Published: Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Located two hours north of Chicago and three hours west of Detroit, lies the quaint towns of Saugatuck and Douglas, nestled along the Lake Michigan shoreline. For over a century, visitors have come from near and far to visit Saugatuck/Douglas with it’s stunning natural beauty and vibrant arts culture, and to tour local shops, breweries, wineries, and restaurants. The area’s deep roots in the creative arts have drawn all kinds of people to Saugatuck/Douglas, which has fostered a progressive and inclusive culture where you’ll find people from all walks of life mingling comfortably on the beach or out on the town.
From that culture has grown an inclusive, artistic, and accepting community where there’s a little something for everyone. For the arts lover, there are more than 30 galleries, showing visual art as well as film and performances all year round. The active traveler will enjoy the wide range of activities the area offers, such as world-renown beaches and a plethora of trails for hiking, biking, kayaking, and cross-country skiing. For foodies and craft beverage connoisseurs, Saugatuck/Douglas is rich with talented chefs and artisans who use the fruits of the region’s agriculture to their fullest potential.
Saugatuck/Douglas also offers unique attractions, festivals, and events that are unlike any other. The Saugatuck Chain Ferry, for example, is the only remaining chain driven ferry in the country and has been in use since 1838. Used to transport guests from one side of the Kalamazoo River to the other, the Chain Ferry is a family-friendly attraction that every visitor should experience at least once. Other attractions like Mt. Baldhead – a large sand dune with approximately 300 steps to an overlook at the top - or the Star of Saugatuck – a 51-ton paddlewheel boat that tours the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan – are part of what makes the Saugatuck/Douglas region unique.
Three Waterways for Boaters to Explore
Saugatuck/Douglas is located on the shore of Lake Michigan so, naturally, boaters and water-lovers have flocked to the area for years. But what many first-timers don’t know is that Saugatuck/Douglas is also home to two other waterways: the Kalamazoo River and Kalamazoo Lake featuring Wade’s Bayou.
The Kalamazoo River, stretching 178 miles long, runs through the towns of Saugatuck and Douglas and sort of defines the separation between the two towns. The river runs as far inland as Albion, Michigan, and ends at Lake Michigan in Saugatuck. The river is home to numerous boat slips and a popular place to kayak or canoe. Wade’s Bayou, a wider section of the Kalamazoo river, was historically the lifeline of industry for the city of Douglas. Formerly functioning as a port dock, the area is now a favorite loading zone for kayakers, canoers, and casual fishermen.
Due to our three distinctive waterways, boaters of all kinds have found Saugatuck/Douglas to be a boating destination. Kayaks, yachts, speed boats, sailboats, and more are welcome in our communities with slips and launching sites. Even those who don’t own their own boats can still enjoy the boating scene in Saugatuck/Douglas with unique boat rental opportunities ranging from kayaks to retro boats. There is truly something for every water lover out there in Saugatuck/Douglas.
When to Visit:
The Saugatuck/Douglas region is known as a natural playground for outdoor adventures. Warm weather coupled with our award-winning beaches and our three distinctive waterways make summers our most popular season of the year, especially for those who enjoy being out on (or in) the water. Although the summers here are wonderful, the rest of the year boasts beautiful views, exciting outdoor adventures, romantic getaway opportunities, and much, much more.
If you think apple orchards, cider mills, pumpkin patches, and fall color tours when you think fall, then there’s no better place to visit than Saugatuck/Douglas. Our geographical position allows Saugatuck to be one of the most beautiful places in the state of Michigan during the fall. Each year, Saugatuck is home to stunning, vibrant fall foliage during the months of October and early November. Another feature that Saugatuck’s geography is affected by is the agriculture. Known as the “fruit belt of Michigan,” our fall food scene is blessed with crisp apples, perfect for pies or cider, wine made from locally-grown grapes, and perfect pumpkins, just waiting to be carved.
Although it’s traditionally a summer destination, winter is a romantic time to visit Saugatuck. The holiday season is complete with quaint local shops, cozy restaurants and sparkling holiday décor that glistens off the lake effect snow we get each year. Saugatuck/Douglas is a prime location for outdoor activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. After strolling through the shops and restaurants, snowshoeing through our trails, and eating at our local restaurants, our locally-owned B&Bs and inns are unique and cozy retreats that complete the Saugatuck experience.
Whether you’re looking for romance, adventure, or relaxation, you’re sure to find it here – along with that special magical quality that turns so many first-time visitors into regulars. From outdoor adventures to romantic getaways, art galleries to alfresco dining, and sunny days to cozy nights, it’s easy to see why this area has a special place in so many hearts.
Visit saugatuck.com to plan your trip and discover why so many people say, “There’s something magical about this place.”
Saugatuck/Douglas has amazing and unique festivals and events all year round! Here are ones that you can’t miss coming up this year:
Mountainfilm ON TOUR: Saugatuck
Friday, March 22 – Saturday, March 23
The acclaimed Mountainfilm on Tour: Saugatuck returns to the Saugatuck Center for the Arts during our third annual screening. Mountainfilm in Saugatuck has grown to three venues featuring six screenings, live music, art galleries, demonstrations, and more. Mountainfilm uses the power of film, art, and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world.
Saugatuck Venetian Festival
Friday, July 26 – Saturday, July 27
The Cowhill Yacht Club is proud to host the yearly Venetian Festival! This unique festival is full of activities for everyone. Live music, a lighted boat parade, a Dinghy Poker Run, and fireworks complete this summer event!
Halloween in Saugatuck
Saturday, October 26
Halloween is BIG in Saugatuck/Douglas. From kid’s events like glow-in-the-dark dance parties, to adult favorites like the Giant Pumpkin King rising from the ashes, there’s always something grand and a bit spooky happening in the Saugatuck/Douglas area for Halloween.
An Art Coast Holiday
Late November – New Year’s Eve
With the twinkling lights, snowy sidewalks, warmly lit shops, and cozy lodging amenities, the Saugatuck/Douglas area is a snug winter destination for any winter traveler, but during the holidays, the town comes alive with festive energy with our holiday events like our annual “Whoville” themed Christmas parade, tree lighting ceremonies, “shop small Saturday,” and more!