Saugatuck Historic Chain Ferry
This family-friendly attraction is the last remaining hand-cranked chain ferry in America and has been in operation since 1857. Running throughout the summer months, this unique boat transports visitors across the Kalamazoo River by a hand crank that pulls the boat along a chain stretching across the river underwater. Many visitors and locals use it to travel from downtown Saugatuck across the river to the foot of Mt. Baldhead, where they’re only steps away from the beach.
Celebrated around the world for its beautiful sweep of shoreline and backdrop of rolling dunes, Oval Beach has acquired an impressive pedigree of awards over the years, including Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 25 Beaches in the World, National Geographic Traveler’s Top Freshwater Beaches in the USA and MTV’s Top 5 Beaches in the U.S.A. With easy parking, concessions, a picnic area on site and hiking trails within steps, this is sure to be your new favorite summer spot.
One of the most iconic sights along the Saugatuck shore is the moonlike sphere of the Mount Baldhead radar tower. This cold war relic dates back to the 1950s, but although it’s historic, it can still be climbed and explored today. Climb the 302 steps to a scenic overlook of the Downtown Saugatuck and Douglas, and then slide down the grassy coastal sands on the back side of the dune to get to Oval Beach.
The Old School House Museum
The Saugatuck/Douglas region is full of historic sights and stories, and there’s no better place to learn about them than at the 1866 Old School House Museum (The Douglas Union School), owned and operated by the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society. This stately national landmark is the oldest multi-classroom school building in Michigan and one of the finest examples of 19th century school architecture in America. Along with its six city lots of lawn and woods, it has been transformed into a “History Center” where Saugatuck-Douglas citizens and visitors can benefit in a multitude of ways from the area’s rich history and culture.
Ox-Bow School of Art
Truly a hidden gem in Saugatuck/Douglas, Ox-Bow School of Art is the Chicago Institute of Art’s summer school of painting. Ox-Bow’s campus encompasses 115-acres of pristine natural forests, dunes, a lagoon, and historic buildings and has been in operation for over 100 years, providing an immersive environment for artists to explore traditional and contemporary modes of art-making. Ox-Bow school only adds to the incredible arts scene in our region that makes us known as The Art Coast of Michigan.
Historical Society Museum
Saugatuck/Douglas is steeped in history, and the Saugatuck/Douglas History Museum is one of State’s best-known and most-visited small town museums, annually drawing nearly 10,000 visitors to its exhibits and more than 40,000 visitors to its outdoor garden and harbor-front walkway.
Once the luxurious summer home and hobby of self-made millionaire and inventor Dorr E. Felt, the Felt Mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites, retains the architectural beauty of a bygone era and offers a glimpse into the wealth and lifestyle of the Roaring 20s – a time cut short by The Great Depression. The mansion still plays host to weddings, tours, special events and outdoor concerts during the summertime.
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