This is Why You’ll Love the Saugatuck Christmas Parade

saugatuck christmas

With the holiday season comes some of the best events in the entire calendar year. The Saugatuck Christmas Parade is no exception! Join in on the fun on Saturday, December 1, 2018 and see all the characters in costume. Per tradition, parade patrons are encouraged to dress up as their favorite character from the movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The parade isn’t the only fun Christmas event going on around that time, though. Read on to learn more.

whootville saugatuck christmas parade
Image: SDABA

The Saugatuck Christmas Parade Headlines the Day

Don’t miss the main event! The parade begins at 1 p.m., as it does every year, on Butler Street in downtown Saugatuck. Get into costume and join the ranks! Characters like Cindy Lou Who, famed Mayor Augustus Maywho, the Grinch, and even his dog Max will all be in attendance marching in the parade. Watch as Mayor Augustus Maywho leads the way as parade marshall, and see all the elaborate costumes.

In addition to all the fun costumes, the women-only Peppermint Stick Brigade will be there in full red and gold garb to welcome in the holiday season. Along with them, the men-only Snow Shovel Drill Team performs their famed snow shovel drills to the crowd’s delight. Lastly, the Saugatuck High School Band marches, performing Christmas music to inaugurate the season. Oh, and don’t forget the best-dressed pets!

Other Fun Activities That Day

After the parade, families with children can enjoy Santa’s Workshop in downtown Saugatuck, starting at 11 a.m. It’s the perfect chance for the kiddos to see exactly where their toys come from and meet Santa. Kids crafts, music, tree decorating, and refreshments await you and your little ones! Throughout the afternoon, free carriage rides will leave from Coral Gables Annex and take you on a whimsical winter journey through town. That evening, a holiday tree lighting takes place at the Rose Garden on Butler Street in downtown Saugatuck. Come out and enjoy the hot chocolate and cookies and join in the holiday carols. It’s the perfect way to end a full day of holiday fun.

Best apple orchards in Southwest Michigan

apple orchards in southwest michigan

There is nothing more quintessentially fall than going to an apple orchard, picking your own peck, and warming up with cider and donuts afterward. There’s plenty of great places to do just that in Southwest Michigan. These are the top 5 u-pick apple orchards in Southwest Michigan.

Top 5 apple orchards in Southwest Michigan

Crane Orchards

6054 124th Ave, Fennville, MI 49408

Crane Orchards really has it all, with a U-Pick apple orchard, corn maze, cow train, and hay rides. After a day jam packed with fall fun like that, you’ll probably be hungry. Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant and Winery is right on site and offers a selection of great meals, a bakery with homemade treats, and house-made hard cider and wine.

Overhiser Orchards

6405 109th Ave. South Haven, MI 49090

This orchard boasts u-pick apples, wagon rides, a historical barn tour, a corn maze, and a variety of farm animals you can see. Take part in the Great Pumpkin Search for a day of hot apple cider, pumpkin picking and fall family fun you won’t soon forget.

Virtue Cider

2170 62nd St., Fennville, MI 49408

Virtue Farms serves craft made hard cider on their scenic farm. Visit Virtue Cider on October 20, 2018 for Apple Fest, an annual festival with tons of fun fall activities. Horse drawn cart rides, a field maze, and a farmers market are just a few of the attractions you can anticipate on that day.

McIntosh Orchards

6431 107th Avenue, South Haven, MI 49090

McIntosh Orchards offers u-pick apples alongside house made hard cider and wine. Check out the cider mill, farm tours, and farm market as well.

Dutch Farm Market

6967 109th Avenue, South Haven, MI 49090

This popular South Haven market has tasty baked goods and ice cream alongside a selection of locally produced goods. You can choose to purchase some already picked fresh apples or pick your own at this spot.

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

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

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.

Things to do Labor Day weekend 2018 in Michigan

labor day weekend 2018 in michigan

The last three-day weekend of summer is fast approaching. What will you get up to? Send off summer the right way with a vacation you and your group will remember for years to come. There are plenty of festivals and activities happening on Labor Day weekend 2018 in Michigan. Here are a few we think are well worth visiting.

Events and festivals on Labor Day Weekend 2018 in Michigan

Marquette Blues Fest – Marquette

This annual festival celebrates the best in blues. Catch the top blues acts from New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago and St. Louis all weekend long in Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park. The festival will also have workshops, a wide selection of food vendors, and a beer and wine tent. Learn more about the lineup on the festival website.

Michigan Chicken Wing Festival – Lansing

Enjoy food, art, music and community at the Michigan Chicken Wing Festival. Take part in the Wing Eating Contest, the winner of which will be dubbed King or Queen of the Wings, or Wing Tasting Contest where you can help determine which vendor has the best wings.

Labor Day Jazz Weekend – Mackinac Island

Purchase a vacation package at the Grand Hotel and enjoy performances by top jazz musicians all weekend long. The package includes full breakfast and dinner, cocktail receptions, a cookout luncheon, a Sunday morning gospel performance and Q&A sessions with the artists.

