A charming and friendly community nestled into the dunes edging the shores of Lake Michigan, tourists flock to Grand Haven, Michigan for swimming, sand castles, and sunsets. Visiting the region at the intersection of summer and fall, we found the shops and restaurants less crowded, the boardwalk mostly pedestrian free, but without the Musical Fountain or a Pronto Pup.
Views of the Grand Haven Canal
In the mood for a bucket list adventure, an opportunity to appreciate the freshwater greatness of the Great Lake state, we made a reservation for a two-hour sunset cruise with Crystal Blue Cruises based out of Grand Haven. In September and October, conditions on Lake Michigan can change like a moody teenager, so we kept in open contact with Captain Kim to select the most favorable evening for our adventure.
Grand River at Sunset
Boarding the 1991, 36-foot Carver Aft Cabin Motoryacht mid-week, our group of six adults set out in the late afternoon on the Grand River towards the Lake at a cruising speed of 11 mph. Equipped with two staterooms, two heads, a salon and a full galley, we moved about the vessel in time with light rain clouds. Bringing a stash of appetizers and beverages, we snacked our way up and down the Grand River and parallel to the shoreline as we watched nature and people as the sun descended towards the horizon.
Along the Grand Haven Waterfront
Downtown Grand Haven at Sunset
An experience that will stick in our collective memories for years to come, the sunset that evening was no less than spectacular. Blue skies turned purple and maroon and orange in a fireworks show of its own. And if a picture ever was worth a thousand words, here’s a few chapters for you to read:
Sinking Sun. Photo credit: Stuart Johnson
Grand Haven Pier. Photo Credit: Stuart Johnson
Sailboat at Sunset. Photo Credit: Stuart Johnson
Grand Haven Sunset. Photo Credit: Stuart Johnson
Following the horizon in the direction of Wisconsin we chased the last rays from the bow as the waves rolled enough to be exhilarating but not nauseating.
Heading Inland. Photo Credit: Stuart Johnson
Offering charter excursions at different times of day and an additional hour longer, consult the Crystal Blue Cruises website for prices, times, and offerings. Captain Kim notes, “We welcome families with children of all ages and have entertained people aged from infancy through 90+ years! We’ve had wedding proposals, bachelor/bachelorette parties, ladies night, best friend class reunions, burials at sea, and the list goes on! As long as your party doesn’t exceed 6 people (exceptions are made for groups with children under age two, at Captain’s discretion), we can accommodate.”
More Travel Ideas
If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy West Michigan, check out some of our adventures here:
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers.
In March 2018 Julie Henning published the book "100 Things to Do in Eugene Before You Die" (Reedy Press). She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers.
She has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, Travel Wisconsin, Travel Oregon, Hometown News Group, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine (DNR publication), Experience Michigan Magazine, the Official Oregon Wine Touring Guide, Metro Parent Milwaukee Magazine, Eugene Cascades & Coast Official Visitors Guide, Trivago, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, Amtrak.com, Eugene Magazine, and FTF Geocacher Magazine.
Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio. She has produced episodes for Journey of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. Julie has also produced travel apps with Sutro Media and Bindu Media. She works full time in marketing.
Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast.
She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee.
Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.