My husband and I were invited by Eat Drink SDF to explore the Saugatuck, Douglas and Fennville area for a relaxing couples weekend! This beach town is located in Southwest Michigan, about 140 miles from Chicago. I had never been before, but always heard wonderful things about this cute, art coast community.
Manny and I had such a nice break from the city and from parenting! It was a perfect weekend getaway. Here’s our itinerary you can use for your next trip to the SDF area. I hope you guys find it useful and let me know if you have any questions about the places I mentioned below!
We checked into our bed and breakfast on Friday afternoon, the Kingsley House. It’s located in Fennville, which is roughly a 10-15 minute drive to downtown Saugatuck. This was our first experience staying in a B&B and weren’t really sure what to expect. We were greeted by Chuck, who runs the inn with his wife.
The grounds and house are beautifully maintained and the rooms are quaint and cozy. My favorite part was the beautiful wrap around porch you could sit with your morning coffee. We really needed those peaceful moments! There’s coffee, tea and homemade chocolate chip cookies available in the living room, and it just felt like home.
There is a lot of historic significance as well. The house was built in 1886 by Harvey Judson Kingsley, who is responsible for bringing apples and peaches to Michigan. Without him, Michigan might not have apples today! 😉
Overall, our stay was relaxing and it was a great way to recharge as parents from the craziness of our lives.
Next stop was drinks and appetizers at Borrowed Time in Douglas. This is a great restaurant with an outside patio, delicious food and cocktails, live music and just a fun place to hang out at.
One of the coolest parts about the Saugatuck area is the public bus transportation! I have NEVER seen this in a small town before. For only $1 per adult, call the Interurban 269-857-1418 for your ride anytime during business hours. The ride can be scheduled as early as 15 minutes in advance or you can make a reservation for a specific time. They offer curb to curb service, pick you up and drop you off anywhere in our service area (all of Saugatuck Township including the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas). I loved this aspect!
Center for the Arts
After we left Borrowed Time, the Interurban picked us up and we headed to the Saugatuck Center for Arts.
This center has art, a theater, and several programs for visitors to enjoy. We were there on a night they happen to have a food truck festival and live music. An upcoming exhibition for summer 2023 is To Practice Taking Root by artist Paloma Núñez-Regueiro. Inspired by her childhood in Peru, Paloma’s intention is to offer a cohesive collection of artwork that shines a light on the struggles of minorities in our communities. It looks so cool! SCA has a farmer’s market every Tuesday and Friday, and Kinky Boots plays in the theater June 23-July 16.
Then we jumped back on the Interurban and headed to Saugatuck Brewing. Although I am not a huge beer drink and was pregnant, the facility is awesome. Manny had the best time sampling their beers and getting to see the behind the scenes. There is so much that goes into making beer! Did you know that Saugatuck Brewing is really popular in South Korea?! They also sell it at Binny’s and the beer is on tap at several Midwest bars and restaurants.
To end our night, we jumped back on the Interurban and headed to Oval Beach for the sunset. This beach is gorgeous! I honestly didn’t feel like I was in Michigan.
Last stop, BED! But first, homemade cookies in the living room of our B&B 🙂
Honestly, this morning might have been the most exciting part of the entire trip. The Saugatuck Dune Rides were so, so fun! And don’t worry, very safe for pregnancy, it really wasn’t bumpy at all! If you go to the SDF area, you MUST do it.
Saugatuck Dune Rides
This ride is through the Dunes and is absolutely gorgeous! There is so much history and you learn a lot along the way. (Google Singapore Michigan, it’s really interesting!) This would be perfect for large groups; we saw lots of bachelorette and birthday parties boarding. But I would go again with Manny and the kids for sure!
Our guide was really funny and there are some hidden “pranks” along the way (see pics below). And the views along the route are just stunning.
After our tour, we got a chance to explore downtown Saugatuck. It’s filled with local art, chocolatiers, antique boutiques, and other cute shops. It’s a great place to grab a drink and watch the boats go up and down the river. There are also some good restaurants with patios and live music. (You can learn about where we had brunch on Sunday below).
We walked up an appetite and headed to Farmhouse Deli in Douglas. IT WAS AMAZING! Everything is locally sourced within miles of the restaurant and all the food we had was incredible. I had the reuben and tried several desserts, all homemade and mouthwatering good. You really can’t miss it!
The Art Scene
After our lunch, we explored the arts scene. The SDF area is known for their arts and we got a chance to check out two galleries, J Petter Galleries and Palette Gallery. You can grab a glass of wine or enjoy a wine tasting and then explore the space. I am not an art expert by any means, but I found the experience really relaxing, just walking around and learning about the artists and sipping wine (or in my case, a mocktail).
Our last stop before getting ready for dinner, was the Ox-Bow School of Arts and Artists’ Residency. This school was founded by Frederick Fursman and Walter Marshall Clute, artists from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It serves as a retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
It all started when Fursman and Clute began this tradition after visiting the Saugatuck area one summer. They fell in love with the natural beauty of the area, as well as its rural isolation. You can find chicken roaming free and artists taking classes at various locations throughout the sprawling campus. It’s quite an experience to see artists come together in nature. They often have open houses for the public to check out and pieces of art located throughout the campus.
We headed back to the inn for some R&R after a long day, and then we had an elegant dinner at The Kirby Hotel. This hotel, restaurant and wine bar is the perfect setting for a wedding or an elevated dining experience.
This hotel is modern and full of history. Once a hospital, the six room hotel has delicious, local cuisine that is the perfect romantic or special occasion getaway. We are thinking about heading back in the fall for our babymoon! They made some tasty mocktails, so I will be back for those 🙂 But eventually, I will have to try all their wines! Overall, it was a great dining experience and we can’t wait to go back!
We ended our night at the Dunes Resort for a a live cabaret show! It was interactive, the music was great and we all loved it. The Dunes Resort is one of the country’s top gay and lesbian resorts. For 37 years, Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders (plus straights) come to escape the hustle and bustle to enjoy a day, weekend, or week-long getaway. Now crowned one of the largest gay and lesbian resorts and entertainment complexes in the Midwest. This is perfect for bachelorettes, birthday parties or out on a date. Manny and I had a blast.
Then, SLEEP! Manny and I hadn’t been out past midnight in a long time, oh the life of parenthood!
To conclude our trip, we had brunch at Grow in downtown Saugatuck, which serves breakfast and lunch with ingredients that are all locally sourced. There are some really innovative dishes like carrot cake pancakes and Michigan Soda floats with gelato ice cream. Everything was delicious and we washed it down with Uncommon Coffee.
Overall, our trip was incredible. The Saugatuck, Fennville, Douglas area is great for any season, but you can see even more ideas for a summer road trip here. I can see why so many travel magazines have this area on their Best Places to Travel lists!! Between the huge arts, wine, beach and food scene, there is really something for everyone. Worth a day, weekend or an entire week trip.
If you guys have any questions, send them my way! I’d love to help your next vacation. As always, you can keep updated and stay in the know when you follow me on Instagram!