Nestled along the shores of White Lake, the city of Whitehall offers small town charm just minutes from Lake Michigan. With a population around 2,700 people, Whitehall provides a quaint yet lively community with historic buildings, mom-and-pop shops, and an attractive harbor area.
Though a small town, Whitehall and the surrounding area offers plenty of cultural, recreational, and natural attractions to occupy visitors.
1. Boating on White Lake
No trip to Whitehall is complete without spending time on the town’s beautiful namesake lake. Covering over 4,000 acres, White Lake has plenty of space for boating, water skiing, tubing, and swimming.
I like to launch my boat at Hilt’s Landing right in Whitehall. A day on White Lake almost feels like an ocean bay thanks to its large size.
I often anchor near Hooker Park which has a nice swimming beach and snack bar. There are several restaurants right on the lake as well when you want to grab a lakeside lunch or dinner.
Don’t forget your fishing pole – White Lake produces quality catches of walleye, bass, perch, pike and more throughout spring and summer. With its vast size and scenic views, White Lake is a boater’s and angler’s paradise.
2. Bike the White Lake Pathway
One of my favorite ways to enjoy the natural beauty of White Lake is by biking or walking along the White Lake Pathway. This paved 4.5-mile loop follows the lakeshore, providing gorgeous views.
I like to park at Hilt’s Landing and pedal counter-clockwise, crossing two wooden bridges over marshy inlets. The trail passes by wetlands, forests and backyards, giving you perspectives of White Lake that you can’t see by boat alone.
Plentiful benches line the route, perfect for stopping to gaze at the water. Since the path has minimal hills and pedestrian underpasses at busy roads, it can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.
For an easy and scenic outdoor activity, be sure to bring your bike or walking shoes to explore White Lake Pathway.
3. Watch a Show at Howmet Playhouse Theater
Address: 304 S Mears Ave, Whitehall, MI 49461
For an affordable night out at the movies, I love visiting the vintage Howmet Playhouse Theater right in downtown Whitehall. First opened in the 1930s, this theater retains its old-school character with ornate decor and just 160 seats, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the film.
While recently renewed, admission prices are a bargain at just a few dollars per ticket. The theater shows popular new releases a few weeks after their mainstream debut.
Grab popcorn from the concession stand and settle into the plush red seats to enjoy everything from blockbusters to documentaries on the big screen. With its historic ambiance and fantastic prices, Howmet Playhouse is a one-of-a-kind setting for movie lovers.
4. Watch the White Lake Fireworks Display
For an awe-inspiring Fourth of July experience, I wouldn’t miss Whitehall’s incredible fireworks show over White Lake. The display features fireworks choreographed to patriotic tunes broadcast over loudspeakers.
Hundreds of people bring lawn chairs and blankets to Dewey Park in downtown Whitehall which provides front-row views as the sky lights up with booming bursts of color reflecting off the lake’s surface.
The grand 20+ minute finale is truly spectacular. Arrive early to claim your spot – the live music performance leading up to the fireworks provides entertainment as you wait.
With its unbeatable lakeside location, dazzling fireworks, and festive music, Whitehall puts on one of my favorite Independence Day celebrations in Michigan. It’s the perfect ending to any Fourth of July in the area.
5. Spend a Day at Michigan’s Adventure Amusement Park
When I’m looking for a day filled with thrills and excitement, I head just 15 minutes from Whitehall to Michigan’s Adventure amusement park. This large theme park in Muskegon provides amusement rides for all ages and ability levels.
Classics like wooden rollercoasters, log fumes and a carousel create old-fashioned fun. Bigger draws like the double looping Shivering Timbers and mad mouse Steel Venom will get your heart pumping!
When you need a break, stroll through the animal exhibits or catch one of the live shows. With affordable ticket packages and proximity to Whitehall, Michigan’s Adventure is perfect for families and thriller-seekers visiting the area.
6. Watch the Surfscene Water Show
A beloved Whitehall tradition since 1956, the Surfscene Water Show brings free waterski performances and entertainment to scenic White Lake all summer long. Each week’s show features elaborate choreography with skiers, boats, flyboards, and even aerialists high above the lake.
Live music, dancing, and special family acts like barefoot skiing add to the energy. Visitors should arrive early to set up lawn chairs or blankets along the White Lake shoreline at Woolcott Park where you’ll have front-row seats.
We like to bring a picnic dinner so we’re set for the 90-minute show. With its combination of high-energy entertainment and picture-perfect setting, Surfscene Water Show is summer magic for visitors of all ages.
7. Blueberry Fields Farm
To stock up on juicy berries and experience quintessential summer fun, I head to Blueberry Fields Farm located a quick ten minutes from downtown Whitehall. At this family-owned blueberry farm, you can pick your own fresh blueberries by the bucketful when they’re in season from late June through early September.
Friendly staff help you select the sweetest, plumpest berries. Pre-picked blueberries are available for purchase too, by the pint or quart. While you’re there, indulge in their homemade baked goods like blueberry muffins, pies and cinnamon rolls.
You can also buy jams, syrups, and other locally-made products at their farm stand. For tasty treats and memories made with kids and friends, Blueberry Fields Farm is a beloved local tradition. Don’t forget your sun hat!
8. “The Pirates of White Lake” Pirate Cruise
Ahoy Mateys! For family-friendly adventure on the high seas, join the merry crew on the pirate ship Sea Screamer for a “Pirates of White Lake” cruise. Climb aboard the pirate ship Sea Screamer for an interactive family cruise on White Lake complete with a mock pirate invasion, water gun battles and music.
As we set sail across White Lake, pirate actors will pretend to invade the boat and teach kids how to talk like a pirate and fire the on-board water cannons. Our cruise ended with a thrilling mock cannon battle with pirates on shore!
With lots of audience participation and water gun fun, kids go home with smiles and pirate gear. Parents appreciate the cruise’s organization and inclusion of historical facts between the playful pirate antics. For swashbuckling fun the whole family will enjoy, climb aboard the Pirates of White Lake cruise.
9. Tour Historic Whitehall
I’m fascinated by local history, so I enjoy taking self-guided walking tours of Whitehall’s historic downtown district. Printable guides available online map out a route past sites like the 1871 railroad depot, 1865 Mears home, and landmarks from Whitehall’s wealthy lumber era when sprawling estates lined White Lake.
Don’t miss the Romanesque-style opera house on Colby Street built in 1889. Walking tours allow you to admire the architectural variety at your own pace. Pop inside places like the public library built in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration which contains beautiful interior stonework and woodcarvings. With its easily-accessible sites and charming historic charm, Whitehall is a joy to explore on foot.
10. Mountain Bike the Thetford Trails
For an exhilarating mountain bike ride through gorgeous wooded terrain, I hit the trails in Thetford State Park just 10 minutes outside Whitehall. Over 8 miles of single-track trail wind up and down forested hills and around ponds and streams.
The trail is thoughtfully designed with rollers, berms, and rock gardens that allow you to gain speed while still remaining in control. More technical black diamond sections like the “Log Jam” get your heart pumping with narrow bridges and off-camber turns.
With its rolling terrain, smooth dirt trails, and well designed features, Thetford satisfies my need for fun mountain biking trails close to Whitehall. I finish every ride rejuvenated by the beauty of the Michigan outdoors.
From scenic lakeside recreation to historic downtown charm, Whitehall offers an appealing blend of small town life and abundant activities.
Outdoorsy types will fall in love with the lakes, rivers, and trails just beyond town. And the friendly local community provides hometown warmth.
For an idyllic Lake Michigan getaway with no shortage of things to do, make Whitehall your next Michigan destination.