Cheers to 2023!

In what has been a long-debated topic among residents, South Haven city council members just approved a measure to join the growing list of Michigan communities that offer social districts within their downtown area.

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What is a 'Social District'?

A product of the Covid-19 pandemic, a social district is a designated zone where open containers of alcohol are permitted to be carried and consumed. Participating businesses are allowed to serve approved beverages in designated containers; patrons are then able to enjoy their beverages outside, roam, and window shop-- all with drink in hand! Quite often participating businesses will also allow you to bring your drink inside while you shop.

Social South Haven

The South Haven community has been discussing the possibility of adding a social district since January 2021 but the resolution was eventually tabled. Once talks resumed in 2022 residents had a lot to add to the conversation!

For example, southwest Michigan resident Zak Dickens posed a question in a local Facebook group asking,

I’d like to hear some opinions, and some HEALTHY debates on the subject of “SOCIAL DISTRICTS” in South Haven...should we do it here? My personal thoughts… we don’t have the resources, to enforce it...Let’s stop people from drowning before we add MORE alcohol To downtown. Your thoughts??

Both supporters of the proposed social district and its opponents chimed in saying things like:

  • "How about a more welcoming and vibrant town. Compare it to Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven…more outdoor seating, more tourism, more revenue which brings in more taxes. I see a lot of benefits." - Brandyn Stern
  • "Sure… let’s invite 10,000 tourists to our small town every summer to get obnoxiously drunk on the streets of our beautiful quaint beach town…. It’s not like we don’t already have a problem with drownings…Really BAD idea." - Gretchen Rogers

City Council Approves

On Monday, December 5 the South Haven City Council voted and approved the new social district 4-2. However, the current plans to allow the new social district only include the fall and winter months-- not the summer.

It is expected the social district will begin in the fall of 2023.

Districts Across West Michigan

Numerous communities across west Michigan added social districts in light of the pandemic. Many saw so much success that they voted to keep them in place once restrictions were lifted. Currently, the list of communities that offer social districts includes:

  • Kalamazoo
  • Allegan
  • Saugatuck
  • St. Joseph
  • Niles
  • Grand Rapids
  • Holland
  • Zeeland
  • Grand Haven
  • Spring Lake
  • and many more!

Social Districts in West and Southwest Michigan

More and more cities are establishing social districts where you can sip alcoholic beverages and stroll around town

Check Out Constantine's Newest Brewery: River Trade Brewing Co.

West Michigan's newest brewery celebrated its grand opening on August 6, 2022.

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