Visiting Muskegon, MI on a Budget

White River Light House
Downtown Muskegon Splash Pad: Photo Credit Adam Alexander

Visiting Muskegon, MI on a budget

Traveling on a budget can be hard, with transportation and accommodations taking up a chunk of the budget, it can be hard to find interesting places and activities to visit while on a trip. Muskegon, MI, however, plays host to a range of activities that will satisfy all travelers, all at an affordable price.

Located in the state of Michigan, Muskegon is also the largest populated city on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan and has a plethora of activities for the budget traveler. From unwinding and relaxing at a picturesque park to strolling down a scenic beach, and wandering through insightful museums, we’ve compiled a list of activities for you to do – all without breaking the bank.

Muskegon Lighthouses: Photo Credit Barb Lowry

 

Photo Credit: Adam Alexander

Take a stroll at Pere Marquette Beach

Either than having the largest complimentary beach on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, it’s also one of the most beautiful beaches in the state. It’s a pristine beach that’s Clean Beaches Council certified and has hiking trails and even a playground to cater to the little ones. There’s also a dog beach that’s just a block away if you’re thinking of bringing along a furry friend.

At Pere Marquette Beach, there’s plenty to do from playing volleyball at one of the courts to cycling around the beach area and taking in the stunning shoreline. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot a windsurfing, kiteboarding or professional volleyball competition taking place as tournaments are commonly held there.

See two historic lighthouses while there.  Walk the one-half mile pier to visit the South Breakwater Lighthouse,  a 63-foot tall pyramidal light tower built in 1931. Then catch a tour and climb to the top of the 48 foot tall, ironclad Muskegon South Pierhead Light, built in 1903 The lighthouse boasts unparalleled views from the lantern room at the tower top. During summer, children will enjoy free Storytime with the Lighthouse Lady every Monday at 2 p.m.

The Blockhouse at Muskegon State Park

Go on an adventure at Muskegon State Park

After you’ve had your fill at the beach, it’s time to explore Muskegon’s State Park that’s situated on the shore of Lake Michigan and peppered with hiking trails, lush forests, and gently rolling hills. While most parks are closed during the winter time, you’re still able to enjoy Muskegon State Park’s breathtaking beauty during the winter months. Be sure to visit the Blockhouse while there. Open year round, with no admission fee, this historic replica of Fort Dearborn offers amazing views of Lake Michigan.

While there are campgrounds, picnic areas, swimming, and fishing available during the warmer months, there are also a variety of winter recreation options available at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex during the colder months. From an Olympian-designed luge track to a sledding hill, and an ice skating trail through the woods, there’s plenty to do. Day passes start at an inexpensive price of $5 during the weekdays and $10 during the weekends. Children under the age of five can even enter for free.

Sunset at Heritage Landing

Relax at Heritage Landing

Heritage Landing is essentially the waterfront of Muskegon Lake and is the perfect place to relax on a warm summer day. During the summer months, there’s also a lot that goes on at Heritage Landing from concerts to carnivals, music festivals, and events. Either than partaking in the festivities, you may even get to see fireworks display while having a drink at a beverage tent.

Heritage Landing is also an ideal location to unwind as it has a large children’s playground area, as well as picnic, and fishing areas. Since it’s conveniently located, you can easily head there for a day out from downtown Michigan.

Take in the views at Kruse Park Lake Michigan Beach, with you dog!

Another fantastic beach to head to is Kruse Park Lake Michigan Beach, offering breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, it’s also a fantastic picnic area since it has a total of four picnic shelters and an accessible ramp to the beach and dunes.

While children will enjoy the playground, there are also nature trails for the avid hiker, barrier dunes, and even a basketball court. At the northern section of the park.  There’s also a designated beach for you and your furry friends., complete with “doggy stations” to keep the area clean and safe.

Hackley House and City Barn: Photo Courtesy of Lakeshore Museum Center

Go back in time at the Hackley & Hume Historic Site

Once you’ve had your fill of beaches and parks, time to go back in time by visiting the Hackley & Hume Historic Site. While it isn’t complimentary (adults pay $10, and children 5- 17 pay $5 with children under 4 getting in for free), it does allow you access to four locations. And, you can combine this with a visit to the Lakeshore Museum Center for more affordable tickets.

The historic site consists of the Hackley House, Hume House, City Barn, Scolnik House of Depression Era and City Fire Barn Museum. Both historical Victorian homes were built around 1889 and are preserved to feel as though you’ve traveled back in time to 1913. The Hackley House is a unique example of both Victorian architecture, and 19th-century interior decorative arts. The Hume House, on the other hand, is tastefully decorated and has over nine bedrooms. The City Barn was shared by the families and was used to house horses, equipment, and coachmen.The Scolnik House of the Depression Era tells the story of families living in Muskegon during the Great Depression. The house is also a gentle-touch historic house. Visitors can try on period clothing, help do laundry, and explore the garden all while learning of the hardships brought about by the Great Depression. The Fire Barn Museum serves as a living memorial to the brave men and women who have served as Muskegon County firefighters and  featurs a collection of antique fire fighting apparatus.

