Saugatuck MI: 20 Best Things to Do in the Summer

Saugatuck MI Chain Ferry

Saugatuck MI is a Great Vacation Destination

Saugatuck MI is an off-the-beaten-path lowkey, art-infused beach town filled with galleries, studios, and art classes, perfect for a Michigan summer vacation getaway.

Farm-to-table restaurants, outdoor recreation, miles of sandy Lake Michigan beaches, stunning sand dunes, and wineries round out the experience.

From strolling the cute shops to the beautiful beaches to grabbing a bite at one of their many restaurants, there’s plenty for the whole family to do and see.

We also love some of the special attractions that are offered in Saugatuck that will make you feel like you’re truly on vacation!

The Butler Restaurant Patio Saugatuck MI
The patio at The Butler Restaurant in Saugatuck MI

Saugatuck MI FAQs

Where is Saugatuck MI?

Saugatuck is located on the west coast of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Saugatuck, coupled with the adjacent village of Douglas, make up Michigan’s Art Coast.

Nearby Fennville supports the area with its diverse agriculture and local farm fare, making this the ultimate foodie destination.

Saugatuck MI Location

Best Things to Do in Saugatuck MI

1 – Visit Oval Beach

Perryman St. & Oval Beach Drive, Saugatuck, MI, 49453

Oval Beach is a short drive from downtown Saugatuck.

This beach is famous for its sugar-sand Lake Michigan shoreline and majestic dune backdrop.

An entrance fee allows you to park at Oval Beach all day long.

Oval Beach in Saugatuck MI

You can even leave, grab a bite to eat, and come back to watch the sunset.

No dogs or alcohol are allowed at Oval Beach.

Bonus: Call the Interurban Bus, 269-857-1418, from anywhere in Saugatuck/Douglas and they will drop you off and pick you up at the beach for $1 a ride, each way. You will not be required to pay the $10 beach parking fee.

oval beach saugatuck mi

2 – Ride the Chain Ferry

528 Water St, Saugatuck, MI 49453

You can take the hand-cranked Saugatuck Chain Ferry across the Kalamazoo River from downtown Saugatuck right to the entrance of Mt. Baldy or you can just stay on the ferry for the return trip.

This old ferry has been in use since 1838 and is the only remaining chain-driven ferry in the country.

Riding the ferry is a fun way to see the Kalamazoo River and it’s only $2 per person each way (cash only).

Open Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Saugatuck MI chain Ferry
saugatuck ferry
Saugatuck Chain Ferry is Hand-Cranked

3 – Go on the Saugatuck Dune Rides

6495 Blue Star Hwy, Saugatuck, MI 49453

The Saugatuck area is home to towering Michigan sand dunes, just like many other Lake Michigan beach towns are.

If you love thrill rides and are looking for a unique way to experience the dunes, Saugatuck Dune Rides has a sandy roller coaster ride for you.

This 40-minute ride is part thrill ride/part historic ride and offers great dunes views along the way.

Each dune schooner holds 20 -25 people.

The vehicle has long seat belts that reach across from one side to the other. Just fasten your belt, say your prayers and hang on.

After you load up, your driver takes you on a ride that feels kinda like a junior roller coaster.

Saugatuck Dune Rides Michigan

The driver also doubles as a comedian/ tour guide, sharing the history of the area and a lot of jokes.

You get time to stop, get out, and explore the dunes, too.

Saugatuck Dune Rides are just a little different than the dune rides at Silver Lake.

The Saugatuck MI rides are located on private land and are farther away from Lake Michigan.

Dune Ride Pro Tips:

  • Buy tickets online before arriving.
  • Bring sunglasses.
  • Don’t wear a hat – it will likely fly away.
  • Children under two years of age are not permitted. The ride is best suited for children 4+

4 – Relax on the Star of Saugatuck Paddleboat

716 Water Street, Saugatuck, MI 49453

The Star of Saugatuck is located downtown Saugatuck and has daily cruises in the summer that go on the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan.

