Muskegon is the largest city on the western shores of Lake Michigan. More than 20% of the city is water. It is bounded to the north by the Muskegon Lake. The two lakes are joined by a channel. The city's name is derived from the Ottawa description of the area, and means marshy river or swamp. In 1837 it was officially settled. The timber resources gave rise to a thriving lumber industry and attracted many German, Irish and Canadian settlers. The rich heritage on land and in the water has earned the city several entries on the National Heritage Registers.
1.Pere Marquette Park
Formerly known as Lake Michigan Park, this 2.5 miles of city-owned beach is one of the cleanest in the USA. It borders the Muskegon Channel which links Lake Muskegon and Lake Michigan. In 1890, a tramway company owned the land and turned it into a day trippers' destination. Over time, pavilions, theaters, a dance hall, Ferris wheel and roller coaster were added. Holiday cottages sprung up around the park. Motor cars became popular and the park's appeal declined. The 30 year lease ran out and the wooden structures sustained water damage so were torn down. It is still a popular beach for swimming and water sports. Amenities include restaurants, picnic spots and a beach volleyball court.
2.Hackley and Hume Historic Site
© Hackley and Hume Historic Site
Messrs Hackley and Hume were partners in a lumber business in the late 19th century. They built Queen Anne style houses next door to each other and shared a carriage house. Hackley House has three stories, with a tower in one corner. The turreted roof has many angles and the windows vary in shape and size. The interior is richly decorated with wooden trim, carvings and spindles. Hume House has a corner entrance with a turret overhead. The second floor is cantilevered, in part, over the first. The exterior is painted in 14 different colors. In 2017, both houses were restored and opened to the public.
3.USS LST 393 Veterans Museum
© USS LST 393 Veterans Museum
The Veterans Museum is based on a restored LST-1-class tank landing ship. USS LST 393, is one of 1051 produced. Only two remain intact. She was launched and commissioned into the US Navy in 1942 and received three battle stars for participation in the Sicilian and Salerno landings and the invasion of Normandy. She was on her way to Japan when the war ended. After being decommissioned, she was renamed Highway 16 and ferried cars from Detroit to Muskegon until retirement. Her restoration is an ongoing project and she now serves as a museum ship in Muskegon.
4.USS Silversides Submarine Museum
© USS Silversides Submarine Museum
The USS Silversides was launched and commissioned in 1941. In 14 wartime patrols, this Gato-Class World War II submarine sank 23 ships, laid minefields, rescued downed pilots and escorted stricken sister ships to safe waters. She was severely damaged in one skirmish and narrowly escaped reaching crush depth. The submarine was awarded 12 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. Post war, she was used as a training ship and retired from the navy in 1969. A group of Chicago volunteers restored her to working order and moved her to Muskegon where she became the centerpiece of the museum which would ultimately bear her name.
1346 Bluff St, 49441 Muskegon, Michigan, Phone: 231-755-1230
5.Hoffmaster State Park
The Hoffmaster State Park is 1200 acres of public recreation area on the shores of Lake Michigan. It includes 3 miles of sandy beach. The visitors' center has an auditorium and an interpretive display on the sand dune ecosystem in the park. At the Outdoor Skills Academy, the center offers nature programs and workshops. There are 10 miles of hiking trails laid, three of which have been groomed for cross-country skiing. Bird watchers are treated to the annual migrations of songbirds and raptors. The center is closed from mid-November to mid-January each year for maintenance.
6585 Lake Harbor Road, Muskegon, MI 49441, Phone: 231-798-3573
6.Muskegon State Park
This state park was established in 1923 on land purchased from a lumber milling company. It is 1233 acres in size and has two miles of sand beach on the shores of Lake Michigan. In the 1930s the Civil Conservation Corps cleared the two campsites, built roads and planted trees. They built a blockhouse which provides panoramic views from the highest point in Muskegon County. It burnt down in 1960 and a replica stands in its place. A fishing pier and boat launch have also been constructed. Visitors can camp, swim, fish, hike and picnic in the park. In winter, ice-skating, ice-fishing and cross-country skiing are possible.
