A Friends’ 4-Day Fall Adventure

Reconnect with your best group of friends in the Art Coast, where there’s something everyone can enjoy, including a hip craft beverage scene and fun nightlife activities that offer good times for all. So, seize the moment, embrace the season, and let the fall foliage be the backdrop to your unforgettable escape with friends.

For some ideas on what to do during the autumn season, consider this suggested 4-day itinerary. When planning for larger groups, be sure to book early, make restaurant reservations ahead of time, and consider staying together in a vacation rental.

Day 1

Start your day at Uncommon Coffee Roasters, where you can grab a great cup of joe and some breakfast treats. Then experience the windswept waters of Lake Michigan on a sailboat manned by a local captain who can give you insider tips on area hotspots and a few pointers on how to rig a sail. Discover options for sailing excursions here. Or climb aboard a fishing charter with Best Chance Too ChartersInShore Adventures, or MIRYHA Charters and see who can catch the biggest salmon or trout. Have a late lunch at Wally’s Bar & Grill to try out some of their famous fried perch, fresh from the Great Lakes. Then burn off some calories by climbing Mt. Baldhead and treating yourself to some incredible autumn views. Then make your way over to The Southerner for some outstanding drinks and dinner with a waterfront view. For some outrageous evening fun, head to The Dunes Resort for Drag Queen Bingo, karaoke, or a cabaret show.  

Day 2

Grab breakfast at Ida Red’s Cottage, a Saugatuck local favorite and cash-only establishment you won’t want to miss. Then take a cruise aboard the Star of Saugatuck paddlewheel boat during weekends through October for stunning views of the beautiful fall landscape. Afterward, take to the trails and explore the gently rolling dunes and shoreline of the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area or the sandy forest paths of Saugatuck Dunes State Park, where you can take in the fall colors at their peak. For more water views to enjoy, plan on a stop at The BARge for lunch or happy hour. Rent bikes from Blue Star Barns and explore the many downtown shops and boutiques. Finish out your evening at Coral Gables either at their piano bar or listening to some stand-up comedy.

Day 3

Enjoy some delicious coffee and breakfast from Respite Cappuccino Court in Douglas before making your way to Fennville. There, plan on going apple picking at Crane Orchards, where you can also indulge in some fresh cider and donuts. Then challenge yourselves through their 20-acre, intricately designed corn maze, available September through October. Once you’ve made it out, you’ll want to have lunch at Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant & Winery, where you can sample their delicious fruit pies by ordering their famous Pie Flight. After enjoying some downtime together, head to Oval Beach to catch a sunset over Lake Michigan. Plan to have dinner back in Fennville at Salt of the Earth for some delicious farm-to-table fare, and where chances are good, you’ll be able to catch some live music.

Day 4

After sharing brunch at Pumpernickels, explore our region’s finest microbrews with a craft beer tour at Saugatuck Brewing CompanyGuardian Brewing CompanyWaypost Brewing Co., and the Mitten Brewing Company. Bring your designated driver or charter a private tour through Coastal ToursSingapore Shuttles, or Untapped Sights & Tours for worry-free transportation. When it’s time for dinner, engage in some friendly competition at Alley’s All American Diner, where you and your crew can indulge in some great pizza and then bowl against each other for bragging rights.

Have a bit more time? Stay for a week and add to your adventure with the following activities.

Go for a gallery stroll.
Explore our many galleries and bring home your own covet-worthy conversation piece. Check out the Saugatuck Center for the Arts and Ox-Bow House for exhibits and open markets. 

Play a round of golf.
Hit the links at The Ravines Golf Club or Clearbrook Golf Club. Each provides idyllic views, challenging golf, and extraordinary clubhouse experiences.

Take a private vineyard tour.
Explore the art of winemaking with a behind-the-scenes tour. ModalesFenn Valley Vineyards, and Michigan Wine Co. let you learn from the experts in a group setting or through a private tour.


Celebrate Fall Saugatuck/Douglas-Style

There’s no better place than Saugatuck/Douglas to enjoy the quintessential outdoor autumn activities like picking apples, navigating a corn maze, or hiking the dunes to see the fall colors in all their glory. But if you’re looking to add different kinds of adventures to your fall getaway, check out these special activities. 

Take A Walk On The Art Side

During the 46th Annual Fall Gallery Stroll, you can wander through more than 20 galleries and studios of local, regional, and national artists. This is your opportunity to chat with the artists, watch live demos, enjoy live music, and sample delicious bites and refreshments while expanding your artistic horizons. Explore work in various mediums, including contemporary painting, found material sculpture, hand-blown glass, and pottery. This tour is also a great time to watch the leaves change colors as you stroll the beautiful streets of Saugatuck and Douglas. Come see all the Art Coast has to offer on Saturday, October 14.

