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South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

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Tipp City, Ohio
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South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

Looking for a nice beach town (good, clean swimming beaches & a nice, interesting, walkable town) for our vaca this summer. We are trying something different than the Atlantic coast (with rising gas prices & not wanting a 13+ hr drive). South Haven sounds great so far, and only about 4.5 hrs away. It looks to be family friendly & laid back which is what we want. But Charlevoix (at 6.5 hrs away) doesn't seem a bad choice either. I really like the looks of the downtown area & the option for the Round/Charlevoix lake area which someone said has a bit warmer water for swimming. I would welcome ideas & opinions about either place. Thanks.

Bay City, Michigan
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1. Re: South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

You can't go wrong with either choice. Lots of things to do in both places. Beaches are great at South Haven. You could also visit Holland, Saugatuck, St. Joseph and Grand Haven while in SH. All offer lots of things to do.

Charlevoix is also beautiful. Nice beaches on Lake MI or Lake Charlevoix. You could also take a day trip to either Mackinac Island or Traverse City/Leelanau Peninsula/Sleeping Bear Dunes- your children will love the dune climb and you will be exhausted climbing it with them-lol.

If you want specific suggestions, let us know. When would you be going??

Edited: 1:17 pm, March 26, 2011
Michigan
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2. Re: South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

I've been trying to answer this all day. I feel very strongly both ways. I think the first review I did here was for the edgewater in Charlevoix. We live on the lake in South Haven and love it here and with that said we also love to spend a week or more in the Charlevoix area. I think the biggest difference is the topography. Charlevoix with it's hills and look outs over the Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix and yes its an easy walk anywhere in town. South Haven has miles of beaches and I'm pretty sure the water would be a bit warmer. Both are near other interesting towns.

This is only my opinion but I think if the beach is your goal SH may be the better choice, but otherwise I'd probably go to Charlevoit. Gawd I'm glad thats over :-0

Chicago's North...
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3. Re: South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

I love michigan beachtowns...so many of them to choose from! That said, SH is great and you'll find the beaches there are on par with the atlantic coast.... But since you have smallish kids, may i suggest St Joe? It has a great beach, like SH, but it also has the interactive fountain, carousel, and children's museums. i would recommend staying at the holiday inn express in St Joe (not to be confused with the HIE in benton harbor)..... i wrote a review on it last summer.

SH would probably be the better choice if you had teens---more of a teen-college scene there, IMO......

Charlevoix........ i would say, if you wanted to really feel like you're on vacation and getting away from it all, go there.... The city beach is pretty good (not as good as the beachtowns further south), but you have the option of going to beaver island..... We did it a few years ago with our 1 1/2 YO while my wife was pregnant.... Took a 12 minute flight roundtrip and put our vehicle on the ferry.... The island is not a tourist trap like Mackinac----it's laid back and quiet.... The beaches were uncrowded and secluded..... The kids will love the flight....and it's not that much more per person to fly than to ride the ferry.....

Some links:

http://beachtowns.org/

good for the southern half of lake michigan

http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/res/glcfs/

click on the Lake Michigan links to get an idea of what the water temps, waves etc are doing... i go to this site all the time, even in the winter!

http://surfgrandhaven.com/

this is also a nice resource for Lake conditions. BTW, GH is another nice town to consider for your trip. again, it has an awesome beach. the bluewater inn is great for kids, and right across from the beach. see my review...

http://www.beaverisland.org/

tons of info on the island. we stayed at the beaver island lodge. also checked out the laurain lodge while we were there (they're practically next to each other). if you're looking for more housekeeping-type accommodations, this looked to be better---more space and more complete kitchen. tho, the BIL had awesome views of the Lake!

http://www.freshairaviation.net/

we took these guys to and from the island.... good people and great service....and a lotta fun:-)

Bay City, Michigan
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4. Re: South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

At Rono: Gawd I'm glad thats over :-0 LOL LOL LOL, Rono. I imagining you being choked up all day, shaking your head, deleting several times.....

At Tripper-great advice and links. Thanks. :)

Grand Rapids mi
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5. Re: South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

@Rono....glad you take your DE title seriously....lol...........@jmweethee....both places are great.....we LOVE South Haven but can't say anything bad about Charlevoix......if you do come here PM me,,,the directions you get from mapquest or other take you a lot longer (we make the trip to Dayton several times a year).

