Along The West Michigan Pike: From Sand Trails to U.S.31

We spent the first fortnight in September this year at our friends’ cottage in Michigan. We’ve visited several times before but it’s always a pleasure to stay there with them and make new discoveries in the area as well re-visiting old haunts.

The Book

On the bookshelves at the Cottage my attention was drawn to a book by friends of our hosts called ‘Vintage Views Along the West Michigan Pike‘. Christine Byron and Thomas Wilson have collected memorabilia and old photos and postcards and assembled them together to produce an illustrated history of the road that wends (or wended) its way along the eastern side of Lake Michigan from the Indiana State Line to the Mackinac Bridge that links the Lower Peninsula of Michigan to the Upper Peninsula.


The West Michigan Pike has been more or less swallowed up by the highway U.S.31 which actually starts way south of Michigan in Alabama.

WMP author talk

I’ve picked out a few  pages of places that I’m more familiar with and included some of my own photos of places along the route.

WMP map


WMP Accommodations SH

South Haven Accommodations in yesteryear

Sun 'n' Sand

Our 1950s Sun ‘n’ Sand Resort Accommodation 2013

WMP S Haven

WMP South Haven

South Haven was our overnight stop between Chicago O’Hare Airport and Stony Lake where the Cottage is located.


Saugatuck is always a favourite stopping off point just off the 31 on journeys between Stony Lake and Chicago.


The S.S.Keewatin, moored on the south bank of the Kalamazoo Lake near Saugatuck is one of the few remaining of dozens of passenger ships that criss-crossed Lake Michigan. The Scottish-built ship is now a museum and is the biggest vessel to ever enter Saugatuck’s Harbour. I haven’t yet managed to visit as the museum is closed after Labor day and our trips are normally in September.

Moving on north up the US31 you come to Holland with its very Dutch buildings and atmosphere. We visited Downtown Holland for the first time this trip but it’s not easy to take picturesque pictures these days, with cars parked everywhere. Better to view it from the old time postcards and pictures.

Welcome to Holland

Welcome to Holland

Holland Tulip Town

Holland – Tulip Town


Holland Postcard – I love this style but no longer available these days!

Grand Haven

Next along the route is Grand Haven. We’ve visited a few times and love this wide  streeted town with its individual shops like Hostetter’s Newsagent and Bookshop and old style deli Fortino’s.


Hostetter’s, Grand Haven, MI

Another favourite town of ours is Pentwater. Dubbed “A Norman Rockwell Kind of Town” it is, like the many of the others, just one wide main street with good eateries and shops. Sailing is also very popular here and the yachts big and small bob up and down in the harbour/marina as you approach the centre of town.


Main Street Pentwater 2007

North of Pentwater has usually been outside our holiday ‘comfort zone’ but we made a day-long excursion this year via Manistee and Benzonia to the delightful small city of Traverse City. It’s one of those places listed in Top 10 Small Town America lists such as this and we thought it deserved its placing.



Benzonia sign

Welcome to Benzonia!


Description of Benzonia

A Motoring town

Traverse City ‘A Motoring Town’ – Still Full of Parked Cars Today!

Traverse City

Traverse City – Also, ‘The Heart of Nature’s Playground’!

Cinema Traverse City

The Cinema that Local Film Maker Michael Moore helped to Save

And here’s Lake Michigan itself – By Day

Lake Michigan

… And At Sunset

L Michigan sunset


3 comments on “Along The West Michigan Pike: From Sand Trails to U.S.31

  1. Julie Stivers says:

    Great travelogue! I’m forwarding this to Chris & Tom.

  2. Ruth O says:

    Just catching up on some of your posts. Love these familiar ones!

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