Join the Party

Stroll scenic Main Street in downtown Douglas and support local community groups at the annual Douglas Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 14. Explore vendors offering crafts, food, and unique displays that keep people coming back year after year. Throughout the day, you’ll enjoy entertainment from singers, bands, choral and dance groups, and variety shows. For the kids, check out rides and games on the church lawn, including inflatables, a train, and an obstacle course.

If you’ve got big ideas for this year’s Halloween costume, you won’t want to miss the annual Halloween Parade for Adults in Douglas on Saturday, October 28. Leave the kiddos with a sitter, dress up in your Halloween finery, and line up for one of the most unique parades you will ever experience. Thousands of spectators from across the country come to watch the giant parade mascot, the Pumpkin King, rise from the ashes at 10 pm to get the party started!

Don’t Miss the Boat

A boat ride is an unforgettable way to view the changing red and gold leaves dotting the shoreline. Take your fall color tour on the Star of Saugatuck paddlewheel boat, which offers cruises down the Kalamazoo River on weekends through October. Enjoy stunning views of the beautiful fall landscape on the open upper deck or the enclosed lower deck, along with an offering of fine wines, domestic beers, and signature cocktails. For a ghoulishly good time, the Star of Saugatuck is offering a 90-minute themed Boo’s Cruise for adults 21+ on October 28 with music, drink specials, a costume contest, and a few other tricks and treats. October 29th is the Kid’s Halloween Cruise and the last date of the year for public cruises.

Plan the Perfect LGBTQ+ Destination Wedding

You don’t need to book a flight to the Caribbean to have your wedding on a sandy white beach or travel clear across the country to find a dreamy destination where people will accept you for the wonderful person you are. Saugatuck/Douglas is a hidden gem of inclusivity, tucked along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. Our coastal towns have been a sanctuary for members of the LGBTQ+ community for decades, welcoming all people to a place where art, nature, and community take center stage. 

If a destination wedding sounds like the ideal way to tie the knot with your partner, let us share why the Art Coast of Michigan is the perfect place to make it happen.

A Convenient, Beautiful Destination

Located just a 45 minute drive from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, two and a half hours from Chicago, three hours from Detroit, and less than four hours from Indianapolis, Saugatuck/Douglas has everything you need for the perfect destination wedding along with the convenience of being centrally located. If you’re planning on having family in town for the big day, charming and comfortable hotelsbed and breakfasts, and rental properties abound. We also have award-winning restaurants featuring fresh, locally sourced fare. Many of these venues also specialize in rehearsal dinners, offering intimate settings where family and friends can bond and celebrate before the big event. 


People That Put You at Ease

Planning an LGBTQ wedding shouldn’t be more stressful than planning any other type of wedding. That’s why it’s so important to work with people who are accepting and understand your unique needs. A wedding planner such as Dream Day Weddings has vast experience working with LGBTQ+ couples. They also have a large network of gay-friendly and gay-owned vendors and venues, so you can be confident that the people you’re working with will put your needs first. Holden Michael Events is another fantastic local option with an experienced and creative team of event coordinators who can transform your wedding day wishes into a romantic reality. 


Diverse Venues that Express Your Personality

Are you enthusiastic about the outdoors? Or would you prefer an intimate indoor chapel for your wedding day? Look for a location that’s a reflection of all the things you love and that will be easily accessible to your guests. From beautiful gardens to rustic locations to historical sites, there are plenty of wedding venues in Saugatuck/Douglas to choose from. Planning a beach wedding? Our friends at My Barefoot Wedding are experts, with over 1,000 beach and outdoor weddings planned along the lakeshore since 2008. 


You’ll Feel the Love Here

Acceptance—not exclusivity—is the name of the game here. Saugatuck/Douglas is widely recognized as one of the best LGBTQ+ destinations for travel, with mentions in blogs on ThrillistGayCities, and Pride Source. For decades, our residents have welcomed LGBTQ visitors with open arms, taking great pride in our reputation as a place where people from all walks of life can come together, be themselves, and feel free to love and be loved. Here, you can feel confident that your vows will be taking place alongside advocates who celebrate authenticity and cherish all expressions of love. We would be honored to host your destination wedding in the Art Coast!

Laffing It Up With Leslie Fitzell

When you step inside the Laffing Glass, a Saugatuck shop owned by Leslie Fitzell, it’s like crossing the threshold into Oz. A vibrant garden of glass flowers and dragonflies greets you, as does Leslie herself, ready with a smile and an endearing sense of humor. Her sunny spirit is even evident on the exterior of the shop, with punny signs displaying phrases such as “The artist is in (sane)” and, “Get your glass in here!”

