South Haven, Michigan offers lovers of nature, beaches and lighthouses a cornucopia of experiences for their next visit.
South Haven, Michigan is a perfect place to find your escape. Lovers of water will adore this idyllic city located on Lake Michigan. The lake provides an endless array of activities, making it the perfect outdoor oasis. Visitors can explore beaches and take advantage of South Haven’s nautical influence. Take your group exploring across sandy beaches, visit iconic lighthouses and savor many art galleries. For a true beachtown experience, dive into South Haven’s maritime heritage at one of the area’s several historic sites. If you’re looking for fun, socially-distanced things to do with groups in South Haven, look no further than these outdoor experiences.
Corn mazes, u-pick apples, hayrides: what’s not to love about a trip to one of the best apple orchards in Michigan? Located in Ganges Township, Crane Orchards has been offering an array of family-friendly activities for nearly 100 years. Today, the orchard offers over 17 varieties of apples, peaches and sweet cherries for guests to pick while taking in scenic views of the property. Get lost in the 20-acre corn maze, specifically designed to puzzle visitors with winding corridors and towering corn stalks. Since 2002, the maze has been replaced with a new design every season, so guests can expect a new challenge each time autumn rolls around. In addition to the corn maze and u-pick fruit, visitors can hop on a tractor-driven hayride through the Crane Orchards property. Enjoy touring the site’s farms, apple orchards and surrounding woods while learning all about the agricultural heritage of west Michigan.
Tall Ship Friends Good Will
Step aboard history with a visit to the Friends Good Will, a replica of the 19th century merchant vessel that once sailed the Great Lakes. The original vessel was built at River Rouge, Michigan in 1810. In 1812, the ship was chartered by the U.S. government to take military supplies to Fort Dearborn (what is now Chicago), but was captured by the British Royal Navy. At the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie, the Friends Good Will was recaptured by American forces, but soon met its end a year later when the ship was burned by the British Navy during a raid. The current vessel was replicated in 2004. Today, the ship offers historical sails leaving from its home port of South Haven. Complete with a staff and volunteer crew dressed in period clothes, passengers can gain insight into the life of a Great Lakes sailor. The Friends Good Will offers a variety of excursions, such as pirate-chaser and sunset sails. School groups are encouraged to visit as the ship operates as a sailing classroom for students to learn about early Michigan history and the Great Lakes.
Fenn Valley Vineyards
Since 1973, Fenn Valley Vineyards has worked to perfect the art of grape growing and winemaking in Fennville, Michigan. Visitors to the vineyard can indulge in complimentary samples of wine while strolling through the property on one of the vineyard’s seasonal educational tours. In warmer months, tours are led through the vineyard to learn about how wine grapes are grown. During the winter, guests can tour the wine cellar and learn about wine making, cellar practices and wine flavors. Visitors to Fenn Valley Vineyard can also tour the property via wagon during the fall months. Private tours are also available, and can accommodate up to 22 people. Schedule a group wine tasting to enjoy one of Michigan’s top wineries.
South Haven Lighthouse
You can’t visit South Haven without a trip to the city’s most iconic landmark: the South Haven Lighthouse. In 1872, the first lighthouse was built to guard the entrance of the Black River, standing two-and-a-half stories tall. In the following years, the U.S. Lighthouse Service elected to demolish the tower in favor of constructing a new one, as the original was made from wood. The second, shorter lighthouse made from steel was finished in 1903, and still stands today. Additionally, the original wood catwalk remains, making it one of only four to survive in the state of Michigan. Today, the deed to the lighthouse has been passed on to the Historical Association of South Haven. For a look into Michigan’s nautical history, consider bringing your group to the South Haven Lighthouse, open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
It’s not Miami, but Michigan’s South Beach is just as luxurious. South Haven’s beach scene comes to life in the summertime, with hundreds of visitors flocking to the waterfront on sunny days. Although South Haven is home to a variety of beaches, South Beach is a popular spot for both summer vacationers and locals. Enjoy the wide stretches of shoreline views, and even play a few rounds of volleyball with your group in the sand. South Beach is ADA accessible, and offers a wide variety of amenities such as grills, restrooms and play equipment for guests to enjoy. If you’re feeling peckish, head to the concession stand for a quick, reasonably-priced snack. The beach also offers public access to the iconic, red-painted South Haven Lighthouse and the surrounding pier. For a relaxing break in your busy Michigan itinerary, head to South Beach, lay on the sand and take in the beauty of Lake Michigan’s blue waters.
by Amanda Landwehr