South Haven is a charming little beach town on the west coast of Michigan with a full mile of beach. The Black River runs through it, opening up to Lake Michigan. Along the river there are many places to stay, eat and shop – There’s not a bad view in this boat town. There’s so many things to do in South Haven mi, here’s our ultimate guide on things to do with kids.
South Haven has seven public beaches! The North and South Beaches are the largest and most popular. Both have parking, concession stands, souvenir shop, restrooms, play equipment, and picnic areas. South Beach has the big red lighthouse. Kayak and paddle board rentals are also available. Our florida kids couldn’t believe it was shark and salt-free!
Tip: Hunt for petoskey stones and sea glass.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kid’s Corner Park
This hidden gem is a kids haven. Large wooden playground close the the lake. Plus free parking!
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. We tend to do a vacation rental as we’re beach people and want to be close as we can. South Haven is fairly small and pretty walkable to the beach and downtown no matter where you stay.
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.
Did you find this post helpful?
If yes, let’s keep in touch! Sign up below, to get all of our latest family travel guides and follow us on Instagram @saltfamilytravels.