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Old 07-04-2012, 07:41 PM
 
27 posts, read 79,679 times
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Looking at driving up late July for 5 days or so on your lovely West Coast!

Then taking the Auto Ferry across to Milwaukee and back down home.

If one was looking for some nice quiet beaches, some crafty/oldstuff shopping, and perhaps a few taverns and restaurants around....

Killer beaches??
Great restaurants??
Must see attractions??

Muskegon vs. Holland?? I'm leaning towards Muskegon.....but considering Holland due to Oval Beach....is it all that??
How are the Muskegon beaches??

Got a free 3 day Marriott stay.....but looking for recommendations for other couple nights!

Just 2 adults....no kids....no pets.

All input appreciated!
Thanks
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Old 07-05-2012, 09:40 AM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,657 times
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Holland is more what you're talking about.
Muskegon is not nearly as much of a tourist destination.

There is a string of towns that you could easily get to from the ferry as you come across the lake.

Saugatuck - Artsy, wine-tourism, Oval Beach, very cute little village which is not walking distance from the beach, but a short drive away.

Holland - Larger than Saugatuck, more of a "main street" style shopping experience. Great craft-brewery downtown on 8th street. Nice parks. Great historic neighborhood for walking around. Large state park on the water gets busy in the summer. About a 15 minute drive from the city's downtown due to Lake Macatawa which separates the downtown of Holland from the popular beach at the state park. (Get on Google Maps and you'll see what I mean... you're basically on water the entire drive, but must circumnavigate the lake).

Grand Haven - Smaller than Holland. Less shopping. A couple nice restaurants. A craft brewery (though I much prefer the one in Holland). The big win in Grand Haven is that the big beach (again, a State Park) is walkable from the downtown. I don't think you'll get that in Saugatuck, and I know you don't in Holland.

Muskegon - An older rust-belt city that has great beaches, but much less in the way of shopping/taverns/strolling lifestyle.

My recommendation, if you haven't been here before, is to research Saugatuck, Holland and Grand Haven online. If you're here for more than a day you could easily do beach + shopping at 2 of those towns and really have a great visit. Muskegon would not make my "top 2" from this list of 4.

Good luck!
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:13 AM
 
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Great info!! Thanks so much!!
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Old 07-06-2012, 03:37 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
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Don't forget... you have a lot of options when it comes to what type of "beach experience" you are looking for.

There are the hot spots where people go for the stereotypical beach day... crowds, volleyball, lots of high school/college kids, party atmosphere. Holland State Park and Grand Haven State Park are the first two that come to mind for this type of experience. The beach itself is the most important thing at these places, along with the piers (which are fun to walk on) and lighthouses. Nature is very much secondary at these places.

You can expect something like this:


If you want to experience a Lake Michigan beach in a more "natural" state, there are places that are a better choice. Saugatuck Dunes State Park (between Saugatuck and Holland), PJ Hoffman State Park in Muskegon, and Muskegon State Park are all places where the natural scenery is better. Large sand dunes that haven't been carved out for parking lots, nature trails through woods and sand dunes with great views of the lake. Places where you can lay on the beach and not be bothered by other people walking by or playing music.

I took this photo at Hoffmaster State Park:



When I was younger, I loved the first type of beach. Now that I'm older, I have learned to appreciate the second type of beach a lot more.

Oh, and Oval Beach is sort of a compromise between the two. It is very popular, but also is mostly still in a natural state and has great natural scenery.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,744,725 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michigan83 View Post
Don't forget... you have a lot of options when it comes to what type of "beach experience" you are looking for.

There are the hot spots where people go for the stereotypical beach day... crowds, volleyball, lots of high school/college kids, party atmosphere. Holland State Park and Grand Haven State Park are the first two that come to mind for this type of experience. The beach itself is the most important thing at these places, along with the piers (which are fun to walk on) and lighthouses. Nature is very much secondary at these places.

You can expect something like this:


If you want to experience a Lake Michigan beach in a more "natural" state, there are places that are a better choice. Saugatuck Dunes State Park (between Saugatuck and Holland), PJ Hoffman State Park in Muskegon, and Muskegon State Park are all places where the natural scenery is better. Large sand dunes that haven't been carved out for parking lots, nature trails through woods and sand dunes with great views of the lake. Places where you can lay on the beach and not be bothered by other people walking by or playing music.

I took this photo at Hoffmaster State Park:



When I was younger, I loved the first type of beach. Now that I'm older, I have learned to appreciate the second type of beach a lot more.