 

Admire the pieces at the Muskegon Museum of Art

The Muskegon Museum of Art is the perfect place to immerse yourself in a variety of art with exhibits that change frequently. There’s also an extensive collection of art pieces that are painted by women and African Americans. In every decade since the 1940s, the Walker family has continued to give significant works of art to the museum.

While wandering around the museum, take your time to appreciate the permanent art collection that’s the envy of many other museums in the art world. Otherwise, enjoy the temporary exhibits that display art pieces from artists that reside all around the world. Access to the Muskegon Museum of Art is complimentary on Thursday’s from 4 pm to 8 pm. On other days, you’d have to purchase a ticket to admire the amazing art collection.

Mastodon at Lakeshore Museum Center: Photo Courtesy of Lakeshore Museum Center

Expand your knowledge at Lakeshore Museum Center

You can easily spend a day at this museum that’s comprised of the main building along with five historic structures. Focusing on natural and cultural topics, the museum has both temporary and permanent exhibits to pique one’s interest.

At the permanent exhibits, you can take a 10,000-year journey and see a Great Lakes Schooner, mastodon and sawmill. Children can also participate in hands-on activities such as building a meal, riding an exercise bike, and visiting other interactive stations. Combine this with a visit to the Hackley & Hume Historic Site for more affordable tickets. Otherwise, tickets are $3 for adults, while children two and under get in for free.

White River Light Station and Museum

While at Muskegon Michigan, don’t forget to visit the White River Light Station that was built in 1875. You’ll be able to delve into history by climbing a spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse tower, browse vintage photographs, and examine a collection of nautical artifacts. Don’t forget to take in the view of Lake Michigan while you’re at the top of the lighthouse.

After visiting the lighthouse, pop by the museum to take a look at photographs, paintings, and stories as you immerse yourself in the knowledge of Maritime history. You’ll also get to take a look at navigational devices such as a bilge pump, chronograph, ship helms, and more. You can do all of the above at an affordable price of $5 for adults, and $2 for children 12 and under.

Conclusion

At Muskegon Michigan, there are plenty of activities for you to partake in even while traveling on a budget. Take your time to explore all the sights, museums, and beautiful scenery that Muskegon has to offer. Heading to Michigan and looking for more travel tips? Check out Trip101.

Make Muskegon Your Maritime Stop!

Silversides Outdoor

Make Muskegon Your Maritime Stop!

Known for their abundant history in lumber, manufacturing and shipping, Muskegon is also home to two, very important, World War II maritime vessels.

The USS Silversides is a historic Gato class (built for the US Navy launched between 1941–1943) submarine. During her service, she received 12 battle stars and was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for cumulative action over four patrols. She is credited with sinking 23 ships – the third-most of any allied World War II submarine! According to JANAC (Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee) the USS Silversides has the most prolific combat record of any still extant American Submarine.

In her retirement, the Silversides found a home in Muskegon, where she is part of the USS Silverside Museum. Docked in the Muskegon channel, she floats behind the US Coast Guard Cutter McLane, also available to tour. A two story museum center, filled with historic naval and interactive exhibits, completes the setting.

Where else can you sleep on a submarine? Overnight stays are offered for groups and families which is very popular among scout troops. Overnighters do need to bring their bedding and meals; though the museum has partnered with several local restaurants, offering a discount to overnight guests. According to Dan Holroyd, of Southern Michigan Paranormals, the USS Silversides is the second most haunted place in West Michigan, making overnight stays even more exciting!

A bit of a movie star, the Silversides was recently featured in an episode of “Hell Below” on the Smithsonian Channel, and was used for exterior scenes in the 2002 film “Below”.

A 14 minute drive along the Muskegon Lake shoreline brings you to the USS LST 393, an LST-1-class tank landing ship originally launched in 1942.

She is one of only two LSTs to survive in their original configuration. During her service she won battle stars for the Sicilian occupation, Salerno landings, and the Invasion of Normandy. The LST 393 made 75 voyages to foreign shores and was one of the only LSTs to be equipped with an airplane.

During the 1950’s she found a new name, the MV Highway 16, and career shipping new automobiles across the Great Lakes.

In the 2000’s the USS LST 393 was restored by committed veterans, their families and supporters, into a veterans museum boasting thousands of artifacts. Along with ship tours and the expansive collection on board, memorial and special events are hosted onboard. Truly unique experiences include summertime “Movies on the Deck” in the evening and Sunday Yoga on the Deck. (Again, where else can you do that?)

