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Discover Beautiful Downtown Muskegon, MI

Live, work and play in this lakeside city’s downtown district

By Cindy Sanders on April 22, 2020

Downtown Muskegon, Michigan
Muskegon / City of Muskegon

From the downtown district to the shore, Muskegon is known for sunny days on the water, spectacular fall colors and Olympic-style winter recreation.

Muskegon native Kathleen Riegler, otherwise known as The Cheese Lady and founder of the popular Michigan-based gourmet shops, was an early proponent of living, working and playing downtown.

She has witnessed a renaissance as new restaurants, breweries, shops and residential units begin to open their doors. “The cool thing about being downtown is watching everything change,” Riegler says.

Culture Takes Center Stage

Dave Alexander, business development manager for the City of Muskegon, says the city’s rich heritage is on display at a number of educational sites.

The Lakeshore Museum Center features several components with the main museum covering 400 million years of history. The Hackley & Hume Historic Site showcase the lifestyle of two early Muskegon lumber barons, while the Scolnik House depicts what life was like for families during the Great Depression.

“We have a world-class art museum, history museum and industrial museum that are quite fantastic,” Riegler adds.

Additionally, the Muskegon Heritage Museum offers insight on the area’s industrial heritage, while the nearby Frauenthal Center is a celebration of the arts with live concerts, theatrical performances and art installations.

Alexander says maritime attractions bring naval history to life on the beach, including both the USS Silversides and the USS LST 393.

“The USS Silversides is the most decorated World War II submarine still able to be seen,” he notes.

Muskegon‘s full roster of special events includes the Taste of Muskegon, Lakeshore Art Festival, Rebel Road motorcycle rally, Burning Foot Beer Festival, Irish Music Festival, Unity Music Festival and Depot to Depot Fall Color Tour.

Farmers market in Muskegon, Michigan
Muskegon / City of Muskegon

The Outdoors Is Calling

“In the summer, it’s all about the water – whether you are looking at it, on it, or in it,” Alexander says of the swimming, sunning, paddleboarding and boating that takes place there. Bike riding is another popular activity with paths connecting the downtown’s Lake Muskegon to the beach at Lake Michigan.

“The Lakeside District, anchored by our biggest marina, features art galleries, local gift shops, a high-speed ferry, bike rentals and a couple of significant watering holes,” Alexander says.

The downtown’s farmers’ market is a hub of year-round activity with nearly 150 vendors and about 12,000 people on Saturdays during the summer.

In the winter, residents embrace the cold. “People do love winter sports,” Riegler says, adding that Muskegon has luge, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There’s also indoor fun, including ice skating and cheering on the Muskegon Lumberjacks hockey team.

Sunset and lighthouse in Muskegon, Michigan
Muskegon / City of Muskegon

Eat, Drink, Repeat!

Muskegon‘s cuisine scene runs the range of styles and flavors. “We have fine dining restaurants with phenomenal views, and we also have everything from barbecue to street tacos,” Alexander says. “Muskegon is known for its independent restaurants.”

Local options include The Lake House Waterfront Grille, Timbers 939, Se4sons Gastropub, Docker’s and Smash Wine House & Bistro. Great food is made even better when paired with the perfect beverage. Unruly Brewing, 18th Amendment Spirits Co., Rake Beer Project and Pigeon Hill Brewing Company are among the craft beers gaining regional acclaim.

Learn more at City of Muskegon.

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