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Muskegon Area Insight

  • The Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park is holding true to its promise of providing ''Adventure for Any Season." Summer visitors can participate in a variety of activities including a wheel luge track, archery range, and miles of beautiful hiking trails with an interactive scavenger hunt.

    But the newest addition to the complex is truly a thrill; a 1400 ft, dual zip-line through the White Pine forest. Soaring above the tree canopy and dunes, 60 to 70 feet above the ground at the highest point dependent on weight, the zip-line allows you to take in the beauty and diversity of our Muskegon State Park. Despite opening only a few weeks ago, this quarter-mile-long ride has already gotten a lot of community attention and is all accessible! Family, friends, and even passerby hikers can watch brave daredevils take their turn. This is a super fun way to help foster adventurous and creative spirits in all age groups.

    Getting our community excited about the natural beauty in the Muskegon area and giving them areas to congregate and participate in group activities is exactly what this community, and any group looking to visit, needs. I will definitely be taking the leap and trying out Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park's new zip line soon.

    The Muskegon Luge & Adventure Sports Complex, 462 N. Scenic Drive, is open to the public on Fridays from 5:00-9:00 p.m., Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Zip line reservations must be made in advance at msports.org.
  • With winter fast approaching, it brought to mind the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex. This is a winter lover's dream. They have everything from sledding to lugging. It contains two acres of outdoor ice skating, four trails totaling 8.3K for snowshoeing, five trails for cross country skiing totaling 16.5K, and of course the luge. This 850' track has six curves and two areas in which you can start. You may even reach speeds up to 30 mph. They also offer luge instructions to help you get started in your adventure. It doesn't matter what you decide, they offer rentals for everything. Try one or try them all. Then, after enjoying the great outdoors, you can warm up in the lodge with a cup of hot chocolate!
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    Muskegon, MI
    There is no doubt that there is plenty of water around Michigan. One of the highlights of Muskegon County is the Muskegon River. The Muskegon River is the second largest river in Michigan and is widely popular for people just learning to kayak or to canoe due to its relatively slow pace. This is definitely something you don't want to miss out on because of the river's serene beauty and ample wildlife.

    Now if you are a beginner to river life, I would recommend that you check out Guy's Ultimate Kayak Service in Muskegon. He offers plenty of rental options and times for floats, including some "Full Moon Floats" during the summer season. However you decide to go about it you will not regret taking a float down the Muskegon River!
  • The Muskegon Heritage Museum is one of the wonderful museums that are located in downtown Muskegon. This museum is dedicated to showcasing the economic, industrial, and social history of Muskegon. The featured exhibit here is their 1893 Corliss Valve Steam Engine, with its 10 foot diameter flywheel weighing in at six tons! And the best part is that this is in working condition and you can come see it during museum open hours. You will also be able to look into the Heritage Machine Works where you will get to see how many of the industries in the 19th and early 20th century ran their machinery. The Corliss Valve steam engine actually runs eight different machines including an 1888 "Shepard" Lathe, an 1855 Engine Lathe, and a Sibley & Ware drill press. This really is something that the whole family could enjoy and you get to experience how all of these machines actually work and how they contributed to Muskegon society.
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    Muskegon, MI
    If you want a truly unique experience in Muskegon you will have to visit the Muskegon Museum of Art. It is enviable throughout the art world and a definite must-see location in downtown Muskegon.

    The idea for an art museum originally came from C.H. Hackley, a prominent lumber baron who decided to make Muskegon his permanent home even after the lumber boom was over. Hackley, and others, were determined to save Muskegon and make it one of the most distinctive cities of its size in the country. Hackley in particular did that by investing a good portion of his personal fortune back into the city of Muskegon, particularly in public projects including progressive new schools, a library, a hospital, and a city park.

    A place to feature art was high on Hackley's priority list, but other projects always seemed to be more pressing to him and he died in 1905 before his dream was realized. In his will though he set up an expendable trust of $150,000 to be managed by the Muskegon Public Schools Board of Education for the express purpose of purchasing pieces of art. This trust became known as the Hackley Picture Fund. By 1910 that fund had already been used to purchase some of the most valuable pieces still residing in the museum and the Board determined that they needed a museum quality facility to hold the pieces in. The lots next to Hackley Public Library were purchased and construction of the museum was completed in 1912.

    The dedication ceremony for the Hackley Art Gallery was on June 21st, 1912 and was international news with press from New York, Boston, Chicago, and London. Across the years many pieces were acquired, some controversial at the time, like the piece Study in Rose and Brown, which is now one the true treasures of the collection. There were also other benefactors, the most prominent of which being L.C. Walker. The Walker family has continued to contribute significant pieces of art every decade since 1940. In 1979 ground was broken for a new addition to the gallery and in 1980 the building was completed and the facility was renamed the Muskegon Museum of Art with the Hackley Galleries and Walker Galleries. Then in 1983 the Muskegon Museum of Art Foundation Board of Trustees was established and they maintain another fund for the continuation and improvement of the art gallery.

