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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
Bonus: there are restrooms just across the street.
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.
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.
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
10 – Find Treasures in the Twin Downtowns
Downtown Saugatuck & Downtown Douglas
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Browse their online store for cheese, order, and curbside pickup.
The Cheese Shop is open Wednesday – Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!
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).