4 Reasons to visit Oval Beach in fall

oval beach in fall

Oval Beach is undoubtedly the most popular beach in Saugatuck, and it’s one of the most popular beaches on the Lake Michigan lakeshore. Its scenic sandy stretches led Condé Nast’s “Traveler” to name it one of the world’s best beaches. The famous beach is most frequented in summer, but it’s just as worthy of a visit in autumn. Here are 4 reasons to visit Oval Beach in fall.

4 Reasons to visit Oval Beach in fall

Park for free

After Labor Day, there is no parking fee at Oval Beach. In the early autumn days, the weather is still plenty nice to enjoy a swim in Lake Michigan or picnic with a view. Having cost-free access to this award-winning beach is a major perk of visiting in the fall.

Explore the dune trails

Oval Beach is connected to some beautiful hiking trails that are incredibly scenic in the fall season. Plus, the cooler temperatures make for a much more comfortable hike. Whether it’s sunny, cloudy, or even crisp enough for a few snowflakes, this is a hike you won’t want to miss. It’s a brilliant way to experience how fall changes the lakeshore.

Kayak and catch vibrant views

Kayaking along the Lake Michigan lakeshore is a great way to get views you can’t see on land. In fall, those views are bursting with color. If you go later in the day, the setting sun will set the lakeshore aglow. Morning, afternoon and evening, paddling on the lake is a great way to spend the day, and Oval Beach is a great, easy access point to put in your kayak.

Get cozy and watch the sunset

We’re on the sunset coast of Michigan here in Saugatuck, and that means every night the sun descends over Lake Michigan and creates astounding plays of light. In the cool fall, evenings are best spent wrapped in a warm blanket on Oval Beach watching the sunset. Bring a bottle of wine or a thermos full of hot cider or cocoa and enjoy each other’s company as day becomes night.


What’s happening this Halloween in Saugatuck 2018

halloween in saugatuck 2018

Halloweekend is coming up. You’ve got a plan for your costume, but where will you go to show it off? Whether you’re looking for kid friendly activities or you want to light up the night, you’ll find something fun to do this Halloween in Saugatuck 2018.

Celebrating Halloween in Saugatuck 2018

Glow in the Park

October 26, 2018 | 6-9 p.m. | Saugatuck Yacht Club

Get your glow on at this fun, family friendly annual kick off party for Halloween weekend. There will be music, food, drinks and plenty of opportunities to glow. Come in your own glowing gear and then enhance it with UV reactive face painting, black light areas, and a merchandise booth.

Halloween Family & Pet Parade

October 27, 2018 | 3:30-5 p.m. | Downtown Saugatuck

Saugatuck’s annual Halloween family & pet parade is always a fun event.  Partake in hot cocoa, cookies, costume contests, and candy at this beloved annual Saugatuck event. Costumed kids, adults, and pets alike are welcome to join in the fun.

Pre-Parade Halloween Dinner at The Kirby

October 27, 2018 | 5-10 p.m. | J. Paul’s at The Kirby

Fuel up for the famous Douglas Halloween Nighttime Parade for Adults with a delicious dinner at J. Paul’s restaurant at The Kirby. Enjoy a 3-course meal and a ghoulish cocktail for $44. This annual event sells out, so make your reservation ASAP!

Douglas Halloween Parade for Adults

October 27, 2018 | 9:30 p.m. | Line up at Beery Field

This energetic display of clever costumes kicks off when the darkness sets in. Adults march through the village of Douglas dressed in their Halloween best. Join in on the fun–line up begins at 9:30 p.m. at Beery Field in Douglas.

Halloween Bash at The Dunes

October 27, 2018 | Immediately following the parade | The Dunes Resort

For those looking to continue the party after the parade, head over to The Dunes Resort for a night of dancing and karaoke.

Free Rides on the Interurban

Oct 27-28, 2018  | 7 p.m.-2 a.m.

Stay safe with our favorite way to get around Saugatuck. The Interurban will take you where you need to go (within Douglas and Saugatuck township) for free on these Halloween weekend nights. Call 269-857-1418.