 It’s no surprise that people from all over the country are patrons of Leslie’s glass art, commissioning custom designs or simply making her shop a must stop on their tour of the Art Coast. Leslie treats these customers like family, taking time out of her day to share hugs, coffee, and dinner with them. This sense of love and acceptance is one of the reasons she likes being a part of both the artistic and LGBTQ+ community in Saugatuck. And it’s why she never hesitates to encourage people to visit and live here.

How did you get your start working with glass?

I have an art background with graphics and museum installations and started doing stained glass to unwind. In 2010, when the museum company I was working for decided to close its doors, I got back into glass art heavily. I knew there was more to the glass world than stained glass, so I started exploring. My wife bought me some equipment for my birthday, and I put a little studio in our basement.

A lot of the work I do is called kiln-formed glass, where glass is heated and formed in kilns. Another technique I use is casting, where I take crushed glass and put it into molds. I also do a small amount of lampwork and blowing of glass elements and embellishments.


Why did you decide to open a shop in Saugatuck?

I was making a lot of pieces for myself, but I had friends who would come over and tell me that people needed to see what I was doing. I started going to galleries up and down the coast to sell my work. When my wife and I decided to move to Saugatuck, I thought about opening a shop. It seemed like a pipe dream—like winning the lottery. But while we were walking around town, looking at all the buildings and loving the sense of art and culture here, my wife encouraged me to open my own place. The price was right, and I took a chance on figuring out all the ins and outs of starting a business.


What inspires your work?

 I love nature and animals. Trees especially are my jam. You’ll see a lot of pieces that are organic in style. I do a lot of flowers, butterflies, and dragonflies. And in Saugatuck, it’s easy to find inspiration everywhere. I love Oval Beach, and I absolutely love the Saugatuck Dunes State Park. I’m easily fascinated by the nature all around me, too. I could just sit here, and I would probably find a bumble bee to play with or a tree to watch. And for me, working with glass is a way to preserve these kinds of memories.

The coolest thing about my medium is that it’s never gone. I’ve had people come and say that they’ve broken one of my pieces that they bought, and I tell them that glass is never really broken. Bring it back to me, and I’ll make it into something else. You can reform and reinvent it. It will become a story with interesting scars.


Why is Saugatuck such a great place for the LGBTQ+ community to visit and live?

Saugatuck is an anomaly. It’s a true walking town, and there is a feeling of safety feeling here. You can walk down the street holding your partner’s hand and not be afraid. There is a real sense of community here, too.  People know that they can find family here and that they won’t be treated differently from anyone else. I hear so many people say that they want to move here or retire here. I say, “The more the merrier!”

Saugatuck is also a good place for families to visit. People come here from Chicago, Detroit, and Kalamazoo and bring their kids. When we have people visiting, we tell them about our favorite restaurants like Wally’s and Phil’s Bar & Grille. We tell them to grab their pickle juice and water and climb the steps at Mt. Baldy. It’s just a great place to be!

First-Timer’s Guide To Summer in Saugatuck/Douglas

Stunning lakeshore views, exhilarating outdoor experiences, a thriving arts scene, and a renowned culinary and craft beverage scene—it’s no wonder why so many visitors flock to the Art Coast of Michigan each summer. If you’re visiting for the first time, it can be overwhelming when deciding on how to spend your time here. Save yourself hours of planning by checking out our recommended first-timer must-dos, along with our helpful pro tips. Visit us just once, and we’ll have you eager to come back and explore more.

Experience The Iconic Art Coast Attractions

While there’s no shortage of fun and interesting activities to do in the Saugatuck/Douglas area, there are a few that are part of the quintessential Art Coast summer experience. Our favorite, hiking “The Ball And Chain,” involves several iconic attractions rolled into one unforgettable (and challenging) activity. Begin by riding the last remaining hand-cranked Chain Ferry in the US across the Kalamazoo River. From there, climb the 302 steps up Mt. Baldhead, a giant sand dune that offers incredible views of Saugatuck, Douglas, and Lake Michigan. During your ascent, you’ll also get a close-up view of the “Ball”—the historic Mt. Baldhead Radar Tower, a Cold War relic dating back to the 1950s. After your climb (and maybe a short respite), relive your childhood by running down the sandy dune on the west side of the mountain. This will bring you to Oval Beach, recognized as one of Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 25 Beaches in the World.” 

Other iconic summer must-dos include an excursion on the 51-ton Star of Saugatuck paddlewheel boat that traverses the Kalamazoo River out to Lake Michigan and an open-roof Saugatuck Dune Ride which will take you on a thrilling 40-minute jaunt over private sand dunes.


Pro-Tip: Make sure to bring cash. The Chain Ferry costs $3 per person to ride one-way but only accepts cash. There are also other local bars and restaurants worth visiting that only take cash, including Ida Red’sRoot Beer Barrel and the Sand Bar.


