On our travel day, Tom and I were meandering around on our way to Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee, Michigan. It is only 118 miles from Holland, and we weren’t supposed to check in until 3 p.m. so we had plenty of time to explore. After spending time in Montague we also wandered around Manistee for a while.
Manistee, Michigan, is a typical harbor town in Michigan. It looks a lot like many other towns along the shores of the Great Lakes. In its heyday, Manistee was a booming lumber town. Today it relies more on tourism to stay vibrant. The town only has 6,000 residents, but they are working on making it a place that people want to come and stay. They have a historic and vibrant downtown with restaurants, shops, and restored Victorian homes.
We parked at the harbor park, which had two beach areas and a large marina. We walked along the jetty and saw the lighthouse on the other side of the river. Then we walked the mile and half into downtown along the Riverwalk. This is a lovely boardwalk that borders the river and the downtown. We enjoyed watching the boats coming in and out and checking out the restaurants and shops in the “Stee,” as the locals call it. It was a perfect day for the walk and there were lots of people out enjoying the river view.
After our walk we headed to Orchard Beach State Park on the other side of the river. Orchard Beach would be our home base for the next few nights as we explored the area. We also met our friends, Eric and Sandy Shaw there. We would continue the trip with them.
Orchard Beach State Park is mostly campground along the shore of Lake Michigan. There is a small nature trail, but not much hiking otherwise. The biggest draw is the beach, but it is not accessible from the state park. A storm several years ago washed away the lower part of the stairway access and the park made the decision not to rebuild the stairs. Because the sandy bluffs are so tall, not many people go to the beach.
We found our campsite and Tom explored the shoreline, checking out the views. After Eric and Sandy arrived and got set up, we walked with Sandy to check out the overlooks. There was a wedding at the large shelter in the park and lots of people had come for that. Our campsites were lovely and fairly level. We were across from each other on the end of the loop, so our sites were oddly shaped. When we checked in, the ranger told us to back into the site any way we wanted, and we did.
We enjoyed three beautiful nights at Orchard Beach State Park but we weren’t at the park very much. It was a good home base while we headed north and south to explore other things in the area.