A resort from an earlier time
Castle Park’s heyday was in the early to mid-20th century, when the Castle itself was a gracious resort hotel and the vacationers flocked from Chicago via lake steamer, interurban train, or auto. (The image above shows the Castle circa 1920.) While the hotel has been closed since the 1980s and the Castle now serves as a community center for the park (don’t miss Thursday Bingo!), the broad fields, tennis courts and rustic buildings remain, not to mention the vintage cottages that rim the common areas.
Speaking of tennis courts, Castle Park has always been a tennis player's paradise. The eight green-clay tennis courts are a joy to play on and are meticulously maintained. In season the Castle Park Association employs a full-time tennis pro who offers group and private lessons and arranges tournaments and other special events.
The swimming pool was completely rebuilt a few years ago and now has a saline-based water purification system. A shallow section is perfect for splashing with small children, and the main section is long enough for satisfying lap swimming. The association employs a lifeguard during the summer, and swim lessons are available. Just west of the pool is a greensward where CP members are welcome to set up bocce, croquet, or other lawn games.
A key part of Castle Park culture is Play Class, where the community's children (ages 4 to 12) enjoy supervised activities on summer mornings. The association employs a Play Class director every season who supervises a team of teenage counselors drawn from Play Class alums, thus handing down the tradition through the generations.
The main parlor of the Castle hosts an impressive library that has been grown and curated by several dedicated residents over decades. The Meeting House, where Play Class convenes, has an equally impressive children's library.
The Dance Dune, a concrete dance floor overlooking the lake, is a fine spot to watch the sunset and the Fourth of July fireworks down the beach at Macatawa, and to attend dances every other Saturday night during the season. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself about. At the foot of the Dance Dune is the Barnswallow, a time-hallowed kids’ hangout open early afternoons and evenings, for candy, ice cream, foosball, jukebox playing, and writing one’s name on the crossbeams (bring your own Sharpie).
Also in occasional use is the 1920s vintage Amphitheatre. Notices of performances are posted at the rustic structure in the center of the park, which was formerly the Post Office.
Renters can enjoy all the amenities of Castle Park during the season, which runs from roughly the last week in June until Labor Day.