Salsa Festival – Harbor Beach

Celebrate salsa in Harbor Beach! Sample a variety of locally made salsas at this spicy festival. Your taste buds will love this event. Spend the rest of the weekend enjoying the quaint, lakeside town that is Harbor Beach.

Labor Day Truck Parade & Ice Cream Social – Holland

This annual parade brings the noise . . . and the ice cream! Kids are sure to enjoy this parade of big trucks. Since 2006, this event has grown into a heavily anticipated local event. Meant to celebrate Holland/Zeeland products and employees, this event is also a great opportunity to have some family friendly fun in West Michigan.

Bridge walks all over the state

Labor Day bridge walks are a bit of a tradition here in Michigan. The Mackinac Bridge Walk has happened every year since 1958, taking thousands of participants across its five-mile expanse over the Straits of Mackinac. Towns throughout the state host their own, miniature versions of the event as well. Find one to attend in the town you plan to visit:

Take a laidback vacation to Saugatuck

Labor Day weeekend 2018 is a great time to chill out before the fall grind kicks in. A visit to tranquil Saugatuck is sure to charge you up and get you ready for whatever the season will bring. Saugatuck is also a great place for a last hurrah of summer, with pristine beaches and plenty of summer activities that you’ll be able to enjoy for the last time in 2018 on Labor Day weekend. Find a place to stay at Lakeshore Lodging.

Featured Image: Labor Day Truck Parade in Holland, Michigan.

Best dive bars in Saugatuck

dive bars in saugatuck

Every town needs a good dive bar – a place you can count on having a familiar, cozy atmosphere, characteristic dim lighting, neon beer signs, and the promise of a pool table. For the traveler, the dive bar can offer a taste of home.  If you’re in Saugatuck, Michigan and you’re looking to have a good time, surround yourself with down-to-earth people, or just drown your sorrows, these are the spots to visit. Here are the best dive bars in Saugatuck:

Best Dive Bars in Saugatuck

Sand Bar Saloon

141 Butler St, Saugatuck, MI 49453

Located right in downtown Saugatuck, the Sand Bar has all the hallmarks of the classic dive bar. Order a locally brewed craft beer or your favorite standard and then pick up a game of pool. This bar is cash only, but there’s an ATM on premises.

The Cove

41 Blue Star Hwy, Douglas, MI 49406

This little bar hidden in plain sight on the Blue Star Highway. If you’re looking for an affordable meal and drink, The Cove can’t be beat. Play pool on one of their tables or catch Euchre on Sundays. 

Spectators Sports Bar & Grill

6432 Bluestar Hwy Saugatuck, MI 49453

If the sports bar atmosphere is more your style, Spectators is the obvious choice. Located right on Blue Star Highway, it’s the place to go to watch the game with a side of beer and wings. 

Corner Bar

220 Water St, Saugatuck, MI 49453

Catch live music at the Corner Bar in Saugatuck, attached to Coral Gables. This friendly bar is a favorite for its great menu and entertainment. Stop by for karaoke on Saturdays.

3 steps to the perfect 3-day weekend in Saugatuck

The first step to optimizing a 3-day weekend vacation is picking a destination within easy reach. When you’ve only got three days–you don’t want to spend too much of it traveling. With award-winning Lake Michigan beaches, downtown shopping and dining along the Kalamazoo River, and a refreshing lakeside state of mind that pervades it all, Saugatuck, Michigan is a perfect pick. Once you’ve chosen your destination, you can focus on making the most of your trip. We’ve prepared some tips to help you do just that. Here are 3 steps to the perfect 3-day weekend in Saugatuck.

3 steps to the perfect 3-day weekend in Saugatuck

1. Start with a specific goal for your vacation

Having a goal for what you want to get out of this vacation will help everything else fall into place, saving your precious vacation time from being filled with planning. What do you want to get out of this 3-day weekend? Maybe you’re looking for a weekend full of new culinary experiences, or maybe you want to shop til you drop. Or maybe you’re looking for three blissful days of uninterrupted lakeside relaxation. Whatever the case, keep your goal in mind while you plan the rest of the vacation.

3-day weekend in saugatuck2. Research your destination and plan activities

With your goal set, you can spend a little time researching Saugatuck. Find restaurants, shops, and activities that match your goal and make a short list of things you definitely don’t want to miss. That way, when you arrive in Saugatuck and you’re looking for something to do, you have a jumping off point and you won’t have to spend much time figuring it out. Don’t know where to start? We’ve got a few guides that can help with that, whether you’re looking for family friendly activities, which bars to check out, or spending the weekend on the beach.

3. Find lodging that will put you in the center of it all

With a goal and some specific objectives in mind, you can find a place to stay that suits your vacation best. Lakeshore Lodging has a variety of vacation rentals that will put you right where you need to be–whether you’re looking for a quaint cottage that’s close to the shopping and dining of downtown, or a spacious Lake Michigan retreat with a private beach. Find the perfect one for you.