Explore The Outdoors

With miles of Lake Michigan shoreline to explore, you’d be remiss if you didn’t spend some time digging your toes in the sand. Pick from six pristine beaches to soak up the sun, splash in the unsalted waves, or watch the sunset. Each beach has its own personality, and you can learn more about each here

Other ways to commune with nature in the Art Coast include taking a hike along the forested paths of the Saugatuck Dunes State Park or on the gently rolling dunes of the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area. And for an entirely different view of the stunning local scenery, plan for a kayak excursion along the Kalamazoo Lake or River.


Pro-Tip: No need to bring your own kayak or SUP. Rent them from Big Lake OutfittersThird Coast Paddling, or In the Elements Rental.


Scout Out All The Art

We’re known as the Art Coast of Michigan for good reason. Home to numerous galleries, studios, exhibitions, and public art installations, you’ll find much art to appreciate here, whether you’re an aficionado or just a casual admirer. Stroll through our many downtown galleries to discover fine art in every medium as well as finely crafted goods from a mix of local and national artists. A few of our favorites include Good GoodsButton GalleryJ. Petter GalleriesAmazwi Contemporary Art, and Water Street Gallery. You’ll also encounter lots of public art throughout our towns, such as Instagram-worthy murals and sculptures. For a chance to see an artist in action, make a point to visit a studio and discover a work in progress. For a complete listing of artful experiences and locations, check out our Arts Guide & Map here.


Pro-Tip: Plan your visit around one of our summer Gallery Strolls or during one of our juried outdoor art fairs for an even more exciting way to experience art. Event dates can be found here.


Listen To Live Music

Live music is part of the Art Coast experience, and there are many indoor and outdoor venues that feature live musical performances all summer long, including The ButlerWally’s Bar & GrillRed Dock CaféThe BARgeWick’s Park Bar & GrilleThe Annex Piano BarBorrowed Time, and Coastal Society. Just take a walk throughout the downtown areas of Saugatuck/Douglas, and you’ll hear music coming from every corner. With different featured artists and a variety of genres represented, we promise to keep your toes tapping throughout your time with us.


Pro-Tip: Plan a mid-week stay for the best access to free outdoor music. During the summer, there are a number of free outdoor concerts held each week, including Music in the Park every Wednesday at 7:00 pm in Wicks Park starting in late June, Music in the Vineyard held every Thursday at 5:30 pm at Fenn Valley Vineyards starting late May, and Music at the Felt happening every Thursday in July at 7:00 pm at the Felt Mansion estate.


Go On A Beverage Tour

Whether you prefer the fruit of the vine or lean more towards hops, we’ve got the craft beverage experience for you. Home to a number of craft breweries, cideries, and wineries, Saugatuck/Douglas is a must-visit destination for adult beverage connoisseurs to raise a glass, make a toast, and quench their thirst. Sample a host of flavorful craft beers with a visit to Saugatuck Brewing CompanyGuardian Brewing CompanyWaypost Brewing Co., and the Mitten Brewing Company. Or spend an entire day sampling different red, white, sparkling, and fruit wines unique to our region at Michigan Wine Co.Crane’s WineryFenn Valley Vineyards & Winery, and Modales Wines.


Pro-Tip: Charter a beverage tour through Coastal ToursUntapped Sights & Tours, or Singapore Shuttles for worry-free transportation between breweries. 


Come Hungry 

With such a dynamic food scene found here, one of the best ways to get to know the Art Coast is through our cuisine. Not only is Saugatuck/Douglas/Fennville fortunate enough to be located in the country’s second most agriculturally diverse state, but we are also situated within Michigan’s Fruit Belt region. With bushels of produce ripe for the picking within a 10-mile radius, farm-to-table fare here becomes elevated by the bounty of what’s locally harvested. Along with a wide variety of restaurants that feature innovative small plates to those that serve inspired casual homestyle cooking, there are produce stands and U-Pick farms where you can purchase local fruit and vegetables at the peak of freshness. 

Also worth visiting while you’re here is the Outdoor Summer Market hosted by the Saugatuck Center for the Arts on Tuesdays from 10:00 am–2:00 pm and Fridays from 9:00 am–3:00 pm. This bustling seasonal market features freshly picked local freshly-picked produce, artisan baked goods, all-natural honey, maple syrup, small-batch coffees, and more. There will also be talented crafters, woodworkers, and artists showcasing their wares.


Pro-Tip: Mealtimes can get ultra-busy during the summer. We welcome you to join us in the Saugatuck, Douglas, and Fennville social districts while waiting for a table. Visitors can purchase alcoholic beverages from participating bars and restaurants and then enjoy them throughout each district’s common areas. Or plan ahead and make a reservation at one of the following restaurants that accept them: Belvedere Inn & RestaurantBorrowed TimeBowdie’s ChophouseThe Grill Room at ClearbrookCoast 236Coastal SocietyCoral GablesJ. Paul’s Dining Room at the KirbyPennyroyal Café and ProvisionsPumpernickelsSalt of the Earth, and Taverna Rossa.


