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South Haven welcomes the summer season

Sailboats cruise along the South Haven channel of the Black River
Sailboats cruise along the South Haven channel of the Black River
Thomas Scheidel

Even though it's been a long winter, Michigan's beach season is coming soon. One of the best beach towns along the Lake Michigan coast is South Haven. Located about 90 minutes from Chicago, the city sits on a bluff high above the big lake. This provides excellent views of the bright blue water and the beach down below.

A pier, finished off by an historic lighthouse, protects the inlet of the Black River. This provides superb boating opportunities for sailing and charter fishing. A pedestrian walkway follows the channel all the way from the beach to downtown. Dozens of restaurants dot the downtown area, including Su Casa, a local favorite serving authentic Mexican food.

There are plenty of other activities besides lounging on the beach. The Kal-Haven Trail is rail trail that runs from South Haven to Kalamazoo. The 34 mile crushed limestone trail is easy to ride on a mountain or cruiser bike.

The Michigan Maritime Museum makes it's home in South Haven. It commemorates the rich maritime tradition of the Great Lakes. The museum also offers educational excursion cruises on the Black River.

The Waterfront Film Festival is entering it's 16th year. The internationally know festival shows over 90 films on seven screens across the city. Waterfront takes place June 12-15, 2014.