Thursday, August 1, 2013


Top 5 Things to do in Saugatuck, MI

This Summer, I have asked several friends to tell us the Top 5 Things to do in their cities.  Join us each week as we learn about a new city!  This week let's head to Saugatuck, Michigan.

While Michigan’s Sunset Coast is full of excellent beaches, one town, Saugatuck, boasts enough goodness for families to come to the beach and explore the town. Saugatuck is a small town in Southwest Michigan, right along Lake Michigan. It’s an artsy, fun town that welcomes families. I grew up near here – it always feels like coming home.

Here are my top 5 insider tips for family fun in Saugatuck, Michigan

1    Oval  Beach! Oval Beach, located just south of Saugatuck across the Kalamazoo River, was named as one of the best beaches in the world by Conde Nast Magazine. And for good reason – it’s accessed through a mysterious, forested winding road – and then you burst out past the dunes onto the beauty of Lake Michigan. The north end boasts a restroom, changing area, and concession stand. The south end is quieter, with more room to fly kites and spread out. Once you swim out, there’s usually a sandbar or two (depending on the year). Please note that there is no lifeguard on the south end.  If you have time, climb Mount Baldy – 302 wooden steps – and then RUN down the dunes to the big lake. It’s amazing. There’s a daily fee per car to get into Oval Beach (or get a yearly permit).
      Pick Blueberries! The very best Blueberries in the world are at Krupka’s. They are large, juicy, sweet, and delicious! You can pick them yourself by the pail-ful (YUM), or buy them already picked. We go through several 10 pound boxes in a week, during blueberry season. Kids love to pick (and eat) fruit – but be sure to go in the morning or later in the day. Picking during the midday heat is tiring. Priced by the pound, cheaper if you pick it yourself.


      Take the Ferry! The Chain Ferry, that is.  Crossing the Kalamazoo River (as it heads out to Lake Michigan) by Chain Ferry is very cool. It’s a hand-cranked ferry, and takes about 5 minutes to cross the 100 yards of river. Once you’re to the other side, you can hike up to Mount Baldy – or cross back to get back to Saugatuck. $1 per person.

      Hit the playground. On the west end of town, across the street from the very clean public restrooms, is a great playground. It’s a perfect break for when one parent (ahem) wants to poke through the shops a bit more, while the kids are getting squirrely. It’s open, shaded with beautiful trees, and has benches for weary parents to rest and watch. Free.

     Wander downtown Saugatuck. There are so many cute stores, toy stores, and treat shops (more on that in a minute). One of my favorite shops is the Saugatuck Drug Store. Yes, indeed, they have a soda fountain in the back! And, upstairs, a leg lamp (like in Christmas Story). Inside is a treasure trove – kites, beach stuff, toys, and whole bins of fun little (and inexpensive) toys and trinkets. It’s so much fun for kids to poke around and CHOOSE their favorite thing (likely for less than a dollar). Then, it’ll be time for some ice cream! I love Charlie’s Ice Cream – but if fudge is more your thing, Kilwin’s is right there, too.  Price – depending on what you order!

Jessie Voigts, pictured here in Ireland, is a mom who loves sharing the world with her daughter. She has a PhD in International Education, and is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids (it’s never too young to start!). She has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published six books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. You can usually find her family by water – anywhere in the world.

Photos courtesy of Jessie Voigts & Karen Voigts


eileen @ FamiliesGo! said...

Sometimes the best find on vacation is a good little playground. that one looks nice and shady (good for checking your travel apps while the kids play.)

A said...

The blueberries sound incredibly nice. Ahh I love picking them and having fresh fruit :)

Nicole Becker said...

This looks like the perfect vacation spot for me and my family!! Not too busy with tons of tourists and very low key. MY PERFECT VACATION!! Thanks for sharing!!