    The Muskegon Museum of Art is certainly a treasure amongst the Muskegon community. It offers more than just the art itself. It truly represents the roots of this community and offers enrichment for the community through its rotating exhibits and school outreach and tour programs.
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    Muskegon, MI
    West Michigan is all about family! That's why there are many family friendly things to do in Muskegon. Besides the beaches and the museums, all classics, there's also many more things to enjoy. For those of you who appreciate a little competition within the family, there are two excellent family fun centers. You could go to Putters Creek Mini-Golf & Go-Karts for a little mini competition, or a race around the track, or you could head over to Bat 'n Club Family Fun Center with two different 18 hole mini golf courses and batting cages. And if you are possibly looking for a little more thrilling fun you have to check out Michigan's Adventure and WildWater Adventure! Two theme parks for the price of one featuring 34 different rides, 14 water attractions, and plenty of options for food and restaurants, gift shops, games, and for a little extra, mini-golf and the RipCord. Regardless of what you choose to do you know that your family will have a blast!
  • Muskegon has its fair share of historical and nautical museums giving everyone the chance to be immersed and enriched by so much local and US history. Another great example of this is the USS LST 393 Veterans Museum, one of only two LSTs to survive in their original WWII configuration. The LST 393 served during WWII completing 75 voyages to three continents (including 30 trips to Normandy), carrying over 9,000 soldiers and 3, 248 vehicles out to the front lines, transporting over 5,000 prisoners, and logging 51,817 nautical miles.

    The LSTs, or landing ship tanks, were developed because of a need for armored infantry divisions during invasions by sea. England's Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, requested that the US develop a ship that was big enough to travel an ocean, but could also deliver armored vehicles and personnel straight to an unimproved beach. The LST 393 was launched from Newport News, Virginia on November 11, 1942. She won battle stars for service in the occupation of Sicily, the invasion of Salerno, and the D-Day invasion of Normandy. She was decommissioned in 1946 and then became a merchant ship, carrying vehicles from Muskegon to Milwaukee. She was renamed the M/V Highway 16, which referred to US Route 16 that ran from Detroit to Muskegon, then spanned Lake Michigan, and picked up again in Milwaukee. The LST 393 worked as a merchant vessel until 1973 and then sat unused and unattended. Since then two groups have undergone efforts to restore the LST 393. The first was a Muskegon museum group that started in 2000. They made some progress with some help from the Michigan LST Association, but the effort fizzled out after about two years. Then, in 2005, a group headed by Dan Weikel and Bob Wygant asked Sand Products Corp., the owners of the LST 393, if they could pick up where the other group had left off. After a couple years of vigorous cleaning and painting they resulted in a ship that was ready for tours. In 2007, after a huge effort, they managed to open the bow doors for the first time since the late 1940s when they were welded shut.

    The USS LST 393 Veterans Museum is still a work in progress, but since opening has received thousands of artifacts for display and is still under restoration. Be sure to walk the ship and experience WWII from a new perspective and don't forget to stop and spend some time at the Wall of Honor, honoring all military veterans from all branches of service. So come out and support this wonderful piece of local and US WWII history. It will be an experience to remember.
  • Muskegon is lucky to be host to one of the most successful surviving submarines from WWII. The USS Silversides has been a local resident since 1987 when it was moved from the Navy Pier in Chicago to be a centerpiece for the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum, now the USS Silversides Submarine Museum. The complex now consists of a museum building and gift shop, the USS Silversides, and the US Coast Guard Cutter McLane.

    The Silversides was commissioned for service on December 15, 1941, shortly after the bombings at Pearl Harbor. She then went straight into action in the Pacific Theater during WWII, ending with 14 combat war patrols. She was officially credited with sinking 23 major Japanese ships, the third highest total for any US Navy submarine. The USS Silversides also received the Presidential Unit Citation and 12 Battle Stars for her wartime service and inspired parts of the 1943 film Destination Tokyo. After WWII, the USS Silversides was officially decommissioned in 1946 and was then utilized by the Chicago US Navy Reserve until 1969.

    The USCGC McLane was commissioned on April 8th, 1927 as a patrol craft of the 125-foot class. She earned several awards for service in WWII including the American-Defense Serviced Medal with sea-clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze Battle Star, the American Area Campaign Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal. The McLane went on to serve the US until she was decommissioned on December 31st, 1968 and the was subsequently sold to the Marine Navigation and Training Association of Chicago on November 14th, 1969. She moved to Muskegon in 1993 to join the USS Silversides as a museum exhibit.

