Do you know where Saugatuck is? Most people don’t. In fact, Saugatuck may not be at the top of everyone’s travel list, and in fact, many people have never even heard of it. But one visit to the charming coastal town in Michigan is often all it takes to see why Saugatuck is one of the greatest hidden gems in America. From inclusive community events and culture to some of the best beaches in the United States, let’s take a closer look at the unique features of Saugatuck.
Saugatuck, Michigan is a charming coastal town with just around 900 people. Saugatuck and the neighboring town of Douglas have collectively become “The Art Coast of Michigan.” The nickname originated in the early 20th century due to the area’s popularity among a large number of artists and writers. To this day, Saugatuck has plenty to offer in the way of art, with a large number of galleries and art studios.
Saugatuck is also well-known for its stunning natural beauty, which includes several gorgeous Lake Michigan beaches. The town has also become a hotspot for the LGBTQIA+ community and lays claim to a number of first-class wineries, breweries, restaurants, and shopping venues.
How To Get To Saugatuck
Saugatuck sprawls right along the pristine southeastern shore of Lake Michigan, about 45 miles west of Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids also has one of the nearest airports (GRR) if you plan to travel by air. Alternatively, you could fly into Muskegon (MKG), about 54 minutes away.
If you’re traveling from either Grand Rapids or Chicago, you might also consider taking an Amtrak train to nearby Holland, MI. Holland is only 12 miles from Saugatuck and makes for an easy drive or Uber ride.
Top Things To Do In Saugatuck
Spend a Day on the Beach
Saugatuck is famous as the home of not one but six stunning Lake Michigan beaches. Opal Beach was named among Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 25 Beaches in the World and National Geographic Traveler’s Top Freshwater Beaches in the USA.
Whether you’re looking to spend a day relaxing in the sun or enjoying your favorite water sport, the possibilities are endless. Saugatuck offers a perfect venue for sailing, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and more.
Take a Chain Ferry Ride Across the Kalamazoo River
Many activities are also available along the Kalamazoo River, which winds through Saugatuck. Be sure you also take a ride on the Saugatuck Chain Ferry, one of the only remaining hand-cranked chain ferries in the US.
While the ferry only carries people and not cars, you can bring along dogs, bikes, strollers, and even kids under two for free. For all other passengers, tickets are a mere $2.
Book Your Spot on Saugatuck Dune Rides
Saugatuck is also home to a collection of natural coastal dunes, which you can explore on a legendary Saugatuck Dune Ride. Take a 40-minute tour in an open-air vehicle as you enjoy the natural beauty of 300 privately-owned acres.
Your guide will fill you in on the area’s history, including information on local wildlife and the lost town of Singapore. Make sure you book your tickets online in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly! Adult tickets go for $25 a piece, while tickets for kids from 3-11 are $14. Be aware that children under two cannot go on the tours due to safety concerns.
Explore the Sights and Sounds of Main Street
As the main thoroughfare of Saugatuck, Butler Street offers plenty of things to do for travelers of all interests. Soak up the small-town American feel amid colorful storefronts, restaurants, and locally-owned businesses. When it comes to shopping, you’ll find everything from one-of-a-kind artwork and antiques to locally-made clothing and beauty products.
You can also enjoy a delicious meal at one of the local restaurants, such as Phil’s Bar and Grill or The Butler.Saugatuck is also well-known for its wines, which guests are allowed to try out firsthand at Fenn Valley Vineyard & Wine Cellar. Butler Street is also home to Winesellers of Saugatuck, where you’ll find an extensive collection of wines for any occasion.
Take in the Art Scene
For something a little more casual, check out Express Yourself Art Barn. For an $8 studio fee and project fees starting at just $3, you can spend the entire day creating anything your imagination can come up with.
Even considering the area’s rich history, visitors are pleasantly surprised by how many art galleries there are. Use this handy directory to search for galleries that appeal to you, or check Saugatuck’s events calendar for one of the town’s regular gallery strolls.
Where To Stay in Saugatuck
The great thing about Saugatuck is that there are plenty of great lodging options for travelers of all tastes and budgets.
If you’re in the mood to splurge, check out the Lake Shore Resort, which sits right along the shores of Lake Michigan. Not only will you enjoy beautiful views from every room, but also kayaks, bikes, wooded trails, and convenient access to the nearby downtown area.
There are also a huge array of other B&B’s, hotels, and vacation rentals to choose from. While all travelers are greeted with open arms throughout town, LGBTQIA+ travelers will find a great list of some of the best gay-friendly hotels in the area on Saugatuck’s official website.