South Haven Michigan | Best Things To Do: Beaches, Fireworks, Scenic Lighthouse, Boat Tours, Restaurants, Top Southwest Michigan Vacation Destination and Michigan Beach Town

South Haven Michigan | Best Things To Do: Beaches, Fireworks, Scenic Lighthouse, Boat Tours, Restaurants, Top Southwest Michigan Vacation Destination and Michigan Beach Town + Map | By Sherry Trautman | | Updated October 5, 2023

So guys, if you are obsessed with incredible summer beach days, stunning marinas, scenic pier walks, boat watching (guessing their prices!?) and great restaurants on the water, you absolutely must visit this lovely Michigan beach town located in southwest Michigan! 

South Haven Beaches are legionary. 

Their vast sweeping sands with lapping lake Michigan waves have definitely reached the top of my best beaches in Michigan list. 

South Haven Michigan has so many things to do! 

See the South Haven Beach, Pier and FUN Things To Do!


Where is South Haven Located?

South Haven MI is located on sparkling Lake Michigan in Southwest Michigan.  This lovely Michigan beach town is close driving distance from many other lovely Michigan vacation destinations:

  • Distance from South Haven to Grand Rapids:  1hr 5 min, 58.2 miles
  • Distance from South Haven to Detroit: 3 hrs 3 min, 180 miles
  • Distance from South Haven to Traverse City: 3 hrs 21min, 200 miles
  • Distance from South Haven to Saugatuck: 27 minutes, 20.1 miles
  • Distance from South Haven to Grand Haven: 54 min, 51.5 miles

South Haven Map of FUN Things To Do!

Helpful Map Tips:

  • Click on the plus and minus in the left corner to zoom in or out of the map.
  • Click on the icons for more info, addresses and photos of the stops.
  • Click on the map to drag and move it to view surrounding areas.
  • In the Header, click on the rectangle in the upper left of the map to see a menu of all of our stops. Click on anything that looks interesting to see where it is on the map. To hide the menu, click the rectangle in the header.
  • In the Header, click on the "square" icon in the upper right side to expand the map for better viewing.

    The South Haven Map Shows:

  • Our Favorite South Haven Restaurants
  • Fantastic South Haven Bed and Breakfast you will love!
  • Boat Tours 
  • Berry Picking 
  • Walk the South Haven Pier and Lighthouse!
  • South Haven Splash Pad is a perfect place to visit in South Haven Michigan with kids! It's located near the base of the pier as you are headed toward the marina (see map above)

Fun South Haven Events:

South Beach, South Haven MichiganSouth Beach, South Haven Michigan

South Haven Beaches: Voted One of the Best Beaches in Michigan!

South Haven's South Beach, located at 60 Water St, South Haven, MI 49090, is an absolute oasis during the warm summer months. Splashing in the clear water of Lake Michigan, digging your toes in the sand and creating the perfect sand castle are perfect ways to spend a summer day.

Walk the pier, enjoy seeing numerous huge boats passing by and grab a hot dog at the concession stand! One of our favorite South Haven Michigan things to do!

South Beach, South Haven MichiganSouth Beach, South Haven Michigan

Bathrooms: There is a bank of porta johns near the food concession area and also a building with about 4-5 stalls with flushing toilets. Located just to the right of this photo.

Concessions: Usual concession food and drinks near the beginning of the pier, shown above.

Beach Shop: Forgot your suit? Need flip flops?  Stop in the cute shop right on the beach! Plus, they have the BEST South Haven stickers. 

North Beach, located at 45 Lakeshore Drive in South Haven Michigan has a concession stand with sandwiches, nachos, drinks and ice cream!

This South Haven Beach area has a picnic area, playground equipment for kids, plenty of restrooms, and beach volleyball courts. 

Perfect if you are visiting South Haven Michigan with kids!

  • North Beach is ADA accessible.

There is a parking fee of about $10 at both beaches and the lots fill up quickly during the summer so if you want beach parking I suggest being there by 11:00 am. When you pay for parking at the kiosk, be sure to know your license plate number. You can pay by credit card. 

The sandy beaches along Lake Michigan are among the finest beaches in the United States!