Featured Image: Douglas Halloween by Erin K. Wilkinson

Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Michigan Fall Festivals

thanksgiving in michigan

With autumn approaching, there’s a lot to look forward to: crisp air, leaves changing, football, and fall festivals! In Michigan fall festivals are the best way to celebrate the season. Pumpkins, stunning scenery, family fun, and much more are all on the schedule when autumn comes to the Great Lakes State. From the Art Coast to the Upper Peninsula, here’s your ultimate guide to the best fall festivals in Michigan.

Michigan Fall Festivals


Known as the Art Coast of Michigan, Saugatuck and the towns nearby are home to some of the best fall festivals in Michigan. In October, Downtown Saugatuck hosts its Fall Fun Days events, where families can enjoy games, food, and music, during this month-long celebration. In nearby Douglas, Beery Field will come alive at night during “Glow in the Park,” on October 26, 2018. Expect plenty of glow in the dark fun, halloween costumes, food, music, and more. Make sure you come back for the Douglas Nighttime Halloween Parade for Adults the next evening on October 27, 2018!

If you want to see Saugatuck’s artistic side this fall, don’t miss the Blue Coast Artists Fall Tour of Studios. This free event will take place on October 6-7, 2018, and allows attendees to see the best of the area’s art.

Just ten miles away from Saugatuck is Fennville, home of the Fennville Goose Festival. This year, from October 12-14, 2018, attendees can enjoy activities like a 5k race, car parade, carnival, live music, a beer tent, and food.

There’s more where those came from. Learn about other fall events in Saugatuck here.


Fall without a great apple festival is arguably not fall, no matter what the calendar says. Head to Charlevoix on October 12-14, 2018, and celebrate the unbeatable autumn-apple combination at the 40th Annual Apple Fest.


Enjoy shorter days and excuses to buy pumpkin beer at the 10th Annual Detroit Fall Beer Festival on October 26-27, 2018.

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids might be Beer City, USA, but when fall comes around, its downtown also plays host to ArtPrize, a multi-week display and celebration of art. This year, it will take place from September 19-October 7, 2018.


Fall isn’t reserved solely for seasonal produce and hayrides (although we do love those) – it’s also a great to time to celebrate Michigan craft beer. Head to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula on September 8, 2018, for the U.P. Fall Beer Festival.


Few things signify the arrival of autumn better than pumpkins. Pies, jack-o-lanterns, overpriced coffee drinks – they’re all signs of the season. Take the family to the Zeeland Pumpkinfest on October 5-6, 2018, and enjoy everything pumpkin over this packed weekend that features games, music, a tractor pull, petting zoo, and more than we can fit in this blog.

“Mercury in Retrograde” premieres in Michigan at Saugatuck Center for the Arts

mercury in retrograde

Saugatuck Center for the Arts is hosting the Michigan premiere of Michael Glover Smith’s film “Mercury in Retrograde.” Filmed in Saugatuck and Fennville, “Mercury in Retrograde” tells the story of three Chicago couples at various stages in their relationships who convene for a weekend in a West Michigan cabin in the woods. On Friday, September 21, head to Saugatuck Center for the Arts and watch as the characters play disc golf, swim in Lake Michigan, and explore our region’s one-of-a-kind landscape.

Mercury in Retrograde: An exploration of relationships and communication between men and women

“Mercury in Retrograde” explores the way men and women communicate, and miscommunicate, with one another. The film’s three couples each occupy the space between falling in and out of love. Throughout the weekend vacation, tensions arise, secrets are revealed, and the characters explore new territory within their relationships. The film has been lauded as a compelling depiction of modern love, and Saugatuck’s unique landscape provides a beautiful backdrop.

See the Michigan Premiere of Mercury in Retrograde

Tickets for the premiere, which takes place September 21, 2018 at 7 p.m., are $13 for adults and $7 for students with ID. Director Michael Glover Smith and actor/producer Shane Simmons will be present after the screening for questions and discussion.

