With mostly family-owned shops and restaurants, 26 miles of sandy beaches, and more than double the miles in bike trails, Muskegon sounds like it could be a city on the West Coast. But combine it with snowy winters and a small-town feel, and Muskegon is a Midwestern city full of character. While the city provides plenty of recreational things to do, meetings and events don’t lack in luster. Opening in spring 2021, a new convention center is just one highlight for planners looking to book in Western Michigan, among plenty of other exciting venues to explore.
Meeting and event spaces are on the rise in Muskegon, particularly with the new Lakeshore Convention Center (LCC) that will overlook Muskegon Lake.
The staff at Visit Muskegon is excited for the new convention center’s impact on the city. As LCC can hold up to 3,000 attendees at a time throughout the building’s 23,050 square feet of collective meeting space, the venue enables Muskegon to host more large-scale events.
“We’re excited to show existing groups that have come year after year some new space and allow those groups to grow their events. And we’re also really looking forward to bringing in some newer groups, and possibly some public shows to stimulate the economy downtown and throughout the county as well,” says Caitlin Hegedus, marketing and operations manager at Visit Muskegon.
The venue will live up to its name by providing views of Muskegon Lake with 14-foot windows within the pre-function space. In addition, the usage of wood-inspired panels throughout the venue nods to Muskegon’s history in the lumber industry as well as the abundance of forests in the city, while the overall mid-century modern design points to Muskegon’s future.
“Lakeshore Convention Center will build on the community’s current momentum. We expect it to make Muskegon a year-round destination and boost shoulder season business and tourism for the entire community,” says Katie DeWeerd, director of sales for the Parkland Properties of Michigan.
Connected to the Lakeshore Convention Center is the Delta Hotels by Marriott Muskegon Downtown Lakeshore Convention Center, providing an additional 10,000 square feet of meeting space for planners under the same roof. In addition, the connection provides 200 guest rooms for attendees to retreat to after a day of meetings, without having to venture into the cold Michigan winter.
However, the Lakeshore Convention Center isn’t the only venue with on-site guest rooms. Right across the street from LCC is the Shoreline Inn & Conference Center, a 140-room hotel with a more vintage, boutique feel than the Marriott. The inn’s restaurant, the Lake House Waterfront Grille, also houses a 5,000-square-foot conference center that overlooks the marina, capable of hosting up to 300 people.
Located nearby to both LCC and the Delta is the Frauenthal Theater, another potential venue for planners. Built in 1930, the Frauenthal hosts anything from business meetings to weddings within its Spanish Renaissance interior.
A little farther from downtown Muskegon is Bella Maria’s Ristorante & Event Center in Norton Shores, a former restaurant with event space turned full-scale venue that overlooks a golf course. Whether planners book the seasonal outdoor event tent, the ballroom, or one of three smaller room options within the former restaurant, Bella Maria’s provides an abundance of Italian food options as well as gorgeous views of Oak Ridge Golf Club.
Discover Muskegon Amusements
Many venues are located in or are nearby to downtown Muskegon, close to plenty of things to do after the workday is over.
For people interested in learning about Muskegon’s history, the Hackley & Hume homes provide a channel to the 1890s, as the museums are restored homes of Muskegon lumber barons from that era. Muskegon is also home to two World War II ships, the USS Silversides and the USS LST 393. History buffs can tour the USS Silversides submarine itself, while the USS LST 393 landing ship tank has an onboard museum across the street from Western Avenue.
Another popular landmark is the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, where the luge is one of four publicly accessible tracks in the United States. Visitors receive training before venturing down the track and sliding at speeds of up to 30 mph. Other activities at the complex include ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and more, and the Complex even has a wheel luge track for summer sliding. Other summer activities in Muskegon include visiting Michigan’s Adventure for rollercoaster fun, as well as its counterpart, WildWater Adventure.
When visitors have garnered an appetite from exploring, Muskegon has plenty of family-owned restaurants to choose from. The local award-winning restaurant Dr. Rolf’s Barbeque serves up brisket, ribs, chicken and more, and Nipote’s Italian Kitchen, an Italian restaurant housed in a shipping container, offers paninis, pasta and more. For breakfast and brunch, Toast ‘N Jams is a Visit Muskegon team favorite.
When it comes to balancing new growth and maintaining the city’s charm, Muskegon has found the right formula. “We really have a good mixture of both recreation and development,” says Hegedus.