This paddlewheel gives you a smooth sail as you navigate through the Saugatuck channel and to Lake Michigan. The river wound around to an amazing view of Lake Michigan.

You can see all sorts of wildlife and beautiful properties along the water while on the cruise.

I love the narration given by the boat captain such as learning about Old Singapore and other tidbits about Saugatuck’s history.

The boat offers concessions if you want a snack or drink during your cruise.

Star of Saugatuck Paddle Boat Ride

You might want to pack a jacket because the weather does cool off after the sun goes down.

Star of Saugatuck Paddleboat Saugatuck MI
Star of Saugatuck Paddleboat Cruise

5 – Climb Mount Baldhead and Hike Out to Oval Beach

Mt. Baldhead (“Mt. Baldy”) Park
769 Park St, Saugatuck, MI 49453

Weave your way to the other side of the Kalamazoo river to Mt. Baldhead Park and you’ll be greeted with a magnificent staircase.

Climb the 282 steps and you’ll be on top of the Mt. Baldhead dune.

Mt. Baldhead saugatuck mi

From there, enjoy a gorgeous view of Saugatuck, Douglas, and Lake Michigan. It’s a perfect way to burn off excess energy and get that heart pumping.

Mt. Baldhead saugatuck mi

If you’re ambitious, you can hike the sandy path on the top of the dune all the way to Oval Park beach.

(It is possible to make it from downtown Saugatuck all the way to Oval Beach on foot.)

To make it happen, you’ll take the chain ferry, climb Mt. Baldhead, and then hike through the woods and sand to the beach.

Mt. Baldhead saugatuck mi
Top of Mt. Baldhead Looking toward Lake Michigan. Sandy Path leads to Oval Beach.
Oval Beach in Saugatuck MI
The hike from Oval Beach to Mt Baldhead will take you back to the Chain Ferry

6 – Go Old School with a Retro Boat Rental

730 Water St, Saugatuck MI 49453

Classic electric boat rentals are available to cruise the Kalamazoo River from Retro Boat Rentals.

The boat rental location houses The Old Boathouse, a restaurant & bar with a waterfront patio, making it a fun all-in-one destination.

Some of the boats are dog-friendly, just ask!

Retro Boat Rentals Saugatuck MI
Retro Boat Rides Saugatuck Michigan
Donut boat floating down the Kalamazoo River

7 – Take a Break at the Village Square

428 Butler St, Saugatuck, MI 49453

Right in the center of town (on Main & Butler), there’s a cute, shady park and playground that is easy to access.

We always stop by for some quick playtime.

Saugatuck Village Square Playground

Bonus: there are restrooms just across the street.

Saugatuck Village Public Restrooms

8 – Get Treats at the Drug Store Soda Fountain

201 Butler St, Saugatuck, MI 49453

You’ll feel like you found a hidden treasure when you stop into the Drug Store Soda Fountain in downtown Saugatuck MI.

This retro-themed stop is great for a burger or ice cream soda and is literally in the back of the drug store.

Drug Store Soda Fountain - downtown Saugatuck
Saugatuck Drug Store Soda Fountain

9 – Play Yard Games in Wicks Park

502 Water St, Saugatuck, MI 49453

Wicks Park is located on the Kalamazoo River, next to the Chain Ferry.

Shade trees, picnic tables, benches and yard games dot the lawn area, making this a great place to relax.

Wicks Park Yard Games Saugatuck MI

Also at Wicks Park:

  • A gazebo in the center of the park. This is where the summer Music in the Park events are held every Wednesday from June to August.
  • Public Restrooms
Wicks Parks Saugatuck MI

10 – Find Treasures in the Twin Downtowns

Downtown Saugatuck & Downtown Douglas

Shops Galore!

The little towns of Downtown Douglas and Downtown Saugatuck MI are just a mile apart.

