Locals and visitors alike celebrate South Haven for its rich maritime history. Ships have been at the heart of the Haven since it became a village in the 1860s. Time in town is a cultural splash into the stories, sights and sounds of nautical life.
Whether during the day or at night, our bustling harbor is alive with boaters, fishermen and marine craft. Set among our stunning beaches and sunsets the heart of downtown includes slips for personal crafts of up to 150’ so owners, captains and passengers can mingle, shop and dine.
Friends Good Will Tall Ship
South Pierhead Lighthouse
The original wooden lighthouse was lit in 1872, and the steel one was constructed and has been serving as our sentry since 1903. This 30-foot lighthouse at the end of our 1,200-foot pier attracts people by water and land with its beauty and stature. The same length as the pier, the catwalk linking the tower to the shore is one of only four originals remaining in Michigan.
A stroll down the pier surrounds you with the lapping, slapping surf as the city recedes behind you. Once you reach the lighthouse, only it stands between you and the miles of Lake Michigan that fill the horizon. You feel awe and tranquility at once, safe beside the watchful tower and wonders of the world.
Be sure to catch the spectacular South Haven sunset from the pier, where people gather nightly to get closer to the calming and beautiful painting of the sky.
Dyckman Bascule Bridge
Yet another South Haven maritime highlight, the Dyckman Avenue drawbridge lifts for boat traffic through the Black River to Lake Michigan every half hour in summer.
Michigan Maritime Museum
It calls South Haven its home - the premier museum for Michigan Great Lakes history, research, preservation and education features exhibits, a boathouse, the U.S. Life Saving Service building, a lightkeeper’s house and the Marialyce Canonie Great Lakes Research Library.
Free your imagination and senses to play! Well beyond artifacts and information, the museum immerses you in South Haven culture, events and excursions. Climb aboard one of our popular vessels, including the famous tall ship Friends Good Will, a historic replica of the 200-year-old merchant ship with a role in the War of 1812 and then the U.S. Navy. Friends Good Will sets sail for both day and sunset outings, as well as for private charters.
You can also board the 36-foot 1941 U.S. Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat 36460. The boat was the star of the 2016 Disney film The Finest Hours, which tells the story of the Coast Guard’s historic 1952 rescue of the crew of the SS Pendleton.
Take in South Haven’s maritime tradition and scenery while getting in good exercise! The Harbor Walk walking tour starts at the north pier lighthouse, follows the Black River to the drawbridge and continues back around the harbor toward the south pier lighthouse. Walking about 10,000 steps (app. 3.2 miles/5 kilometers) if you go north to south and back again, you’ll pass 21 historic markers and learn about the city’s history as a commercial and recreational port.
Harbor Walk Map
Treat the explorer in you to the legends and views of Great Lakes seafaring along our docks and shores and at our crown jewel, the Michigan Maritime Museum.
To discover more about the Michigan Maritime Museum or schedule a boating experience, visit michiganmaritimemuseum.org or call (800) 747-3810.
About the Author
A creative writer for many years, Jon Davis (eloquentarrow.com) paints pictures with his words and captivates readers with distinctive language. He now shares his love for South Haven with us, writing about the experiences you can have only in the Haven. Jon resides in Oswego, IL, with his wife, Kristie, and two daughters. They visit South Haven often to take in the scenic beauty and spend meaningful time as a family.