12 Reasons to Visit Muskegon’s Amazing Museums

The Hackley House an iconic Muskegon Museums

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Muskegon is my hometown. And just like any other person, they usually don’t visit the places that most tourists visit from the area they grew up. These last few years, however, I’ve taken a more active part in visiting the attractions that make Muskegon, Michigan more than just my hometown, but I place I rave about and highly recommend families visit. These 12 Muskegon Museums have been some of our favorite things to do in Muskegon.

Lakeshore Museum Center

Start off your Muskegon Museums visit to the Lakeshore Museum Center. We’ve visited here several times over the years simply due to the wealth of information in the museum.

Our favorite exhibit is the journey through 400 million years of Michigan’s history, taking the visitor through prehistoric pasts, through the ice ages, and eventually continuing into more recent history such as Muskegon’s logging and industry.

giant beaver at the Lakeshore Muskegon Museums

 The Lakeshore Museum Center now offers a 7-Day History Pass; good for admission to each of the museum sites and is valid for 7 days after the date of purchase. You can re-visit sites during the week of your pass! They can be purchased at the City Barn; located between the Hackley and Hume Houses. Or, at the Muskegon Museum of History and Science and Muskegon Heritage Museum of Business and Industry gift shops.

The museum has educational programs and plenty of hands-on activities in the children’s areas plus rotating special exhibitions on the second floor. This year it was all about the Muskegon Civic Theatre, where I grew up performing.

The Lakeshore Museum is open year-round and is located at 430 W Clay Ave.

Monet Garden

The Monet Garden isn’t really a museum, per se. Yet it’s a nice stop on your way down Clay Avenue from the Lakeshore Museum Center to the other historic sites. It’s open to the public, and is a gorgeous miniature Monet styled garden full of lush flowers and butterflies.

Scolnik House of the Depression Era

The Scolnik House showing the Depression Era of the Muskegon Museums

Part of the historic sites under the Lakeshore Museum is the Scolnik House of the depression era. This carefully restored home includes 1930’s furnishings, kitchenware, games, papers, and so much more. This is a fantastic family-friendly thing to do in Muskegon. The Scolnik House is listed as a “gentle-touch” museum, meaning kids and adults alike can try on the period clothing, explore the garden, and feel the worn furnishings and kitchen items.

The Scolnik House is one block down, at 504 W. Clay Ave. It’s open May through October.

Fire Barn

Old Fire engine

Next to the Scolnik House is the Fire Barn Museum. inside you’ll find an antique fire truck, and plenty of fire memorabilia. Upstairs shows the living quarters and is worth a look.

The Fire Barn is open May through October, at 510 W. Clay Ave.

Hackley & Hume Historic Site

Hackley Home Historic site

The Hackley & Hume Historic Sites are the homes of Charles Hackley and David Hume, two partners and lumber barons of the late 1800s. You’ll find the Hackley name throughout Muskegon as he was responsible for much of the city’s growth during the lumber era of the late nineteenth century.

These homes are immense, grandiose, and extraordinarily preserved. I’ve visited the Hackley House many times over the years and I always learn something new. Under a constant state of restoration, visitors can only enter with guides. Be sure to stop into the City Barn located between the two homes to purchase your tickets and inquire about times.

The Hackley and Hume Historic Site homes are also open May through October, with a special Holiday Tour around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The homes are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are at 484 W Webster Ave.

For up to date hours on all of the Lakeshore Museum locations mentioned above, visit here.

Muskegon Museum of Art

The Muskegon Museum of Art has a large variety of canvas art in its permanent collection as well as sculptures, textiles, and glass. New exhibits rotate seasonally but often include something fun for the children. Recently a LEGO exhibit went through town.

The Museum is at 296 W. Webster Ave.

Bonus Trip: Walk next door to the Hackley Library and go upstairs. It’s another example of the beautiful architecture of the area. It’s a great spot to get a bird’s eye view of Hackley Park below.

USS LST 393 Veteran’s Museum

This permanently docked museum places you on board the USS LST 393. LST stands for Landing Ship Tanks and this one is one of the only two remaining in the United States.

The LST 393 features artifacts and military history of that area. Plus, you’re walking around inside this large ship!

And if you can swing it, according to local residents, the “best part of the LST is yoga on the deck.”

The Veteran’s Museum is docked at 560 Mart Street. It’s open every day from May through September.

Muskegon Heritage Museum

Another one of the best things to do in Muskegon is to visit the Heritage Museum.

Here they have a working bowling alley (Brunswick bowling pins are made in Muskegon). From their site, their “collection includes informational exhibits, artifacts, and photos pertaining to Muskegon’s industries, historic homes, and businesses.” You’ll see many more things that are not only made in the USA but made in Muskegon!

They are open from May to October at 561 W. Western Ave.

SS Milwaukee Clipper

Another of the Muskegon Museums that docks on the shores of Lake Michigan is the SS Milwaukee Clipper. If you’ve ever imagined luxury ocean liners, this boat should be among them.

Yet, the Clipper sailed the Great Lakes from Muskegon to Milwaukee, not across the ocean. However, if you’ve never seen the size of Lake Michigan, this trip is quite the voyage, taking more than three hours to cross the water.

We really enjoyed our visit exploring the Clipper, especially since we took my mom with us. She took the ship from Muskegon to Milwaukee with her best friend as a graduation gift to herself.

The SS Milwaukee Clipper docks at 2098 Lakeshore Drive.

USS Silversides

One of the top things to do in Muskegon is to visit the USS Silversides. The Silversides is a World War II submarine and naval history museum. This is another location where you can walk through the actual submarine.

The silversides docked is a real life living muskegon museums

In addition, the museum offers an in-depth overview of battles fought during WWII.

The Silversides docks in the Muskegon channel at 1346 Bluff Street.

Muskegon South Pierhead Light

Occasionally, one of Muskegon’s lighthouses is available to visit. The Muskegon South Pierhead Light is not one of the tallest we’ve visited, but it’s still pretty cool to climb any lighthouse, especially for the views.

Visit this muskegon museums at the south pierhead lighthouse

They are open Memorial Day through Labor Day, on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It’s right around the corner from the Silversides, at the end of the channel.

I listed the lighthouse as one of the fun outdoor things to do in Muskegon as well.

Even More of Muskegon County Museums

There are a few other museums that we haven’t been to yet that are a part of Muskegon’s aMazing Museums, and if you visit the Lakeshore Museum you can download an explorer’s map. Note, however, that Musekgon’s Heritage Park is closed. Other Muskegon museums include:

  • C&O Railroad Caboose Museum
  • Dr. Meinhardi’s Apothecary Shop
  • James Jackson Museum of African American History
  • White River Light Station Museum

Where to Stay

I’d recommend staying at the Shoreline Inn in Downtown Muskegon as it’s close to many of the Muskegon Museums. Downtown offers plenty of dining and entertainment throughout the year as well and the Shoreline Inn is within walking or biking distance to most of it.

Or look into a Vacation Rental in Muskegon and stay along the beach or even in your own Victorian home.

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