How to master vacation rental cooking

vacation rental cooking

Cooking for friends and family is a joy. Good food is a force of connection, and the conversations had over preparing and eating meals become some of the most memorable. For many, vacation often means eating at a lot of restaurants. But when you stay in a vacation rental with a gorgeous kitchen, you can bring those good meal making feelings with you. Vacation rental cooking requires a little planning, but it can be remarkably rewarding.

We’ve got some tips that will help you make the most out of your vacation rental cooking experience.

Vacation rental cooking tips and tricks

vacation rental cookingPack the essentials

Vacation rental kitchens often have a basic selection of tools and equipment, but if you have some holy grail tools you can’t live without, pack them! And if you have a favorite seasoning or condiment that you aren’t sure you’ll be able to find at your destination, make sure you bring it along. Plan on purchasing fresh ingredients when you arrive.

When you arrive: Take stock of your rental’s offerings

Before you go grocery shopping, explore your vacation rental’s cupboards. Find out what seasonings, condiments, and tools are at the ready. Plan your meals around what you have, and make a list of what you’ll need. This way you can avoid purchasing a surplus of groceries, and your menu is kind of shaped by the space you’re spending vacation in.

vacation rental cookingKeep it simple

When it comes to vacation rental cooking, simplicity is key. You’re on vacation—don’t stress over a complex meal! Plan on using fewer ingredients so grocery shopping is quick and easy. You want to avoid ending up with too many leftover, unused groceries. And plan meals that don’t require a lot of tools. You won’t want to be bogged down with a lot of dishes to clean up.

Plan ahead

Plan all of the meals you’re going to make during your stay in advance so you can limit the amount of time spent in a grocery store. When it’s time to shop, get the essentials at a local supermarket or take advantage of a grocery delivery service like Shipt (now available in both Saugatuck and Douglas!).

vacation rental cookingWelcome serendipity

Add local flare to your meals with things you find in your travels. Visit the local farmers market, buy supplies for your own artisanal cheese platter at a local shop, and forage for herbs in the wild or in your vacation rental’s garden. Spend the day at a U-Pick orchard and make a dessert from what you gathered. These are the kind of things that will make your meals unique to your vacation and totally unforgettable.

Enjoy the process

Cooking is fun. Take your time when you’re putting together your meals and relish in the process. Get everyone involved by assigning different people to chop vegetables, cut bread, or prepare appetizers. Make an event out of cooking your meals, and you’ll make loads of delicious memories while you’re at it.

8 of the best things to do during winter in Michigan

winter in michigan

When the winter forecast in Michigan calls for cold temperatures and snow, don’t let that stop you from experiencing the many things to do during winter in Michigan. From outdoor winter sports to indoor attractions, Michigan has something for everyone.

8 of our favorite things to during winter in Michigan

1. Tubing and Sledding

Head outdoors and take part in tubing or sledding, two of Michigan’s most popular activities during Michigan winter getaways. There are many ski resorts that offer slopes and hills especially for tubing and sledding. Plus, there are many county parks and recreational areas that offer toboggan runs. If you are up for some extreme adventure, check out the luge track in Muskegon at the Winter Sports Complex for a day of thrills and excitement.

2. Skiing

Michigan is a premier skiing destination. A beloved winter activity, Michigan offers top-rated downhill skiing, with pitch and vertical drops comparable to runs in New England and the West. In fact, Michigan is second in the nation for the number of skiing areas across the state! With 51 ski areas and approximately 1,000 runs, skiers have a wide variety of options that are easily accessible.

3. Snowboarding

Looking for a new adventure on the slopes? Then look no further than Michigan, a state that has fully embraced snowboarding. Michigan offers snowboarders more than 40 ski areas and resorts with exciting, diverse terrains for beginners and experts.

4. Cross Country Skiing

With more than 3,000 miles of cross country ski trails, Michigan is the perfect destination to enjoy this challenging pastime. Cross country skiers will delight in the tranquility of nature and the snow-capped surroundings while engaging in this invigorating sport during your Michigan winter family vacations.

5. Snowmobiling

Outdoor adventure seekers will find there to be plenty of snowmobile adventures throughout the state. Michigan has one of the most widespread systems of connected trails in the country. Comprised of more than 6,500 maintained snowmobiling trails, snowmobile riders enjoy a diverse terrain through state and national forests and across 11,000 frozen lakes. It makes the ride a winter adventure worth taking.

6. Snowshoeing

If you are looking for a more relaxing winter activity, then be sure to give snowshoeing a try. As one of the oldest forms of transportation, snowshoeing allows you to experience winter’s natural beauty and wonder as you hike through the snow. Rent snowshoes from Landsharks when you vacation in Saugatuck.

7. Museums

When it’s time to head indoors, be sure to pay a visit to Michigan’s many museums. Whether you’re interested in art, science or history, there is a museum to enlighten your curiosity and thirst for culture. Museums are a great activity during winter in Michigan.

8. Spas

If relaxation is on your agenda, then Michigan will not disappoint. There are numerous spas in the area, many of which offer packages that can be customized to your preferences. So sit back, relax and spend the day unwinding at a local spa.