Welcome to our Date Night series where we discover great date night ideas for couples around West Michigan. Many thanks to BIGGBY of West Michigan for partnering with us on this relationship-building project. 

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Up Your Date Night Game With These Waterside Destinations

West Michigan summers are perfect for all kinds of family activities, but sometimes parents need a night out…just the two of you, right?! And what better way to spend a summer evening than a place with an amazing view?

We wanted to make planning your summer date nights a little easier while also being sure to include one of the best features West Michigan has to offer – WATER!

Whether it’s LakeMichigan, the Grand River, or one of our many inland lakes and rivers, we’ve put together a creative list of waterside date night ideas that you can enjoy with your significant other this summer!

waterside date ideas

Date Night on the Big Lake

If you can swing it, a date by Lake Michigan is perfect. It’s cooler than inland on these hot summer nights, the sound of waves hitting the shore adds a little romance, and epic Lake Michigan sunsets make for an unforgettable evening.

1. Grand Haven

Make a stop for sandwiches, like “The Tipsy Texan” or the “Nashville Hottie,” from The Toasted Pickle (112 Washington Ave) and head down to the boardwalk to dine waterside. Find a bench or spread a picnic blanket on one of the many grassy spaces along the harbor and watch the boats go by.

Take the 3-mile round trip on the boardwalk (start at Chinook Pier, 301 N. Harbor Dr.) and catch the sunset over Lake Michigan! HINT: Checkout @visitgrandhaven on Instagram where they post the daily sunset time.

Visit the Pump House (20 N Harbor Dr.) for something sweet (frozen yogurt, anyone?) before taking in a performance of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain (101 N Harbor Dr). If you’ve not visited this iconic lakeshore attraction before, you can expect a 25-minute synchronized water and light show set to a wide-range of music…everything from the Trans Siberian Orchestra to Justin Timberlake. The show is free (donations accepted) Find showtimes & nightly playlists here.

2. Holland

A bicycle made for two? Yes, please! Beachside Bike Rentals located in the Oak Grove Campground Resort (2011 Ottawa Beach Rd) offers Tandem bike rentals. According to Beachside’s website, there are 100 miles of paved bike trails in Holland!

You and your partner can choose between a shorter ride to Lake Michigan or Tunnel Park; a more moderate 7-mile ride to Downtown Holland; or if you’re feeling ambitious, a 19-mile trek to Grand Haven where the bike path includes scenic views of homes along the Lake Michigan coastline.

Lake Michigan date night ideas

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Riverside Date Nights

Eating by the riverside has that vacation feel, doesn’t it?

1. Jenison: Grand Ravines North

Grand Ravines North (9920 42nd Ave) is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch! While there are a handful of tables scattered throughout the park, my favorite place to sit is ona bench in front of the Grand Ravines Lodge. You can’t ask for a much better view of the Grand River from here – and if you keep an eye out, you may even spot a bald eagle soaring overhead!

TIP: For amazing picnic supplies, swing into Martha’s Vineyard (200 Union Ave NE, Grand Rapids). They have prepped & ready-to-eat sandwiches, fresh fruit and charcuterie items along with coolers of craft beers and sodas and wine. Their deli & dessert case is also chock-full of delicious items (two word’s: Mom’s Hummus) perfect for including in your basket!

2. Grand Rapids: Food Truck Friday’s at Riverside Park

A great selection of Food Trucks gather every Friday from 5:00 – 9:00 PM at Riverside Park (2001 Monroe Ave NE). While the trucks that gather at the park each week vary, cuisine you may be able to indulge in includes: Hand rolled ice cream, wood-fired pizzas, gyros, crepes, turkey legs…are you drooling yet?

BONUS: Riverside Park has Disc Golf, so bring a frisbee and challenge your partner to a round!

3. Grand Rapids: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

For a mid-week date night, head to Frederik Meijer Gardens (1000 E Beltline Ave. NE). Open until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, it’s wonderful to be able to take a quiet walk and really take in all the beauty of the gardens when you’re not having to keep up with kids!

You can choose to stroll the Frey Boardwalk and check out the wetlands, or head to the Japanese Garden and soak up the serene surroundings, or walk through the Sculpture Park and grab a bench by the waterfall.

Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens date night on the water

4. Grand Rapids: Moonlight/Sunset Paddles on the Grand River

Looking for a little more adventure? GR Paddling offers kayaking or canoeing Moonlight/Sunset Paddle experiences on the Grand River! This 3-mile urban trip brings you to the north side of Grand Rapids where you can catch amazing skyline views of Downtown!

You can find a full list of their available paddle dates & times on their website (NOTE: Moonlight/Sunset Paddles are NOT available on Saturday evenings).

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Waterside Dining

Perhaps you’re just looking for a place to dine waterside. Here’s a curated list of restaurants scattered throughout West Michigan that offer water views!

  • NEW! Just opened in May, Linear Restaurant (1001 Monroe NW, Grand Rapids) not only has a river front dining experience but they will soon have patio seating too! Their modern-American menu features seasonal & local produce and the restaurant aesthetic has a bright Frank Llyod Wright-esque vibe. Definitely plan to add this restaurant to your “must visit” list this summer!
  • The Lake House Waterfront Grille (730 Terrace Point Blvd, Muskegon). Situated near a marina and overlooking Muskegon Lake, you can dine al fresco on their large deck.
  • Rockford Riverside Grille (8 E Bridge St. NE, Rockford) Formerly The Green Well, the Rockford Riverside Grille has a great location right on the Rogue River. HINT:Saturday’s they offer a $12 Burger & Beer special!
  • The Southerner (800 Holland St., Saugatuck). The Southerner is a triple- threat with their serious Southern-cooking, Southern charm AND a serious water view. Just outside the hustle & bustle of downtown Saugatuck, situated on the Kalamazoo River, this popular restaurant has everything from Fried Chicken to Shrimp & Grits.

So go ahead – grab your date and enjoy an evening of waterside summer fun in West Michigan!

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