You can’t beat a weekend in Saugatuck-Douglas in southwest Michigan. It’s the Midwest’s only gay resort area and just a short drive from Chicago, Detroit and many other cities. You can also fly into nearby Grand Rapids.
WHERE TO STAY
Camping is available at the Camp It Outdoor Resort, a resort in Fennville on 118th St. (exit 30 off I-196) in Fennville. Tent camping is just $20 per night (weekends) although they also feature cabins, bunkhouse rooms and RV sites as well. A pool, Biggie’s Food Truck and convenience store with everything you might have forgotten are also part of the package. (They also have a place in Florida for those that wish to visit them there. It is called the Thousand Palms RV Resort.) Details are available at saugatuckoutdoorresorts.com.
The Dunes Resort (333 Blue Star Hwy. in Douglas) has rooms and cabins as well as a basement value lodging space. It is very handy for those that want to partake in the pool, bar, dance or see a cabaret show — no need to worry about drinking and driving. The pool scene is great and you can also order food and enjoy lunch pool side. It is one of the largest (and best) LGBTQ resorts. Details are available at dunesresort.com.
I also like the AmericInn (2905 Blue Star Hwy.) which is walkable from The Dunes. The Blue Star Motel (167 Blue Star Hwy.) is close-by, an affordable other option.
WHAT TO DO
Make your first stop Oval Beach, arguably one of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Michigan.
Other great beaches include Pier Cove Beach and West Side County Park (2152 Lakeshore Dr.) as well as Saugatuck Dunes State Park which has 1,1000 acres of dunes and trails.
My new favorite is the William Smith Wau-Ke-Na Nature Preserve at 1599 Lakeshore with a half-mile hike through prairies and woodlands down to the lake.
Biking along the new bike trail from Saugatuck to Holland is an option. There is a rental place in Saugatuck.
The Fennville Vineyards (fennvalley.com) has great wine tasting.
Pick apples or blueberries at Dee’s Lakeshore Farm, 1672 70th St. in Fennville.
Bike the Kal Haven Trail in South Haven then walk out on the Pier.
Downtown Saugatuck is great on a rainy drop for their shopping. Take the too cute Saugatuck Chain Ferry across the Kalamazoo River.
Nearby Holland has a great farmers market on Saturdays.
WHERE TO EAT
Uncommon Coffee Roasters at 127 Hoffman is the best. Great coffee and great food.
The What Not Inn (2405 Blue Star Hwy. in Fennville) is my favorite. Try the Friday Fish fry. They have live music on the weekends.
The Saugatuck Brewing Company is another option.
The Fresh Basil in Saugatuck (311 Water St.) has a good salmon salad.
The new Bigby Coffee Drive Thru is also very good. It’s a small chain from Lansing.
Lakeshore Convenience has great pizza (155 Blue Star Hwy.) just north of The Dunes.
The Dunes Resort has a great bar, cabaret shows, dancing and more. Don’t miss the Sunday T Dances. If you are lucky, they sometimes have dancers.
OTHER TRAVEL TIPS
The Lake Vista SuperValu at 237 Center St. has all the supplies you may need.
If you need a ride, the Saugatuck Interurban is a great deal. It is just a $1.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Michigan’s LGBTQ publication Between the Lines has the latest details as does Metra, a magazine.
The Grand Rapids weekly, Revue, is another source of ideas.
You won’t run out of things to do in the fall in Saugatuck-Douglas and southwest Michigan. It’s the perfect escape for a long weekend getaway. Be sure and take home some local blueberries and apples. Southwest Michigan is indeed the “fruit basket” of the Midwest.
Bill Malcolm is the nation’s only syndicated LGBTQ value travel columnist who focuses on affordable fun. He accepts no compensation or free in-kind services. His opinions are his own. His column has appeared in publications in D.C., Chicago, Palm Springs, Orlando-Tampa, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Detroit, Indianapolis and other cities. He resides in Indianapolis, Ind. All or part of this column may appear in other publications.