A Family Guide to Saugatuck, Michigan

May 11, 2023

If you are like us, we are always looking for places around the Chicagoland area to getaway for the weekend. Sometimes we just need a little break from the city! We are have a few stipulations though: under 5 hours driving, family friendly restaurants and lots of activities to keep my busy toddler occupied. Saugatuck, Michigan hits all those requirements. Around 2.5 hours from Michigan, this art coast has a little something for the whole family.

This post is in collaboration with Saugatuck, Michigan.

My husband and I had first visited the area without kids and we were excited to return with our whole family! Below is where we stayed, what we did and the restaurants we visited during our trip! You can see that trip here.

Accommodations

We stayed at Maplewood Hotel, which is located in the heart of downtown. Seriously, the BEST location. I can’t say enough about how perfect the location is. We were able to walk everywhere, which is really helpful when traveling with kids. Another great family perk is that it has an outdoor pool, which was too cold for us this visit, but would be great in the summer. It also has a playground within a few feet to help run out that extra toddler energy. (It’s probably not the MOST kid friendly option, but the location is PERFECT). It’s on the nicer end, but our kids did fine.

You could always try another inn or Air BNB, but there are not big hotel chains in the area.

Maplewood hotel in Saugatuck, Michigan is located in the heart of downtown. Has a great location and close to everything!
Maplewood hotel in Saugatuck, Michigan is located in the heart of downtown. Has a great location and close to everything!

Some of the other amenities are working fireplaces in the room, large family rooms available and breakfast served daily from 8-9am.

Since it is an older hotel (built in 1860), strollers are not permitted upstairs and there are several antiques throughout the hotel. It would be great for school age children or if you aren’t spending a lot of time at the hotel (like us! We were go, go, go!).

Activities

There is so much to do in the Saugatuck/Douglas area with a little something for everyone.

Star of Saugatuck

The Star of Saugatuck cruises the waters of the Kalamazoo River and heads out to Lake Michigan for a bit. We loved it and thought it was great for all ages! Our baby slept most the time and our toddler took in all the views. TIP: You purchase snacks and wine/beer on board (cash only!) and no strollers on board. You can leave them at the ticket office.

Star of Saugatuck is a boat ride to experience in Saugatuck, MI. It goes on the Kalamazoo River and onto Lake Michigan. You learn a little about area and it's history.
Star of Saugatuck is a boat ride to experience in Saugatuck, MI. It goes on the Kalamazoo River and onto Lake Michigan. You learn a little about area and it's history. Our family loved it!

 

Crane Orchards

This apple orchard is HUGE! There is so much to do here. We spent 4 hours exploring around. There is apple picking, hay rides, a pumpkin patch, a cow train, a restaurant, and pie pantry on site. Even if you aren’t planning on staying overnight in the Saugatuck/Douglas area, this is worth coming for the day!

Crane's Apple Orchard has so much to do! Apple picking, hay rides, a restaurant, corn maze and more! Lots of fun!
Overalls // Plaid Shirt // Gray Shirt
Crane's Apple Orchard has so much to do! Apple picking, hay rides, a restaurant, corn maze and more! Lots of fun!
Crane's Apple Orchard has so much to do! Apple picking, hay rides, a restaurant, corn maze and more! Lots of fun!

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

We got some fresh air and hiked one of the five trails in the state park. We did the Beach Trail, which is the easiest one. I loved this trail because it leads out to the beach with gorgeous views. It would be a nice spot for a picnic.

Shopping

Downtown Saugatuck has lots of really cute shops. Lots of art, antiques and no chains here! You can definitely find lots of gifts and things that you can’t find anywhere else. Since it’s a small town, it’s pretty easy to navigate as a family, plus there is a cute ice cream and fudge shop to please everyone 🙂

If your kids are a little older, there is also the Saugatuck Dune Rides, breweries and art galleries could be an option too. More information on that here.

Downtown Saugatuck, Michigan is a cute town with lots of shopping, restaurants and things to do.
Downtown Saugatuck, Michigan is a cute town with lots of shopping, restaurants and things to do.

Dining

Uncommon Coffee Roasters

Let’s start with the most important part of the day, COFFEE! I’ve actually had several friends recommend this place and it does not disappoint. Coffee is excellent, decor is cute, plus a HUGE garden in the back, great for my toddler to do some exploring around.

Uncommon Roasters is a cute little shop in downtown Saugatuck. Great coffee and garden area in the back.

Coast 236

Our reservation here was early here Friday night and although from first glimpse you might think it’s not kid friendly, it was great! We were able to bring in the stroller in because our daughter was sleeping, there was a kids menu and our server was very accommodating with our toddler.

My husband and I are big fans of Chef Mindy Trafman, so when she moved to Coast 236, we really wanted to try it. Honestly, everything we had was so good and I would highly recommend the seafood dishes.

There is a back patio that is great with kids and there is also a table by the front window that is a great space for the family!

The Southerner

This was probably the most kid friendly dining experience we had the entire trip. The food? AMAZING? The views? EVEN BETTER. It’s located right along the Kalamazoo River and serves some of the best Nashville fried chicken I’ve had in a long time. Plus order the biscuits with the honey butter. So good! The environment is warm and inviting. Definitely a must stop when you are in Saugatuck.

The Southerner is Saugatuck is one of the most kid friendly places we went. Plus the food is absolutely delicious!
The Southerner is Saugatuck is one of the most kid friendly places we went. Plus the food is absolutely delicious!

Farmhouse Deli

We stopped by this deli in Douglas the last time we were in the area and we had to make a stop again. This deli has it all including a dining area, pick up area and a large outdoor patio with picnic benches. They serve Michigan cheeses, cured, roasted and smoked meats (even some done in house!). Everything is delicious and great for the family.

Pennyroyal Cafe and Provisions

We stopped by this really cute cafe for brunch on our way out on Sunday! They use local produce from Michigan, including heirloom produce from their own nearby farm.

The inside is rather small, but they were really accommodating for kids. If there is a bit of a wait, there is an outdoor area to let out some of that extra energy. Plus, there is a small flower shop/market so you can do a little browsing while you wait. There’s no kids menu, but we got a side of eggs and sausage, which was plenty of food for our toddler.

Everything was absolutely delicious. Because it is rather small, I would recommend making reservations, especially for weekend brunch.

So that’s everything we did in one weekend with my family in Saugatuck. It really is such a beautiful area and there is so much to do for everyone. Let me know if you have any questions about any of the places above!

Christine

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