Grand Haven VS South Haven: Which One to Choose?

Planning for a perfect trip to Michigan? If you are then Grand Haven and South Haven are the two cities that must come to your mind.

So, which one is better in Michigan grand haven vs south haven?

Between Grand Haven and South Haven, Grand Haven is a larger town with a more lively atmosphere. Whereas, South Haven is a smaller town with a more relaxed vibe. Also, the beach and the downtown area of South Haven is within walking distance. For famous landmarks and festivals Grand Haven would be the better choice.

This is not all! There’s a lot more to know about these two cities.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s dig right in!

Quick Comparison: Grand Haven vs South Haven!

Before we run into the detailed comparison, there’s something else. Yes, we have prepared a quick comparison table for you! This is similar to hilton head and myrtle beach comparison.

FactorsGrand HavenSouth Haven
Distance from Holland20 miles30 miles
For ShoppingNoYes
Bike Path100 miles34 miles
Famous ForArt and Culture Antiquing and Art Galleries 
City Type Bustling and Tourist-FriendlyLaid-back and relaxed
Cost$100 – $150 $80 – $120

We think now you have an overall idea about both of the cities. Now, let’s take a deep look into these aspects. 

Best Time to Visit Grand Haven and South Haven

Both Grand Haven and South Haven represent the culture of Lake Michigan. So, both the places will give you the same vibe. As grand haven mi to south haven mi is not that far away so you can enjoy both at the same time.

Generally, you can visit these two cities every season. Different seasons will give you different preferences. 

We have listed down summer and spring as the best seasons to visit. Let’s see.


In the spring, all of the villages along Lake Michigan see spectacular blooms, thunderstorms, and boating. Two events in the region include the Tulip Festival and fragrant festivals. 

Both South Haven and Grand Haven would be perfect in spring. That is to enjoy these festivals and many more going on in summer!


There are various beaches to explore around the state. With some of the most beautiful beings in Van Buren County. For nature lovers, summer is the greatest time to explore Lake Michigan.

That’s why south haven is the perfect place to be in summer. Because lake Michigan is just 15.5 miles away from south haven. Sights in summer are really wholesome here.

Transportation and Air

The nearest airport to South Haven is Kalamazoo International Airport (AZO). However, there are other options for getting to South Haven. Amtrak operates a train from Chicago Union Station to Bangor Amtrak Station once a day. 

The journey takes 2h 19m, and tickets cost between $29 and $45.

The nearest airport to Grand Haven is Muskegon International Airport (MKG). However, there are other options for getting to Grand Haven. Every day, Amtrak provides a train between Chicago Union Station and Holland Amtrak Station. 

The trip takes 3 hours and 1 minute, and tickets range from $30 to $50.

Both villages are located on Lake Michigan and have names that seem like vacation destinations. Despite the fact that they are around 50 miles apart.

Grand Haven is located around 20 miles north of Holland. And 34 miles west of Grand Rapids. 

Source: worldatlas

South Haven is around 30 miles south of Holland and less than 40 miles west of Kalamazoo. 

Grand Haven and South Haven are about equivalent when compared to the Metro Detroit area. South Haven, however, is a far more practical option for those traveling up from Chicago.

But if you want to travel from Chicago there won’t be any problem. You will find easy ways like route (car/bus), flight or even boats to get along in both of the cities. 


South Haven is a popular tourist destination, moreover, accommodation is not inexpensive. Renting a week’s worth of lodging is the most usual option. Although there are also bed and breakfast inns and hotels in south haven.

In order to stay at South Haven, you need places with good service. Let’s have a look-

  • Old Harbor Inn: The Old Harbor Inn offers sumptuous robes, kitchenettes, balconies, and fireplaces in its rooms.
  • Martha’s Vineyard: The Martha’s Vineyard is basically a B&B (Bed and Breakfast). But you will also get different facilities there.

Grand Haven is home to a number of hotels and bed & breakfasts. There are several locations to be found there. Take a peek at some of the locations.

  • Best Western Beacon Inn: Best Western Beacon Inn offers a pool, free WiFi, parking included, air conditioning, gym, and business services. 
  • Rodeway Inn: Rodeway Inn is basically a B&B (Bed and Breakfast). However, you will find a variety of amenities there.

These are basically suggestions for both kinds of budgets. There are plenty of additional solutions available.

Is a Guide Needed?

In both of the cities, you can hire tour guides. But that won’t be worth it because there are very few chances to get lost in grand haven and south haven. 

And both of the cities are very tourist friendly and secure. 

So, let us guide you for the whole trip. 

We will try to provide every bit of information about both of these cities. So that you can roam around both of the cities without any hesitation. 

Food and Drinks 

Grand Haven will give you the perfect pleasure if you are a foodie. There are also plenty of places to have a fun night with your friends. Let’s have a look at some places.

  • Fricano’s – their paper-thin and oil-dripping pizzas are served in a no-frills environment. A single pizza usually feeds one person. 
  • Spring Lake Holiday Inn – On Wednesdays, the bar offers a half-price “Ladies’ Night.” On Thursdays, it hosts a comedy night.
  • Kirby Grill is a Kirby, Texas restaurant- After Labor Day, there’s a great $2 bargain on beers and personal pizzas from 4 to 6 p.m.

