10 Top-Rated Things to Do in Saugatuck

On a long-awaited trip through Michigan, author Meagan Drillinger found herself in the enchanting town of Saugatuck during the fall of 2022. Saugatuck, nestled in Western Michigan’s Kalamazoo River Valley, is a picturesque river town with a long history as an artists’ community. It is a place of creative energy, beautiful historic architecture, great outdoor activities, and stunning natural beauty. Along with its sister city of Douglas, it is one of the top destinations along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. Wicks Park is a must-see for anyone visiting Saugatuck. From art galleries to Lake Michigan beaches and parks, from riverfront views to museums and scenery, shopping and sightseeing is a must-do. Not to mention the renowned Saugatuck dunes state park and Saugatuck center for the arts, which are two of the town’s highlights. 10 Top-Rated Things to Do in Saugatuck

1. Visit Saugatuck Dunes State Park

If you’re looking for a way to get to know your new home, the best way to do so is to take a stroll among the wild, winding dunes that line the shores of Lake Michigan. Saugatuck State Park is home to some of the most stunning natural dunes in the area, as well as deep forests and miles of trails. It’s one of the top summer destinations for residents of the area, with over two and a half miles of pristine beachfront that’s always ready to go swimming. If you’d prefer to stay dry, you can take a stroll along the four trails that span the park’s three-and-a-half-mile length. And if you’re interested in learning more about the area’s unique natural environment, you’ll want to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the three- and a-half-mile-long patty birkholz natural area, home to one of the world’s largest coastal dune systems and endangered plants.

2. Splash around at Oval Beach

Lake Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful beaches along the western shore of Lake Michigan. Saugatuck’s Oval Beach is one of the top beaches in the area, and it’s easy to see why. The beach is backed by beautiful sand dunes, and it’s right next to the beautiful Kalamazoo River. There are endless views of the beautiful, rolling, blue waters of Lake Michigan. Oval Beach is more than just a beautiful beach to take pictures on. It’s a great place to spend a warm afternoon, and the sand is soft and spread out along the shoreline. The beach also has a concession stand and restrooms, as well as plenty of parking. This beach is one of the most popular in Michigan, and it’s no surprise why – it’s one of the best.

3. Wander Butler Street

The heart of Saugatuck’s charming downtown is Butler Street, a leafy, historic main drag. Here, you’ll find the art colony that shaped Saugatuck for over a century. With 30 galleries, boutique stores, and shops, it’s no wonder Saugatuck boasts one of the most vibrant art communities in America. Butler Street is where the village gathers to host live concerts and independent film screenings, as well as an endless variety of exhibits. With stunning riverfront views, there’s always something to do and see in downtown. For over a century Saugatuck was home to an artists’ colony, now known as Ox-Bow’s School of Art and Artists Residency.

4. Hike Mt. Baldhead Park

Hiking Mt. Baldhead Park is a thrilling adventure for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Located in Saugatuck, Michigan, this scenic park offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding landscape. The trail leading up to the summit of Mt. Baldhead is steep and challenging, making it a rewarding hike for those seeking a physical challenge. As you ascend the rocky terrain, you’ll be surrounded by lush forests and diverse wildlife, adding to the magical experience of being immersed in nature. At the summit, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan and the picturesque town of Saugatuck below. Hiking Mt. Baldhead Park is not just a physical activity, but a spiritual journey that allows you to connect with the beauty of the natural world and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.

5. Ride the Saugatuck Chain Ferry

Riding the Saugatuck Chain Ferry is a delightful experience that transports you back in time while providing scenic views of the Kalamazoo River. This historic hand-cranked ferry is a unique mode of transportation that connects the charming town of Saugatuck with the pristine Oval Beach. As you board the ferry, the friendly ferry operator greets you with a warm smile and shares interesting tidbits about the history of the ferry and the area. As you glide across the river, you can feel the gentle breeze on your face and hear the soothing sounds of the water lapping against the ferry. The picturesque views of the lush greenery along the riverbanks and the quaint houses dotting the shoreline create a tranquil and serene atmosphere. Riding the Saugatuck Chain Ferry is not just a means of transportation, but a nostalgic journey that allows you to appreciate the beauty of nature and the rich history of this charming town.

