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Your guide to South Haven
All About South Haven
A beach town and working harbor for more than a century, South Haven is one of the most agreeable getaways on the Lake Michigan lakeshore. The most famous of its stretches of soft sands is South Beach, where visitors swim in sight of its famous red lighthouse. You can tour the Michigan Maritime Museum’s exhibits, or make a reservation to sail out onto the lake on its tall ship. Inland, the bike and hiking trails stretch for miles, and they’re as popular in autumn as they are in the snowy winters and the flower-filled spring (Holland, Michigan’s annual Tulip Time Festival is just 30 miles away, after all). Active travelers can also spend a day away from the water at the raceways, horse stables, and golf courses. Or do what most people who escape to South Haven do: simply slow down.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in South Haven
Summer is definitely the ideal time to visit the Lake Michigan shore. The temperature varies from the 70s through the low 90s Fahrenheit from June through August, but the lake tempers the heat. As you may expect from a land of lakes and rivers, in late summer the humidity spikes, and rains are frequent, so pack rain gear as well as sunblock and mosquito repellent.
April and May are cooler — think high 50s and low 60s Fahrenheit — but still pleasant, and autumn, which begins mid-September and lasts through November, is glorious, with crisp air and brilliantly colored foliage. Winters stretch from early December to March. During those months, temperatures below the 40s Fahrenheit are the norm, and the lakeshore effect brings freezing winds and snows.
Top things to do in South Haven
Just 20 miles north of South Haven, Saugatuck has the air of a perennial resort. Its charming downtown is the culinary capital of the coast, and between meals you can stop in at craft breweries and art galleries. The city is also considered the Provincetown of the Midwest, with numerous LGBTQ-friendly campgrounds and gathering spaces.
This flat, wooded trail extends 33 miles between South Haven and Kalamazoo, with bridges and towns along the way. A former railroad, its crushed-rock surface is free of steep inclines and easy for bikes and wheelchairs to navigate. In the winter, cross-country skiers leave their stripes in the snow, and some snowmobiles travel as far along the route as they can go.
Southern and western Michigan is the Midwest’s fruit bowl, providing three seasons’ worth of berries, stone fruit, and apples. U-Pick farms are scattered around South Haven, and the city hosts an annual blueberry festival. Even if you can’t fill your suitcase with fresh cherries, you can pick up pastries and jams for the journey home.