Located along the Lake Michigan shore, Saugatuck, Michigan, charms its visitors with beautiful beaches, sand dunes, and an adorable waterfront downtown of boutique shops, local restaurants, and art galleries.
With a variety of fun things to do in Saugatuck, this West Michigan destination is for art lovers, foodies, boaters, and anyone easily delighted by the quaintness of a small beach town.
Its also a welcoming destination for LGBTQ travelers with many gay-owned local businesses, including bed & breakfast establishments.
Additionally, Saugatuck is perfectly positioned for a weekend getaway from the Detroit and Chicago areas.
About 40 miles southwest of Grand Rapids, it’s also an ideal day trip destination for locals and visitors of Michigan’s second-largest city.
Whether you are visiting for a day trip from Grand Rapids (or elsewhere in West Michigan) or a weekend getaway, you’ll love all these fun things to do in Saugatuck!
Disclosure: This guide to things to do in Saugatuck, Michigan, was originally posted after a day trip to Saugatuck in July 2015. It has been updated in June 2022.
This post also contains some affiliate links. When you click on one of these links to book your lodging or make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Of course, this is at no extra cost to you, and I only recommend products and lodging I have or would use myself.
Drink Craft Beer at Saugatuck Brewing Company
It was lunchtime as I arrived in Saugatuck on my first day trip from Grand Rapids. Luckily, I remembered that Saugatuck has a brewery!
Conveniently located on Blue Star Highway, the main road off of I-196, Saugatuck Brewing Co. is easy for visitors to find. However, if you happen to miss the brewery’s sign, look for the large antique store that shares the parking lot.
The brewery’s Douglas pub has ample indoor seating and an outdoor patio perfect for sipping craft beer under an umbrella on a warm day.
The Beer at Saugatuck Brewing Co.
After tasting an IPA and realizing it was too early in the day for all the hops, I decided a lighter beer was in order. The Oval Beach Blonde, named after one of the local beaches, hit the spot. It was light, crisp, and refreshing. Aptly named, it’s the kind of beer you’d drink on a beach.
One of my favorite beers is Saugatuck Brewing Co. Blueberry Maple Stout, which tastes like blueberry pancakes in a pint glass. Other notable beers to taste here include the Neapolitan Milk Stout, Peanut Butter Porter, Cottonmouth Crusher, and any of their bourbon barrel-aged brews.
Saugatuck Brewing Co. Food
The Saugatuck Brewing Co. Douglas pub’s food menu features a variety of sandwiches, burgers, salads, and pub fare.
I’d love to go back to try the jumbo Bavarian pretzel served with beer cheese, the jalapeño popper grilled cheese, or the baked mac & cheese. Cheese lovers, doesn’t it all sound delicious?
Saugatuck Brewing Co. occasionally changes its menu, so you may find other dishes than I’ve mentioned. On my past visits, I’ve enjoyed a tasty roasted red pepper and Gorgonzola bisque and the flavorful Southwestern Club sandwich served with a side of crispy chips.
Saugatuck Brewing Company’s Douglas pub is located at 2948 Blue Star Hwy, Douglas, MI 49406. Saugatuck Brewing Co. also has pubs in downtown Kalamazoo and the Creston neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Hike to Lake Michigan at Saugatuck Dunes State Park
If it’s outdoor recreation you seek, you’ll love the Saugatuck area!
You could climb more than 300 steps to the top of Mount Baldhead for bird’s-eye views over Saugatuck. You can cycle along a local bike trail. You can hit the water for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or even pedaling a HydroBike down the Kalamazoo River.
And, at Saugatuck Dunes State Park, you can take a short hike through the woods to the sand dunes along the Lake Michigan shore.
If you are also interested in cycling, you could park your car at Saugatuck Dunes State Park and pick up the Beeline Trail. This West Michigan bike trail connects Saugatuck Dunes State Park and the Village of Saugatuck to Holland. From there, you can connect to other Holland Metro Area Trails and 200 miles of bike trails!
At Saugatuck Dunes State Park, the beach trail is just under a mile from the parking lot to the shore. Though it’s not a strenuous trail, there are some changes in elevation.
