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Summer starts this weekend in west Michigan

Take in a sunset on Lake Michigan.
Take in a sunset on Lake Michigan.
Thomas Scheidel

This weekend is the start of summer in Michigan. The polar vortex appears to have finally passed and the weather looks great for the next few days. Although water temperatures in Lake Michigan are still less than 50 degrees, there will be plenty of sunshine along the many beaches in the west part of the state. Here are a few ideas for some outdoor fun on this Memorial Day weekend.

Take in a sunset along the big lake. Although the water may be too cold for a dip, the predicted clear skies will make for a spectacular evening show as the sun turns orange and slips below the waves of Lake Michigan. There will also be a big meteor shower on Friday night/early Saturday morning. Sky watchers are encouraged to get away from city lights for the best viewing. Most beaches don’t have lights, so come for the sunset and stay for the meteors.

Go kayaking. There are dozens of rivers in west Michigan suitable for paddling. While none provide the whitewater action one finds in other states, Michigan rivers meander peacefully through beautiful scenery. On a warm day it’s a great way to see a little different view of the area. If you don’t have your own kayak there are several outfitters who will rent them by the day. Most will provide transport up river to the best put-ins. While on the river you may see people engaged in our next activity.

Go fishing. Spring is one of the best times to fish the rivers of west Michigan. Lake fish like salmon are swimming up rivers to their spawning grounds. While the main part of that season has passed there are still plenty of opportunities along the Grand, Rogue and Muskegon Rivers for the angler.

Let’s stay on the water for our next activity, boating. Michigan has more registered pleasure boats than any other state. On Memorial Day weekend it sometimes seems like every one of them is on one of the numerous inland lakes on the west side of the state. Water skiing and tubing are popular pastimes for boaters and their families. You can even charter a large sailboat to head out onto the big lake. Charters are available in several lakeside communities including Grand Haven, Holland and South Haven.

Go for a bike ride. West Michigan is crisscrossed by country roads and bike trails. Even bigger cities like Grand Rapids are quite bike friendly. More than a half of dozen trails leave from the outskirts of the city en route to smaller towns and villages. There are also many unpaved trails and mountain bike parks in the area for those cyclists that want to ditch the skinny tires for their knobbies.

Get outside this holiday weekend and enjoy the start of summer in a truly west Michigan way.