The Other West Coast
We explore Michigan's southwest corner and western coast.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: August 2nd, 2012
Any track that has sections with names like "Wiggly Field" and "Jill's Hill" is a fun one in our book.
t's no secret that there are plenty of charming coastal towns throughout the Great Lakes region. Still, places like southwest Michigan's South Haven sometimes seem to go relatively unnoticed by leisure travelers.
We recently found ourselves shuttling from Grand Rapids to South Haven and points beyond, and we've picked out a few places that arm worth a visit.
The reason for our visit was a track day at Gingerman Raceway outside of South Haven, owned by Dan Schnitta. The track has two configurations (1.88 and 2.14 miles long, respectively) and even offers test and tune nights that are open to all drivers with track experience and a sporty car. We found the 1.88-mile short course to be challenging yet fun, and we look forward to our next visit. Any track that has sections with names like "Wiggly Field" and "Jill's Hill" is a fun one in our book.
South Haven itself is beautiful, with a quaint downtown located just a few blocks from the water, but those in search of more solitude might want to head to Van Buren State Park.
If you need a taste of the big city, Grand Rapids will be the place to go. This mid-size metropolis offers up some of the perks of big-city living (high-rise buildings, high-end hotels) without the hassle. The Grand River runs through it, giving the downtown a typically Midwestern feel.
Former president Gerald Ford's final resting place is in Grand Rapids, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. The museum also includes the original tools used by the Watergate burglars and a replica Oval Office.
If politics isn't your thing, the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is worth a stop. The park claims to have the best collection of outdoor sculptures in the Midwest, and the indoor and outdoor gardens are likely to impress as well.
Speaking of impressive, Lake Michigan and its beautiful coastline are never far away in this part of the state. Farm country may dominate the inland landscape, but slide southwest from Grand Rapids to South Haven, or due west to Grand Haven, and you'll understand why the term "West Coast" has a different meaning to Michiganders.