More To Know Before You Go

Like other small coastal getaways, parking can be scarce during the busier summer months. Leave your car wherever you’re staying and just use the convenient Interurban to get around. This demand response public bus system provides transportation for Saugatuck and Douglas, offering curb-to-curb service. 

Call 269-857-1418 to schedule your ride as early as 15 minutes in advance or make a reservation for a specific time. Fares are $1.00 for adults and children 12 and over and $.50 for senior citizens, children under 12, and persons with disabilities. Please have exact change in cash to ride.

Letterboxing Along the Lakeshore

If you’ve ever tried geocaching—using GPS coordinates to hunt for secret containers hidden all over the world—you might want to try the pastime’s analog cousin, letterboxing. Letterboxes are concealed all over the Art Coast. You only need a compass, curiosity, and a little determination to track down these hidden gems while visiting the Saugatuck/Douglas area.

When it comes to activities like geocaching and letterboxing, the thrill is all in the hunt. With letterboxing specifically, you use clues found in printed catalogs, on websites, and from fellow participants to decipher the location of hidden boxes. If you’re lucky enough to uncover a letterbox, you’ll find that it contains a notebook and a hand-carved stamp, which you use to make a mark in your own letterboxing notebook. You then leave an impression of your personalized stamp in the letterbox visitor’s book, which contains a log of all who’ve found the box.

A Very British Pastime

This charming pastime started in England in 1854 when a Dartmoor National Park guide left a bottle by Cranmere Pool with his calling card and an invitation for travelers to add their cards to the bottle. Some park visitors left self-addressed postcards or notes in the jar, hoping the next visitor would return them by mail. Smithsonian Magazine wrote an article about this British hobby in 1994, and since then, letterboxing has become increasingly popular in the US. Today, there are approximately 50,000 letterboxes hidden in North America, with many more located worldwide.

Letterboxing 101

If you are wondering what you need to get started, it’s pretty simple. First, develop a unique Trail Name for you and your letterboxing team. This is similar to a username and can be your name or something with a special meaning. Next, you’ll want to find an ink pad and rubber stamp with an image that’s personal to you. You’ll use the stamp to make an imprint in the logbook contained in each letterbox that you find. You’ll also need a pen to sign your trail name and date beneath your stamp in the logbook. Be sure to bring your notebook or sketchbook, where you’ll make an imprint with the stamp enclosed in the letterbox. Finally, get a compass, just in case the clues you are following include compass bearings.

Getting Started in Saugatuck

If you want to try letterboxing, Saugatuck/Douglas is a great place to start. In Saugatuck and its surrounding counties alone, there are 115 documented letterboxes, with many more that may be undiscovered. You can hunt for these boxes while traipsing miles of beautiful trails at the Saugatuck Dunes State Park or while strolling through downtown Saugatuck. Here are a few sets of clues to help you get started! And for more information on letterboxing in Saugatuck/Douglas, check out this helpful website

The Stolen Peach
The popular video game, Super Mario Brothers, is the inspiration for these two boxes hidden in the Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Name That Dog #4
You’ll have to solve a riddle about a dog to find this letterbox hidden at Saugatuck Dunes State Park!

Stop to Smell the Roses
As part of this letterboxing scavenger hunt, you’ll need a compass as you tour downtown Saugatuck. 

Spring Wreath
Located at a museum in Saugatuck, this letterbox requires a little stealth on your part (so no one sees you!).

Tread Lightly and Be Discreet

When you search for and find a letterbox, please do so discreetly. Certain areas have high tourist traffic, and you want to ensure each location stays hidden so future letterboxers can enjoy it. Also, be especially careful not to disturb the natural surroundings. For example, if you find a letterbox in the woods or a park, leave the area surrounding it exactly as you found it. Happy letterboxing!

LGBTQ Family Fun Along the Art Coast

Looking for a family-friendly vacation spot in a safe, inclusive environment? Look no further than the Art Coast of Michigan. With stunning outdoor scenery and fun activities for every age, Saugatuck/Douglas provides a warm welcome to all families looking for their ultimate escape.

A long-standing history of inclusivity, a vibrant LGBTQ+ community, and a plethora of kid-friendly activities make Saugatuck/Douglas the perfect location for LGBTQ families looking for their ideal vacation getaway. 

But don’t just take our word for it. Many publications have featured this area as a welcoming and fun travel destination, including Thrillist (6 LGBTQIA-Friendly Small Towns You Need to Visit and This Tiny Michigan Town is One of America’s Best LGBTQ+ Destinations), Vacationer (22 Small LGBTQ-Friendly Cities in the U.S.), GayCities (This Small Midwest Town Should Be Your Next Weekend Getaway), and PrideSource (Have You Been to These Surprisingly Queer Michigan Road Trip Destinations?).

