Grand Haven, Michigan​

Grand Haven, Michigan

Grand Haven is a small city situated in Ottawa County in the southwestern part of the US State of Michigan. The city is located at the mouth of the Grand River, on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. The city of Grand Haven serves as a popular tourist destination, with its scenic landscape and spectacular sandy beaches attracting a lot of visitors from all over the world.

Geography Of Grand Haven

Lighthouse in Grand Haven, Michigan.

The city of Grand Haven forms a part of the Grand Rapids Metropolitan Area and covers a total area of 19.06 sq. km, of which 4.12 sq. km is occupied by water, and 14.94 sq. km is occupied by land. The city is located about 25km south of the city of Muskegon and to the north of the Grand Haven Charter Township.

Tourist Attractions

The Annual Grand Haven Kite Festival in Grand Haven, Michigan.
The Annual Grand Haven Kite Festival at the Grand Haven State Park featuring over 25 flyers from the United States and Canada. Editorial credit: Susan B Sheldon /

The city’s port community is an active beach resort that offers many recreational opportunities like boating, sailing, fishing, skating, biking, etc. Grand Haven hosts two lighthouses, a pier, a boardwalk, a state beach, a large charter fishing fleet, a Great Lakes port, and more than 160km of bike trails. The 227.07km long Lake Michigan coast features seven beaches with rolling dunes and soft-sandy shorelines. The Grand Haven Boardwalk is a 2.41km long stretch of paved path that runs along the Grand River harbor to the Grand Haven State Park beach, contains many shops, restaurants, bars, marinas, and rental houses. The city of Grand haven has several parks. Located along the southern side of the harbor, the Grand Haven State Park is a 0.19 sq. km public recreation area that consists of beaches and features a 174-site campground, a ski park, a fishing pier, a playground, and picnicking area, and a skate park. The waterfront locations attract many tourists and offer various recreational beach activities, including boating, windsurfing, tubing, sailing, jet-skiing, etc. The State Park also offers magnificent views of the Grand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light and the Grand Haven South Pierhead Entrance Light, which are among the most photographed lighthouses in Michigan.

Coast Guard Boats at Grand Haven, Michigan
Coast Guards boats docked at the Coast Guard Station in Grand Haven, Michigan. Editorial credit: Tamie Paroff /

The city of Grand Haven is nicknamed the “Coast Guard City, U.S.A.,” as it serves as a base for the Coast Guard Station of the United States Coast Guard. The city also hosts the annual Coast Guard Festival to honor the Coast Guard and those who sacrificed their lives in the nation’s service. The Grand Haven Musical Fountain, located on Dewey Hill on the northern shore of the Grand River, is an electronically controlled musical water and light display that runs every night for about half an hour during the tourist season.

The Population of Grand Haven

Aerial view of Grand Haven, Michigan
Aerial view of Grand Haven North and South Pierhead Lighthouses in Grand Haven, Michigan. 

In 2019, Grand Haven had a population of 10,994 people with a median age of 47.4. The city’s population had increased from the 2010 census, which showed that the city was home to 10,412 residents. As of 2019, about 244 people (2.22% of the residents) of Grand Haven were born outside the country. The most common birthplace for the foreign-born residents of Michigan was Mexico, followed by India and Iraq. The largest ethnic groups in Grand Haven are the non-Hispanic White representing 95.4% of Grand Haven’s population, followed by the Hispanic group at 1.56%, two or more groups at 1.24%, American Indians at 0.664%, and others at 0.464%. As of 2019, the median household income in Grand Haven was $58,307, and the median property value was $161,000. The average car ownership was two cars per household.

Brief History

Antique train at Grand Haven, Michigan
The Antique train Pere Marquette N-1 Berkshire 1223 steam locomotive at Grand Haven, Michigan. 

It is believed that the Potawatomi and Ottawa Indians inhabited the area for hundreds of years. These indigenous people used the Grand River as a trade route into the interior parts of the state. The French colonial settlers founded the city, and a fur trading outpost named “Gabagouache” was initially established here. Americans started settling this area after the War of 1812. The first permanent resident of the town was a presbyterian minister named William Montague Ferry, who also established the first area church and the neighboring city of Ferrysburg in 1834. In 1835, the town’s residents named it “Grand Haven.” The town developed as an active center for logging, lumbering, and shipbuilding in due course. The town of Grand Haven was officially incorporated as a city in 1867. The city’s growth as an active beach resort was encouraged after the discovery of mineral-rich springs in 1870.

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