Purchase a VIP Preview Party ticket to catch previews of the film on the night before the premiere. The party will take place in the cottage where Mercury in Retrograde was filmed and will feature a cash bar with craft drinks and food provided by The Kirby. Director Michael Glover Smith and actor/producer Shane Simmons will be in attendance to answer all your questions about what filming in Saugatuck was like. Ticket cost includes one complimentary drink, fresh plates from The Kirby, and a reserved ticket for Friday’s 7 p.m. premiere screening of the film at Saugatuck Center for the Arts.

Kid friendly things to do this fall in Saugatuck

kid friendly things to do this fall in saugatuck

Fall fun abounds in Saugatuck–especially for the kiddos. If you’re looking for something a outside of the run-of-the-mill corn mazes, apple orchards, and pumpkin patches (although we have those too), these fall events are sure to please. Here are a few great kid friendly things to do this fall in Saugatuck.

Top kid friendly things to do this fall in Saugatuck

“Little Feet, Big Feat” – Mt. Baldhead Challenge Children’s Run

Friday, September 7, 6 p.m., Wicks Park, Free

This free children’s run takes place during early pickup and registration for the following day’s Mt. Baldhead Challenge. Children will run 0.5M around the block while parents can register for the vigorous Mt. Baldhead Challenge. The children’s run does not require registration.

Saugatuck Ghoul Fest

Saturday, October 6, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Wicks Park, Free

Visit the Saugatuck Ghoul Fest for a Saturday full of pre-Halloween fun. Attractions include the one-of-a-kind “Art of Halloween” bazaar, coffin races, live music, kid friendly activities and much more.

Children’s Club: Pumpkin Decorating

Saturday, October 13, 12-3 p.m., Forever Curious Children’s Museum, $5/person

Visit the Forever Curious Children’s Museum in Fennville for an afternoon of messy fun. Decorate pumpkins with your little one for just $5 per person. Babies and members can attend for free!

Glow in the Park

Friday, October 26, 6-9 p.m.,  Singapore Yacht Club, Free

Get your glow on at this fun, family friendly annual kick off party for Halloween weekend. There will be music, food, drinks and plenty of opportunities to glow. Come in your own glowing gear and then enhance it with UV reactive face painting, black light areas, and a merchandise booth.

Saugatuck’s Annual Halloween Family & Pet Parade

Saturday, October 27, Line up at 3:30 p.m., Parade at 4 p.m., Free

Partake in hot cocoa, cookies, costume contests, and candy at this beloved annual Saugatuck event. Show off your cool costumes to the whole town at the Halloween parade. Kids, adults, and pets alike are welcome to join in the fun.

Things to do in Saugatuck

things to do in saugatuck

There are so many fun things to do in Saugatuck. Whether you’re a lover of the outdoors or an art fanatic, you’ll find there’s so much to discover while you’re here. Here are a couple of ideas to help build your vacation itinerary. For ideas specific to your vacation dates, take a look at Saugatuck.com’s events page.

Things to do in Saugatuck on your next vacation

Go to the beach

Saugatuck’s beaches are some of the best beaches on Lake Michigan, so it’s no wonder they’re a major reason people from around the world come to visit our town. Oval Beach is our most famous public beach—it was recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the world’s best. Other favorites include Douglas Beach and the beach at Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Learn about these beaches and more when you sign up to receive our beach guide.

Explore the natural landscape

Along with our gorgeous beaches comes some diverse and beautiful natural landscapes. Take the long way to the beach at Saugatuck Dunes State Park and you won’t be disappointed by the gorgeous woodland views. Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area offers dunescapes that will take your breath away. And you can’t go wrong with a scenic kayak ride along the Kalamazoo River.

Experience the art coast

Saugatuck’s rich history as an artists haven informs the very core of our town’s identity. See the mark it has left with a tour of Saugatuck/Douglas art galleries. Try your own hand at getting creative with a Art on the Meadow workshop through Ox-Bow School of Art, where it all started. Get the kiddos in on the fun with a workshop at Saugatuck Center for the Arts or with craft making at Express Yourself Art Barn.

Have a culinary epiphany

Lesser known of Saugatuck’s attractions is its vibrant and blossoming culinary scene. Whether you’re looking for a high class dining experience or a down-home meal that will delight your palate, you’ll find it here. Not sure where to start? Read about the best restaurants in Saugatuck.

