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Lakeshore Family Guide for West Michigan

The communities along the lakeshore of West Michigan are ideal places to start and raise a family!

There are great indoor and outdoor family venues throughout the area, many quality childcare and schooling options, and plenty of resources that support family health and well-being. When it comes to raising kids from birth and beyond, this area just can’t be beat. Every member of your family is bound to find pure joy living here in West Michigan!

There’s never a shortage of fun activities and events for families along the lakeshore!,

Childcare & Education Opportunities

Many high quality, licensed childcare options as well as top-ranking public and private schools are available in the area. There are also many programs that provide lessons in music, art, and martial arts, among others.

Family Resources

This area has some of the finest family health options for medical, dental, eye, and emergency care. It also excels in connecting families in need with services and providing opportunities for community members to give back. And if you’re looking for some good old fashioned physical activity for your children, look no further. There are lots of exercise programs, recreational sports leagues, and active things to do that will keep you and your kids moving!

Family Fun

Driving the truck at Sandcastles Children's Museum. | Photo by Lexi Kosla.

There is a myriad of family fun events and businesses in this area. The lakeshore offers plenty of options to spend quality time with the ones you love!

There are also many yummy and family friendly places to eat and lots of stores to take care of the needs of parents and kids. And if your child has a birthday coming up, this area has tons of birthday party options to make that special day great for your kiddo!


Kids head back to school and football games have started- fall is a great time to be in any of the lakeshore communities. The fresh, cool air beckons you outside to witness the gorgeous Fall Color Tour and there are numerous fall fun events in the area. And when October arrives, Halloween parties and trick-or-treating provide entertainment for the entire family.

Winter and Family Activities

Local sledding hills, plenty of open land for cross country skiing, and guided snowshoe walks available at the Ludington State Park are just a taste of the winter fun to be had along the lakeshore. West Shore Community Ice Arena in Scottville has open hours for ice skating, providing a fun and safe activity for people of all ages. If you prefer the warmth of the indoors, open swimming is available at numerous community pools and at West Shore Community College.

Summer Fun for Families

With miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and clean, sugar sand beaches; adults and kids alike will enjoy soaking up the sun with some amazing summer excursions. Water fun options include swimming, boat rentals, and sunset cruises on the S.S. Badger.

As far as festivals and summer events go, family friendly fun is available at every turn. The largest summer event for families in Ludington is the Ludington Area Jaycees 4th of July Freedom Festival which includes a Children & Pet Parade, Grand Parade, and Fireworks. The Oceana County Asparagus Festival is another great family fun venue. 

Is your family into running? The annual Lakestride Half Marathon/10K/5K Run has options for every skill level. If basketball is more in your court,  the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament can help you satisfy that competitive urge during the summer months.

Then there’s Fair faire! Many communities along the lakeshore have an annual fair, including the Western Michigan Fair held each August in Ludington. Also in August is the Oceana County Fair in Hart and in Onekama, the Manistee County Fair all have an abundance of fun for all ages.

Indoor Children's Programs

The lakeshore communities are also home to many fun activities for cooped up kids during those blustery months. Free playgroups and library programs provide a variety of experiences for kids and the events are great opportunities for kids to get together. Children of all ages should make a point to visit Sandcastles Children’s Museum in Ludington frequently. The museum exhibits include an actual Cessna 172 airplane, the Badger Playship, an interactive bank and restaurant, water and bubble tables, and more; all for a modest entry fee.

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More of West Michigan Family & Community

Scroll below for more articles about Activities & Attractions in the West Michigan area.

West Michigan Activities & Attractions

The Pentwater River

The Pentwater River provides opportunities to experience a paddle sport for the first time or take on a challenge for those more experienced.

Value of Sports Museum

Visit the new Value of Sports Museum located at Historic White Pine Village just a short drive from Ludington.

Silver Lake State Park

The Silver Lake State Park is 3,000 acres and is situated between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan, offering boating, fishing, swimming, & ORV.