Are you considering a trip to South Haven, Michigan with your kids this year? This is a beautiful beach town along the shores of Lake Michigan with a great variety of outdoor activities including beachgoing, boating, blueberry picking, and hiking. On our last trip, our four kids loved exploring the South Beach area of South Haven. Read more about our list of best places to explore in this beautiful lake town while planning your next trip!
What is South Haven, Michigan known for?
South Haven is known for beautiful sandy beaches along Lake Michigan. There are seven public beaches with South Beach and North Beach being closest to downtown and perfect for families. South Beach is a great location for families and it includes a fantastic kids playground, restrooms, the lighthouse, a skateboard park, a concession area, and a splash pad. Parking is currently $10/car during the day. (Make sure you pay for your parking because we did see some very serious parking attendants while we were there!)
Other beaches include North Beach which features playgrounds, concessions, and a pier. Another very well-known area is Van Buren State Park which is a 300-acre state park about four miles south of South Haven. Van Buren State Park offers camping, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding in a beautiful setting. You can also reserve shelter houses for special events.
Is South Haven, MI kid friendly?
South Haven, Michigan is perfect for families. Our four kiddos loved the playground at South Beach and the splash pad. Parking is close to the beach access point which made it easy to transport our beach items for the day.
There is plenty of sandy beach to spread out for sandcastle building. We also love the freshwater (no salt in the eyes!) from the lake and the comfortable temperatures. Our family visited in late July, and the water felt great with the warm temperature outside.
What should we pack for a day at the beach with kids in South Haven, Michigan?
Ahhh, traveling with your young kids on beach days..let’s be honest, it’s not always relaxing but if you come prepared, it will help! We always bring along our beach cart so we can fill it high with beach toys, towels, and chairs. The heavy duty wheels help get it across the sand easily and leaves at least one hand free to wrangle our two year old!
Many families near us also had a beach tent to block the sun rays and keep sand out of the little ones. These are perfect for babies that may need a nap or for mommas that try to sneak in a bit of book reading time.
We opted to bring our beach umbrella which was perfect for our day at the beach. Make sure it can angle to block the sun in various directions.
Throw in some sunscreen, snacks, baby powder (to remove sand), sand buckets, shovels, and some floats and get out there in the water!
Bear Claw Coffee offers concessions in the South Beach area. If you need a quick snack or drink, just pop up to the concession stand near the playground and splash pad area. Perfect spot for a little nosh on a beach day.
Does South Haven have a lighthouse?
South Haven’s famous lighthouse is at the end of the pier in the South Beach area. Perfect spot for a fantastic view of Michigan’s beautiful sunsets!
What great hiking trails are in South Haven, MI?
If you looking to find a great hiking trail in South Haven, you have several options! The Kal Haven Trail is one of our favorite places full of nature trails and one of the best ways to explore Michigan. It is a 34 mile rail trail running from South Haven to Kalamazoo. There is also a beautiful covered bridge near the South Haven trailhead.
The Maritime Harbor Walk is another great walk in South Haven. It’s a 3 mile walk between South Beach and North Beach where you can read about the history of the area and see the scenic highlights.
Are there awesome playgrounds in South Haven, MI for kids?
Kids Corner Playground is an amazing wooden playground close to North Beach and the center of town. There are plenty of slides, tunnels and swings, and you can even walk back and forth to the beach from here. In addition, there is a bathroom at the playground, perfect when you have young children. Picnic tables all around the park make it easy to pack a lunch and spend the day!
Fun Splash Pads in South Haven, MI
The Friends Good Will Splash Pad just opened in 2020. Our kids loved exploring it after our day at South Beach..it even helped clean off the sand from their bodies! It has water cannons, fountains, and lots of areas to explore. There are also restrooms nearby, so we played at the beach, played at the splash pad and then changed in the restrooms before heading downtown.
Can you go blueberry picking in South Haven?
Michigan has so many options for fresh fruit picking with the temperate climate during the summer months. This is one of our favorite summertime activities and a way to spend some quality time together. Bumbleberry Acres is a u-pick farm open from 9 am-6 pm. They also have a small playground, barrel train rides, miniature farm animals, and a bakery.
If you want someone else to pick all things blueberry for you, check out The Blueberry Store in downtown South Haven. This adorable store has EVERYTHING blueberry and they even offer shipping and gift baskets.
Where should we eat in South Haven?
There are so many places to eat in South Haven. Exploring downtown, you will discover many options from casual to fine dining.
Phoenix Street is one of our favorite breakfast and lunch spots in the downtown area. It’s a casual café open from 8 am-2 pm. Our kids love the pancakes while my husband and I enjoyed the chicken and waffles!
Golden Brown Bakery is another great option in downtown South Haven. Filled with pastries, bagels, desserts, sandwiches, and soups, it is the perfect place to grab a delicious breakfast or lunch. Check their site for their current menu before you visit!
Three Blondes Brewing is a great brewery run by three sisters in the South Haven area. Along with their unique beer options, we also love their signature tacos and burgers. It makes the perfect lunch or dinner in South Haven. They offer indoor and outdoor seating and it’s first come, first serve, so get there early!
If you need a sweet pick me up, try Kilwin’s in downtown South Haven. You know how to spot a great location? Look for a line out the door and Kilwin’s always has one! The store is filled with handmade chocolates, fudge and fresh ice cream. Our kids love watching the fudge and caramel being made in the front window.
Another great place for a sweet treat in South Haven is Sherman’s Dairy Bar. It is located close to Three Blondes Brewery, so it would be the perfect dessert stop after dinner. Sherman’s has been around for over 60 years in South Haven, and it always has a line so the reputation for fantastic ice cream is strong! Look for the blue cows on the roof!
Are there any other side trips to explore in South Haven, Michigan?
If you are a gardening enthusiast, you would enjoy a trip to the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum. It is Bailey’s childhood home, the man many regard as America’s “Father of Modern Horticulture”. The museum is a historic landmark with gardens, a smokehouse, a blacksmith, carriage barn and a nature trail.
The Michigan Maritime Museum is a fantastic place to visit and explore more of maritime life around Lake Michigan. There are five separate buildings with lots of engaging interactive exhibits for you and your kids to explore. Whether it’s the history of boating, boat building skills, the work of the Coast Guard or the structures of the boats themselves, you will find something of interest for each person in your family.
Adult admission tickets are $8, seniors are $7 and veterans/active military and kids are $5 (with under 4 free). Educators and museum members are free. Hours are 10 AM – 5 PM, seven days a week.
I hope this post on the best things to do in South Haven, Michigan with your kids encourages you to explore South Haven, Michigan on your own!