Try locally made craft beverages

Michigan is well known for its prolific craft beer, wine, cider, and spirits and Saugatuck is no exception. You can easily find popular varieties from around the area in town, and you’d be sorely missing out if you didn’t try some of our town’s own offerings. For beer, Saugatuck Brewing Company is a must-visit. Mitten Brewing Company is another local favorite. Get a taste of the terroir of Michigan’s west coast with a winery tour through Coastal Tours. Or hop around to favorite local bars and pubs to taste some of the best cocktails in the area with the help of our Bar Crawl Guide.

Have some family friendly fun

Saugatuck is very much a family friendly town, with activities for kids of all kinds. The Saugatuck Dune Rides are a great place to start. Follow that up with a trip to Dairy Dayz for ice cream. On a rainy day, Forever Curious Children’s Museum is perfect. Check out our Family Friendly Saugatuck Guide for more fun activities to do with your fam.

How to plan a perfect fall weekend getaway in Saugatuck

fall weekend getaway in Saugatuck

The perfect fall weekend getaway in Saugatuck is made up of a few key elements: fun events, fall color tours, apple picking at local orchards, and a home base where you can bask in the cozy glory that is autumn. You’ll find them all here. Learn where to visit below.

Ring in the season with Saugatuck fall events

Saugatuck Ghoul Fest

October 6, 2018 – 11am-5pm

Enjoy some spooky pre-Halloween family fun at this annual event. Here you’ll find the “Art of Halloween” one of a kind bazaar, coffin races, kid friendly activities, live music and more!

Annual Saugatuck/Douglas Gallery Stroll

October 6, 2018 – 4-6pm

Get a hearty dose of art when you attend the annual Saugatuck/Douglas Gallery Stroll. Area galleries join together for a weekend full of artist receptions, openings, demonstrations and live music.

Blue Coast Artists Fall Tour

October 6, 2018 – 10am; October 7, 2018 – 7pm

This tour of 10 studios between South Haven and Fennville is packed with great art. You’ll view handmade ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, glasswork and more.

Music in the Vineyard at Fenn Valley

October 6, 1-4pm

Enjoy the crisp fall air and the changing colors of the scenery at Fenn Valley’s vineyard for another Music in the Vineyard session. Solo jazz guitarist Randy Reszka will perform on this weekend, and it’s sure to be a treat. Order a glass of Fenn Valley’s signature wines, sit back, and take in the autumn atmosphere.

Eat Drink Saugatuck/Douglas Harvest Dinner

October 6, 2018 – 6-9pm

Head to Wade’s Bayou for this outdoor harvest dinner featuring selections made with ingredients from local farms. Each course will celebrate the harvest season and feature a delicious beverage pairing.

J. Petter Galleries Harvest Dinner

October 6, 2018 – 7-9pm

J. Petter Galleries’ Harvest Dinner will be a tented meal on the gallery’s lawn. Tastings from seven local restaurants will be available to try while artists paint en plein air.

Explore the fall colors in the local parks

Reds, oranges and golds envelop Michigan in autumn. In Saugatuck, the colors tend to peak in early October. That’s the best time to hit one of the local parks to hike through the forest and experience first hand the wonder of being utterly surrounded by those bright, warm colors. These parks are especially great for fall hikes:

Saugatuck Dunes State Park 

Enjoy long, hilly hikes through the lush forest at Saugatuck Dunes State Park and wind up on the beach.

Shore Acres Park

A great park for hiking, mountain biking, or disc golf. This wooded park also has access to the beach trails at Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

Oval Beach

This award winning beach is super popular in the summer, but did you know it’s free to get into after Labor Day? And it’s connected to a bunch of scenic dune trails that are best enjoyed in the cooler autumn air.

River Bluff Park

A shorter, less-intense hike, but still wonderfully scenic. It promises to explode with color this year.

Visit apple orchards and wineries amidst harvest

What is fall without apple picking, cider drinking, and general harvest-time festivities? These are great places to make the most of autumn’s bounty (and find a good cider donut).

