Last weekend we drove the 150 miles around the bottom of Lake Michigan, through Indiana and into the state of Michigan, that stares at Illinois across the 118 miles of Great Lake for a day in the small but welcoming town of Saugatuck.Saugatuck
is a known arty destination for weekenders, the actual population of which is only 1,000 people but it swells to three times that in summer months as Chicagoans and others descend on the dainty bed and breakfasts, independent boutiques and art galleries.
The old lumber town surrounds the Kalamazoo River, which runs out into Lake Michigan. Fine beaches with large sand dunes can be reached by getting on one of the oldest hand-cranked chain ferries in America. Apparently Oval Beach has been rated by Conde Nast
as one of the top 25 shorelines in the world. Hmm, its nice but....
A number of scenic parks dot the lakeside, which encourages walking and lazing, specifically in the gazebo where you can watch sailboats, kayaks and pontoons go by.
Further along the River Kalamzoo you can't miss the Scottish built 350-foot passenger steamship, the S.S. Keewatin
. For 60 years until retirement in 1966 it piled the Great Lakes. Today, the steamship is now a floating maritime museum.
nts and pubs line the River and we had a nice lunch sat outside The Mermaid Bar & Grill (360 Water Street), the town itself is famous for its ice cream and fudge. And they come recommended too, try Kilwins
for ice cream. Butler Street has a very charming feel to it and each shop displays rainbow flags outside, which may or may not be due to the relatively large gay population found here and in the neighbouring Douglas.Douglas
is a short drive and the two towns get grouped together in visitor guides. This wa
s a wonderfully picturesque and quiet place and home to the very recommended cafe Everyday People
. The Respite Cappuccino Court
was a good place to watch about one car go by every 30 minutes too.
For the more active (and that didn't include me) there is plenty of decent golf courses, kayak's, canoes and scuba diving equipment can all be rented or you could hike up the delightfully named Mt. Baldhead. 282 steps will take you to the top of this unique sand dune looking over the Lake.
On the way into and out of Saugatuck you will pass endless fruit farms and wineries. Great places to take home something from your road trip.
I'm not one for relaxing, which is a habit and not a quality but despite a few hours drive each way, last Saturday in Saugatuck was the most relaxed I have been for a long time.