6. Stroll through Wicks Park

Wicks Park is a tranquil oasis nestled in the heart of a bustling city, offering a peaceful escape for those seeking a moment of serenity. As you embark on a leisurely stroll through the park, you are greeted by a vibrant display of colorful flowers, towering trees, and the soothing sound of water gently flowing through the park’s fountain. The well-maintained walking paths lead you on a journey of discovery, unveiling hidden corners and picturesque spots perfect for a quiet rest or contemplation. Birds chirp melodically overhead, adding to the park’s enchanting ambiance. Whether you choose to admire the beauty of the botanical gardens, engage in a yoga session on the lush green lawn, or simply sit on a bench and watch the world go by, a stroll through Wicks Park offers a rejuvenating experience for the mind, body, and soul.

7. Browse at Amazwi Contemporary Art

Amazwi Contemporary Art is a treasure trove for art enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in the vibrant world of contemporary African art. As you step into the gallery, you are greeted by a stunning array of artworks that showcase the rich cultural heritage and diverse artistic expressions of African artists. From bold and colorful paintings to intricate sculptures and unique mixed media pieces, Amazwi Contemporary Art offers a dynamic and eclectic collection that captivates the senses. Each artwork tells a story, inviting viewers to explore themes of identity, history, and social issues through the lens of the artists’ creative vision. Whether you are a seasoned art collector or simply appreciate the beauty of visual art, browsing at Amazwi Contemporary Art is a captivating experience that celebrates the power of artistic expression and cultural storytelling.

8. Experience the Kalamazoo River

The Kalamazoo River offers a serene and picturesque experience for those seeking a tranquil escape into nature. As you meander along the riverbanks, the soothing sounds of flowing water and the vibrant flora and fauna create a sense of peace and relaxation. Whether you choose to kayak, canoe, or simply take a leisurely stroll along the river’s edge, the beauty of the Kalamazoo River surrounds you at every turn. Keep an eye out for bald eagles soaring overhead, turtles sunbathing on rocks, and the occasional deer venturing down for a drink. The Kalamazoo River provides a perfect setting for birdwatching, fishing, or simply unwinding in the beauty of nature. With its winding path through lush forests and open meadows, the Kalamazoo River offers a diverse and captivating experience for anyone looking to connect with the natural world.

9. Visit the Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum

Visiting the Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum is like stepping back in time to uncover the rich history and vibrant culture of this quaint Michigan town. Housed in a charming historic building, the museum showcases a diverse collection of artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that bring the area’s past to life. From the early days of the logging industry and shipping trade to the growth of the art community and tourism industry, visitors can trace the evolution of Saugatuck-Douglas through engaging displays and interactive presentations. The museum also offers guided tours, lectures, and special events that provide deeper insights into the people, places, and events that have shaped the community over the years. Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, or simply curious about the stories that make this town unique, a visit to the Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum is sure to be a memorable and enlightening experience.

10. Wander through Coghlin Park

Wandering through Coghlin Park is like stepping into a serene oasis in the midst of urban hustle and bustle. As you enter the park, you are greeted by the lush greenery and vibrant flora that line the pathways, creating a peaceful and rejuvenating atmosphere. The park offers a perfect escape from the noise and chaos of city life, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature’s beauty. As you stroll through the park, you may encounter picturesque ponds, colorful flower beds, and towering trees that provide shade and tranquility. Coghlin Park is a hidden gem that invites you to slow down, breathe in the fresh air, and appreciate the simple pleasures of nature. It’s a place where you can unwind, reflect, and connect with the natural world, making it a delightful destination for anyone seeking a moment of calm and serenity amidst the hustle of everyday life. 10 Top-Rated Things to Do in Saugatuck

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