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.
Farm-to-table restaurants, outdoor recreation, miles of sandy Lake Michigan beaches, 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!
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.
Best Things to Do in Saugatuck MI
1) Visit Oval Beach
Perryman St. & Oval Beach Drive, Saugatuck, MI, 49453
Oval Beach is a 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.
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.
2) Ride the Chain Ferry
|Saugatuck Chain Ferry|
Hwy, 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 fun way to see the Kalamazoo River and it’s only $2 per person each way (cash only).
Open Memorial Day to Labor Day.
3) Take a Tour on the Harbor Duck Boat
|Harbor Duck Tours|
129 Griffith St, Saugatuck, MI 49453
Harbor Duck Boats have announced that they intend to open in 2021. Check their social media or call their location to get the latest updates. Pre-purchased tickets are highly recommended.
The Harbor Duck Boat explores Saugatuck, Douglas, the harbor, and the Kalamazoo River on land AND on water!
This transformed World War II Army amphibious vessel (part boat/part big truck) gives a humorous glimpse of the surrounding area.
You can hop on/hop off the boat in Saugatuck or Doulas to shop and dine. It’s a nice alternative to finding a parking space.
Call the ticket office and PRESS 4 to speak to that day’s ticket agent for schedules and weather outlook: 269.857.3825.
4) Zoom, Zoom, Zoom on a Sand Dune Ride
|Saugatuck Dune Rides|
6495 Blue Star Hwy, Saugatuck, MI 49453
If you love thrill rides, Saugatuck Dune Rides has a sandy roller coaster ride for you.
This 40-minute ride is part thrill ride/part historic ride. Offering a great view of the dunes and some adventure along the way.
Saugatuck Dune Rides are different than the dune rides at Silver Lake – the Saugatuck MI rides have more of a diverse landscape with a wooded area.
Each dune schooner holds at least 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 like part roller coaster, part tour.
The driver also doubled as a comedian/ tour guide, who shares with you the history of the area along with a lot of jokes.
You’ll get time to stop, get out, and explore the dunes, too.
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+
5) Relax to the Rhythm of a Paddleboat
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.
You might want to pack a jacket because the weather does cool off after the sun goes down.
6) Enjoy 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.
Pumpernickel (downtown Saugatuck) recently renovated everything and it’s FABULOUS.
The BARge is great- on the water and kid-friendly.
The Southerner is a Saugatuck lakeside restaurant that has fun games to play at the table while you wait. Food fare: southern-style. Great cocktails.
Red Dock is the place to be on Sunday nights in the summer (live music, adults only).
7) Make it to the Top of Mt. Baldhead
|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.
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.
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 by foot but it will require taking the chain ferry, climbing Mt. Baldhead, and then hiking through the woods and sand to the beach.
8) Take a Playground Pit Stop
Right in the center of town (on Main & Butler), there’s a cute playground that is easy to access. We always stop by for some quick playtime.
9) Climb & Beach at Saugatuck Dunes State Park
|Saugatuck Dunes State Park|
6575 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
Saugatuck Dunes State Park in Michigan is a day use park – there is no camping here.
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.
You’ll find moderate-level hiking with some bigger hills.
11) Visit the Baby Goats and Stock Up on Cheese
|Evergreen Lane Creamery|
1824 66th St Fennville, MI 49408
Artisan goat & cow’s milk cheeses. Browse our online store for cheese, order, and curbside pickup. Cheese Shop is open Saturdays from 12pm-5pm.
12) Get a Snack and a Photo at the Root Beer Barrel
|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 it was successful.
13) Find Treasures in Twin Downtowns
Shops Galore! Between Downtown Douglas and Downtown Saugatuck, there is something for everyone in the shops, even for the kids.
Take time to window shop, enjoy an ice cream cone, or grab a bite for lunch.
You’ll feel like you found a hidden treasure when you stop into the Drug Store Soda Fountain in downtown Saugatuck. It’s literally in the back of the drug store. (201 Butler St, Saugatuck, MI 49453)
14) Let Your Inner Artist Out
|Express Yourself Art Barn|
6459 130th Avenue, (Riverside) Fennville, MI 49408
Create in the barn or in the garden! Anyone, regardless of talent, can come and explore something new. Choose from over 800 different projects they have on hand.
$8 studio fee for spending the day creating… Projects begin at $2. Average customer spends $20-30…
• Open Sat & Sun beginning 5/1/21. Open 7 days a week beginning 5/28/21 to 9/6/21 (10 am – 5 pm)
• In the fall, we will be open 9/10/21-10/3/21, only on Fri, Sat & Sun, then closed for the season.
15) Enjoy the Vineyards, Cideries, and Breweries
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
• In-depth tours and wine tasting.
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.
2128 62nd St, Fennville, MI, 49408
• Outdoor wine tasting room with stunning views. Public or private tasting tours.
16) Visit Crane Orchards & Pie Pantry
|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.
17) Go Old School with a Retro Boat Rental
|Retro Boat Rentals & The Old Boathouse|
730 Water St, Saugatuck MI 49453
Classic electric boat rentals are available to cruise the Kalamazoo River. The boat rental location houses a restaurant and bar with a waterfront patio, making it a fun all-in-one destination.
Some of the boats are dog-friendly, just ask!
18) Rock Hunt at Pier Cove Park
|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 “lighting 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.
19) Snap a Pic at the Smile! You’re in 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!
Where to Stay in Saugatuck MI
So who needs to travel hundred 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!