Earth : North America : United States of America : Midwest (United States of America) : Michigan : West Michigan : South Haven
South Haven is a city in West Michigan.
South Haven is unique among Lake Michigan Beachtowns in that the downtown is right next to the beaches and the harbor. It is OK to walk straight from the beach in swimwear to the downtown, although you may want to cover up a bit. More than any other Lake Michigan community, South Haven is the quintessential Lake Michigan beach town.
There are about a thousand boat docks in the city as well, most of which are in walking distance to the downtown, so there are plenty of boaters to liven things up.
From Chicago, take I-94 to I-196 (at St Joseph). You can also follow the old Chicago Road, now known as M-83 and Blue Star Highway, which starts at New Buffalo and winds along the coast through a number of harbor towns.
From I-196, take Exit 20 (Phoenix Street) west to downtown and then on to South Beach.
You can also take Exit 22 to North Shore Drive and follow it in across the bridge to the downtown.
From Detroit, take I-94 to Kalamazoo, and follow M-43 through Kalamazoo to its end in South Haven.
There is plenty of parking in the downtown parking lots (except for a few festival days) and more parking at the beaches. You can park on most streets, unless you see a no parking sign or yellow curb.
Park your car and get on your bicycle, South Haven is a bike friendly city and you can get anywhere in just a few minutes.
Walking works too and it is good for you.
The center of town is the intersection of Phoenix and Center Streets.
Go to the Beach. South Haven has two main beaches, the North Beach and South Beach. Both are directly adjacent to the piers. The South Beach is known as a more family beach, while the North Beach is the favorite of students, especially from Western Michigan University. There are other beaches too, drive along North Shore Drive and there are a number of street ends and small trails leading to public beach accesses.
Fishing - in early spring, around late March and April, salmon and lake trout are running and can be caught from the piers. Some people like to use flashing spoons and some like deep diving Rapalas. Spawn bags also work well. Other times of the year, people still fish, there are perch, bass and other fish taken from the piers and various fishing sites upstream as well.
Harborwalk - there is a sidewalk route that will take you from the South Pier at the South Beach, along Riverfront Park and the harbor, through the downtown, across the Bascule Bridge, past the Maritime Museum and the marinas, and out to North Beach and the North Pier.
Pick Blueberries - there are a number of blueberry farms in the area where you can pick your own blueberries (and eat lots while you pick). You can also get a quart or two at the farmers market, or a number of roadside stands.
Ride the Kal-Haven Bicycle Trail - the Kal-Haven Trail is a rails to trails bike path linking Kalamazoo and South Haven. If you don't want to ride the full 40 some miles, ride just a ways out of town to the covered bridge and the overlook of the north and south branches of the Black River. A trail pass is required.
Ice Cream at Sherman's Dairy
Blueberries at the Farmer's Market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings
South Haven is extremely popular as a resort town, and lodging is not cheap. Renting a house by the week is probably the most popular type of lodging, but there are bed and breakfast inns, and hotel/motels too.
There is a campground out east of town on Phoenix Street (CR 384), along the Kal-Haven Trail. There are several RV parks on the north side.
There is a small public campground (bicycle access only) along the Kal-Haven Bicycle Trail on the bluff just east of the covered bridge.
Take a drive along the Blue Star Highway to Glenn and Saugatuck.