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South Haven Beaches, Parks, Trails & More

South Haven is a charming city in West Michigan. The community is a favorite spot for boaters who use the public marinas and the Black River to access Lake Michigan. South Haven's downtown shopping district features unique shops, clothing boutiques and food shops.

Recreational Trails

South Haven serves as the starting point for two lengthy trails:
  • Kal-Haven Trail State Park connects South Haven and Kalamazoo. The trailhead for the Kal-Haven Trail State Park is located north of Wells Street. The crushed limestone trail is popular with recreational cyclists. Annual passes are available through the Van Buren County Road Commission.

  • Van Buren Trail State Park starts on the south side of town near Lovejoy Avenue. The trail can be used for biking, hiking, jogging, horseback riding, and snowmobiling. The trail is a combination of dirt, gravel and grass. The trail is not really suited for road bikes since the terrain can be pretty rugged.

A walking route using the sidewalks next to Water Street, Phoenix Street, Dyckman Avenue, and Black River Street is popular with visitors to South Haven. The route is very scenic, passing the Michigan Maritime Museum, South Haven Municipal Marina and leading to the South Haven Lighthouse and South Beach. There are several historical markers along the route that provide information on people, places and events of significance in South Haven.

Beaches and Parks

South Haven has many access points to beaches on Lake Michigan.
  • Along North Shore Drive, there are five beaches within a .75 mile area north of the Black River. Oak Street Beach, Packard Park Beach, Dyckman Beach, Woodman Street Beach Access, and North Beach all have parking lots and sandy beaches on Lake Michigan. North Beach is the largest of the beaches and has volleyball courts and a playground. North Beach also has a concession stand that sells ice cream.

  • On the south side of the Black River, South Beach is a long sandy beach that is accessible from a parking lot on Erie Street, a sidewalk route along the Black river, and from stairs along JR Monroe Blvd. There are picnic areas and fishing piers along the walking route near the Black River. A concession stand and skate park are located near the South Beach parking lot. The scenic beach is also close to the South Haven Lighthouse.

Pets and alcoholic beverages are not allowed at South Haven beaches.

Stanley Johnston Park is a nice park with a walking trail that winds around the park. Two picnic shelters and a picnic area are located in the southwest corner of the park. Tall shade trees are located throughout Johnston Park, which also has a playground and basketball court. An historical marker on the north side of the park describes Stanley Johnston's role in developing Haven peach varieties.

Elkenburg Park features basketball courts, playground equipment, and a small picnic shelter.

Monroe Playground has a nice playscape, called Kid's Corner, that is a favorite with kids. A baseball diamond is on the southwest corner, and the park has a picnic shelter and picnic tables.

Hartman Park has grassy areas and places for picnics.

Boating and Fishing

South Haven has four public marinas on the Black River, with 229 boat slips available for seasonal or transient watercraft. Northside Municipal Marina, Southside Municipal Marina, Maritime Museum Municipal Marina, and Black River Park Marina feature boat slips from 30 feet to 60 feet. 30 amp electrical service is available on all slips, and 50 amp electrical service is available on some slips. Municipal marinas are open from April 15 to October 15. Black River Park has ten boat launch ramps with nearby parking. Black River Park has 60 boat docks, shower facilities, restrooms, and picnic areas. For more details, call 269-637-3523.

Fishing is a popular activity along the Black River in South Haven. There are three fishing piers on the south side of the Black River near the walking route to South Beach. Fishermen also like to use the pier on the north side of the Black River.

A valid fishing license is required to fish on Michigan lakes and waterways. You can get a license online at the Michigan DNR E-License web site and at bait shops and sporting goods stores.


Just north of South Beach, South Haven has a bright red lighthouse on Lake Michigan. The light is on the southern pier at the mouth of the Black River and is welcoming sight to boaters visiting South Haven. The cast iron lighthouse dates back to 1903 and has a catwalk system that can provide access.

More About South Haven

South Haven has several restaurants along Broadway Street and Eagle Street. Various options are available for lodging, including hotels, bed & breakfasts, and vacation rentals.

Downtown is a favorite spot for shopping. There are numerous specialty shops and boutiques within walking distance.

South Haven is home to the Michigan Maritime Museum and the tall ship Friends Good Will. Michigan Maritime Museum is located at 260 Dyckman Avenue and features exhibits and information related to Great Lakes history. When Friends Good Will is in port, visitors can purchase tickets to ride aboard the tall ship. The vessel can also be booked for special occasions.

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