A two-hour ride from Chicago along the Lake Michigan coast sits the charming town of Saugatuck, Michigan. Named in the top 10 of Best Coastal Small Towns in 2019 by USA Today, Saugatuck is buzzing with gorgeous art galleries, fantastic eateries, eclectic shops, and beautiful beaches. Also, there’s an assortment of quaint Bed & Breakfasts and boutique hotels to enjoy a cozy and relaxing stay. It was the perfect destination for our recent quick-getaway away from the city.
The 2-hour drive on a Friday from Chicago put us in town around 1 p.m. Check-in at our Airbnb was 4 p.m., so we had a few hours for exploring and eating.
Lunch at Farmhouse Deli-Douglas
The smells permeating the air heightened the anticipation, and the food did not disappoint! The Farmhouse Deli & Pantry serves cold and hot sandwiches, soups, and salads featuring locally sourced cheeses and meats. Some of their meats are smoked in-house. We were both pretty hungry when we stopped in. I had my heart set on a sandwich but changed my tune once I sampled the chili. Dave had the vegan Bahn-Mi, which was equally delicious. We both were happy with the decision to pop in here.
I sampled many of the deli items and ended up purchasing a pint of smoked salmon jerky and Korean meatballs for me to snack on later. There’s an excellent selection of packaged and jarred gourmet foods for purchasing. This place is incredible, and I highly recommend stopping in during a visit to the area.
Saugatuck Antique Pavillion
Probably the most organized antique mall I’ve ever visited, making browsing easy and enjoyable. Also, I was pleasantly surprised upon entry as I noticed that it didn’t have the smell of most antique shops. With over 175 dealers in a 24,000 square foot space, you’re bound to find something you don’t need but want, lol.
Next door to the Antique Pavillion is Saugatuck Brewing Company, which naturally was our next stop!
Saugatuck Brewing Co.
The 24,000 square foot brewery has 16 taps of rotating mainstays, seasonals, and a variety of specialty styles that range from Barrel-Aged Imperial Stouts to Sessionable IPAs and hard cider. We started in the pub with a few beers along with the drunken hummus and house-made potato chips and onion dip. The appetizers were delicious and just enough to hold us over till dinner.
In addition to the pub, they have a barrel room with 15 beers on tap, bumper pool, shuffleboard, darts, pinball, and live music. We ended up coming back later in the evening to hear live music in the barrel room.
Where to Stay in Saugatuck, Michigan
The town carries a variety of Bed and Breakfasts, Inns, and Rentals. We decided on a cute cottage rented through Airbnb. It was clean, well-stocked, and gave the best beach vibes. Rob, the owner, was great with communication, making check-in seamless. I’d stay here again.
Dinner at Everyday People Cafe
We attempted dining at Phil’s Bar & Grill in downtown Saugatuck. However, there was a 70-minute wait. As a result, we wound up at Everyday People Cafe in downtown Douglas. I couldn’t have been more pleased with our choice. The sophisticated space served incredible food along with superb service.
Dave and I started off sharing the Asian Caesar Salad, one bite in, I immediately regretted offering to share. I can’t even describe how amazing this salad was. It created an explosion of delightful flavors so incredible that I had to refrain from ordering a second salad since I also had an entree coming. I’d drive to Douglas, MI from Chicago just for another go at that salad!
Breakfast at Blue Star Diner
Start your Saturday with breakfast at Blue Star Cafe in Douglas, a no-frills retro diner with reasonable prices and friendly service. There’s also an ice-cream parlor attached. The restaurant is small and cozy. The server told my friend and me that we looked like we needed coffee, lol, took a liking to her immediately. I loved my omelet and home fries. Great local spot!
Saugatuck Dune Rides
I highly recommend a tour of the dunes with Saugatuck Dune Rides during your stay! If possible, try to get Frosty as your guide. He’s skilled at fast-paced winding through the dunes and quite knowledgeable of the history of the dunes.
I’m ashamed to admit that even though I grew up about 20 miles from Saugatuck, I’d never heard about the lost town of Singapore. It’s Michigan’s Most Famous Ghost Town buried beneath the dunes! This once bustling town aided in the rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire and subsequently disappeared, entirely covered by the sand drifts from Lake Michigan in a matter of 4-years! This tour is a can’t miss activity.
Uncommon Coffee Roasters Downtown Saugatuck
Hospitable coffee-house and a lovely setting to take a break from all the walking and shopping. The coffee is excellent! They have a roasting facility in Douglas where they roast their globally sourced green coffee in small batches, ensuring the best quality.
Saugatuck, Michigan Art Galleries and Shops
There are over 30 art galleries in the area along with scores of trendy boutiques and shops with unique finds to pop into around town. So many one-of-a-kind items!
James Conner Gallery
I had a pleasant conversation with James Conner at his gallery about the small Midwest towns where we grew up. Mr. Conner is well known for his colorful montages of American cities and universities. His galleries feature original oils and watercolors, art prints, inspirational art, historical engravings, handcrafted gifts of wood, glass, and pottery.
Amazwi Contemporary Art
A vast array of diverse African Artist’ works celebrating the natural beauty of Africa fill this gallery. Interesting works that push beyond the pre-conceived ideas of what African art is. This place is a GEM!
A stunning display of handmade American Art occupies this multi-level gallery. There were so many pieces to marvel at; everything from fine art, jewelry, glass, sculptures, to woodwork and soaps. Take your time here.
Reasonably priced hand-selected jewelry, clothing, industrial home decor, candles, and other cool Boho-Chic finds. I ended up purchasing several pairs of earrings.
Mitten Brewing Company
After working up an appetite from all of the walking and shopping stop in at Mitten Brewing Company for a beer and pizza, they serve some of the yummiest pizza I’ve ever had! The beer is incredible too. Their creative selection of pizzas like the Westerdog ( Chili bean sauce, all-beef franks, Colby-Jack cheese, diced white onions, shredded kosher pickles, ketchup, yellow mustard) will keep you coming back for more. Can’t decide on one; can get a pizza flight! Man, I love this place!
Cranes Restaurant & Pie Pantry
Before heading home, stop in at Cranes Restaurant & Winery for breakfast and an apple crisp to take back. If you visit during the apple-picking season, that’s a bonus. There are lots of activities for families there. You can easily spend the whole day!
Another breakfast option before heading home is Windmill restaurant in downtown Holland, about 15 minutes from Saugatuck. They dish-out delicious home-style breakfast all day! We try to stop in whenever we’re in the area. You have to order the Bird’s Nest!
I hope that this post inspires you to visit Saugatuck! I’m already making a list of activities and restaurants for our next trip. Which other Midwest towns should I visit? Let me know in the comments.