Tipp City, Ohio
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6. Re: South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

Thanks for the input everyone, keep it coming. We're still undecided. One minute I'm leaning towards Charlevoix, the next South Haven. We've not yet narrowed our exact time frame (we have to fit it in after baseball & before football, lol),but I'm thinking the first or second week of July (keeping in mind the 4th & Venetion depending on our choice). My husband would like to do some fishing/boat tour, my boys will enjoy swimming but also need kid friendly places close by, I want to be close to swimming areas & shopping. We were thinkng about bringing our bikes to get between beach & town depending on where we are...which is easier to navigate by bike & which by walking?

new jersey
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7. Re: South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

Ahhhh, Rono's dilemma! You handled it well, Ron!

I must admit that I am not that familiar with SH so can't opine on which is better. I can give you advice on Charlevoix as it is my family's favorite summer vacation destination. In fact, we offered our kids the chance to spend a week on Lake Como in Italy this summer instead of Lake Charlevoix and they flatly refused! My husband is an international airline pilot and, for us, it takes less time (and money....free tickets) to get to Lake Como than it does to Lake Charlevoix (15 hour drive from NJ) so we thought it would be a great alternative. Our 17, 15 and 13 year olds will not have it....we are off to Lake Charlevoix again this year.

The traditions and activities that have instilled this love of Lake Charlevoix include the following:

-Lake Charlevoix itself: my family has a deck boat, jet skis and other water craft. You can rent boats by the hour, day or week when you visit. We love to fish early in the morning on the south arm of Lake Charlevoix, go tubing in the afternoon, anchor the boat just south of Holy Island and practice cannon balls into the water. Then follow it up with happy hour at The Landings where we pull up the boat and hop out in our swim suits and towels. I have just described the perfect day for my kids. The fishing must be with Grandpa, the tubing with cousins and the table at The Landings must be outdoors on the deck.

-Beaches: The great thing about Charlevoix is the diversity of the beaches. Lake Michigan Beach is only 4 blocks from the main street in downtown. It is adjacent to the Pine River where massive and not so massive boats enter and exit Lake Michigan. The beach is nice with swing sets and a nice bath house. Ferry beach on Lake Charlevoix will require either a car or bike from downtown. It is a quiet beach on Lake Charlevoix and allows you to enjoy the slightly warmer water of this huge inland lake. Depot Beach is also on Lake Charlevoix. Mt. McSauba offers sand dunes and is located just north of town. There is no better place to run off steam, sun bathe, ride the waves-boogie board and catch an amazing sunset. The water is so blue here that the first time my son saw the Caribbean Sea as we were flying to Mexico, he said "Look Dad, the water is Lake Michigan blue!" This is the blue he was describing! Young State Park just northwest of Boyne City is also on Lake Charlevoix. It offers classic state park features including a great general store with ice cream, hot dogs and other classic items. It also offers miles of lovely beaches.

Towns: What can I say, Charlevoix is charming. Band Concerts are held in the band shell each week, there is a musical water fountain the little children and teens enjoy. Boats and yachts are moored in Round Lake. The drawbridge goes up and down every half hour and boats of all sizes and features come and go. Restaurants overlook the water but don't overlook the quality of food. Some of the best restaurants in Michigan are located in and around Charlevoix. There is shopping for everything from high end clothing to fishing pools to home grown jams to....you get the picture.

From Charlevoix, you have easy access to Boyne City (Red Mesa Grill for great Mexican fare and the best sour cherry margarita!), Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Traverse City. Further afield, you can easily take a day trip to Mackinac Island or Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and the Leelanau Peninsula.

Boyne Mountain Resort offers ziplines, a water park, golfing (many nice courses in the area as well) and a frisbee golf course.

After enjoying all of these activities, my kids love to spend time on the beach in the evening having a bonfire, toasting marshmallows, making s'mores, telling ghost stories and watching shooting stars.

I suppose this is why I am not going to Lake Como, Italy this summer! Moms

new jersey
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8. Re: South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

I just thought of another great area in Charlevoix. Fisherman's Island State Park. The beach is huge and, depending on the depth of the water, you can frequently walk out to Fisherman's Island, a small island about 100 yards offshore. This is a great place to hunt for Petoskey Stones, the Northern Lake Michigan equivalent of a sea shell. It's coral that was fossilized during the Ice Age.

By the way, they don't sell fishing pools in Charlevoix, at least not that I know of, but they do sell lots of great fishing poles! Have fun in either Charlevoix or South Haven! Moms

Grand Rapids mi
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9. Re: South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

wow, i think a trip for my wife and I to Charlevoix this summer is called for :).

Chicago's North...
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10. Re: South Haven or Charlevoix w/kids 10 & 5?

why not do both? if you have the time, on your way up, stop in SH for a nite, enjoy the beaches and downtown.... then head up to charlevoix.