Muskegon Lakeshore: Where Vacations Become Staycations
Stunning beauty, outdoor activities and vibrant culture turn tourists into residents.
While the move was reinforced by Breanna’s career opportunity with financial services company Edward Jones, the couple jumped at the chance to join the friendly community and enjoy its natural beauty. Now, five years later, the Hansens are established in Muskegon, MI, and they’ve never looked back.
“When we used to visit our friends, we were blown away by the Muskegon beaches because they weren’t overcrowded and had the nice kind of sand that feels good to put your toes in,” Breanna Hansen says. “Both of our families grew up on lakes, so being so close to Muskegon Lake, Lake Michigan and Mona Lake has been incredible for us.”
The Hansens aren’t the only ones who have fallen in love with the Muskegon Lakeshore area. In 2020, Colleen Gehoski Steinman moved to Muskegon to accept an advancement role with AgeWell Services of West Michigan.
Gehoski Steinman says she was attracted to the area for its outdoor activities, like fishing and hiking. She has also been pleased with the diverse housing opportunities, shops and intimate music venues.
“Muskegon is not only a great place to visit, but you can live here, play here and work here. It clicked all the boxes I was looking for,” Gehoski Steinman says. “There’s a lot of opportunity and growth here.”
A Place to Get Away – or Stay in West Michigan
According to Bob Lukens, community development director for Visit Muskegon, relocation to the region is one reason Muskegon continues to see growth.
Plus, tourism stimulates the economy – visitor spending alone increased by $14 million between 2017 and 2018.
“Downtown Muskegon has grown substantially, and a lot of that is due to tourism,” Lukens says. “It also draws people here as a place to live because we’re near large cities like Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit.
There is a great lifestyle here — the lakefront-type of lifestyle.”
“Lakefront” is no exaggeration, as Muskegon County borders Lake Michigan and offers 27 miles of beaches. Popular water activities include swimming, boating, jet-skiing, fishing and even surfboarding on Lake Michigan.
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Outdoor enthusiasts also enjoy the area’s three state parks and the 65 miles of paved trails for hiking and biking.
Winter recreational options include ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice fishing. And if that’s not already enough, there is an Olympic-style luge track at the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park.
To experience regional culture, visitors and residents flock to the region’s flourishing downtown, which is filled with restaurants, breweries, retail shops and a thriving arts scene.
Plus, attractions like the Muskegon Museum of Art, Hackley & Hume Historic Site of the Lakeshore Museum Center and year-round festivals are a huge draw for people, Lukens says.
Great Growth in Muskegon, MI
“There’s a lot of growth happening in Muskegon, and it’s evidenced by the new convention center,” Lukens says. “We saw a need here for larger meeting spaces, so the community came together and developed a public-private partnership to build it.”
The VanDyk Mortgage Convention Center, which opened in February 2021, offers 20,000 square feet of meeting space within walking distance of downtown dining, shopping and the historic Frauenthal Center for performing arts. It sits across the street from the Shoreline Inn and is attached to the newly renovated Delta Hotels by Marriott Muskegon, both of which have additional meeting space.
The center also connects to Mercy Health Arena, where hockey fans can catch a Muskegon Lumberjacks game. The center will produce an estimated 100+ new jobs and have an annual economic impact of over $10 million, Lukens says.
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And the hospitality industry is now further positioned for growth, thanks to the statewide establishment of “social districts,” which allow people to walk the streets within their districts with carryout cocktails.
“The social district in Muskegon will give people the opportunity to explore downtown and check out other restaurants and businesses as they’re enjoying themselves,” Lukens says.
Learn more about the Muskegon Lakeshore region by checking out the latest edition of Livability Muskegon Lakeshore, Michigan.