Overnight sleepovers are also available for scouts…be warned, she was named the fourth most haunted place in West Michigan!

A recent addition to her grounds was the dedication of the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” sculpture in honor of Muskegon native, and inspiration for the Andrew Sisters song, World War II bugler Clarence Zylman.

The Silversides is accepts visitors year round and the LST welcomes you aboard April through September.

The Magic of Ice Cream

Coney Land with American Flag

‘Come sit with me, both of you,’ she said. ‘We’ll talk of strange ice creams and such things as we seem to have a bent for.”
~  Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Dandelion Wine is the enchanting American novel of a young, Midwestern boy’s magical summer. Naturally it includes ice cream…because what is summer without this delicious, drippy dairy treat?

Luckily here in Muskegon County we can have the magic of summer and ice cream all year long due to our number of neighborly ice cream shops.
We have rounded them up for you by making the rounds (it’s a tough job, but…) and asking them some questions: Here are the results (so far.)

Beach Cove

The Beach Cove is located in the heart of Pere Marquette Beach in the front of the iconic white and blue bathhouse. The owners also have a nearby location on Lakeshore Dr called the Frosty Cove.  Their slogan is “We Sell Happiness!”

 

Every week offers a popular, new and different soft serve “Flavor of the Week” which the customers always look forward to. But, they report their Turtle Sundae…with butter roasted pecans, hot fudge, hot caramel and premium soft serve vanilla is ranked pretty high…and the Hot Apple Pie sundae is pretty excellent!  While it is not ice cream related, we think that the fact that Pronto Pups are available here should be mentioned. There is even a Pronto Pup Punchcard!

If you are daring you could try the “Whaler Sundae” which was just featured in a magazine. It is over 2# of ice cream, so best shared with a friend. They believe if you compare prices to portion they are one of the best deals in town. Combine this with the great customer service and you can see why their slogan is “We Sell Happiness!”

Location

Pere Marquette Beach
Muskegon, Michigan

Summer hours

March – October
Sunday – Thursday 1:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Friday 1:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Saturday 12:00 pm – 10:30 pm
(Hours subject to change; Check Facebook for updated hours.)

Follow on:

thefrostycove.com  | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | Check-in Offers on Yelp

Coney Land

After Coney Land was closed for a few years the Morin’s from Muskegon purchased it in December of 2006. They reopened their service windows and started passing ice cream through to happy customers in March of 2007. A family owned and operated business; you can find the Morins and 2 of their daughters performing day to day operations alongside other friends and employees.

 

Coney Land offers a wide variety of menu items including both food and ice cream. We have many deep fried items including fish, as well as hot dogs, burgers, and a signature wet burrito. Flurries are their number one seller with malted following right behind. Both are come with many flavor choices.

Flurry favorites are Reeses, Chocolate Covered Cherry or Strawberry, and Blueberry Waffle. Malted and shake favorites include Chocolate, Hot Fudge and Strawberry. There are two Dole Whip flavors each week which are dairy, gluten, lactose, cholesterol and fat free. Pineapple Dole Whip is the same as served at Disney.

Coney Land takes pride in their social media presence and owner Ron is very active on the Coney Land Facebook page. You can the latest specials, limited time offerings and answers to any questions you may have for them.  Coney Land prides themselves on a quality customer experience and it shows with their 4.8 rating on Google and 4.9 rating on Facebook!

Location:

1960 Whitehall Rd
Muskegon, Michigan

Summer hours:

March – September
Monday – Saturday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Follow on:

Facebook

The Frosty Cove

The Frosty Cove has been in the hands of its current owners since 2011.

It is one of two ice cream shops they own, the second being The Beach Cove (above).  Located across from the future site of Windward Pointe, they are ideally located to serve the community. With all of the exciting things happening and growth in downtown, visitors and locals will be passing by Frosty Cove on their way to and from the beach.

See the section on Beach Cove for ice cream flavors and favorites.

Location:

2565 Lakeshore Dr.
Muskegon, Michigan

Summer hours:

March – October
Sunday – Thursday 1:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Friday 1:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Saturday 12:00 pm – 10:30 pm
(Hours subject to change; Check Facebook for updated hours.)

Follow on:

thefrostycove.com  | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | Check-in Offers on Yelp

Hannah Banana’s Ice Cream

Hannah Bananas is under new local ownership as of June 2018! For new owner Lynda, it has been a busy couple of weeks fixing up the property and learning the ropes! But boy does her hard work shine through! Hanna Banana is a joyful, bright, clean and comfy setting where you feel invited to stay a while and relax with your ice cream concoction. Nestle yourself amid potted flowers and cute décor as the wee ones have fun on the play equipment. Or, work off the ice cream calories with a hula hoop competition…plenty of hoops are available for use!