7.Muskegon Museum of Art
© Muskegon Museum of Art
At the height of the lumber boom, 50 saw mills were stationed around Lake Muskegon. Charles Hackney was one of the few lumber barons that remained when fortunes changed. He initiated many philanthropic projects. Although art was one of his priorities, it was only posthumously that the Hackley Picture Fund was established. It paid for a building next to the Hackley Public Library and the genesis of the art collection. The Walker family later became significant benefactors. They donated works of art and financed an expansion of the building. The Museum offers field trips, art classes and family fun days.
296 W. Webster Avenue Muskegon, Michigan 49440, Phone: 231-720-257
© Michigan's Adventure
The award-winning 250 acre amusement park, just north of Muskegon, is the biggest in the state. It was formerly known as Deer Park Funland. There are 52 rides to be experienced, including seven roller coasters, thrill rides, and activities for families and children. Wildwater Adventure, an outdoor water park is part of the complex. At a slower pace, visitors can enjoy a round of mini golf. There are several eateries on the premises and visitors can purchase tickets for single meals, all-day dining and all-season dining. The annual Christian musical festival, Rock the Coast, is held in the park.
4750 Whitehall Road, Muskegon, MI 49445, Phone: 231-766-3377
9.Muskegon Heritage Museum
© Muskegon Heritage Museum
In 1983, the gift of a Corliss 90 horse power steam engine was the catalyst for establishing the Muskegon Heritage Museum. The aim of the museum was to preserve the heritage of industries, businesses and residents of the city. Since 2009 the museum has been revitalized. Two additional floors have been remodeled, taking the exhibition space to 10000 square feet. A Heritage Print Shop, Heritage Machine Works and a permanent exhibition of things 'Made in Muskegon' were set up. Among the artifacts are Raggedy Ann, school desks, golf clubs and a bowling alley. The museum is open from mid-May to mid-October.
561 W. Western Ave., Muskegon, MI 49440, Phone: 231-722-1363
10.Lakeshore Museum Center
© Lakeshore Museum Center
There are multiple sites and buildings operating under the auspices of the Lakeshore Museum Center. The Muskegon County Museum Foundation was founded in 1937. For many years, funds and premises prevented significant progress. Collections of artifacts were exhibited in the community college corridors, in store fronts and in the disused jail. In 1983, the organization moved to its current premises. The Hackley and Hume Historic Site was acquired in 1986 and the Fire Barn in 1989. The Scolnik House of the Depression Era was opened in 2007. There have been several exhibitions held at the Center, including 'Michigan from the Depths of Time'.
430 W Clay Ave, Muskegon, MI 49440
11.SS Milwaukee Clipper
© SS Milwaukee Clipper
In 1905, Juanita was put into service by Pennsylvania Railroad. The 361 foot passenger steam ship sailed between Buffalo, New York and Duluth, Minnesota until 1937. The wooden superstructure fell foul of the Coast Guard's new safety regulations and was sold. The ship was refurbished as a ferry for the Great Lakes and renamed SS Milwaukee. She was capable of carrying 900 passengers. In good weather she did two round trips between Milwaukee and Muskegon on weekdays and four on weekends, with all four boilers firing. In winter, she shipped cars. She has been in retirement as a museum ship since 1997.
12.Hackley Public Library
© Hackley Public Library
The lumber baron, Charles Hackley financed the library in 1890. It is owned by Muskegon Public Schools and maintained by the Friends of the Hackley Public Library. The building has many beautiful features such as an Italian marble mosaic floor, a glass floor, ornate fireplaces, carvings, iron trim and antique furniture. One of the large, stained glass windows features portraits of literary giants, William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Hickling Prescott. The library also owns the Torrent House across the street where genealogy records are kept. The 31-room mansion was built in 1891 at the cost of $250000.
