Downtown Grand Haven possesses a very rich historical background and a distinct aesthetic with its waterfront location, thriving business district and strong focus on the arts. It is the aim of the preservation and place committee to preserve, enhance and celebrate these environmental attributes of the properties within the MSDDA district while educating the community, businesses and property owners about the importance of historical preservation.

Projects Include:

  • Rocket Fish Project
  • Banners
  • Landscaping
  • Design assistance
  • Maintenance program


  • Installed underground storm retention filters to prevent foreign materials from making their way into the Grand River and Lake Michigan.
  • Planted green roofs atop dumpster overhangs to capture rainwater pollutants.
  • Compiled a comprehensive catch basin database, including location and direction of water flow, to quickly and efficiently trace contaminants back to their origins.
  • Installed a new snow melt system in the subsurface of the first three blocks of Washington St. and the surrounding curbs and sidewalks


Nestled next to Lake Michigan and bordered by the Grand River, Grand Haven is indeed a maritime marvel. Boaters of all sorts fill the waterways when the weather warms on sailboats, motorboats, jet skis and all types of watercraft.

Some are headed out to Lake Michigan to fish, cruise or travel to ports along the shores of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Others dock for the day–or several–to explore Downtown Grand Haven and it’s vast collection of eateries, shops, arts and style!

Boats heading inland on the Grand River are often carrying passengers who wish to ski, tube, swim and fish on Spring Lake. The Lubber’s Cup Regatta is held on Spring Lake each April too, featuring rowers from all over the country who come to compete in the annual event.

There are frequent sailboat regattas on both Spring Lake and Lake Michigan as well. The area even hosts the occasional speedboat race. Whatever your maritime style, Grand Haven is the place to boat a while!

Central Park

Grand Haven’s beautiful Central Park is the perfect place for a family picnic or a quiet
stroll. The peaceful setting is often selected by brides and grooms as a serene wedding site.

Several events are held there throughout the year too. The annual Easter Egg Hunt is a Central Park staple each spring. During Grand Haven ArtWalk, sculptures are scattered throughout the space and guests attending ArtWalk’s Family Art Day sprawl out on the lawn to paint masterpieces onto canvas.

The fountain at the center of the park has been in place since 1871. The water feature is still functional today, enabling visitors to enjoy a great piece of Grand Haven’s history each time they visit Central Park.

The fountain was recently restored, preserving the local landmark for future generations.


Founded in 1835, Grand Haven is filled with historical architecture from various time periods throughout the past few centuries. A quick stroll along Washington Ave. will reveal buildings indicative of virtually every decade since the city was established.

Next time you are wandering about downtown, be sure to look up, look all around, and witness the historical architecture spread throughout town.

You can even take a historical walking tour that highlights the various buildings in the area. Check here for more information.


While there’s lots to do in Grand Haven in the winter months, when the weather begins to warm, Downtown livens with shoppers, diners, art aficionados and outdoor recreational enthusiasts.

The Grand Haven waterfront fills with locals and visitors who come to enjoy the scenery
and the numerous events and activities the area has to offer. There’s the Grand Pizza Fest in March, the Chilly Blues chili cook off  in April and the Grand Haven Farmer’s Market, which is held twice weekly from May through October at Chinook Pier.

In the summer, things really start heating up. People come in droves to Downtown Grand Haven’s waterfront district to stroll along the boardwalk out to the Grand Haven Lighthouse and Lake Michigan beaches. The waterfront is also popular for its boutique shopping, snack shops, restaurants, marina–complete with charter fishing fleet–miniature golf course and much more!

The first three blocks of Washington Ave. are filled with one of a kind shops, art galleries, hair salons and spas and an assortment of unique eateries that offer everything from traditional American and upscale Italian to sushi and seafood. The Coast Guard Festival takes place in this district mid summer. A few weeks later, merchants move outdoors for the annual, two day Annual Sidewalk Sales.

The hilltop houses Central Park and the city’s municipal buildings. And Centertown bookends the business district, with it’s own collection of distinct retail stores, restaurants and service businesses and a local style all its own.

Sand Sculpture Contest

In June of each year, locals and visitors gather at Grand Haven’s City Beach for the annual Sand Sculpture Contest. Participants are given a time limit to sculpt sand into castles, animals or other shapes without using any artificial supports.

A panel of judges considers the themes, originality and difficulty. Medals are awarded for first, second and third places in each category. Spectators also have the opportunity to cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award.


Grand Haven Main Street is a safe place for families to trick-or-treat on Halloween day, with Washington Ave. closed to traffic from Harbor Drive to Third Street.

Hundreds show up from 4 – 6 pm on Halloween each year, including parents, children and even their pets, all dressed in costumes, to trick-or-treat up and down the sidewalks.

Our downtown businesses really get into the fun, passing out candy in front of their stores. The local police department and other area organizations are there to greet the kids too. Downtown Trick-or-Treating is the perfect event for people of all ages!

Check out this video from Halloween 2011: Downtown Trick-or-Treating


Walkability – Snowmelt

Western Michigan is known for its harsh winters, with snowfall and freezing temperatures the norm for many months during the winters. But guests of Downtown Grand Haven need not worry about the weather! The Grand Haven Main Street Downtown Development Authority (MSDDA) recently commissioned the installation of an environmentally friendly snowmelt system that keeps the sidewalks and streets of Downtown free and clear of snow and ice all winter long!

The snowmelt system is made up of a series of tubes beneath the sidewalks and roads in the first three blocks of Downtown Grand Haven. Water diverted from the Grand River and nearby Board of Light and Power runs through the tubing, warming the substructure and preventing the surface from accumulating snow and ice. As a result, people can wander around without worrying about slips and falls. The next time the weather threatens to shut down your excursion, head on down to Downtown Grand Haven where the sidewalks and streets are always clear!

Ice Cream

Whether you are in the mood for soft serve, authentic Italian gelato or a custom made blend ike salted caramel, Grand Haven has a vast assortment of ice cream vendors to suit everyone’s taste.

Near the waterfront, Temptations, Dairy Kreme, Pier Peddler and Dairy Treat offer an array of ice cold indulgences. On the first block of Washington Ave., Santo Stefano del Lago serves up Old World style gelato year round. Wherever you are in downtown, there’s sure to be ice cream somewhere around!

Farmer’s Market

The Grand Haven Farmer’s Market is the perfect place to purchase produce, flowers and other items grown and made by the region’s farmers and artisans. The market opens in May from 8 am – 1 pm at Chinook Pier on Harbor Drive.

In June – October, the market is open on both Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8 am – 1 pm, at the same location on Harbor Drive.  Just look for the green canopies!

With the buy local movement afoot, many area residents prefer to buy from the Farmer’s Market, supporting farmers from along the lakeshore and beyond. It’s also a wonderful way to incorporate freshly-picked fruits and vegetables into a diet. And, to taste-test a variety of handmade, value-added foods made right here in western Michigan.