Sand, Shopping and Pirates in South Haven
South Haven has it all – close proximity to Kalamazoo, play time in the sand along the shores of Lake Michigan, shopping along the harbor, and pirates.
We’d seen the tall ship many times while walking out to the lighthouse. What a unique opportunity to experience South Haven standing at the bow, the wind blowing on our face, aboard the historic 1810 replica sloop – Friends Good Will.
The Pirate Chaser Sail offered plenty of adventure on the water and was entertaining for kids of all ages. We didn’t have to walk the plank, but there was plenty of pirate fun to be had.
All Access Pass at the Michigan Maritime Museum
Once you check in and receive the special pirate coin to board the sail (and a sword to fight off the pirates, if desired), make sure to tour the various buildings and exhibits as part of the Michigan Maritime Museum. With five separate buildings offering a variety of engaging opportunities for the museum visitor, there is plenty to see and learn. Don’t miss the changing gallery exhibits and the Working Padnos Boat Shed.
Aye Aye, Captain – Time to Chase Pirates
After we toured the museum, all sailors met at the flagpole where the adventure on the high seas (aka Lake Michigan) was getting ready to begin.
The captain and the crew provide a brief overview of sailing terms. Kids are given hints on just how to recapture the stolen treasure. Children are encouraged to help the crew with the ropes. Heading through the harbor, we enjoyed waving to the friends on land.
Out to ‘sea’ – the adventure escalates with the pirates who had the treasure chest on a nearby boat. A canon is fired, and alas the treasure recovered. My children were on pins and needles the entire time watching the daring escapades.
With the treasure back on board, the crew distributed the treasure to the rest of the crew, including all of the kid pirates.
You’ll love the below deck tour while you learn a bit more about the history of the Friends Good Will.
Sailing the Big Blue Water
The Pirate Chaser Adventure Sails begins mid-June, Wednesday through Saturday at 11:00 AM. The adventure is 90 minutes and admission to the Michigan Maritime Museum is included in the cost of the tickets. Other good-to-know details:
- Sailing occurs rain or shine.
- Children must be over the age of four to sail on the Pirate Chaser Adventure Sail.
- Seating is limited and you’ll want to be prepared to move around the ship during the sail. The crew needs adequate space to move around and work the sail.
- There is plenty of opportunity for kids (and adults) to assist and the crew was amazing at instructing the children.
- Friends Good Will offers a regular daily sail (non-pirate themed) at 1:15 PM and 3:15 PM
Where to Begin your Sailing Adventure
Tickets for all sailing excursions offered through the Maritime Museum can be purchased online.
No Two Visits are the Same in South Haven
Visiting South Haven during the summer is a bucket list item for our family every year.
We had plenty of time left after capturing the scoundrels on our sailing adventure to explore South Haven. Plus, we could walk from the museum to shopping, dining and of course the beach.
The beaches are where the action is at in South Haven. With seven public beaches, there is no shortage of options.
Make sure that you check out the bounty of locally grown produce and farm products at the Farmers’ Market in South Haven – open every Wednesdays (in the summer) and Saturday.
For a late lunch, we stopped at the iconic Clementine’s. This family-friendly hangout looks like an old saloon with tin ceilings and heavy wood trim. It’s busy during peak times.
A visit to South Haven isn’t complete without locally made ice cream at Sherman’s Dairy Bar. Family members can share the “Pig’s Dinner” – a Sherman’s original. It’s served in a wooden trough, if that gives a clue just how big it is.
Have energy left to burn off after eating ice cream?
South Beach has a playground and on a scorching summer day, the kids can run for a quick dip in the lake. Or, Kids Corner (perched across the road from the bluff off Monroe Street) is a large wooden play structure bound to make the kids rest easy at night.
We barely scratched the surface of all the fun to be had at South Haven. Tell us, what’s your favorite thing to do in South Haven?
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