Fantastic South Haven Bed and Breakfast: Carriage House at the Harbor

Check out the Carriage House at the Harbor Bed and Breakfast! It's incredible!

Chris and I spent the weekend at this South Haven bed and breakfast and were blown away by the delicious gourmet breakfast, private balconies overlooking the South Haven Municipal Marina, fantastic location near North Beach (you can easily walk there!), lovely amenities, and close proximity to restaurants and bars.  You will quickly see why this is a premier Michigan B and B!

Michigan Maritime Museum Boat Tours

Friends Good WillFriends Good Will

The Friends Good Will ship is a replica 1810 top sail sloop. We had such a great time on this boating adventure! My nephew, cute little guy in the photos above, had a blast "helping sail" the ship!  Operation Dates: Memorial Weekend-very early October. 

One of our favorite South Haven Michigan things to do!

Pirate Chaser Sail - Geared towards children. Chase the pirates, retrieve the treasure, protect our harbor! Perfect if you are visiting South Haven Michigan with kids!

You can see the pirate ship in the middle of the photo above. 

What is South Haven known for?

South Haven is most famous for its incredible beaches (north and south beach) along sparkling Lake Michigan. It's a fabulous Michigan vacation spot or Michigan weekend destination for couples and families with children. 

Plus, the South Haven Lighthouse is a destination in itself for lovers of Michigan lighthouses. Oh, and don't forget about the ice cream!

Is South Haven Michigan Worth Visiting?

Absolutely! This beach town is worth visiting for the incredible beaches, marina, boat watching, downtown shops, downtown restaurants and boating activities. 

South Haven Lighthouse

A visit to South Haven isn't complete until you have walked along the scenic pier to see the stunningly red South Haven Lighthouse! It's absolutely gorgeous!

Is South Haven a Good Area?

Yes, absolutely! It is a safe town for relaxing on the beach, splashing in Lake Michigan's waves and enjoying your day. As with any town with lots of people present, be sure to leave your valuables at home or hidden in your vehicle.  Only take what you need to the beach!

Is South Haven or Saugatuck better?

Saugatuck and South Haven are similar as they are both lively beach towns nestled along Lake Michigan.  They both offer incredible beaches, downtown shopping, boat tours and several dining options. 

Conde' Nast named Saugatuck within their list of "Top 25 Beaches in the World!" There are different things to do in Saugatuck such as Dune Rides, Chain Ferry, Hiking at Mount Baldhead and Duck Adventures. 

Check out our: 

Both towns are incredible, so it's impossible to choose which is better.  Why not visit both?  Saugatuck is only 27 minutes, 20.1 miles from South Haven MI.

Lake Arvesta Farms - Outdoor Recreation Park!

Address: 06464 Arvesta Drive, South Haven, MI  49090

Did you know Lake Arvesta Farms has over 188 acres with floating obstacle courses, swimming with groomed sandy beaches, cable wakeboarding, kayaking and paddle boarding and more! 

There's a clip of the cable wakeboarding in our video above!

FUN THING...I spotted goats on the island! Seriously, cute little goats were wandering around. How awesome is that?!

Lake Arvesta Farms also has outdoor and indoor pickleball courts! They offer a food and drink bar, bathhouse with showers, lockers and an island with an Amphitheater!

Cute hangout area near the bar to relax and rejuvenate after a day in the sun and water!

Bridge Traffic - South Haven Dyckman Bridge

The bridge tender will lift the bridge and stop traffic (foot and vehicle) on the hour and half hour when boats are waiting in the river channel to pass. Take note of this if you need to reach the other side in a time sensitive manner.

You will pass over this bridge to visit the Maritime Museum and to reach North Beach from downtown. 

Best South Haven Michigan Restaurants

Our top favorite South Haven Michigan Restaurants include:

  1. The Idler 
  2. Clementine's
  3. Captain Lou's Bar and Grill
  4. Black River Tavern

The Idler is my top pick for South Haven Michigan restaurants as you get to eat on a docked boat!  I'm always so entertained by watching passing boats and enjoying Michigan's summer sunshine while eating outside!  We've eaten here several times and love it so much.

Likewise, Captain Lou's Bar and Grill is located right at the South Haven Bridge so you can eat outside, watch people walking over the bridge, see the bridge rise for tall ships AND enjoy the entertaining boat traffic! Plus it's super casual. Win-win-win-win!

