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fishee Mar 5th, 2017 10:20 AM

Any South Haven experts?
We are visiting South Haven for the first time in July. We have the option of staying in a cottage 1 block from the beach, north of the river or in a condo with a pool (also north of the river) but the condo requires a 7 night booking.

Is there enough to do in S Haven for a family with 2 toddlers (2 and 4) to stay for a week? I'm not sure how crucial a pool is -- generally my kids prefer the pool over the beach but that's because the surf was often quite rough where we were visiting -- is this not the case in this area? I've stayed many years ago at a beach house in Lake Michigan and the water was as calm as a tub. Will the lake water be quite warm in July or will toddlers spend more time in a heated pool?

kelliebellie Mar 5th, 2017 04:49 PM

July looks to only be 70. Lake Michigan is never very warm. Like late August is tolerable. You will want a pool, but 7 days in South Haven is going to be a bit dull if you want to more than sit on the beach and read.

BellaBuski Mar 5th, 2017 07:12 PM

There is plenty to do in South Haven with two little ones! The bike shop in town rents out bikes and has the kid trailers available. There are a couple really nice trails, kal haven and another which takes you to the state park which is beautiful. On the south side of the river the beach has a nice playground and across the street from South Beach is Kids Korner playground which is always a huge hit with kids. You can rent a dinghy and go out on the water, walk around town and go shopping, go to a movie. You can drive to Stokes Homestead which has a huge kids play area with activities, mini train rides, tractor ride farm tours, (google it, it's awesome), Fennville kids museum is a short drive away. It's not the most impressive kids museum but it's under $4 per kid, never crowded and has the right amount of stuff to have fun without being overwhelming, including a small toddler area. Sarrett Nature Center is 20 minutes away and has tons of reptiles, nature trails with an awesome bridge, playground. Hagar Park is not far from the nature center and is our favorite park and beach in the area. Simpsarosa Stables is 15-20 minutes away if your kids want to go on a pony ride. Farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, tunebugs and story time at the library. I would personally go for the condo with the pool. I think you can find more than enough to do for seven days if you don't mind driving to do some of the activities - google stuff, plan some kid stuff, enjoy the beach, walk around town, get a movie from family video...

fishee Mar 6th, 2017 05:14 AM

Stokes Homestead sounds awesome -- my kids have only seen tractors in museums and would love a less de-contextualized experience.

Do you think staying south of the river makes more sense if the playgrounds are all on that side? or is everything close enough where it doesn't matter?

BellaBuski Mar 7th, 2017 05:43 AM

I prefer being on the south side because I like being right in town and close to South Beach. You can still walk places from the North Side, look on the map and see how close you are to the bridge... Google map the walking distance to The Depot and see how far you are from that store. It's located on the south side of the river right over the bridge and will give you a good idea of how far you are from everything else. I guess it just depends - north side is more about being right on the beach and south side has more to do as far as shops, playgrounds, restaurants. But everything is close enough that either side will work. I would get one of those wagons that collapse and fold up to pull the kids around. I do think the north side can get a bit party heavy at certain parts right on the beach.

BellaBuski Mar 7th, 2017 05:56 AM

When I first started going to South Haven as a kid, my family rented a place on the North Side and after that first time we started staying on the South side because we were walking to the south side every day anyway because there is so much more to do. My parents eventually bought a place on the South side and it's really nice being close to town and the beach. If I were you I would stay south of the river but lots of people like the North side.

fishee Mar 7th, 2017 11:39 AM

The unit North of river is on N Shore Dr and Avery -- it says 11 min walk to The Depot. It's very close to the beach, guessing 5 min walk.

The unit South of the river looks to be downtown -- Phoenix and Kalmazoo and maybe a 15-20 walk to the beach?

There are similarly priced and my husband hates to drive so we will be likely walking and biking everywhere.

fishee Mar 7th, 2017 11:44 AM

Does anyone recognize where this condo complex is? The listing obscures the actual location on the map so I can't tell how far it is from everything.

BellaBuski Mar 8th, 2017 04:40 AM

Phoenix and Kalamazoo is more like a 10 minute walk to the beach, or less. That intersection is the start of the river walk that leads down to the lighthouse and beach. If your husband hates to drive, that location is perfect to walk to restaurants, shops, coffee, ice cream, the bakery, kids corner, farmers market, etc. It's the heart of downtown. What part of July are you going to South Haven?

BellaBuski Mar 8th, 2017 04:48 AM

I think I might know where that condo is... It's a different unit than the N shore and Avery one, correct? Email the guy and ask for the cross streets. There has been a lot of construction on North Shore Dr, a large portion torn up with a lot of detours so you might want to call the city and ask them the status of the N Shore construction.

BellaBuski Mar 8th, 2017 05:30 AM

Here's what I think... If you guys want to spend majority of your time at the beach, go with the north side, as close to the beach as possible. A pool is always nice, but not necessary. Bring or rent bikes with a trailer for the kids. There is a little deli on the Northside with ice cream and sandwiches. And Stanley Johnston park which doesn't have a lot of playground (might only be swings) but it's a huge park with tons of grassy area and little hills for the kids to run around. You can walk or bike to restaurants and shopping on the south side. If you guys are more into being out and about and being a couple blocks from shopping and restaurants, stay south.

tomboy Mar 9th, 2017 06:05 PM

I live 30 minutes north of South Haven.
EARLY August is the time of warmest lake water.
Here's one of several sites I check in the summer for water temp; if you click on a date, you'll get a choice of recent years for that date to check the water temp. I clicked August 3, 2016 and it showed 76 degrees at South Haven's shore. A month earlier was in the low 60s.
Another IN SEASON is WOOD-TV or
Water's usually calm; 1 foot waves unless it's storming, when 12 foot waves can come. But who wants to swim in a thunderstorm?

My kids, when 2 and 4, were far more tolerant of 65 degree water than I. The sand always occupied their attention, also.

fishee Mar 9th, 2017 06:31 PM

thanks for all this info -- it's so helpful. My kids can totally handle mid 60s and then I make my husband go get them out..... We are going to stay for just 4 nights on the N side a block from the beach (all the beachfront places are totally booked until Sept!) We will scout out future options and if this goes well, we will book a week next time. We were getting tired of flying everywhere with 2 toddlers so a 2 hr driving vacation is our attempt to explore a more logistically simple vacation. We have a bike rack so we may bring a bike and look into renting a trailer.

Really excited now with all these great suggestions, thanks again!

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