which will be valid until the next license plate renewal.
Aside from parking costs, there is no additional cost of admission to Grand Haven State Park.
How Much Time Do I Need For My Visit?
To decide how much time you’ll need for your visit, it’s important to know what you’re hoping to get out of your trip.
For some, it’s all about the beach, and a few hours in the sand hits the spot.
Others who want to experience a little bit of everything will want to roll into town early and stay late. There are lots of things to do in Grand Haven.
Make a list for your trip and plan your time accordingly, but we always recommend leaving some room for any spontaneous adventures that may come your way!
Walk the Beach & the Pier
The best walk at Grand Haven State Park is taking a walk down the beach to the South Pier and South Pier Lighthouse.
You’ll catch the most picturesque view of the lighthouse during sunset, but this is a stunning sight no matter what time of day you catch it.
Festivals and Events at Grand Haven State Park
If you’re hoping to catch a fun event during your visit, you’re in luck. Throughout the season some really fun and popular festivals pop up right on the State Park beach.
Bring your own kites and fly the sky during the Spring Kite Festival. Watch stunt kite fliers show off their skills while giant kites bigger than a school bus take up the sky. This year the festival runs May 20-2, 2023.
Stop by on August 12 to catch the Sand Sculpture Contest. Participate as a builder and spend a couple of hours building your own work of art on the beach, or enjoy a walk down the beach gazing at all the amazing sculptures.
The Coast Guard Festival is one of Michigan’s most popular festivals, bringing in over 300,000 people every year.
Families love this festival honoring our US Coast Guard servicemen and women because of the parade of ships, firework show, carnival, craft fair, and tours of real coast guard ships. It’s one you won’t want to miss!
This year’s Coast Guard Festival runs from Jul 28-Aug 6, 2023.
Parade of Ships at the Coast Guard Festival
How much does it cost to park at Grand Haven State Park?
With a Michigan Recreation Passport, parking is free. Without the passport a day pass costs $9 for non-residents and $17 for residents.
Is alcohol allowed at Grand Haven State Park?
No, alcohol is not allowed on State Park property.
Are dogs allowed at Grand Haven State Park?
Yes! Your dog must be kept on a 6-foot leash and never left unattended.
Is Grand Haven State Park the best beach in Michigan?
We always put it among the best on our list, and we know we’re not alone in that! If you really want to know then you’ll just have to visit and see for yourself.
When is the best time to visit Grand Haven State Park?
The quick answer – Summer. Early June is typically less crowded, but visit a little later in summer and you’ll likely have warmer water temps.
Your Perfect Beach Vacation is Right Here
No need to travel to Florida or Mexico, the relaxing and fun beach vacation you’re wanting is right here in Michigan!
Grand Haven State Park is packed with even more than we could mention here, making it the perfect spot for a vacation to remember.
And if you still aren’t convinced, just take a trip and see for yourself! We know you’ll have a blast just like we did.