From scenic beach towns to urban attractions, there are so many incredible places to explore in this beautiful lakeshore region.
This guide covers my top picks for things to do in West Michigan along Lake Michigan, including activities in Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon, Grand Haven and other lakeshore destinations.
Let’s dive into these must-stop destinations!
1. Visit Holland’s Vibrant Downtown
Holland’s downtown district along 8th Street and River Avenue is filled with shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries housed in historic brick buildings.
Spend an afternoon strolling the pedestrian-friendly streets, browsing boutiques and stops like the Holland Peanut Store, ending with Dutch treats at Nelis’ Dutch Village or New Holland Brewing. Don’t miss photo ops at the iconic Windmill Island and Big Red Lighthouse too!
2. Bike the White Pine Trail
Traversing 92 miles across northern Michigan, the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail is one of the state’s most extensive rail-trail systems open to bikers, hikers and in-line skaters.
The packed gravel path stretches from Grand Rapids to Cadillac through small towns, forests and farms. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way!
3. Tour the USS Silversides Submarine
Go below deck on the USS Silversides, a WW2 submarine now serving as a museum along Muskegon Lake.
Walk through the tight quarters to see how the crew lived and worked, view equipment like the periscopes and engines, and learn about its victories in the Pacific. This floating naval relic brings history to life.
4. Kayak the Muskegon River
Paddling down the Muskegon River offers a scenic adventure through the area’s forests and wetlands. Rent kayaks in Newaygo, then FLOAT a 5-10 mile stretch downstream back to town.
Or join an outfitter like Wolf’s River Trips for guided tours taking you past lush scenery and small rapids.
5. See Art at Meijer Gardens
Address: 1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids encompasses 160 acres with stunning botanical gardens, nature trails and one of the nation’s most significant sculpture collections.
The indoor tropical conservatory, arid garden and Japanese garden are highlights. Traverse peaceful wooded pathways dotted with works from artists like Rodin, Henry Moore, Ai Weiwei and more.
6. Tour the Grand Rapids Public Museum
Address: 272 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Located downtown, the Grand Rapids Public Museum offers fun interactive exhibits spanning science, history and culture.
Learn about Michigan’s lumber industry, see vintage neon signs, walk through a replica 1890s street, and explore hands-on physics displays. Special exhibits bring in artifacts like mummies or the Titanic.
7. Experience View High Above at Michigan’s Adventure
Address: 4750 Whitehall Rd, Muskegon, MI 49445
Michigan’s Adventure amusement park in Muskegon offers an exciting mix of rides and rollercoasters. Don’t miss the 235 foot tall Ferris Wheel or Shivering Timbers rollercoaster with a 125 foot drop! The attached WildWater Adventure waterpark provides splashy relief on hot days too.
8. Hike the Dunes at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park
Address: 6585 Lake Harbor Rd, Norton Shores, MI 49441
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park protects towering dunes along Lake Michigan near Muskegon. Hike the Dune Climb Trail to trek up the steep slopes, then relax on the sandy shore.
Other trails meander through peaceful wetlands and mature beech-maple forests. Scenic campgrounds available too.
9. Spend a Day in Charming Saugatuck
The delightful waterfront town of Saugatuck offers both a scenic Lake Michigan beach and a lively downtown filled with art galleries, shops, and dining spots.
Grab lunch on an outdoor patio, browse the art-filled Saugatuck Center for the Arts, then check out the beach and scenic boardwalk. Nearby Oval Beach is also worth seeing for its expansive dunes.
10. Experience a Grand Haven Musical Fountain Show
Grand Haven’s beloved 125 year old Musical Fountain performs choreographed light and water shows nightly throughout summer.
Grab an ice cream cone and take a seat around the fountain to watch streams dance along to songs like “Sweet Caroline” or the “Macarena” as lights illuminate the water. Shows last 25 minutes.
11. Take in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids
Each fall, ArtPrize takes over downtown Grand Rapids as artists from around the world install exciting, creative exhibits at venues throughout the city.
Wander the streets checking out public art displays ranging from large sculptures to light installations, murals, mosaics and more. The world’s largest art competition is free and open to all.
12. Tour the Historic City of Holland
Holland’s immaculately preserved downtown provides a wonderful glimpse into its Dutch heritage, from the iconic windmill and tulip gardens to Dutch-inspired architecture.
Visit the Holland Museum to see artifacts and learn about the city’s founding by Dutch settlers. Then climb to the top of Mt. Pisgah for panoramic views.
13. See the Stars at Grasmere Stars Trail
The Grasmere Stars Trail near Rockford winds through a mature forest to a clearing with a breathtaking view of the night sky. Chill on benches at the stargazing platform and experience the celestial display.
During meteor showers, this is one of the best spots in West Michigan for watching shooting stars in the unspoiled dark sky.
14. Experience Agri-Tourism at Anderson & Girls Orchards
Address: 2985 N Sheridan Rd, Stanton, MI 48888
For fresh fruit straight from the farm, pick your own at orchards like Anderson & Girls near Ludington. They grow juicy cherries, peaches, apples, pears and berries in season. Or buy pre-picked fruit, enjoy cider and donuts, and pet the goats at this family-fun orchard.
15. Tour the Hackley & Hume Historic Site
Address: 484 W Webster Ave, Muskegon, MI 49440
Take a guided tour through two Victorian-era historic mansions in Muskegon, both built in the 1890s. The Hackley House has ornate craftsmanship throughout its 23 rooms. The Hume House was owned by lumber baronial families and sits adjacent to Muskegon’s wonderful Lakeside neighborhood.
16. Experience Small Town Shopping in Fremont
Downtown Fremont offers a charming area to stroll and shop, with storefronts occupied by antique shops, fashion boutiques, and gourmet eateries. Find rustic chic home goods at Bliss & Vinegar and old fashioned treats at House of Flavors. Don’t miss the National Baby Food Festival each July!
17. Ride the Double Decker Carousel in Spring Lake
No trip to West Michigan is complete without riding this iconic 1911 carousel located between Grand Haven and Muskegon. The beautifully restored Double Decker Carousel features 68 hand-carved horses and chariots twirling beneath glowing chandeliers. Rides are just $2.
So there you have it – an incredible array of things to do in West Michigan along the Lake Michigan shoreline! From scenic beach towns to unique museums, this region offers so much for travelers to enjoy. There’s always new spots to discover too, which is what makes returning here so rewarding.