Here are our top recommended kid-friendly activities and attractions for a memorable summer family getaway.


Mt. Baldhead

To burn off some of that youthful energy, climb up the 302 steps to the top of Mt. Baldhead and get a bird’s eye view of the Kalamazoo River, downtown area, and Lake Michigan. You’ll also catch a close-up glimpse of the Mount Baldhead Radar Tower, a Cold War relic dating back to the 1950s and one of the most iconic sights along the Saugatuck shore. Kids will love running down the sandy dune on the west side of the mountain, which will bring you to Oval Beach.

Oval Beach

Considered one of the best beaches in the country according to Condé Nast TravelerOval Beach features soft white sand and stunning Lake Michigan views. It’s a great place for kids to spend the day swimming in salt-free water, soaking up the sun, and building a few sandcastles.


Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Spend the day wandering through the sandy forest paths of Saugatuck Dunes State Park, where all trails lead to the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. This beautiful patch of the Art Coast features 13 miles of trails with coastal dunes and forested areas that attract rare birds and endangered species.

Saugatuck Dune Rides

Take a thrilling 40-minute off-road, open-roof dune ride through the rolling hills of sand overlooking Lake Michigan on the Saugatuck Dune Rides. You and your family will enjoy discovering all the natural beauty of the area and experiencing tales from the local lore delivered by highly engaging and comedic tour guides.


Star of Saugatuck 

For the quintessential Saugatuck water experience that family members, young and old, will enjoy, take a ride on the Star of Saugatuck. This 51-ton double-decker paddlewheel boat traverses the Kalamazoo River into Lake Michigan, giving you a relaxing view of the town, harbor, and scenic natural areas. Refreshments are served onboard, and the tour narrations are both fun and informative.

Donut Boats 

Rent a donut boat from Retro Boat Rentals and take the entire family (including Fido) for a spin around the Kalamazoo River. Shaped just like its name, donut boats feature a round table in the middle perfect for enjoying food and beverages with a group. These boats can also be anchored or beached in a special designated “cove” area to allow for swimming or just hanging out. 

Plan an Active Escape in the Art Coast

We know how addictive hobbies can be (ever tried pickleball, anyone?). Whether you’re visiting Saugatuck/Douglas for a workcation or traveling for pleasure, you don’t have to miss out on your favorite pastime while you’re here. To help, we’ve compiled a sport-by-sport breakdown of all the places you can go to stay active doing the hobby you love.

For the Runners, Hikers, and Swimmers

Saugatuck Dunes State Park
If you’re looking for an adventure-filled day, look no further than Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Home to 2.5 miles of sandy Lake Michigan shoreline, coastal dunes, forests, and 13 miles of trails, this park is a paradise for hikers, trail runners, swimmers, and more. 

Mount Baldhead and Oval Beach
If you’re a runner or hiker and up for a tough training session, ascend the 302 stairs up this 230-foot dune. With an elevation of 804 feet, Mt. Baldhead gives you spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the Kalamazoo River. Once you’ve caught your breath, follow the trails down to beautiful Oval Beach, where, if it’s a warm summer day, you can go for a swim.

For the Disc Golfers and Bikers

Shore Acres Township Park
Popular with the locals, this park, adjacent to Saugatuck Dunes State Park, offers a two-mile mountain bike trail and disc golf course, which includes a challenging mix of open and wooded holes with elevation and unique sandy terrain. The mountain bike course is short but fun, with tight turns, sand, and a few hills to get your adrenaline pumping.

Beeline Trail
Start in Saugatuck and end on the south side of Lake Macatawa in Holland. This trail lets you explore both cities with a 24-mile round-trip. Begin with a hearty breakfast in downtown Saugatuck and be back here for dinner and drinks afterwards.

Beach to Bayou Trail
Short but sweet (less than two miles), this trail starts or ends at Wade’s Bayou Memorial Park on Kalamazoo Lake and runs down Center Street through downtown Douglas until you hit the waters of Lake Michigan at Lakeshore Drive. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, combine this outing with a kayak or stand-up paddleboard excursion (read on for more info!).

Don’t have your own bike with you? Big Lake Outfitters and In The Elements Rental make it easy to rent and ride while you’re here.

For the Pickleball or Tennis Enthusiasts

Schultz Park 
Schultz Park near downtown Douglas offers eight new pickleball courts, where the Douglas Saugatuck Pickleball Club has open play Monday-Friday, 9-12 am. If you’re in town often and would like to join, the fee is $45. Not interested in open play? The club keeps one court available to the public at all times. 

