Attractions & Things to Do in Saugatuck, MI







What to See and Do
Here’s our list of things not to miss!

Make sure to see the natural area surrounding the only pristine river entrance left on the Great Lakes. It’s easy to imagine the region back before William Butler & civilization took over in the 1830’s. Oval Beach is owned by the City of Saugatuck and there are showers, changing rooms and concessions.

The area north of Oval Beach to the Kalamazoo River is now the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area which has some great trails winding all around. See if you can make our sand “sing” (it’s geologically unique) as you stroll to the pier, 9/10ths of a mile one way. After dinner come back out to Oval Beach for sunset; it’s magical! Saugatuck Dunes State Park is the more secluded option located north of town.

This beautiful spot features trails that wind through forest and dunes to the quiet beach. There are primitive facilities at the park entrance. Nearby, the restored Felt Mansion offers tours and free outdoor concerts.

The highest point in Allegan County offers a nice view of Saugatuck from the top of 300 new steps, definitely not for the out of shape! This giant sand dune was once the site of an annual Native American sacrifice each spring (the unlucky victim was a white dog). Later a “toupee” of trees was planted to prevent erosion and movement. During the Cold War of the 50’s & 60’s, a radar facility was built on top which still stands today.

The giant golf ball atop the tower is now used for navigation by sailors. Trails on the west side of Mt. Baldy lead to Oval Beach. Every fall, runners climb the steps as part of a 15K race known as the Mt. Baldhead Challenge.

This little oddity is the only remaining chain ferry in the U.S. Connected to a heavy chain strung across the bottom of the Kalamazoo River, the ferry is cranked by an attendant. Give it a try; it’s hard work! There has been a ferry on this site since the 1860’s.

It operates on a limited basis during the summer. Once across the river ($2 charge) you can visit Oval Beach, Mt. Baldy or our next listing.

Located in an old water pump house at the base of Mt. Baldhead, our little museum (free admission) offers an annual exhibit of local interest. Over in Douglas, the restored Union School serves as a history center and features a Back-In-Time Pathway Garden and a restored 1854 Francis metallic lifesaving boat (one of two left in the U.S.) along with a history of lifesaving and shipwrecks on Lake Michigan.

Don’t miss this great ride through dunes and forests. It’s educational, beautiful and hokey in a good way! Great panoramic views. One of only two dune schooner rides left in Michigan.

Saugatuck is a water town and there are plenty of ways to join in the fun. The Star of Saugatuck offers cruises up and down the river and out into Lake Michigan, a great way to enjoy our sunsets. Retro Boat Rentals offer restored electric cruisers that you pilot yourself.

You can also rent a kayak, paddleboard, canoe, pontoon boat, sailboat or wave runner at numerous spots in town. Serenity Tall Ship Sailing cruises is a great new option.

Saugatuck merchants pride themselves in stocking unique and unusual items. Check out all the nooks and crannies filled with merchandise up and down Butler Street and side streets. Nearby Douglas offers more shops and galleries.

Saugatuck has been a magnet for artists for over a century. There are lots of galleries and studios in the area offering every kind of art imaginable. You can also visit Oxbow, the summer art school of the Art Institute of Chicago. Check out their Friday Night Open Houses and art auctions. Oxbow’s beautiful rustic setting and rich history is worth a trip in itself. Ask someone to show you the trail to Crow’s Nest, the views are spectacular!

West Michigan is second only to California in the variety of crops grown. You can experience this wealth of riches at country farm stands and downtown shops. Try Michigan jams at American Spoon, fresh chevre at Evergreen Lane Creamery and Seedy Salt Bread from Salt of the Earth. In the Summer, there’s a Green Market at The Saugatuck Center for the Arts where the freshest fruits and vegetables are available. 

Sample Michigan’s wines at Fenn Valley’s tasting room in downtown Saugatuck or grab a Michigan Winery Guide and tour the countryside visiting the 15 plus wineries and cider mills that are located within an hour’s drive. If beer is more to your liking, head over to Saugatuck Brewing for dinner and a flight of their latest brews. You can even make your own beer there. Other nearby breweries include Waypost and Guardian.

This former fruit pie factory is now home to theater, music, film and the visual arts. Check out the beautiful Rain Garden which filters surrounding runoff before sending it into the Kalamazoo River. Inside, the gallery offers changing exhibits while the Mason Street Warehouse has a schedule of cutting edge theater.