Crane’s Orchards

Visit Crane’s U-Pick to find the best apples and pumpkins, then hit Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant & Winery for good food, pie, and house-made ciders and wines. And don’t miss the bakery with donuts and pies to go!

Virtue Cider

For those who enjoy the hard variety of cider, visit Virtue Cider in Fennville. Take a tour of the facility, hang out in the tasting room and bottle shop, and visit the farm where they grow heritage vegetables and livestock. They often host live music and other great events. 

Fenn Valley Vineyard

Wineries are also great places to spend a day in fall, and Fenn Valleyhas special fall vineyard tours that are a must for wine-lovers who want to see how grape-growing works in Michigan. Check out their events, and don’t miss the Vine Wine’d 5K Trail Run on Oct. 7.

Kayak in Saugatuck: The ultimate guide

kayak in saugatuck

Get out and explore Saugatuck, Michigan’s diverse waterscape on a kayak and see views of the town unlike any you’ll see on land. These personal watercraft are easy to navigate and make for a fun day on the water. Choose to glide on Lake Michigan, Lake Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo River, Hutchins Lake, or Goshorn Lake. Whether you’re looking to paddle solo or tandem, you’ll find a variety of great businesses from which to rent kayaks in Saugatuck. Here’s everything you need to know to kayak in Saugatuck.

Where to rent a kayak in Saugatuck

Just Add Water

Offering single and tandem sit-on-top kayaks and surf kayaks, Just Add Water has rental kayaks that are perfect for a trip out on Lake Michigan. Sit-on-top kayaks keep you a little closer to the water and are much easier to get back into if you happen to fall out. And when the big lake is producing some sick waves, surf kayaks are designed to catch them and send you on a roller coaster of a ride. Just Add Water will deliver rental kayaks for a fee to Oval and Douglas Beach and within 2 miles. All rates and information are on the Just Add Water website.

Big Lake Outfitters

Located right on Water Street in downtown Saugatuck, Big Lake Outfitters launches both single and tandem kayaks rentals right from their on-the-water location. Glide on the Kalamazoo River for a couple of hours, a whole day, or even a whole week. If your rental period is two or more days, Big Lake Outfitters will deliver to some nearby launch locations for a fee. Call Big Lake Outfitters directly for more information!

Running Rivers

Running Rivers launches single and tandem kayak rentals right from Wade’s Bayou in Douglas. They also offer a selection “trips” you can take to explore Kalamazoo River through area wetlands and forests. Choose from trips as short as 1 hour to as long as 6 hours and see the natural landscape as you ride leisurely down the river.

Velocity Adventures

Velocity Adventures offers kayak rentals in Saugatuck, Douglas, Fennville and the surrounding area. They will deliver kayaks to your desired launch site, including at the public beach and boat launch on Hutchins Lake. Velocity Adventures also offers guided tours of the Kalamazoo River—all of which end in scenic Saugatuck.

Kayak put-in sites in Saugatuck

There are quite a few public spots to launch your kayak in Saugatuck. Whether you want to embark the Kalamazoo River right from downtown, try the rigorous waters of Lake Michigan from a public beach, or take a casual ride around Lake Kalamazoo, here are a few kayak put-in locations to try.

Spear Street boat launch

Launch your kayaks right from downtown Saugatuck where Spear Street meets the Kalamazoo River.

Wade’s Bayou

This park borders Kalamazoo Lake and is the spot to go if a kayak trip on calmer waters is in order.

Schultz Park

This park hosts a sweet playground and a boat launch that starts your trip on the Kalamazoo River.

Oval Beach

Launch from Oval Beach to get a great views of Saugatuck’s scenic Lake Michigan shoreline and dunes. On wavy days, this is where you’ll want to launch your surf kayak. Oval Beach has no stairs and is just a short walk from the parking area.

Goshorn Lake

Spring-fed Goshorn Lake is perfect for a casual kayak trip with the family. Public access to this lake is located just at the end of 65th street.

