South Haven, Michigan, a hidden gem nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan. If you’re planning a family vacation or a weekend getaway with your little ones, you’re in for a treat! There’s so many things to do in South Haven that will keep kids of all ages entertained. From Sandy beaches and blueberry picking, to sunset sailing on Lake Michigan. Explore the best things to do in South Haven, MI, and create unforgettable memories with your children.
This round-up of the best things to do in South Haven with kids may contain affiliate links, where I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
While South Haven has 7 public beaches, North and South Beach are the largest and most popular. Both have parking, concession stands, souvenir shop, restrooms, play equipment, and picnic areas. South Beach is home to the iconic red lighthouse. Our florida kids couldn’t believe it was shark and salt-free!
Tip: Hunt for petoskey stones and sea glass. Explore all 7 South Haven beaches.
2. South Haven Lighthouse
The bright red South Haven lighthouse is located at the mouth of the black river that opens up to Lake Michigan. This historic lighthouse was constructed in 1872 and is still functional! After dinner, take a stroll to the lighthouse and watch the sunset.
Our Beach Essentials 2023
Our list of favorite beach day essentials when hitting the beach especially with kids.
Beach and froliking around downtown are fun, but seeing South Haven from the river and lake is incredible. South Haven has many boat rental options – speedboats, pontoons, fishing charters and even sailboats. Hiring a guide is recommended as they will know where to take you to see the shipwrecks.
4. Arvesta Sports Complex
Lake Arvesta Farms is Southwest Michigan’s newest attraction and located just 4 miles from downtown South Haven. The lake has has two inflatable aqua-parks, full-size cable park to wakeboard, water ski and kneeboard. Also features indoor and outdoor pickleball courts., 18-hole disc golf course, 4-lake Aqua Park plus swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding.
5. Friends Good Will Splash Pad
Friends Good Will Splash Pad is located just east of South Beach by the Black River. In the center of the splash pad is a replica of the pirate ship that’s parked at the Michigan Maritime Museum’s, called Friends Good Will. This is the perfect spot for the kids to cool off after a day at the beach.
6. Eat at The Lodge
The Lodge is by far the best restaurant in South Haven. Everything is scratch made and locally sourced. I still dream about the smoked salmon dip and caramelized onion dip. They’re known for their broasted chicken which is super crispy. For dessert, get the funnel fries with homemade blueberry jam. The large outdoor area has lots of seating, live music on the weekends, and jumbo jenga and corn hole for the kids.
7. Michigan Maritime Museum
Michigan Maritime Museum is loaded with artifacts and exhibits related to maritime Michigan and Great Lakes history. Book the 90 min day excursion and sail on the 1812 replica warship boat, named Friends Good Will. You’ll learn the history and interact with the crew as they raise and lower the sails.
8. Pick blueberries
At DeGrandchamps Farms, you get to pick your own blueberries. Give the kids their own bucket and let them go to town! Pay for what you pick. After picking, check out their farm store for a cold blueberry lemonade. Blueberry season is in July – August.
Tip: Depending on the time of year, in South Haven there are places to pick cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples and peaches.
9. Kid’s Corner Park
This hidden gem is a kids haven. Large wooden playground close the the lake. Plus free parking!
10. Sherman’s Ice Cream
Treat yourself and the kiddos to award winning ice cream! Sherman’s makes well over 20 different flavors of icecream. They claim ” made the old fashioned way – many flavors, still one batch at a time.” Since your in Michigan, try the Mackinac Island Fudge and Marion Blackberry.
The sun sets over lake michigan, giving you the most beautiful colorful sky. The three best places to watch the sunset in South Haven: 1. From a boat on Lake Michigan. Elise J is a 1945 fishing tug that gives sunset cruises with a historic story. 2. Walk out to the pier by the lighthouse. 3. This one is a bit surprising. Our friends took us to the American Legion and said “wait until you see the view!” They’re right, views of the Harbor all the way from the bridge and out to the river mouth. You can see the lighthouse, beach, and lake.
South Haven is packed with art galleries and one of a kind shops. You can spend a whole day walking around downtown and checking them out. Shopping with kids, you’ll want to visit Oh My Darlings. We spent a good hour in this store as there was so much to see. Our kids left with a fox and sabertooth stuffed animal.
Where to stay in South Haven?
Choose from historic inns, hotels, and many vacation rentals. If you want a bed and breakfast, Carriage House at the Harbor has beautiful views of the harbor and marina. Historic Hotel Nichols is in the heart of downtown by the river. See the Top Rated hotels from TripAdvisor.
We tend to do a vacation rental from VRBO as we’re beach people and want to be close as we can – book VRBO & see rates.
Is South Haven worth visiting?
South Haven is a favorite travel destination because of their beaches and location on the harbor. It’s a charming small town but packed with restaurants, bars, one of a kind stores and art galleries. It’s located right on Lake Michigan and surrounded by wineries. A must visit!
What is South Haven MI known for?
South Haven is known for their beautiful beaches on Lake Michigan, the historic lighthouse built in 1872, and the annual Blueberry Festival.
Does South Haven have a boardwalk?
South Haven has two boardwalks split by the mouth of the Black River into Lake Michigan. South beach and north beach each have a board walk but South Beach board walk has the historic lighthouse.
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