Saugatuck MI Trip Planner: 19 Best Things to Do in the Summer

things to do in saugatuck mi

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.

Saugatuck MI Location

Best Things to Do in Saugatuck MI

1) Visit Oval Beach

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.

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

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.

saugatuck ferry
Saugatuck Chain Ferry is Hand-Cranked

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.

harbor Duck Boat Saugatuck MI

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

Star of Saugatuck
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

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.

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.

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

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.

Saugatuck playground-2

9) Climb & Beach at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Saugatuck Dunes State Park
6575 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
Saugatuck Dunes State Park

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.

Lake Michigan Beach at Saugatuck State Park

10) Find Your Zen at Summerhouse Lavender Farm

Summerhouse Lavender Farm
2975 65th St, Fennville, MI 49408

Their season begins May 8th 2021 and they will be open for guided tours Thursday-Sunday 11am-5pm all summer! Book your tour here.

Summerhouse Lavender farm Saugatuck MI

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.

Evergreen Lane Creamery

12) Get a Snack and a Photo at the Root Beer Barrel

Douglas Rootbeer Barrel
Douglas Rootbeer 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.

Downtown Saugatuck MI
Downtown Saugatuck in May 2021

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)

Drug Store Soda Fountain - downtown Saugatuck

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.

saugatuck mi art barn

$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.
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.

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.

Virtue Cider Saugatuck MI

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!

Retro Boat Rentals Saugatuck MI

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.

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

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!

Saugatuck MI Mural
Mural by Erica Bradshaw, a Kalamazoo Artist

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!



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