Tag Archives: Grand Haven

Grand Haven Musical Fountain

musical fountain grand haven michigan 3rdarm

I had seen signs coming into Grand Haven for the musical fountain and I assumed it was the fountain where I saw a lot of small kids splashing by the waterfront. It was dusk in Grand Haven, and I was eating ice cream, people watching by the water. While in a fight to the death with a Dairy Treat peanut butter cup freezee, I freed one hand to google it.

musical fountain grand haven michigan 3rdarm

Turns out the Grand Haven Musical Fountain is kind of a big deal, with bleacher seating overlooking the harbor. It’s one of the largest musical fountains of its kind, with the water moving in rhythm to the music. The free show starts at dusk, every summer night from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend.

Further evidence that I’m getting old: the night we went, the only songs I recognized were “Money, Money, Money” by Abba and “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.

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Dairy Treat

dairy treat grand haven michigan 3rdarm

We walked from Ray’s Drive-In, through old neighborhood of Grand Haven to the water. I had my eye on Dairy Treat, an unassuming shack selling Hudsonville ice cream, from nearby Holland, MI. I loved it.

hudsonville ice cream 3rdarm cake batter

Etta got a cake batter ice cream sundae, super sweet with chunks of cake. I got a peanut butter cups freezee that almost did me in. I wasn’t prepared for the bulk of topping to have settled on the bottom: my experience is that it usually gets whipped up into the top. I muscled my way to the end.

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Two Hand Sam

etta kostick rays drive in grand haven michigan 3rdarm

For dinner the second night, we went to Ray’s Drive-In. It was a short walk from the Airbnb, where the smell coming up from the floor vents reminded me of Happy’s basement. Ray’s Drive-In was another anachronism, harking back to the glory days of Augie’s on the East Hartford / Manchester line back in Connecticut. Etta and I each ordered a delux hamburger, an order of fries, and a drink and the total for dinner was under $10. We sat outside and ate at a picnic table, and watched the locals come to Ray’s. It’s been open for almost fifty years. They put a healthy amount of mayo on those burgers.

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airbnb grand haven michigan

For the first time, Etta and I used the Airbnb app / website to find a place to stay. We passed up a lot of delux options in favor of something more economical.

airbnb grand haven michigan

We ended up with the entire floor of a historic home in Grand Haven, MI, in the old neighborhoods, a short and easy walk to downtown and the beach. The place came with a full kitchen, living room, bedroom, and deep tub, cable and wifi. It would have cost hundreds more to stay at an equivalent hotel…

airbnb hoffmaster state park 3rdarm
In the middle of the night, giant ogre-like trains rumbled by, five feet from the house, shaking it like a terrible earthquake. That was my favorite part!

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Hoffmaster Vision

hoffmaster state park 3rdarm michigan

I know that Michigan’s beaches are heralded for their fine sand and beautiful sunsets. I thought Hoffmaster State Park deserves particular accolades.

hoffmaster state park 3rdarm michigan

It is far enough up the coast, and near enough to Muskegon that the vacationing crowds of St. Joseph / South Haven are not driving up there. There are impressive dunes and walking paths.

hoffmaster state park 3rdarm michigan

The water this June was still below 57 degrees, following the brutal polar vortex winter. This is one of the last places on the coast of Lake Michigan that it’s possible to see the natural landscape for its true self.

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Morning Star Cafe

etta kostick michigan beach baby 3rdarm

We drove to the Morning Star Cafe from our AirBnB, which turned out to be a mistake. It was about 500 feet away. The restaurant is well shaded from Michigan’s summer sun, and the interior charms with collaged fiestaware making a mosaic on the front desk, the kitchen expo, and in the dining room. Motown was playing.

key lime pie morning star cafe grand haven 3rdarm

I was served a ridiculously tasty smoothie with Michigan’s own strawberries and raspberries. I destroyed it as if it were a milkshake and I was Chef Roy Choi coming off 3 months of milkshake abstinence. There was no photographing this massacre.

funky farm grand haven 3rdarm arthur mullen

Etta got a latin-style special with chorizo and eggs and enjoyed it. I got the most plain-jane egg dish and they nailed that too. The bacon was high quality, the bread was obviously individually crafted, the eggs were cooked perfect. The service was a breath of fresh air: on point, professional, in rhythm. This place is doing everything right.

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Lake Michigan Deep Thoughts

etta kostick hoffmaster state park 3rdarm

I don’t know if it’s the candy eating away at the enamel on my teeth (my aunt said I’m hideous) or what, but this summer I’m feeling old.

arthur mullen hoffmaster state park 3rdarm

It’s good to know that Etta is still a super babe, but I think my managing job is wearing me down.

grand haven michigan telephone wires 3rdarm sunset

The only relief is more candy.

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Hoffmaster State Park Sunset

lake michigan sunset hoffmaster state park

It was only 5 days before the summer solstice, the best light of the year. We bought a season pass to Michigan’s state parks and used it twice in one day.

muskegon parking lot sunset summer 3rdarm

The first time was at the crowded but beautiful Grand Haven State Park beach. By the time we drove into Hoffmaster State Park to see the sun set there were less than 10 people on the beach.

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Hearthstone Bistro Part 2

hearthstone bistro 3rdarm etta kostick chocolate straw

We were returning to another fond memory of a dinner we had at Hearthstone Bistro a couple summers ago. The Hearthstone, in operation for decades, lived up to its reputation as the best restaurant in the Muskegon / Grand Haven area.

hearthstone bistro 3rdarm steak frites bread pudding

The soups are particularly good: Etta had a lobster bisque with rich aroma and flavor balanced by acidity. I had the Wisconsin cheese soup, the buttery cheesy base accented by crunchy light cheese puffs.

hearthstone bistro muskegon michigan 3rdarm steak frites

Steak frites draw them in and for good reason, the cut was tender and well seasoned. I also enjoyed the bread pudding with creme anglaise for dessert, featuring Michigan fruit. We sat out on the patio and got to watch the sun duck storm clouds on its descent to the lake.

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hearthstone muskegon wisconsin cheese soup 3rdarm

Etta and I escaped the city for the first time this summer. We drove the Saturn with whirring wheel bearings down to Grand Haven, MI.

grand haven michigan state park 3rdarm

I remembered Grand Haven from a couple years ago when we serendipitously stopped at the Coast Guard festival, and always wanted to return. Etta found a place on Air BnB.

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