You’ve biked the Hart-Montague Bike Trail, ridden the rides at Michigan’s Adventure, shopped downtown Whitehall and Montague, and now you’re looking for something a little more under the radar?
There’s always more to explore! Below, check out our favorite hidden gems of the White Lake area.
1. Watch the sun set from White River Light Station
White River Light Station is situated on the south side of the White Lake Channel, connecting White Lake to Lake Michigan. Originally built in 1875, the lighthouse was ultimately decommissioned in 1960. Soon after, it became a maritime museum, which still operates today.
While the lighthouse museum won’t likely be open as the sun sets (do come back another day to visit, though!), the spot is still a great place for viewing the beautiful orange and pink rays glitter over the lake at the end of the day.
On the other side of the channel is Medbery Park, an equally good spot to settle in for nature’s evening show. If you stay long enough into the evening and it’s a clear night, it’s even possible to see lights from across the lake in Wisconsin. While this is actually an optical illusion, it’s still a rare and unforgettable sight!
2. Check out the World’s Largest Weathervane
You probably didn’t know there was a world’s largest weathervane, did you?
Right here in Whitehall, at the corner of Dowling & Water Street (just across from The Weathervane Inn) you’ll find Ellenwood Park and in it, a huge 48-foot tall weathervane. Featuring a lumbering schooner called the Ella Ellenwood on top, this aluminum-constructed weathervane is fully-functioning and was created by local weathervane manufacturer Whitehall Metal Studios.
3. Indulge in an old-fashioned hand-dipped cone at Pekadill’s
As soon as you enter Pekadill’s in Whitehall, you’ll feel you’ve stepped back in time. The restaurant, home to a former small-town grocery store, has old-fashioned ice cream parlor written all over it. And while you’re welcome to enjoy a delicious sandwich or soup at the deli, many visitors come just for the ice cream.
Pekadill’s serves only made-in-Michigan ice cream, of which they have more than 25 scrumptious flavors. You’ll find both Ashby’s Sterling Ice Cream and Hudsonville Ice Cream here. Ashby’s is a family-owned and operated company based in Ludington, and Hudsonville hails from — you guessed it — Hudsonville (though, they’re now headquartered in nearby Holland).
What does hand-dipped mean?
In the frozen treat world, most people know of the debate between soft-serve vs. hard-serve. But the real debate is: soft-serve vs. hand-dipped — and we’re pretty sure hand-dipped wins. The term means the ice cream is made from premium ingredients and hand-dipped (scooped by hand) instead of made and served with a machine.
Oh, and did we mention Pekadill’s ice cream is served in homemade waffle cones? The best in West Michigan!
4. Take a kayak picnic trip
There’s something extra special about enjoying a small meal on kayak, surrounded by nature. And a trip down White River or on White Lake offers the prime occasion for such a “kayak picnic.” While you may not get a full meal out of the experience if you’re also busy paddling, it’s worth spending a little extra time assembling a nice lunch for yourself and the others in your party.
Montague Foods, our hometown grocery store, is conveniently located just across the street from The Weathervane Inn. They’re the perfect place for gathering tasty provisions as they have a wide range of produce, snacks, drinks, pantry items, and deli offerings.
Here are some picnic snack suggestions to put in your hatch:
Renting kayaks for White River or White Lake can be easily done at WaterDog Outfitters, also just a few steps away from The Weathervane Inn. Their friendly and accommodating staff will help you find the exact kayaks, lifejackets, and accessories you’re looking for — whether you’re a beginner or advanced paddler.
5. Have a morning swim in “Mishigami”
That’s Ojibwa for Lake Michigan, and it really means “great water.” Lake Michigan is by far our biggest attraction here in the White Lake area. Still, most people come to see it in the daytime, which means you may very well have the beach to yourself if you arrive extra early.
Here are some of our favorite local beaches:
While you should always check the current weather and beach conditions before heading in (and it’s not advised to swim alone), morning swims — or sunrise swims if you’re really brave! — can be remarkably refreshing and energizing. It’s a great way to start the day.