Grand Haven is more than just a seasonal beach town on the shores of Lake Michigan. It’s more than the 4th of July and Coast Guard Festival. To me, Grand Haven is an ideal. It’s where I go to escape reality and live without worry.
I’ve been coming to Grand Haven every summer for as long as I can remember. I remember sunny days spent at the beach and evenings at the Dairy Treat. I’ve strolled down the pier at sunset and dove into the 65 degree water. I’ve watched boats float along the channel and I’ve paddle boarded on the great lake. I’ve done all these things but I know I’m not the only one. Many Michiganders can cite the same memories, but most in this country have no idea our little gem exists.
I go to school out of state and whenever I tell someone I’m from West Michigan, I often get a response along the lines of, “Oh I don’t really know about anything outside of Detroit.” I didn’t expect them to, but of course I have to tell them about it. The second I show them a picture of the Grand Haven shoreline they are shocked. They’re shocked because they had no idea such a beautiful place could exist in the Midwest.
The Midwest has this stigma for being flat and boring. Everyone seems to think the only place to get natural beauty and great shoreline is out in California. While California certainly has its perks, West Michigan is nothing to undervalue. With places like Sleeping Bear Dunes being voted “Good Morning America’s” Most Beautiful Place in America and Grand Haven placing second in “USA Today’s” Best Freshwater Beaches poll, West Michigan is slowly starting to be recognized for its beauty.
While it is starting to get recognized nationally, West Michigan’s allure has been something we’ve known all along. We’ve already known about the rolling dunes and clear, blue water. The picture-perfect sunsets and deep green forests. We’ve known about the endless hiking trails and gorgeous campgrounds. We’ve known about these things and Michigan is dear to us because of that.
While the Midwest certainly isn’t perfect, Grand Haven seems to get pretty close. To me, Grand Haven epitomizes summer. It’s where you go to relax and enjoy a day off. It’s where you can get some sun and spend time outdoors. It’s where the pace is slow and you can take the time to do the things you love. It’s where you can live summer exactly how you want to live it.
So this summer expect me to longboard down the boardwalk. Expect me to run from hot sand into chilly waters. Expect me to eat too many Pronto Pups. Expect me to enjoy sunsets over the lake. Expect me to live out a true West Michigan summer. I expect you to do the same.