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.


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.

6 best vacation rentals near Oval Beach

vacation rentals near oval beach

You don’t have to travel to Miami or Malibu for an amazing beach experience. You can find exactly what you’re looking for right here on the great Lake Michigan. Stay at one of the best vacation rentals near Oval Beach to see for yourself.

Saugatuck’s own world-renowned, award-winning Oval Beach draws beach bums from all corners. There’s a good reason why—its expansive, plush sandy shoreline is a beach-goer’s dream. With amenities like abundant parking, changing rooms, restrooms, built-in grills and a concession stand, it’s hard to have anything but a good time at Oval Beach.

And the fun isn’t restricted to summer—visit Oval Beach in fall or winter for scenic dune hikes around Mount Baldhead. Walking through dunes can get hot in summer, but it’s beautiful in fall and winter. Hike along the Oxbow Lagoon and the Kalamazoo River Channel, take in the diverse ecosystems near the Lake Michigan lakeshore, and get a chance to see the area’s unique wildlife.

Next time you come to Saugatuck, find a place to stay that puts you close to the beautiful Oval Beach.

Lakeshore Lodging vacation rentals near Oval Beach

Finding a great place to stay in Saugatuck is easy when you search with Lakeshore Lodging. Our inventory of properties has something suited to every vacation–and that includes a variety of vacation rentals near Oval Beach.

Vacation rentals within 5-minute drive to Oval Beach

Pack up the car and get thee to the beach! You’ll get there in no time when you choose to stay at one of these homes. There’s plenty of available parking at Oval Beach for a daily fee of $10.

Singapore Harbor #326

Sleeps: 6, Bedrooms: 3, Bathrooms: 2

Luxury condo overlooking Saugatuck harbor. Includes access to association pool.

Ferry’s Landing

Sleeps: 10, Bedrooms: 5, Bathrooms: 5

Modern farmhouse-inspired five-bedroom house centrally located near the beach and local businesses.

Home Away

Sleeps: 4, Bedrooms: 2, Bathrooms: 1

Quaint two-bedroom condo located right across the street from Just Add Water, where you can rent bikes and beach equipment.  

By the Beach

Sleeps: 8, Bedrooms: 4, Bathrooms: 2

This classic Lake Michigan cottage is just a short walk from Douglas Beach, but it’s also within a 5-minute drive of Oval Beach.

Vacation rentals within walking or biking distance to Oval Beach

Stay in downtown Saugatuck near the Saugatuck Chain Ferry, and Oval Beach is just a short walk (or bike!) and ferry ride away. Parking at Oval Beach can fill up fast, and you can avoid the $10 fee when you choose to walk. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from these homes to the beach, and the walk down Perryman Road isn’t very pedestrian friendly, so practice caution when you choose this route. You might also consider choosing the Interurban as your mode of transport from these vacation rentals near Oval Beach.

Saugatuck Townhome 7

Sleeps: 6, Bedrooms: 3, Bathrooms: 3.5

Upscale, European-style townhome with partial views of the Kalamazoo River.

Cozy Hideaway

Sleeps: 6, Bedrooms: 2, Bathrooms: 1.5

Quaint two-bedroom cottage with a tranquil backyard.

I Love Lucy

Sleeps: 6, Bedrooms: 3, Bathrooms: 2.5

Cute home right in downtown Saugatuck with great patio space.

There’s more to discover about beach bumming in Saugatuck

Want to know more about Oval Beach and other great beaches in the area? Sign up to receive Lakeshore Lodging’s exclusive Lake Michigan Beach Guide.


Practice safe beach bumming

Be safe on Lake Michigan beaches

Saugatuck’s prime location on Lake Michigan means there are many gorgeous beaches at which to sunbathe, play, and swim. The water is pleasantly warm this year, thanks to the mild winter, and that means a lot more people are going to be swimming in our Great Lake. But it’s important to remember the importance of beach safety.

While a day at the beach can be beautiful and refreshing, it’s important to remember that it can also be dangerous. Many people underestimate the strength of the currents Lake Michigan can produce—a mistake which can be deadly. The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to understand when it’s safe to swim, which circumstances create more danger, and what to do when you find yourself in trouble.

