Photos by RiversEdge Photography and William Patrick Chambers Photography
This article originally appeared in our February 2017 issue. For more like this, consider subscribing.
Whatever the season, you’ll find plenty to see and do in Muskegon, the largest populated city on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. Here you can enjoy the local flavor of many family attractions and museums, superior outdoor recreation, dining and cultural events, festivals, and excellent accommodations. While there are plenty of full-service hotel chains in downtown Muskegon, it’s the quaint bed and breakfasts and seasonal cottages lining the nearby Muskegon and White Lakes as well as Lake Michigan that help give this area its charm.
During historic times, the Muskegon area was inhabited by various bands of the Ottawa and Pottawatomi Indian tribes. In 1830 Muskegon was solely an Ottawa village. Perhaps the best remembered of the Indian inhabitants of the area was Ottawa Indian Chief Pendalouan. A leading participant in the French-inspired annihilation of the Fox Indians of Illinois in the 1730s, he and his people lived in the Muskegon vicinity during the 1730s and 1740s until induced by the French to move the settlement to the Traverse Bay area in 1742. The name “Muskegon” is derived from the Ottawa tribe term “Masquigon,” meaning marshy river or swamp.
There are over a dozen marinas located in this area including Harbour Towne Marina which caters to owners and seasonal renters. Tucked inside the sand dunes, Harbour Towne’s 243 slips are naturally protected with Harbour Towne Condominiums and Docker’s Fishouse and Lounge nearby.
The marina is in a premier location on Muskegon Lake just south of the channel connecting Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan and offers slips and dockends reservations for transients. Plus the gas dock carries ethanol-free 90 octane recreation fuel with Valvtect additive.
Muskegon State Park has more than two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and is approximately 1200 acres. Located four miles west of North Muskegon, the vast expanse of Great Lakes sand beach ranks among the most beautiful in the world. Forested dunes that join miles of Great Lakes shoreline reflect a significant resource that visitors enjoy each year.
With 247 modern and semi-modern campsites available plus two mini-cabins, the list of possible activities are endless at the state park, including sun bathing, swimming, picnicking and fishing, and a boat launch. There are also 12 miles of marked and groomed hiking trails and a replica of an historic fort blockhouse overlooking Lake Michigan and sand dunes.
Muskegon State Park was established in 1923 when the City of Muskegon gave the Conservation Department (later the Department of Natural Resources) a gift of land to help begin the park. The park has enjoyed much community support over the years and remains an important contributor to the local quality of life.
There are many festivals and events throughout the year, but one of the area’s favorites is Oktoberfest, where attendees can sample beers along the longest beer-tasting trail in Michigan. At the annual event you stop at five different German-inspired biergartens with games and music and specially-brewed Oktoberfest beers.
The list of must-stops is quite long, but one of the more popular activities to do is tour the beautifully restored Hackley & Hume Historic Site homes. Here you can walk through the unique living spaces showcasing how local Muskegon lumber barons lived in their late 19th Century Victorian homes. The homes are open May through October, with special events around the holidays.
Harbour Towne Marina