Clementine's is a great spot to sit, relax and cool down after shopping downtown or a day at the beach. I love their onion ring stacks! I grew up in St. Joseph (not far away from South Haven) and have eaten at the Clementine's restaurant there several times.

Black River Tavern is one of the first restaurants at the top of the hill after walking up from the South Haven Michigan beach or marina. You can usually get a table without waiting forever (unlike many other restaurants). I got a killer good Classic Turkey Sandwich and Chris had the chicken wings. Great service and relaxing atmosphere.

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Be sure to go to Sherman's Dairy Bar in South Haven for ice cream, it's a summertime Icon! (And the best!)  As you can see, I'm enjoying one of my favorite's, Superman Ice Cream!  If you love it too, grab our HUGE list of where to get Superman Ice Cream in Michigan!

Visit A Local Nearby Farm and Go Berry Picking!

Overhiser Orchards is a great place to go berry picking in the summer! 

Location: 6405 109th Ave, South Haven, MI 49090 

Depending on the season, Overhiser Orchards offers u-pick cherries, peaches, plums, pears, and apples from their scenic orchards. Plus they have cute animals to pet and farm tours.

South Haven Michigan Shopping and Downtown

My favorite places to go shopping downtown is along Phoenix Street and also exploring all the nooks and crannies at Old Harbor Village on Williams Street (see my map above). 

Old Harbor Village has several great outdoor restaurants (like the Idler), shops and often live music.  You can walk there from Phoenix Street.

Plus, Old Harbor Village is one of the most scenic spots in South Haven. I absolutely love the views of the river, marina and passing boats. 

Yogi Bear South Haven (Jellystone Park Camp Resort)

Do you love to camp in Michigan? 

Check out Yogi Bear in South Haven! They have a ton of different camping and lodging options from primitive to full hook ups to cottages with hot tubs! 

So be sure to plan ahead to rent a campsite, cabin, cottage, and even golf carts!  And for those of us that don't like roughing it (pointing at me), some of the rentals have indoor plumbing and air conditioning (like the Big Bear Cottages).

  • Plus, Yogi Bear is pet friendly!

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Is South Haven or Saugatuck better? Not rated yet
So we have a week scheduled for a Michigan Vacation and can't decide how to split up our days. Should we visit both South Haven and Saugatuck or just …

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I would like to bring my family here but wanted to know if it was a safe area before we drive there. Thank you Answer Hi Beta! Yes, I have spent …

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We will be in St. Joseph for 4 days and wondered if it was worth it to visit South Haven for one of those days. Thank you! Answer Hi Zek! …

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What are the top things I shouldn't miss when visiting South Haven? Answer Hi Amber! You really must visit south beach (such sandy beaches!), …

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About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

Thanks for stopping by!

Our Words of Wisdom: “Never follow anyone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means follow that path.”

"Sherry & Chris"

We're Sherry and Chris the founders of one of Michigan's most comprehensive and Top Travel Blogs!

    Sherry Trautman is a seasoned business owner and a multifaceted content creator, deeply entrenched in the world of travel in Michigan. With her extensive background in writing, editing, photography, marketing, website design, web mastering, social media, and publishing, she is the driving force behind the acclaimed Michigan Travel site "" A lifelong Michigander, Sherry's journey began in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan led her to St. Joseph during her formative years, and further to Kalamazoo for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and Fine Art from Western Michigan University. Her career initially blossomed in Battle Creek, where she contributed significantly to aviation, marketing, and the art industry.

    In 2018, Sherry, alongside her husband Chris, embarked on a passionate endeavor with the inception of This venture was not just a business but a full-time commitment to exploring and celebrating the diverse landscapes and communities of Michigan. Together, they tirelessly traverse the state, curating unique experiences, capturing stunning visuals, and weaving engaging narratives that showcase Michigan's rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty. From her early experiences in different Michigander locales to her extensive professional background, Sherry's life and work epitomize a deep-rooted expertise in Michigan travel, making her an authoritative voice in this niche.

Sherry & Chris are at the Inn at Bay Harbor and looking out at the lake.
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