Luckily, there’s a one-stop resource available to help you do just that. Here’s how to prepare for your next trip to the beach:

Check the National Weather Service Great Lakes Beach Hazards Tool before you head to the beach. There, you’ll find out if there are any safety warnings issued at your beach. Peruse the tabs to learn about currents and what to do when you find yourself swept up in one. Many beaches don’t have lifeguards, so it’s important to practice good judgment and learn how to identify when someone in your group is struggling and help them should you need to.

We want you to have the safest experiences at our Lake Michigan beaches. Have fun, but be smart. Study up on beach safety before you hit the water.

Some key tips from MI Sea Grant

If in danger

  • Stay calm, focus on breathing and keeping your head above water

  • Swim to the side, then back to shore. Alternate between swimming and floating if tired.

  • Face the shore and call for help

Before you swim

Oval Beach in Saugatuck is One of the Best Beaches in the World

vacation rentals near oval beach

Beautiful Saugatuck is home to some great beaches you won’t want to skip when you’re on vacation here. Oval Beach in Saugatuck has been rated one of the best in the world. So, pack your beach gear and plan a trip to beautiful Oval Beach in Saugatuck. You won’t regret it!

Why You Shouldn’t Skip Oval Beach in Saugatuck

Recently rated as one of the best beaches in the entire world by Condé Nast Traveler, Oval Beach has received many accolades from many sources. It’s one of National Geographic Traveler’s top two freshwater beaches in the U.S., one of MTV’s top five beaches in America, as well as #1 Midwest beach by the Chicago Tribune. The ecosystem itself is one of the rarest in the world, as well, making it definitely worth your visit. In fact, it’s one of eleven most endangered in the world.

What You Need to Know to Plan a Beach Day

A day at the beach at Oval Beach in Saugatuck is as easy as it is beautiful! With wonderful amenities like a concession stand, shower rooms, and restrooms covering your basic needs, you can take advantage of the playground, picnic tables, and grills. Imagine grilling out by one of the best beaches in the world during your next summer vacation! Here are a few things you should know before you head to Oval Beach!

Parking | $8 per vehicle during peak season; $50 for a season pass

Other Beaches You May Want to Check Out

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

With miles of hiking trails, pristine beaches, and ideal birdwatching conditions, Saugatuck Dunes State Park is at the top of the list of things to see and do in the area. Nature enthusiasts will relish in the opportunity to enjoy the sandy causeways, and even be able to observe endangered plant species.

Douglas Beach

Just south of Saugatuck, Douglas has its own pristine, serene beach: Douglas Beach. Parking is limited, but don’t let that deter you! You’ll find some peace and quiet here that you won’t find at Oval Beach in Saugatuck!

How to Plan the Best Day Ever at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

saugatuck dunes state park

Just outside of Saugatuck is one of the most beautiful state parks in Michigan. The Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a one-of-a-kind park, perfect for the outdoorsman or beachgoer. With miles of hiking trails, pristine beaches, and ideal birdwatching conditions, the park is at the top of the list of things to see and do in the area. Nature enthusiasts will relish in the opportunity to enjoy the sandy causeways and even observe endangered plant species. So, what’s the best way to enjoy Saugatuck Dunes State Park?

Saugatuck Dunes State Park is Teeming with Life

The day-use park is located along an isolated strip of Lake Michigan shoreline. When you come to the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, you’ll encounter over 1,000 acres of land and 2.5 miles of pristine sandy shores. The freshwater coastal dunes can reach up to 200 feet tall, some of the tallest freshwater sand dunes in the world. This incredible land feature creates a unique ecosystem that you can only find here. It also makes for some of the best hiking in the area.

Hiking in the Park

While much of the park is undeveloped, 13 miles of hiking trails lead you into the 1,000 acres of wooded dunes. Wide and well-marked trails wind like a labyrinth throughout the park. In addition to the incredible dunes, you’ll also have a great chance to enjoy some of the best birdwatching conditions in the area. The park is also perfect for nature photographers as many hikers have reported seeing a lot of friendly wildlife! Something to note: while the trails themselves are dog-friendly, the beach is not. Regulations dictate that your dog must be on a 6-foot leash at all times and must not be unattended.