Saugatuck High School 
Saugatuck High School features four outdoor, hard-surface tennis courts available to the public. You’ll want to go during daylight hours because these courts do not have lights. 

For the Golfers

Clearbrook Golf Club
This scenic 18-hole, par-72 course offers 6,556 yards of beautiful hardwood-lined fairways, well-bunkered greens, and several challenging water features—including a meandering “clear brook” which inspired the club’s name. Come for an inspired day on the greens and stay for the amenities, including a driving range, two putting greens, a practice bunker, and a restaurant and bar that’s a local favorite. 

The Ravines Golf Club
Envisioned and built by the legendary Arnold Palmer, this exceptional 18-hole, par-72 course offers stunning natural vistas over 7,070 yards designed by the master himself. A Certified Audubon International Course and Certified US Kid’s Golf Family Course, the Ravines is sustainably designed and a great place to play golf with the whole family. Amenities include a full driving range, a short game practice area, two putting greens, a golf shop, and the Grill Room, where you can end a long day of golfing with, you guessed it, an Arnold Palmer. 

For the Kayakers and Paddleboarders

Wade’s Bayou Memorial Park
If you’re looking for a place to launch your kayak or stand-up paddleboard, look no further than this charming little park in downtown Douglas. Stay in the bayou for a low-key paddle and wildlife viewing, or venture into the Kalamazoo River for a longer haul. 

Goshorn Lake
If you’re visiting friends or renting a cottage at this beautiful inland lake, you’ve got to get out on the water! This no-wake lake is perfect for paddle sports and offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, or just gazing at the sunset. 

If you don’t have your own boat or board, our friends at Third Coast PaddlingBig Lake Outfitters, or In The Elements Rental can set you up with rentals.

Top 5 Ways To Celebrate Dad In The Art Coast

With exhilarating outdoor experiences, a lively craft beverage scene, and so many more activities to explore, there’s no shortage of ways to make Father’s Day memorable. Here are our top 5 ways to celebrate Dad in Saugatuck/Douglas this year and every year.

1. Hit the Links

If your dad likes to swing a club, head over to The Ravines Golf Club, West Michigan’s only Arnold Palmer Signature Design Championship Golf Course. This sweeping 18-hole, 7,070-yard, par 72 course features immense and visually stunning natural vistas. Another must-visit course is the Clearbrook Golf Club. This mature 6556-yard, par-72 course features intriguing holes to test every club in your bag. And if the larger courses feel too intimidating, there’s always Saugatuck Mini Golf which offers a lovely natural-style setting with fabulous water features and 18 fun, challenging holes.

2. Take to the Trails

Spend the day at Saugatuck Dunes State Park and explore the miles of beautiful hiking trails that wind through the dunes and forest. Your father will love the opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise while enjoying the stunning views of Lake Michigan. If hiking isn’t his thing, biking is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of our region and pack in some exercise as well. Bikes can be rented from Big Lake Outfitters and In The Elements Rental. For a list of bike routes and trails, click here.

3. Just Add Water

Help dad catch the big one with a charter boat fishing excursion. Half-day and full-day sportfishing expeditions in Lake Michigan can be chartered through Saugatuck Charter FishingBest Chance Too Charters, and Big Lake Outfitters. Or, if you’re looking to explore the water together under your own power, paddle your way through the beautiful Kalamazoo River while enjoying the stunning scenery and wildlife. Rent kayaks from Big Lake OutfittersThird Coast Paddling, or In the Elements Rental, and get ready to treat your pop to a thrilling adventure. And for a more relaxing way to experience our waterways— the Kalamazoo River, Lake Kalamazoo, and Lake Michigan—hop aboard the historic Star of Saugatuck paddlewheel ship for a tour like no other.

4. Belly Up To The Bar

Cement your standing as your father’s favorite child by treating his taste buds to a delicious craft beer tour experience. The Art Coast is home to four craft breweries, each offering distinctly different flavor profiles for their beers. Be the designated driver and try out Saugatuck Brewing CompanyGuardian Brewing CompanyWaypost Brewing Co., and the Mitten Brewing Company. Want to take the experience up a notch and join in on the sampling? Charter a beverage tour through Coastal ToursUntapped Sights & Tours, or Singapore Shuttles for worry-free transportation between breweries. 

5. Eat Your Heart Out

This small coastal getaway features some big and bold flavors, and you’ll want to make sure your father gets his fill. Please his palate at Bowdie’s Chophouse for a decadent and delicious steak dinner. This elegant restaurant offers top-quality cuts of meat, fresh seafood, and an extensive wine list, making it the perfect place to treat your dad to a special meal. If more casual grub set against waterfront views seems more his speed, be sure to hit The Butler and try their famous Butler Burger, a local favorite for the past 60 years. Or treat dad to dinner at the Mermaid Waterfront Bar & Grill, a delightful dockside eatery overlooking the Kalamazoo River that serves fresh fish and other culinary favorites. 