Longtime residents may recall this ice cream shop as Fat Jack’s. Around 2007 it was renamed Hannah Bananas (after the previous owner’s daughter).

Hanna Banana’s signature treat is the Ice Cream Nachos! You choose your ice cream flavor, and we load it up with 2 different sundae toppings and surround it with our homemade waffle cone “chips”!

Location:

2312 W Sherman Blvd
Muskegon, Michigan

Summer hours:

Spring – Autumn
Monday – Thursday 2:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Friday – Sunday 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Follow on:

Facebook @hannahbananasicecream (Tag Your Photos #hannahbananasicecream)

The Fish Monger’s Wife

Fish Monger chalkboard sign

The winter ice has melted from the lakes of Muskegon County. There will soon be blooming daffodils, robin sightings…and a lot more fishing!

Another welcome sign of Spring is the anticipated re-opening of The Fish Monger’s Wife.

The Fish Monger’s Wife celebrates the tradition of America’s First Industry – Commercial Fishing. Owners Amber Mae and Eric opened the Norton Shores business in 2010 when their first child was born. This regional Fish Market specializes in smoked and fresh Great Lakes whitefish. The whitefish are caught by Eric and his family, who have commercially fished Lake Michigan since 1927.The Fish Monger’s Wife Rain Boots

The Fish Monger’s Wife Six Weathered Fishing Buoys Lined Up Against Wall in Shades of Red, Orange and Yellow

Ken Fischang, a former Convention and Visitors Bureau Director for Saugatuck-Douglas and Sonoma County (CA), recently moved back to Michigan. During a visit to Muskegon last year, Ken stumbled upon The Fish Monger’s Wife. He was smitten with the charm, history and quality of the family business. So enthusiastic was Ken in relaying the discovery, we asked if he would write it down for us to share in a blog!

Here is what Ken had to say:

On a recent trip to Muskegon a roadside sign caught my eye as I was coming into town, it read “The Fish Monger’s Wife”.

For a guy who has “Fish” in his last name and grew up as an avid fisherman on a lake in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I was intrigued. After my meeting concluded, I map quested my way to this wonderful place.

I was greeted by a sunlit interior with hardwood floors and bright skylights with a delicious display of smoked and fresh local fish.

The Fish Monger’s Wife Shop Interior

Behind the spotless,shining counter was the smiling Fish Monger’s Wife herself, the delightful Amber Mae Petersen.

The Fish Monger’s Wife on the Phone at Desk with Plants and Items for Sale Surrounding Here. Sunlit Windows Behind Her. The first words she spoke after welcoming me to her shop were music to my ears,

“Would you like to sample anything?” “Would I ever!” I enthusiastically replied.

The Fish Monger’s Wife Chalkboard with Showing Available Fish I tried a variety of smoked whitefish, salmon, lake trout, homemade fish sausage and something I had never had before, smoked Cisco. Amber explained that Cisco was a freshwater herring from the great lakes. She also told me how her family has been fishing the great lakes for more than ninety years. The Fish Monger’s Wife Family Photos of Fishermen

She started selling their fresh fish only at local farmers markets. Then they added smoked fish using a traditional saltwater brine and 100% wood fired smokehouse- just like her great Grandpa Ben and Great Grandma Oral Petersen did many years ago. Smoked Great Lake Whitefish

This multi-generational family run business is a treasure for anyone who enjoys fresh, local seafood. They also offer discounts on different amounts of bulk purchases as part of their Seasonal Whitefish program varying from the Little Fish package (10 pounds of fillets) to the Monger package (35 pounds of fillets). Additionally, with a minimum of 10 pounds of Whitefish, you are eligible for special sale prices on Lake Trout, Lake Perch, Smelt and Ground Fish which is Whitefish, Lake Trout and combo mixes to use in place of ground turkey or chicken. Amber features some ‘fishalicious” recipes on her website as well.

The Fish Monger’s Wife Smiling Man in Stocking Cap, Flannel Shirt and Sunglasses holding Tray of Freshly Smoked Great Lakes Whitefish

This place brings back fun images of my mother as she has often raised her right hand and pledged,

“My name is Peg and I am a Fishaholic!”

The Fish Monger’s Wife Man in Grey Stocking Hat and Orange Fishing Overalls holding Tray of Freshly Smoked Great Lakes Whitefish

Mark your calendar for Wednesday, March 28th; visit The Fish Monger’s Wife and have a delicious taste of Muskegon’s fishing history.

The Fish Monger’s Wife

2127 West Sherman Blvd.

Muskegon, MI 49441

thefishmongerswife.net

231-755-1600