In terms of difficulty, the hike has generally reported being moderately difficult due to the sandy trails. So, if you plan on hiking, be prepared with plenty of water for your trek. And, be certain to pick up after yourself! Don’t pollute what is one of the best-kept state parks in the area!

Beaching It

You’ll have a short hike to the beach, roughly 0.6 miles. So, pack a picnic, don’t bring any glass bottles or containers, and enjoy the solitude of a quiet, protected beach away from all the crowds! Also, fires are not permitted on the beach.

Other Activities in the Dunes

One of the most popular places in the area is Oval Beach, just 15 minutes away from Saugatuck Dunes State Park. The beach has earned an international reputation by being named one of the top 25 beaches in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, one of the top two freshwater beaches in the U.S.A. by National Geographic Traveler magazine, and one of the top five beaches in the U.S.A. by MTV. More recent recognition from the Chicago Tribune named the beach the #1 of the top five beaches and rated it the best beach on Lake Michigan. That’s quite a list of honors! With a concession stand, restrooms, showers, a playground, picnic tables, grills, and ample parking, Oval Beach is just outside of Saugatuck!

Here are 5 of the Best Beaches on Lake Michigan

best beaches on lake michigan

With scenic views,  gorgeous waters for fishing and boating, and miles of sandy beaches, Lake Michigan is the ideal spot for your next getaway. As perfect in the fall as they are in the summer, Lake Michigan beaches are a must visit at all times of year. Every great vacation by the water starts with the beach, and narrowing down the best beaches on Lake Michigan can be overwhelming. To make the decision process easier, we’ve compiled a list of what we think are the best Lake Michigan beaches.

5 of the Best Beaches on Lake Michigan

Oval Beach and Saugatuck Dunes State Park – Saugatuck, MI

Home to not one, but two, of the best beaches on Lake Michigan, Saugatuck is the place to be during summer in Michigan. Oval Beach encompasses everything that’s right about Michigan beaches – sunny, sandy shores, inviting waters, and some of the best in views of the lake. The clean sand and easy access are some of the visitors’ favorite features (according to TripAdvisor), and Oval Beach has received high praise from both Conde Nast Traveler and MTV in the past.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a beautiful beach, featuring enormous sand dunes waiting to be explored (via foot or dune ride), along with with access to 2.5 miles of beachfront! Visit in fall and experience this park in a whole new way.

Grand Haven State Park – Grand Haven, MI

This is one of the most popular Lake Michigan beaches, and with good reason. A frequenter of Lake Michigan “best of” lists, Grand Haven State Park covers nearly 50 acres of sand and sun. The Grand Haven lighthouse and pier are popular park attractions, where you can fish or explore more about this piece of Lake Michigan history.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Empire, MI

Previously named by Good Morning America as “The Most Beautiful Place in America,” Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is home to an abundance of natural beauty. From the relaxing beachfront, to the dunes and bluffs located on this 35-mile lakefront stretch, it won’t take long for you to see why it’s one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan. If you need a break from the beach, gear up for a hike on nearby North Manitou Island!

South Beach Park – South Haven, MI

South Beach Park isn’t lacking when it comes to family fun! Whether you’re enjoying a game of beach volleyball, visiting the South Haven Lighthouse (it’s been in operation since 1872!), or shredding the nearby skatepark, you and your family will have plenty to do. Of course, you can just go swimming – it’s a beach, after all, and an inviting one at that.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area – near Hart, MI

As beautiful as its name implies, the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area is not only one of the best beaches on Lake Michigan’s, but a fascinating natural attraction! Rolling sand dunes that are perfect cruising in an off-road vehicle, paired with Lake Michigan and Silver Lake beachfront (the dunes border both lakes), make for a great time when you visit this 2,000-acre portion of Silver Lake State Park. Plus, the park offers a great dune hiking trail!