Between the two, there is something for everyone in the shops, including the kids.

Take time to window shop, enjoy an ice cream cone, or grab a bite for lunch.

Downtown Saugatuck MI (1)
Downtown Saugatuck MI
Downtown Saugatuck

11 – Snap a Pic at the Saugatuck Mural

The Mermaid Bar and Grill
340 Water St, Saugatuck, MI 49453

This Saugatuck MI mural was completed in September 2020 by Kalamazoo artist Erika Bradshaw.

The mural is on the northern side of the Mermaid Bar and Grill building and is ready for your selfies.

Smile! You’re in Saugatuck!

Saugatuck MI Mural
Mural by Erica Bradshaw, a Kalamazoo Artist

12 – Hike & Make it a Beach Day at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

6575 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423

The delightful 800+ acre Saugatuck Dunes State Park is not only on Lake Michigan, it’s also home to 13 miles of hiking trails through the sand dunes. Some of the dunes are 200 feet tall.

Reach the beach by hiking for 10 minutes through the wooded dunes – on sometimes sandy trails – and emerge on a perch with expansive lake views.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

The park is quite rustic – there are no boat launches here either, making this a harder-to-get-to beach.

That keeps the number of people down in the summer, especially on the north end.

Lake Michigan Beach at Saugatuck State Park

You’ll find moderate-level hiking with some bigger hills.

13 – Find Your Zen at Summerhouse Lavender Farm

2975 65th St, Fennville, MI 49408

Summer House Lavender Farm is a 1-acre boutique lavender farm, private event space and vacation rental.

In addition to lavender plants and products for sale, Summerhouse Lavender Farm hosts an annual Bloom Festival in July.

For 2022, they also offer Yoga in the Lavender classes.

Summerhouse Lavender farm Saugatuck MI

14 – Hike with Goats & Stock Up on Cheese

1824 66th St Fennville, MI 49408

Head to Evergreen Lane Creamery for a unique farm experience and artisan goat & cow’s milk cheeses.

Their cheeses are made on-site.

Periodically, they offer Hike with the Herd events. You stroll in the orchard with their goats and Carmen, the Cheesemaker, for about an hour. Reservations needed.

Hike with the herd Evergreen lane Creamery

Browse their online store for cheese, order, and curbside pickup.

The Cheese Shop is open Wednesday – Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm.

Evergreen Lane Creamery

15 – Hunt for Lightning Stones at Pier Cove Park

2290 Lakeshore Dr, Fennville, MI, 49408

Pier Cove Park near Saugatuck MI is a rock hunting destination.

While small, it is packed with “lightning stones” or Septarians.

The veins in these rocks sparkle in the sunlight, making them seem almost magical.

Parking at this beach is limited and hard to come by at times. Visit during off-peak hours for the best chance at finding a spot.

pier cove beach rock hunting
The beach is small but the rocks are plentiful at Pier Cove Park
pier cove beach rock hunting (1)
“Lightning Stones” from Pier Cove Beach

16 – Make Your Way to the Root Beer Barrel

455 W Center St, Douglas, MI 49406

This throwback hotdog stand serves up yummy root beer, a variety of hot dogs, sandwiches and more.

The food stand was recently restored after a local campaign to save the Root Beer Barrel was successful.

Douglas Rootbeer Barrel
Douglas Rootbeer Barrel

17 – Get Crafty at the Express Yourself Art Barn

6459 130th Avenue, (Riverside) Fennville, MI 49408

At Express Yourself Art Barn you can create in the barn or in the garden!

Express Yourself Art Barn Fennville MI

Anyone, regardless of talent, can come and explore something new.

Choose from over 800 different projects they have on hand. Glass fusing and pottery painting are favorites.

