Located in Allegan County on the lower southwest corner of Michigan, and home to about 1,000 year-round residents, Saugatuck is known as Michigan’s Art Coast. An easy get-away destination for people from Chicago, Detroit and Grand Rapids, this area is a vibrant outgrowth of the 19th century Arts and Crafts Movement. It was once known for having a major tourist attraction with the sizable Big Pavilion dance venue until it was destroyed by fire in 1960.
2010’s Budget Travel magazine rated Saugatuck fourth on its list of “America’s 10 Coolest Towns to Visit.” One of the outstanding reasons for this rating appears to be the popularity of the Star of Saugatuck paddle-wheeler as it plies the waters of the Kalamazoo River for tours. Another rather unique watercraft is the Saugatuck Chain Ferry, a hand-operated vessel that affords the opportunity to experience a sandy shoreline as well as a historical museum and an unparalleled view of Mount Baldhead.
When visiting Saugatuck, the right way to do it is staying in one of the many amazing bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels. There are many options as far as bed and breakfasts go, but a big favorite among tourists is the Wickwood Inn. The Inn is run by award winning cookbook author Julee Rosso, and the food and hospitality do not disappoint.
To enjoy all the experiences that Mount Baldhead offers requires the ascension of an estimated 302 step stairway; however, those who embrace the challenge maintain the breathtaking view is well worth the effort.
Downtown Saugatuck is home to Mason Street Warehouse Theatre Company that has been offering fantastic shows since 2003, especially during North America’s summer months. This venue often functions as a pre-Broadway incubator.
In addition to traditional parades celebrating 4th of July, Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day, Saugatuck offers the Town Criers Run, a Midwest 10K or 5K race attracting running enthusiasts from within Michigan’s borders and far beyond. This event also features a Kiddie 1K run with each contestant receiving a blue ribbon at the finish line.
‘Spirits’ aficionados are guaranteed to enjoy brewery tours that take place each Saturday afternoon throughout the year. Vineyard and Cellar tours offer the opportunity to learn how fermented brews are made. Tours include tasting and a souvenir wine glass.
Those of the alternative lifestyle persuasion will feel welcome in Saugatuck where LGBT pride is valued. Local eateries include some 140 establishments owned and operated by LGBTs.
If you must narrow down your list of things to do and see in Saugatuck, be sure to include a visit to Oval Beach, one of the world’s best according to “Conde Nast Magazine.” Hopefully your visit will be during blueberry season when a local company offers already picked or pick-them-yourself berries.