There are also places in South Haven where you can enjoy your meals and drink. 

  • On weekdays, Joe’s Bar and Grill is a lovely spot that provides delicious family-friendly meals. The Vineyard, which is across the street from Joe’s, has a wonderful lunchtime buffet during the week.

And many more!

Entertainment and Activities

Both Grand Haven and South Haven offer a variety of entertainment and activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the popular things to do in each town:

Grand Haven:

  • Grand Haven State Park: This is one of the most popular beaches in the area, with beautiful sand dunes and a lighthouse.
  • Musical Fountain: This is a popular attraction where you can watch a synchronized light and water show set to music.
  • Tri-Cities Historical Museum: This museum showcases the history of Grand Haven and the surrounding area, with exhibits on local industries, agriculture, and cultural heritage.
  • Charter fishing: Grand Haven is known for its excellent fishing, and there are many charter boats available for hire.
  • Downtown shopping and dining: Grand Haven’s downtown area has a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes to explore.

South Haven:

  • South Haven Lighthouse: This historic lighthouse is located at the end of the pier and offers beautiful views of the lake.
  • Kal-Haven Trail: This 34-mile trail runs from South Haven to Kalamazoo and is popular for hiking, biking, and snowmobiling.
  • Van Buren State Park: This park has beautiful sand dunes, hiking trails, and a beach.
  • Wine tasting: South Haven is located in a wine region and there are many wineries and tasting rooms to explore.
  • Michigan Maritime Museum: This museum showcases the history of boating and shipping in the Great Lakes region.

Both Grand Haven and South Haven also have a variety of water sports activities available, such as jet skiing, kayaking, and paddleboarding, as well as seasonal events and festivals.

Sightseeing and Activities

Grand Haven and South Haven both provide a wide range of outdoor activities. The Grand Haven State Park beach is larger than South Haven’s North and South Beaches.

When it comes to outdoor leisure, the possibilities are endless. A 34-mile bicycle route connects South Haven with Kalamazoo at State Park in South Haven. Grand Haven boasts about 100 miles of biking paths of various difficulty levels.

Source: theworldpursuit

There are many golf courses in Grand Haven and South Haven. In South Haven, there’s the Grand Haven Golf Club and the Beeches Golf Club.

Source: southhaven

Another popular outdoor activity that you may engage in either of these locations is boating. From Grand Haven, take a 63-foot schooner around Lake Michigan, or enjoy sailing in South Haven.

Have you ever thought of visiting ocean beach and pacific beach as well?


Grand Haven and South Haven are great places to visit for art and culture. Antiquing, art galleries, and boutique shops are popular in South Haven. 

Grand Haven has wonderful historical museums and attractions. Along with public art, the waterfront, and art galleries feature the work of local artists.

The Harbor Fest in South Haven is held in June. While the Blueberry Festival is held in August. Every summer, the Coast Guard Great Lakes Kite Festival is hosted in Grand Haven. 


Both of the cities have wonderful bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. As we have discussed earlier, the places where you can enjoy your drink and food.

As Grand Haven is more tourist-friendly that’s why you’ll find more nightclubs here. There are also places to chill in South Haven. But grand haven is better in this segment. 


Both of these cities are the most hyped cities in Michigan. These places are mostly filled with tourists. That’s why the security and facilities are appreciable. 

You won’t have to be concerned about security. But for your own betterment, we would suggest you keep on the safe side. Please be careful about your babies when you are traveling in an unknown city or beach. You can learn the baby beach hacks for that case.

Grand Haven or South Haven: Which One is for You?

We hope you’ve got to know a deep inner view of both South Haven and Grand Haven. As you can see, Grand Haven is more famous to tourists because of its versatility. You are going to enjoy art and culture in grand haven! 

On the other hand, South Haven is a great laid-back place for relaxation. But it has exciting activities to do also. Both of the places features different attractions just like the Residence Inn and SpringHill Suites.

So it’s up to you what you want from this trip. If you want a tourist-friendly exciting trip, go to Grand Haven. But if you just want to relax a bit, South Haven is the one for you.


Is Holland or Grand Haven better?

Grand Haven is better than Holland. Dune rides are available south of Holland (Saugatuck) and north of Holland (Silver Lake dunes). Both towns are lovely, but if you’re looking for a resort location, Grand Haven is a must.

Is South Haven worth visiting?

Yes, South Haven is worth visiting. It comes with gorgeous beach sites, award-winning vineyards, and picturesque surroundings. You can do a lot of things in South Haven, MI.

What is Saugatuck known for?

Saugatuck is renowned as Michigan’s Art Coast. And art enthusiasts will find lots of studios, galleries, and art workshops. Award-winning chefs will prepare farm-fresh meals for foodies. You won’t regret visiting Saugatuck. 

Is Grand Haven expensive?

Compared to other cities in Michigan, Grand Haven can be a bit expensive to live. However, in comparison to the rest of USA, Grand Haven is generally considered to be an affordable destination.


I hope you have got a clear idea about both grand haven vs south haven. 

Both of these places are full of fun activities. And both are not that far so you can visit both if you feel like it. 

If there are any more queries please drop them in the comment section.

Till then have a great tour!

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