316 W Webster Ave, 49440 Muskegon, Michigan, Phone: 231-722-8000
13.The Lakes Mall
© The Lakes Mall
The Lakes Mall is an enclosed shopping mall, south of Muskegon, at the junction of the Interstate 96 and US Highway 31. The three anchor stores are JCPenney; Bed, Bath and Beyond; and Dick's Sporting Goods. There are 63 retail shops including a food court with seven eateries. Several kiosks occupy space in the walkways. The children's play area has a nautical theme. The mall is open 7 days a week.
5600 Harvey Street, Muskegon, MI 49444, Phone: 231-798-7104
© Frauenthal Center
In 1930, local movie mogul, Paul Schlossman, built the Michigan Theater. It was the latest in his string of movie houses. The style was Moorish / Spanish Renaissance, with gold accents and carvings of cherubs and griffins. By the 1960s, Schlossman's empire had folded and soon afterwards the Michigan Theater was boarded up. It was rescued from demolition by the Foundation of Muskegon County, using an endowment from industrialist Harold Frauenthal. The Foundation bought the entire block and created a theater complex for symphony concerts, movies and live theater. It is a venue for private functions, conferences and trade shows.
425 West Western Avenue, Suite 200, Muskegon, MI 49440, Phone: 231-722-9750
15.The Hearthstone Bistro
© The Hearthstone Bistro
Since 1975, this European styled bistro has been serving fresh food, locally sourced and creatively interpreted. The contemporary cuisine includes a few classics and American favorites, such as burgers and macaroni and cheese. Their soups, salads and sandwiches have been raised to an art form. The seafood, steak and pork entrees will leave just enough room for a crème brulee or croissant bread pudding. The drinks menu includes wines from Michigan, California and Europe. Suite 24 is suitable for small gatherings and, in summer, diners can enjoy fresh air on the garden terrace. Catering services are available.
3350 Glade St. Muskegon, MI 49444, Phone: 231-733-1056
© Fricano's Place
Fricano's place is in the waterfront district. The 1885 building was a curtain roll factory for almost a century. It was repurposed as a commercial center where the Fricano family rented a space for their traditional pizza parlor. In 2009, they bought the entire building and refurbished it, retaining all the original architectural features. A storage room was converted into The Hideaway, reminiscent of a 1920s speakeasy. The Event Center is a 10000 square foot ballroom with a 35 foot bar and seating for 500. Fricano's pizza restaurant can accommodate 250 diners. Downstairs, the Sweet Shoppe serves ice-cream and desserts. A boardroom and office space are for hire.
1050 W. Western Ave., Muskegon, Mi 49441, Phone: 231-722-2600
16 Best Things to Do in Muskegon, MI
- Pere Marquette Park, Photo: SB/stock.adobe.com
- Hackley and Hume Historic Site, Photo: Hackley and Hume Historic Site
- USS LST 393 Veterans Museum, Photo: USS LST 393 Veterans Museum
- USS Silversides Submarine Museum, Photo: USS Silversides Submarine Museum
- Hoffmaster State Park, Photo: ehrlif/stock.adobe.com
- Muskegon State Park, Photo: Akar/stock.adobe.com
- Muskegon Museum of Art, Photo: Muskegon Museum of Art
- Michigan's Adventure, Photo: Michigan's Adventure
- Muskegon Heritage Museum, Photo: Muskegon Heritage Museum
- Lakeshore Museum Center, Photo: Lakeshore Museum Center
- SS Milwaukee Clipper, Photo: SS Milwaukee Clipper
- Hackley Public Library, Photo: Hackley Public Library
- The Lakes Mall, Photo: The Lakes Mall
- Frauenthal Center, Photo: Frauenthal Center
- The Hearthstone Bistro, Photo: The Hearthstone Bistro
- Fricano's Place, Photo: Fricano's Place
- Cover Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com