    Within the museum building one of the exhibits features a story that concerns a local of Grand Haven. It tells the story of the USS Flier, a WWII sub that was struck by a mine on its second war patrol and sank in the Balabac Strait in the Philippines. Out the approximately 80 crew members only eight, one of them being Ensign Al Jacobsen of Grand Haven, survived the explosion and 17 hour swim to land. The exhibit tells the story of that fateful day through artifacts and video and audio interpretations.

    Be sure to come out and see this excellent piece of WWII naval history. Also available is the privilege to do an overnight encampment on the ships and experience what it was like to be a crew member. It's a must see in the area and you can't go wrong walking the museum and touring the ships.
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    Muskegon, MI
    The S.S. Milwaukee Clipper has a long and distinguished history on the Great Lakes. Erie & Western Transportation Company, better known as Anchor Line, originally commissioned the American Shipbuilding Company of Cleveland, Ohio to build the 361-foot passenger and package freight steamer. The ship was then christened Juniata and her maiden voyage was on December 22, 1904. The Juniata quickly became known as "The Queen of the Great Lakes" giving her passengers a first class experience as they traveled between Buffalo, NY and Duluth, MN. She operated during the 1936 season when she was then retired from service in 1937 due to her outdated wooden superstructure. Shortly after that, Max and Mark McKee of Sand Products Corporation of Muskegon came up with plans for a cross lake service steamer, but the cost of construction was found to be too expensive. They asked a naval architect, George G. Sharpe, to redesign the plans so that an existing ship could be used and purchased the Juniata. Her wooden superstructure was replaced by an all steel streamlined superstructure, the first design of its type, courtesy of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. The ship was now completely fireproof and sported new amenities including air conditioned state rooms, a children's playroom, movie theatre, and live entertainment with a dance floor. She was rechristened the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper and her maiden voyage to Muskegon was on June 3rd, 1941.

    The Clipper faithfully carried passengers and automobiles between Muskegon and Milwaukee until 1970. In 1977, she was sold to a Chicago businessman who had proposed to run her for three hour excursions, but could not obtain the certification to do so. She was then renamed the S/S Clipper and moved to Navy Pier in Chicago and became a floating maritime museum and convention facility. In December 1983 the S/S Clipper was listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and in May 1989 was designated a National Historic Landmark. The year 1990 brought around another move for the Clipper to Hammond, Indiana and another renaming back to the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper. In 1996 she was again moved and offered for sale to make room for a new casino boat. At this point the Great Lakes Clipper Preservation Association was formed in 1997 for the sole purpose of preserving the steamer. They were able to obtain ownership on December 2nd, 1997 and returned the steamer to Muskegon.

    Now the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper is open for tours on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day for a small admissions fee. So come out and enjoy this great piece of Muskegon maritime history!
  • Scolnik House of the Depression Era is the last historical site that is located in downtown Muskegon. It tells the story of the common family during the Great Depression. The house is named after Herman and Ida Scolnik who raised their family during this era. The home was donated by their son Bob and his wife Merle and is a way for his parents to live on.

    Scolnik House was renovated with period appropriate materials and furnishings. It also features radios on each floor that play music from the era and you can listen in on a party line conservation. Come and see what life was like for those during the depression. Also, don't miss out on the special events happening here, like learning how to make your own homemade ice cream! Check out Lakeshore Museum's website for a full calendar of events.
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    Muskegon, MI
    The Fire Barn Museum is another of the historic sites in downtown Muskegon. The Muskegon Heritage Society and the City of Muskegon worked together in 1976, in order to build a replica of the original C.H. Hackley Hose Company No. 2. The original building was built after the devastating fires in 1871 and 1874 and operated from December 1875 to June 1892.

    The museum now features a collection of antique fire fighting apparatus, including a 1923 American LaFrance Pumper. At this site you can visit the living quarters of some of Muskegon's earliest and bravest firefighters and learn about those devastating fires in the area. The Fire Barn Museum is open May to October, like the other historical sites, and is located off of Clay Avenue in downtown Muskegon. Come see this blast from the past and see what it took to be a firefighter in the late 1800's!
  • Hackley & Hume Historic Sites is one of the three downtown Muskegon historic sites associated with the Lakeshore Museum Center. These historic sites consist of the houses and a city barn connected to Muskegon's most famous lumber barons: Charles H. Hackley and Thomas Hume. In 1887, Hackley bought these lots (now in downtown Muskegon) and quickly sold half to Hume. They hired architect David S. Hopkins of Grand Rapids, who built the houses and city barn between 1887-1889. Come visit these gorgeous houses in downtown Muskegon! The architecture is unparalleled and it will definitely be a trip to remember.
  • The Lakeshore Museum Center has been open in Muskegon since 1937 and is a great resource for local history. Besides the main museum in downtown Muskegon there are also four other historic sites that you can visit. Three of the sites are also in downtown Muskegon and they are Hackley & Hume Historic Sites, the Fire Barn Museum, and Scolnik House of the Depression Era. The last site is Michigan's Heritage Park at Hilt's Landing which is located in Whitehall.