Oh, and Oval Beach is sort of a compromise between the two. It is very popular, but also is mostly still in a natural state and has great natural scenery.
I personally like Oval Beach in Saugatuck a lot. You can park only a couple hundred feet from the beach. But it is sort of a drive from Muskegon. Hoffmaster State Park has a great beach too, and a nature center if you feel like hiking the dunes for some awesome views of Lake Michigan.
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Old 07-06-2012, 03:36 PM
 
Location: Dixie's Sunny Shore
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Like suydam said, Muskegon isn't all that for a tourist destination. The beaches are rather nice, no doubt, but there are many parts of town you'll want to avoid. There is an amusement park north of town, but other than that and the beaches Muskegon is pretty forgetable.
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Old 07-09-2012, 09:45 PM
 
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Booked at the Fairfield Inn for 3 nights in Holland....wouldn't be my first choice but its free so I'm not complaining....winging it from there....

GREAT INFO AND PICS!!
THANKS!!

We are probably a bit past the beer bong party stage....but a little taste of party isn't bad.
Both of those beaches look fabulous!

We will be up there there Sunday night through Thursday....so hopefully will miss big crowds/traffic/parking issues.

If one was going to lay out a day trip to GR what would you put on the list??
Museums
Art
Food
Just Cool Stuff??

Thanks in Advance!
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:18 AM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
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If you're going to do a day in GR I would suggest the following items because they are unique to GR (that is, people from other states find them exciting because nobody else has them). That said, if you have specific "likes" (fishing, water, hiking, architecture, food, etc) you should post... because this is more my personal itinerary than anything else.

#1 - G.R. Ford Presidential Museum - If you are interested in American history, this is the most culturally significant destination in Michigan (I would argue). The only Michigan-born U.S. President, and thus the only Michigan-based Presidential Museum. It'll take you less than 2 hours to visit, but it's interesting.

#2 - Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park - A great sculpture park, outdoors. I believe it's the largest in the nation, or was, or something like that. Either way, it's a highly rated destination if you like sculpture. Again, we have lots of great stuff, but this is something unique to GR that would be equally impressive in NYC or LA.

#3 - Beer Tour - GR was recently named Beer City USA. You mentioned beer pong, so you at least know you're way around a pub (even if you're past the keg-stand phase of your life). Founders Brewery is downtown GR, has a great tap room and makes world-class beer. Brewery Vivant has a great chef, Belgian-style beers and is housed in a converted funeral chapel... it's cool, you should visit. HopCat is a beer bar. They also brew a little of their own beer, but the chief attraction is their vast array of beer choices. It was (at some point) rated the #3 Beer Bar in the world. Worth a visit for sure. There are other little breweries and beer bars that locals love because of their neighborhood location (Harmony Brewing), or their creative use of space (Hideout Brewing is located in a former hot-tub garden) but really if you do Founders and Vivant you have sampled the best stuff in town for sure.

#4 - Foodie Tour - There are great restaurants in GR. I would suggest the best places to get a bite are Grove or Reserve for haute cuisine, Green Well for gourmet-but-affordable, Rose's in EGR for relaxing lakeside with a glass of Sangria in the sun, San Chez if you feel like authentic Spanish/Morrocan tapas and probably Big O's downtown if you want the best pizza in town. If you like the neighborhood pub atmosphere I'd visit Green Well, The Winchester, Graydon's Crossing and Olive's (wine bottles are half-off on Tuesdays!)s. They each reflect the neighborhoods they serve and do a great job with food. For breakfast, I like Marie Catrib's, Wolfgang's and Cherie Inn. For lunch I think Marie Catrib's is the best place in greater G.R. but Cherry Deli is another favorite of mine.

If I had just one day in GR I would do this: Get here early, breakfast at Wolfgang's. Visit Meijer Gardens. Lunch at Marie Catrib's. Visit GR Ford Museum. Dinner at Green Well or Grove. Beer at Vivant. Beer at Founders as a conclusion.. or if you're feeling frisky, go taste wine at Reserve and eat some more food to finish your night.

Have fun!
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Old 07-10-2012, 08:56 AM
 
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The Fairfield is a few miles north of the "real" Holland on US 31. It's north of the City of Holland in the strip-mally township. It looks like anywhere else -- way too many crapplebees and roadhouses, etc. Please do not think of this area as what anyone on this board is talking about!

You will definitely want to come "downtown" for a real, once-of-a-kind, local experience. It's one of the top downtowns in America. It's where all the great pubs, delis and restaurants are, the galleries, coffee shops, gift shops and antique stores, awesome clothing shops, ice cream shops, delis, etc. be sure to have lunch and a pint at the Curragh Irish Pub, then tour & shop 'til you drop and end the day at the New Holland Brewery. Sunday will be a bit quiet downtown, as about 50% of the shops are closed. On Wednesday you can hit the downtown farmer's market too.
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Old 07-18-2012, 02:00 PM
 
27 posts, read 79,679 times
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Leaving early Sunday morning....hoping to be up there 4ish.

Crapplebees....LOL!
Thank you!
Will definitely be avoiding anything other than LOCAL.

Any suggestions a nice DOWNTOWN hotel for maybe one or two nights of POSH after the Fairfield??

103F down here right now....with humidity....Crazy drought....Looking forward to seeing GREEN countryside!

THANKS TO ALL FOR THE GREAT INFO!!
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