There’s an $8 studio fee to spend the day creating. Projects begin at $3. The average customer spends $20-30.

saugatuck mi art barn
Express Yourself Art Barn

18 – Sample the Vineyards, Cideries, and Breweries

6459 130th Avenue, (Riverside) Fennville, MI 49408

If you’re in Saugatuck, you’re close to the lush agricultural area of Fennville, MI.

Take a ride to the vineyards and cideries and be treated to on-site tastings.

Each venue has a different menu and vibe – explore them all!

Fenn Valley Vineyards

6130 122nd Ave, Fennville, MI 49408

Head here for in-depth tours and wine tasting.

Virtue Cider

2170 62nd Street, Fennville, MI, 49408

• Tastings by reservation. Book a greenhouse for a cozy experience.
• Heritage pigs, sheep, chickens, and ducks on-site. If you’re interested in seeing the animals, please let one of their Bottle Shop staff know and they’ll connect you with a farmer to show you around.

Virtue Cider Saugatuck MI

Modales

2128 62nd St, Fennville, MI, 49408

• Outdoor wine tasting room with stunning views. Public or private tasting tours.

19 – Visit Crane Orchards & Pie Pantry

6054 124th Ave (M-89) Fennville, MI 49408

They had me at pie pantry!

This is a great lunch and pie stop any time of year.

They also have a winery, and in the fall, lots of fall farm fun activities for you to enjoy.

Virtue Cider Saugatuck MI

20 -Dig in at Delicious Saugatuck Restaurants

Phil’s Bar & Grille has been our “go-to” place for lunch whenever we head to Saugatuck. There’s something for everyone to order and a good kids’ menu, too.

Want to grab a quick pizza to go and head to the beach? Check out Back Alley Pizza Joint in Douglas for some of the yummiest pizza in town. Or, sit down in Saugatuck and dig into a pizza flight at The Mitten Brewing Company.

The Mitten Brewing Company Saugatuck MI
The Mitten Brewing Company in Saugatuck MI

Pumpernickel (downtown Saugatuck) recently renovated everything and it’s FABULOUS.

The Grilled Cheese Shack serves up a variety of grilled cheeses from the classic grilled cheese to an assortment of gourmet options.

The Grilled Cheese shack Saugatuck MI

The BARge is great- on the water and kid-friendly.

The Southerner is a Saugatuck waterside restaurant that has fun games to play at the table while you wait. Food fare: southern-style. Great cocktails.

The Southerner

Where to Stay in Saugatuck MI

So who needs to travel hundreds of miles or more to take a great vacation?

You can quickly gather the kiddos and head to Saugatuck for the day and truly experience a great one-day vacation.

Hope you have a great time on your next trip to Saugatuck MI!

3-Cottage Family Compound Vacation Rental

Saugatuck Harbor • Sleeps 12 • 4 bathrooms • 5 bedrooms • 9 beds

Treetops is a vintage cottage compound and ultimate multi-family or large family retreat location. Treetops is a unique footprint, the only Saugatuck MI rental with three neighboring door-to-door cottages. The complex is the perfect mix of gathering space, close enough for family and friends to share in every activity yet retreat to individual living spaces.
Saugatuck Cottage Compound Vacation Rental

All cottages feature multiple screened porches and views of the harbor or wooded dunes.

Cottages are located within feet of each other as they surround a shared fire pit, professionally maintained hot tub, and vast amounts of decking for outdoor grilling and seating for the whole family!

In general, these 3 cottages are reserved together as one unit during high season. Individual cottage rentals are available during the colder months (September – April).

Treetops guests are also granted additional access to a nearby property located on the harbor seawall. This area can be used for close-up harbor viewing and picnics.

In general, these 3 cottages are reserved together as one unit during high season. Individual cottage rentals are available during the colder months (September – April).

More to Explore in Michigan

World-renowned National Lakeshore park with sweeping lake vistas and colossal sand dunes

The only place in Michigan where you can drive on the dunes

Dutch roots, beautiful sugar sand beaches, and the famous Tulip Time Tulip Festival



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