I love this community campaign and logo from Muskegon, MI. Watch Muskegon is a five year program to enhance the city’s image through the three pillars of Beautification, Education and Marketing. Muskegon wants to be your beachtown destination. Embedded in the color scheme of the logo is the phrase Watch… Us… Go.
Let’s Go Learn Things in western Michigan and Watch Muskegon Go…
Muskegon, like many of the Great Lakes port towns, experienced an economic decline in the 1980’s. They call it the “rust belt”, industrial towns like Cleveland, Detroit, Gary, Green Bay, Muskegon and my hometown of Milwaukee. For decades these lakefronts were obscured by freighters, railcars and warehouses. Muskegon served the lumber industry in the late nineteenth century and the foundry and shipbuilding industries during most of the twentieth century. Today they are proud to serve the tourism industry with 26 miles of environmentally sound beaches, 15 miles of lakefront bike trails, museums, lighthouses, breweries and scenic drives.
#1. Muskegon Visitor Center
The Union Depot was built in 1895 for the Pere Marquette Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C & O). One hundred years later this Richardsonian Romanesque building was donated to Muskegon County. Since then it has housed the Muskegon Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
#2. Watch Muskegon Lakefront
For maritime history buffs, Muskegon is home to both the US LST 393 and the USS Silversides ship museums. Since I am not a maritime expert I had lots to learn from these museums. The LST is a Landing Ship Tank, one of only two left from the embattled waters of World War II. The USS Silversides was a submarine also active during WWII.
#3 Kayak Art
Yes, you read that right, Kayak art. Many of the towns I visited this summer had whimsical public art installations. Kayaks are the perfect theme for Muskegon, with their miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, several sparkling inland lakes, and numerous rivers. These colorful kayaks were spread throughout downtown Muskegon.
#4 A Triple Threat; Coffee, Beer and Pizza
This is the perfect “shared” space setting. Initially I found Drip Drop for my morning coffee. But if you are a late riser, you can start in on beer and a pizza as soon as you finish your coffee. All three venues, Drip Drop Drink, Unruly Brewing and Rebel Pies, share this cavernous storefront.
Just a couple of blocks down the street is another craft beer option, Pigeon Hill Brewing. Passionate for the historical heydays of pre-prohibition Muskegon, Pigeon Hill is full of restored artifacts from the old Muskegon Brewing company of 1876. They have a fantastic taplist and gathering space.
#5 Farmers Market
This impressive Muskegon Farmers Market was built in 2014. The building includes indoor space, a community kitchen and a performance stage. However, the building is new but the market itself has been serving the region since 1922. Today the Summer Market runs every tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from May to November. Wednesdays is the popular Flea Market which runs from May to October.
#6 Watch Muskegon Scenic Drives
Here at Go Learn Things, we are always looking for the scenic backroads. Western Michigan is chock full of quiet scenic drives overlooking Lake Michigan and the iconic dunes. The map above was put out for Muskegon’s Depot to Depot Fall Color Tour. Muskegon Depot (also the Visitor’s Center) and Whitehall Depot will serve refreshments with family fun stops along the routes. This is a great collection of drives any time of year. They are part of the larger Lake Michigan Circle tour popular with motorcyclists and lighthouse chasers.
Speaking of lighthouses, the entire eastern shore of Lake Michigan (aka Western Michigan) is dotted with lighthouses, light stations and pierhead lights. The variances in all of these landmarks is fascinating. I am sure that true lighthouse experts would understand the purpose and function of each different structure. For me, I just loved their spectacular presence against the deep blue sky and atop the miles of sand dune
Extensive environmental efforts at both these facilities has restored miles of shoreline and dunes to their native conditions.
White River Light Station
Muskegon North Pierhead Light
#8 Parks and Beaches
The Muskegon region is replete with parks and beaches. A visit to the Pere Marquette Park includes the pierhead light, the USS Silversides Museum, a gorgeous beach and fun refreshments at The Deck.
#9 Paddle Sports
The Muskegon River, second-largest river in Michigan, runs 230 miles from Houghton Lake to Muskegon Lake and finally Lake Michigan. This waterway was the lifeline for the lumber industry back in the day. While I am not that ambitious in my kayaking, it gives you a scope of the water trails available in Michigan. There are canoe/kayak launches all over the Muskegon area.
#10 Special Venues
Directly across from the Muskegon Visitor Center is Heritage Landing. Heritage Landing is a special events venue and lakefront park. The venue hosts musical events such as the Shoreline Jazz Festival in late August and the Michigan Irish Music Fest in September.
In Muskegon State Park the Winter Sports Complex
provides winter recreational sports activities and programs. Winter sports include ice skating, Nordic skiing, and an actual luge. The park also has many outdoor programs during the summer such as their Paddle Muskegon lessons and events.
Plan your visit soon
There are plenty of reasons to Watch Muskegon. For my fellow Wisconsinites, the Lake Express Ferry travels from the Port of Milwaukee right into Muskegon. After a couple of fun days in Muskegon, continue on up the Western Michigan coast for more great experiences.
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A special thank you to local photographer and drone-flyer CJ Galarneau for the fantastic drone shots.
*Disclosure: I was hosted by Visit Muskegon. All opinions are mine alone.