The Run Down

We're hitting the road with this guide and heading east to visit our neighbors and friends in Michigan. There are a number of summer vacation towns along Lake Michigan, and we're highlighting a few that make for an action packed weekend trip. In fact, we were so productive that we're splitting this guide up into two parts. For this week's guide we're taking you to Saugatuck where we'll be doing a bit of boating, swimming, hiking, and eating.   Here are the highlights of the Saugatuck guide.

1. Rent a Boat @ Retro Boat Rentals

2. Visit @ Downtown Saugatuck

1. Retro Boat Rentals

The town of Saugatuck is about 2.5 hours from Chicago and located near the shores of Lake Michigan, which make it a popular destination for boaters and water sports enthusiasts. We’re starting the day getting out on the water in our very own personal electric boat. Right in downtown Saugatuck is Retro Boat Rentals, which is a shop that specializes in renting and restoring classic motor boats and outfitting them with electric motors.

They have a whole fleet of unique boats that they’ve restored. They vary in size fitting 2-6 people. Here are some notes to get you started.

– Rentals are $95 for 1.5 hours
– The shop is on the Kalamazoo river which connects to Lake Michigan
– If the waves are calm, you’ll be able to take the boat out onto Lake Michigan
– This isn’t a speed boat. They are built to be driven at 4 mph for a relaxing and scenic drive.
– No boating experience is required. They’ll give you a 5 minute orientation and you’re off on your own.

We rented the boat for 1.5 hours and headed up the Kalamazoo river towards Lake Michigan. With this amount of time you’ll have enough time to take this up the river, boat out along Lake Michigan, and anchor it for a swim at a nearby cove before taking it back in. 

Here are a few shots taking the boat up the Kalamazoo river and through a canal that connects the river with Lake Michigan.

You’ll have some time to do a quick lap up and down the coast. The views are from the water are definitely worth the cost of the rental. The views will also encourage you to try very hard to make friends with boat people, because this is apparently how they live all the time. 

As you make your way back in from Lake Michigan and into the Kalamazoo river, there is a small swimming cove where you can anchor and have a nice swim. 

2. Downtown Saugatuck

After your boating escapades, head into town and spend sometime exploring this wonderfully folksy downtown filled with art galleries, an ice cream shop seemingly on every corner, cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. You can probably spend all day walking around and shopping at all the stores. In fact, that’s probably the best way to see the area. But to just give you a flavor of the town, we’ve highlighted three places that should give you a nice feel for the place. 

Mermaid Bar & Grill

If you’re looking to eat on the water and get a feel of coastal life, then Mermaid Bar & Grill is a very fine option. It’s just a few blocks south of the Retro Boat Rental shop, and their outside patio is right on the docks where you’ll be eating among the boats. Seafood is their specialty, and it hit all the marks.

Charlie’s Round the Corner Ice Cream

Ice cream is everywhere, and you probably won’t go wrong with whatever place you choose to go to. We decided on this small ice cream shop that was close to Mermaid Bar and Grill. Our experience here led us to think that we chose right. They have a massive selection, and their 1 scoop kids size is actually 2 or 3 scoops. Swell Times

Boutiques and oddity shops are another staple of downtown Saugatuck. Swell times is one that caught our eye, and gives you a feel for what you can expect as you adventure around the area. Looking for a 1950’s Creature fromt Black Lagoon Poster? Star Wars paraphernalia? Pez Dispensers? Well this store has what you’re looking for.