Coastal Living magazine has awarded Grand Haven with its 2017 “Happiest Seaside Town in America” designation.
Grand Haven bested saltwater seaside towns in Massachusetts, Florida, Washington, New Jersey, South Carolina, California and Maine.
“We're thrilled,” said Marci Cisneros, executive director of the Grand Haven Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This is absolutely such an exciting time for us.”
The Alabama-based travel magazine used Gallup poll findings to compile its list, then narrowed it to 10 finalists last fall.
“We've been recognized as happiest and healthiest, but this just takes it to a whole new level,” Cisneros said. “It helps to identify us as not only a destination, but overall as a community.”
Not only will Grand Haven receive a physical award, staff members from Coastal Living are flying in this weekend to take part in Winterfest festivities. Grand Haven will also be featured in the magazine.
“This is the type of marketing and promotion, even if we could afford it, it's not something you can buy,” Cisneros said. “We''re not sure how many visitors it could bring in. We're a great small town and definitely being a beach town is part of our identity. Being featured in Coastal Living is going to be wonderful. It's a strong, travel-related national magazine. It will be great for downtown businesses and will help put Grand Haven on the map.”
Cisneros thanks everyone who voted for Grand Haven for “Happiest Seaside Town in America.”
“Even though we were able to get on the list because of the Gallup polls, it was the voters who elevated us to the top,” she said.
Stefanie Herder, the marketing and communications manager for the local visitors bureau, said the honor is well-deserved.
“Everyone is happy to live here and gives back to the community,” she said. “Everyone is welcoming. Living by the lake, you don't have anything to not be happy about. We're just a happy town and a really pretty town. I think it's cool we were the only freshwater sea town on the list and we won.”
Joy Gaasch, president of the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg, said the process Coastal Living used to determine finalists is “a testament to the blessings we receive from our environment and the quality of life that exists in our community as a result of many people, organizations and businesses that make the Grand Haven area their home and invest their time, talent and treasures to ensure our community is the best place to visit, live, work, learn and play.”
Gaasch said she's thrilled with the final results.
“Through the recognition we receive, it opens the door for exploration by entrepreneurs, families and retirees to consider starting or moving a business, or relocating to our community,” she said. “It all starts with the telling or our story, and Coastal Living has certainly given our community the opportunity to do just that.”
Stuart, Florida, was last year’s “Happiest Seaside Town in America.”