On the edge of Lake Michigan, three generations of family members wade out into the water for a paddleboard class. Some seem apprehensive, unsure of how the lesson will unfold, but the mood changes once Susan, the groups' 70-year-old matriarch, stands atop her board and dips her paddle into the water. Encouraged by her bravery, the rest of the boarders stand upright and step out of their comfort zones.
Real experiences like these set the tone for MACkite's classes, which cover kiteboarding, snow kiting, surfing, and standup paddleboarding. Instructors put nervous students at ease, helping them face fears of falling off a board or accidentally pulling the lake’s plug. The experts can also add inventive twists to lessons, such as leading yoga poses on top of paddleboards.
Additionally, MACkite's crew hangs up their wetsuits and waterproof cummerbunds to man the business’s retail shop. Known to sport silly garb such as pink board shorts and fake mustaches, they help visitors peruse Naish equipment as well as one of the largest selections of Cabrinha gear in the Western hemisphere. Their extensive stock boasts individual items such as wetsuits and complete packages.
The owners of Sun Sports Rentals grew up rollicking among the beaches, waterways, and trails of western Michigan. Today, they outfit guests of all ages for outdoor adventures by renting out their fleet of canoes, single and tandem kayaks, and standup paddleboards harbored at Chinook Pier, just a mile from the beach. For guests holding the proper licensing, the selection expands to include Sea-Doo jet skis, as well as pontoon and jet boats. Alternatively, bike and moped rentals let visitors see and escape from natural wonders atop solid land. Sun Sports' team members happily help patrons launch their vessels, and can also arrange delivery. In addition to equipment rentals, they also dispense beach gear, snacks, and apparel.
Saddling over 90 years of combined horsemanship experience, including competition at the national level, the instructors at Out Side In focus their equestrian energies on benefitting the greater good. Led by executive director and psychotherapist Jennifer McVoy, the team spends much of its time focusing on equine-assisted psychotherapy, or EAP, a therapeutic approach that aims to improve quality of life for at-risk youth by using horses as catalysts for social and emotional growth. Riding lessons, offered in the disciplines of both English and Western, are aimed at helping riders of all ages and skill levels improve self esteem by walking a mile in someone else's horseshoes. Beginners can expect to start with the basic, entry-level skills of horse care, anatomy, saddling, and safety techniques before progressing to more advanced skills, such as jumping, barrel racing, or riding a horse through a drive-thru.
The bayous and creeks flowing into the Grand River form an inviting home for wildlife, including eagles that nest in the trees along the shoreline. Perched in their aeries, the birds study the water's surface. Spotting a disturbance, an eagle lifts off and glides toward the water, opening its talons to pluck the prey suspended just beneath the surface.
The team at Lakeshore Kayak Rental lends their kayaks—inspected and certified by the DNR—and other watercraft to help visitors stumble upon sights such as these throughout the gentle Grand River and its connecting waterways. The staff, which includes instructors claiming certifications from the American Canoe Association, provides lessons for beginner kayakers, canoeists, and paddleboarders, and recommends areas for more experienced outdoorsmen to explore. With advanced notice, Lakeshore's crew can also arrange transportation to and from some area lodgings and farther-away launch points. To encourage camaraderie throughout the kayaking community, Lakeshore's team hosts the annual Grand River Kayak Race.
Tri-Cities Historical Museum occupies two appropriately historic buildings?the Grand Trunk Railroad Depot, originally built in 1870, and the Akeley Building, originally built in 1871. Today, these relics display artifacts from Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, and Grand Haven's pasts, documenting events all the way back to when the land belonged to Native Americans. They cover a diverse array of topics, too, from maritime exploration and medicine to decor, through rooms decorated with historically accurate furniture, art, and tablet computers.