Due to the length of the trail and the small hills, this isn’t the easiest beach path when you are carrying a cooler or tote bag loaded with all your beach day essentials. Therefore, I’d save your beach day for visiting Oval Beach.
However, the reward for your efforts in getting there: Upon arriving at the beach, you can run down a mini dune straight into Lake Michigan.
The beach wasn’t crowded when I visited, and I had a peaceful walk along the shore. Then I spent some time relaxing atop a small dune, looking out to the Great Lake.
During my hike back to the parking lot, I passed by the adjacent Shore Acres Township Park, which has a disc golf course and a two-mile mountain bike trail.
I also spotted the Felt Estate, a sprawling 1920s mansion that primarily operates as a wedding venue and private event space these days. However, it is sometimes open for self-guided public tours. Please refer to the Felt Estate website for current tour offerings, hours, and admission prices.
To visit Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Michigan requires the Recreation Passport.
If you don’t have a Recreation Passport when you arrive at the state park, you can purchase one from a kiosk. Please note, a $5 convenience fee will be applied for Michigan residents.
Michigan residents can avoid the $5 convenience fee by purchasing theirs when renewing their vehicle registration through the Secretary of State.
Out-of-state visitors can purchase an annual non-resident Recreation Passport ahead of time online, and you should allow 2-3 weeks for it to process. Nonresident daily passes can only be purchased at the state parks.
2024 Michigan State Park Prices:
- Michigan Resident Recreation Passport (Vehicle): $13*
- Michigan Resident Recreation Passport (Motorcycle or Moped): $7*
- Non-resident Annual Pass: $40
- Non-resident Daily Pass: $11
* Does not include the $5 convenience fee when purchased at a Michigan State Park kiosk.
Shop in the Artsy Saugatuck Business District
Another fun thing to do in Saugatuck is to explore Saugatuck’s downtown. It’s a bustling shopping district with visitors and locals strolling between art galleries, boutique shops, local eateries, and their sailboats docked at the marina.
When you go, expect cars to be parked in nearly every spot along every street. During the summer’s peak tourism season, it may take you a few minutes to find an available parking space.
Then, as you stroll along the waterfront, watch sailboats head down the channel to Lake Michigan as kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders make their way down the Kalamazoo River.
If it’s retail therapy you seek, you’ll find plenty of unique and local shops to browse and purchase home décor, art, clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, and more.
Some of my favorite places to shop in Saugatuck are Tuck’s of Saugatuck for Christmas ornaments, American Spoon for gourmet food items made in Northern Michigan, and The Olive Mill for flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Eat Pizza at Scooter’s Cafe & Pizzeria
If you have a taste for pizza and want fast service, I recommend walking a few blocks from the bulk of Saugatuck’s downtown restaurants to Scooter’s. It’s a casual eatery, and the pizza is scrumptious.
The vegetarian pizza I ordered was topped with artichoke hearts, tomato, green pepper, mushrooms, and feta cheese. Plus mozzarella cheese was melted over the toppings. The menu features a dozen specialty pizzas, create-your-own hand-tossed New York-style pies, salads, wrap and sub sandwiches, wings, and a small selection of other main dishes and appetizers.
The restaurant also offers take-out and delivery. Keep that in mind if you need some pizza delivered to your B&B during your getaway since I know you now want to visit Saugatuck now, too!
Find more things to do in Saugatuck, Douglas, and Fennville by browsing the map below!
Where to Stay in Saugatuck
Planning to stay in the Saugatuck-Douglas-Fennville area overnight or for a weekend getaway? Here are my recommendations for where to stay:
As a boutique hotel in an 1890s Victorian house in Douglas, The Kirby is ideal for romantic getaways. You and your partner can sip wine on the beautiful wrap-around porch or dine at the fantastic restaurant on site.
Highly rated by TripAdvisor users, former guests have raved about the service, friendly staff, and delicious meals at J. Paul’s Dining Room.
I had the pleasure of dining at J. Paul’s Dining Room & Lounge in June 2018, and the food, wine, ambiance, and service were all top-notch.
The Kirby is located at 294 West Center Street in Douglas.
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