New Wave Wellness In The Art Coast

Evergreen Lane Farm and Creamery

A New Wave Wellness vacation can be a great way to prioritize self-care and living a more balanced life. Involving a wide range of physical, mental, and spiritual activities, New Wave Wellness embraces holistic health concepts and alternative practices to promote optimal health. Reset and recharge in the Art Coast with these less conventional activities and reap the rewards of improved health and well-being.

Knock On Wood

“Forest bathing,” known as shinrin yoku in Japan, is a highly researched practice linked to many health benefits. It simply involves spending time among the trees and practicing mindfulness in nature.

Studies have shown that being immersed in nature slows breathing, improves concentration, and makes people feel more centered. There is no better place to practice forest bathing than among the wooded trails of the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, where you’ll be surrounded by soaring maples and fresh-scented pines, along with the meditative sights and sounds of the water. 

“Herbal” Remedy

With more states legalizing its use, cannabis consumption has become more mainstream, resulting in a change to the stigma historically associated with the plant. Surveys indicate that an overwhelming majority of adults consuming cannabis are doing so for health and wellness purposes, preferring holistic solutions over pharmaceuticals to treat medical issues. Backed by increasing scientific support, cannabis use has been associated with numerous medical benefits, including pain relief, improved sleep, and decreased anxiety. Find cannabis products such as edibles, topicals, tinctures, and more in Saugatuck/Douglas/Fennville at Green KoiNew StandardJARS Cannabis, and City Hall Provisions.

Hold Your Horses

Relax, restore, and reflect for a quiet couple of hours in the company of horses. The Red Horse Center for Collaborative Leadership is a place where horses, nature, meditation, art, and peace converge. Participate in a Herd Meditation, which offers peace and quiet, fresh air, meditative exercise, and reflection with a supportive herd of horses. Or create a personal Thrive Story through a facilitated process involving exploration of the seven chakras, guided meditation, supported art expression, and horse interactions.

Satya Yoga
Satya Yoga

Get Your Goat

Schedule time with Evergreen Lane Farm and Creamery to “Hike with the Herd.” This hour-long relaxing stroll in the orchard is led by a knowledgeable guide and includes the farm’s playful and unpredictable goats—the most entertaining hiking companions you’ll ever encounter. While goat yoga has become quite the rage, spending any time wandering around with goats can induce laughter, lower stress and anxiety, and enhance your mood.

Eat Well, Be Well

Take control of your health with nutritional and dietary supplement counseling from Ladyhawk Nutrition. A naturopathic doctor will review your health history, eating habits, the stresses in your life, and any medicines, vitamins, or nutritional supplements you take and will make healthy eating plan recommendations to improve your well-being. Other available services include homeopathic remedies counseling, iridology (the practice of looking at the irises of your eyes for constitution and possible weaknesses), reflexology of the hands and feet, hair mineral analysis, and others. 

In A Good Light

Indulge in some LED Light Therapy at SPAlia to treat various skin conditions, such as acne, fine lines, and psoriasis. LED (light-emitting diode) light therapy is a non-invasive, painless treatment that uses blue or red light to enter the skin’s layers and help improve it. NASA began studying LED’s effects in the 1990s, using it to promote wound healing in astronauts by helping cells and tissues grow. SPAlia offers several facial services that use an FDA-cleared LED light medical device with topical heat to disinfect, detoxify and eliminate bacteria under the skin, revealing a smoother, healthier complexion and more even skin tone. The combination of blue or red light therapy, along with the application of skincare products made from Dead Sea minerals, aims to rebalance and clarify the skin for a more healthy, unified appearance.  

Left To Your Own Devices

According to WebMD, research has shown that nearly 61% of people admit they’re addicted to the internet and digital screens. This constant connection can affect your quality of life by overloading your senses, impacting your sleep quality, and adding stress. Consider taking a Digital Detox vacation in the Art Coast, where you intentionally reduce your screen time and take a break from all your social media apps. By temporarily giving up digital devices during a “digital fast,” you can improve your mental and physical health by reducing the stress that results from constant connectivity. 

The beauty of digitally detoxing in Saugatuck/Douglas is that there are plenty of outdoor and indoor activities that will help calm your mind, reconnect you with nature, and keep you from being bored without your screens. Try a Yoga & Healing Sound class at Satya Yoga in Saugatuck, where a gentle yoga session ends with a long savasana resting pose and sound bath. Participants are bathed in sound waves from crystal singing bowls and other sound healing instruments in a meditative experience that will leave you feeling calm, centered, and relaxed. Or challenge yourself to a Hot Yoga class at Encompass Wellness and Fitness Center, a practice that has been known to improve flexibility, ease depression, and reduce stress.