Kayak Safety Tips

There are lots of resources out there to help your kayak ride be as safe as it is fun. Here are some brief pieces of advice to consider before you embark on your kayak expedition.

  • Always wear a life jacket. The Coast Guard requires personal flotation devices to be on hand, and children aged 6 and under must wear them at all times.
  • Slather on that SPF
  • Check the NWS forecast before you set out
  • Don’t go alone
  • Dress for the conditions
  • Practice re-entering your kayak
  • Be aware of who around you has the right of way and respect it

Experience peak fall colors in Saugatuck in these vacation rentals

peak fall colors in saugatuck

Nothing quite compares to the exquisite beauty of fall colors in Michigan. Many people will traverse the state to see the ways the autumn season transforms our landscape. Take a vacation to experience the beauty for yourself. These vacation rentals will put you in the center of towering trees and stunning views of the peak fall colors in Saugatuck.

Witness peak fall colors in Saugatuck in these vacation rentals

Borrowed Thyme

Bedrooms: 4, Bathrooms: 3, Sleeps: 10

Tucked in a quiet woodland neighborhood, Borrowed Thyme is surrounded by beautiful forest scenery. Enjoy it from the comfort of the screened porch or while you keep warm by the stone fireplace on the backyard patio.

Wake Robin

Bedrooms: 3, Bathrooms: 3, Sleeps: 6

Quaint Wake Robin is a bright blossom on the shady forest floor. Catch views of the surrounding foliage in the home’s stylish rooms, or get right out in it with a bonfire in the wooded backyard.

Camp Grill n Chill

Bedrooms: 4, Bathrooms: 3, Sleeps: 10

Colorful fall foliage greets you right when you arrive at this home, taking the winding two-track driveway through a grove of deciduous trees. Enjoy stunning views of the thick forest enveloping the home from the large back deck, in the hot tub, or around the large wood fire pit.

Swan Lodge

Bedrooms: 3, Bathrooms: 3, Sleeps: 10

This rustic, log cabin style home feels like a secluded getaway, but it’s conveniently close to downtown Saugatuck. Fall colors pour through the home’s two story windows overlooking a nature preserve.

Ridgeway Cottage

Bedrooms: 4, Bathrooms: 2, Sleeps: 9

Get out of dodge when you stay at rustic Ridgeway Cottage. Rough hewn wood walls make this woodland getaway feel warm and cozy. Enjoy forest views in the screened porch and backyard patio, where you’ll find deck seating and a new hot tub.

Explore Lake Michigan beaches in fall

lake michigan beaches in fall

Lake Michigan beaches are heavily frequented in summer. Diving in the clear blue water of the big lake is a great way to cool down in the sometimes oppressive summer heat. Here’s a secret: there are as many reasons to love Lake Michigan beaches in autumn as there are in summer. Here are a few ways to enjoy Lake Michigan beaches in fall.

Things to do on Lake Michigan beaches in fall

Take a swim

Seem crazy? Maybe. But Lake Michigan’s waters actually hold on to some warmth into the fall, making October swims feel not unlike June swims. Put on your suit and get thee to a beach–you’ll probably be the only ones there! Be prepared and check the beach forecast before you go.

Watch a sunset

Lake Michigan is picturesque at sundown at all times of year, but the golden hour just seems a little . . . golder in autumn. The warm light reflects off of the trees’ vibrant fall colors, making them appear to glow. Watch the sky turn beautiful shades of lavender, pink, and orange as the sun tucks itself into Lake Michigan.

Take a hike

There’s no better way to take in the fall colors than on a hike through the woods. Pick a park with Lake Michigan beach access, like Saugatuck Dunes State Park, to walk through miles of beautiful forest, inhale the fall smells, and land on a nearly empty beach. With nothing around but the brisk breeze, bristling leaves and crashing waves, inner peace is within reach.

Get on the water

Launch a kayak or stand-up paddle board on a Lake Michigan beach to see autumnal views of the shoreline, which comes even more to life dressed in red, yellow, and orange. For a slightly different but equally beautiful view, put your kayak in a river that feeds into the lake, like the Kalamazoo River, and explore the views along the way to Lake Michigan.