    The main Museum Center is open year round and has no admission fees. It consists of two floors of permanent exhibits including Coming to the Lakes, Habitats Gallery, Michigan: From the Depths of Time, the Science Center, Body Works, and Voices of Muskegon. There are also temporary exhibits that they have as well. Some of the current temporary exhibits are Collector's Corner, which features a Peeps collection and dioramas that is going to be on display until August 2016; Not a Single Prima Donna - The Muskegon Lassies, this exhibit tells the story of the Muskegon Lassies who were a part of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League and they played from 1946-1949.

    The Lakeshore Museum Center also host several special events throughout the year and at the different historical sites. Be sure to check out their full calendar of events on their website!
  • Joel Van Dyke
    RE/MAX of Grand Rapids
    This park is very popular with lakeshore residents as well as a lot of people from Grand Rapids. I have enjoyed this great park many times and it is located where Lake Harbor Road turns into W Pontaluna Road. From the parking lot it is an easy short walk to the beach. If you like to camp or hike this could be a great place for you.
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    Muskegon, MI
    This weekend, September 18th-20th is the Irish Festival! The festival is located in downtown Muskegon. The Irish Festival includes bands, Irish dances, a beer tent and highland games. You won't want to miss this event! Check out the website for more information.
  • Brooke Sines
    RE/MAX of Grand Rapids
    The P. J. Hoffmaster State Park is a perfect place to spend a day! The park has a beautiful winding road entrance once you are in past the front gate. From there, you can head right to the wonderful beach and Lake Michigan or you can start at the Nature Center. The Nature Center includes several interactive exhibits to enjoy and view as well as animals to see. Alongside the Nature Center is the long trail and steps up to see the dunes and Lake Michigan overlook. Bring your tennis shoes...it's 118 steps to the top, but such an enjoyable view!
  • The Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts, formerly the Michigan Theater, is the last remaining theater along Western Avenue in downtown Muskegon. The heart of the entertainment, shopping, and business district, the center hosts the restored Frauenthal Theater, as well as the Beardsley Theater, an art gallery, and meeting and event spaces in the Hilt Building.

    The Frauenthal hosts all kinds of performing arts events, from the annual Buster Keaton Film Festival in October to Broadway touring companies and concerts and dance troupes. The Frauenthal has hosted Second City performers like Garrison Keillor, Jeff Daniels, Jamie Farr, and Sandy Duncan, local favorite band The Crane Wives and the Harlem Dance Theater. The Frauenthal Center is also home to the West Michigan Symphony and Muskegon Civic Theatre and the world's tallest Singing Christmas Tree from Mona Shores High School.

    Restored in the early 1990's to its original Spanish Renaissance style, the Frauenthal is simply breathtaking when you walk in. It is one of my favorite places to take in a show!
  • Downtown Muskegon has two great new craft breweries, Unruly Brewing and Pigeon Hill Brewing Company. Both locally owned and operated, these brewers are making delicious beer with humorous names and creating great social spots in downtown Muskegon. I like Unruly because it has a hip vibe and has started working with a local music promoter to bring in great musicians and of course, the beer is great. I like Pigeon Hill because of the relaxed, comfortable atmosphere and its roots in Muskegon history, the name comes from the 400 foot tall sand dune that was mined by Nuget Sand in the 1900's and is now the site of a residential neighborhood by the Lake Michigan channel. One wall of the tasting room is wallpapered in photos of downtown Muskegon in the early 1900's, which are fascinating to look at. And of course, the beer is delicious.

    If you're not a beer drinker, each establishment has non-alcoholic options, and Unruly also serves wine and hard cider. Either spot is the perfect place to spend time with your adult family and friends after a long day at work or on the beach.
  • The new Muskegon Farmer's Market opened in May 2014. The new market is a project of Downtown Muskegon Now, the downtown revitalization group heading up commercial and public projects in downtown Muskegon. Working with the City of Muskegon and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the market was moved from its old location on Yuba Street to its new location next to the Muskegon Post Office. Funds within the Community Foundation for Muskegon County offered a matching grant, matching every public donation 2 to 1, making the market possible. With space for 130 vendors, 400 parking spots, indoor event space, a community kitchen and a view of Muskegon Lake, this new market is a great addition to our walkable downtown.

    Along with regular market hours on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, the market also hosts artists on Wednesday evenings during the summer. The Flea Market remains at the Yuba Street location. Market vendors also accept EBT cards, making fresh produce available to everyone who comes.

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