Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in Saugatuck and Douglas Michigan

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Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in Saugatuck and Douglas Michigan

Saugatuck is a beautiful beach town on Michigan’s West Coast and the perfect spot to enjoy a day at the beach.  The Saugatuck Douglas area prides itself on the 12 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and beachfront area available to the community.  Whether you’re a resident of one of these small towns, or a visitor passing through, you’ll want to spend a little time soaking up the sun and digging your toes in the sand on one of these beautiful beaches!

The Best Beach to Soak Up the Sun

Oval Beach

Saugatuck’s Oval Beach is an award-winning, family-friendly beach that has caught the nation’s attention.  National Geographic Traveler has ranked Oval Beach as one of the top freshwater beaches in the country, and there’s no question about why!

Oval beach Park is conveniently located near downtown Saugatuck.  You will find all the amenities you need when you visit.  Modern bathrooms and concessions are both available.  Hours vary throughout the summer season, so it’s best to plan ahead and bring a snack and a drink rather than depend on concession availability if you know you’ll need something.

a sunset view over Lake Michigan with trees in the foreground

Easy parking is priced reasonably at $10 per day, or you can take the convenient Saugatuck Chain Ferry across the river from downtown Saugatuck for $2 per person each way.  It’s just a short half-mile walk from the ferry station.  If you’re looking to save money, consider taking the Interurban bus, which will pick you up from any location in the Saugatuck Douglas area and bring you to the beach.  This service is only $1 per adult per ride (.50 for under 12, over 62, or disabled) and will save you the $10 parking fee!

After you’ve spent a day at Oval Beach and enjoyed soaking up the sun and swimming in the salt-free fresh water, you can sit back and relax while watching the sunset.  West Michigan has gorgeous sunsets from just about any beach, but there’s something extra special about watching the sun dip below the horizon after you’ve had a day in the sand and sun.

Hip Grandma tip:  Oval beach is not dog-friendly, so leave your 4-legged friend at home for this trip. 

Find Oval Beach at
Perryman St. & Oval Beach Drive, Saugatuck, MI 49453

The Best Beach to Have a Picnic or a Wedding

West Side County Park

West Side County Park is the perfect place to gather the family.  When you arrive, you’ll find a fenced-in playground for the kids, two pavilions to gather out of the sun, restrooms, and plenty of picnic area with tables and grills, all scattered with grassy fields for throwing a frisbee or a fun game of tag!  The park is eleven acres and has 630 beautiful feet of lake frontage.

This park is unique because it has a beautiful gazebo that overlooks the big lake, making it a perfect place for a small, casual wedding.  Click here for pavilion or gazebo reservations

This beautiful beach is a short walk down a set of stairs from the parking lot to the beach.  No worries if walking isn’t an option.  West Side also has an ADA-accessible ramp that will take you to the beach.  Parking is free but limited.

Find West Side County Park at:
2152 Lakeshore Drive, Fennville, MI 49408


The Best Beach to Hike a Sandy Trail or Climb a Dune

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Saugatuck Dunes State Park is the perfect place to go for a hike.  The Park spans 2.5 miles of some of the best shorelines on Lake Michigan.  But it’s not just about the beach!  With 13 miles of sandy hiking trails with four different round-trip nature trails, you can enjoy a hike and cool off with a swim in Lake Michigan’s cool waters before heading home!  The Michigan DNR Website has maps for each of the trails on-site, and signs are available at the park. 

And good news!  Dogs are welcome, provided they are leashed and attended to at all times.  Be a good neighbor and bring a bag to clean up after your pet, please! 

Because this beach is in a State Park, you’ll need to pay to enter.  You can park and enter the park using your Michigan Recreation Passport or pay when you arrive. 

After you enjoy your day at the State Park, exploring the coastal dunes, forested areas, and wooded trails, stop at the historical Felt Mansion nearby!

Hip Grandma Story:  When my daughter was in fifth grade (she’s 28 now), we were new to the community and attended a school field trip to Saugatuck Dunes State Park and Lake Michigan.  I will never forget when we climbed over the dune and got our first view of Lake Michigan stretching out as far as the eye could see.  Lexi’s eyes grew huge, and she shrieked with glee, “The ocean!!!  The ocean!!!”  We still have a giggle when we remember this story.  She was so excited, and yes, she was correct in her assessment.  The lake looks just like an ocean!  I love this memory.  It reminds me so much of her youthful innocence.

Find Saugatuck Dunes State Park at:
6575 138th Ave, Saugatuck Dunes, MI 49453

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The Best Beach to Get a View of Lake Michigan

Laketown Beach

Nestled along the lakeshore right between Holland and Saugatuck, Laketown Beach is a great place to get a beautiful view of gorgeous Lake Michigan.  Laketown Beach has no restrooms, and parking is limited but free!

When you arrive, you’ll need to climb a long stairway up to the top of a dune and then back down on the other side to access the beach.  The view from the top is something to behold!  Stairs like these are the perfect way to climb sand dunes!

Find Laketown Beach at:
6710 142nd Ave, Holland, MI 49423

The Best Beach to Bring the Family

Pier Cove Beach

Pier Cove beach is an excellent choice for families with little kids.  This delightful little beach was once home to “the busiest port between St. Joseph and Muskegon” and is named for the shipping piers that used to inhabit the area.  The beach displays a historical marker explaining the fascinating history.

A father and son strike a pose with arms crossed on Pier Cove Beach in Saugatuck
My husband and son strike a pose on Pier Cove Beach

Looking for tips to get the best photos of your family at the beach? Check out THIS POST from the Hip Grandma’s sister site!

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A small creek is located near the beach and is the perfect place for families with small kids.  The creek water is warmer than the lake and shallow enough for wading and splashing. 

The parking is free, but the lot is small, which helps keep this beach a low-traffic zone.  You’ll also find plenty of flat rocks along the beach, so if skipping rocks is one of your favorite things, this is the beach for you!

Hip Grandma tip:  This beach requires a walk down a steep stairway, so pack lightly and plan accordingly when you arrive. 

Find Pier Cove Beach at:
2290 Lakeshore Dr, Fennville, MI 49408


The Best Beach That Feels Private

Douglas Beach

If you are looking for a smaller public beach with the feel of a neighborhood beach, then Douglas Beach is just right.  Flanked by private cottages along both sides, you feel you’re on your own little slice of beach.

Parking is limited to only about ten spaces, which helps keep the beach quiet.  Parking is free, so arrive with plenty of time to have a backup plan to watch the sunset, just in case parking is full.

You’ll hike down a long staircase to find a tiny beach area; this secluded strip of Lake Michigan shoreline is the perfect place to watch the sun disappear.  You can also enjoy a short stroll through the water, as it remains shallow for about 50 feet out into the water.

Find Douglas Beach in:
Douglas, Michigan 49406

The Best Beach With No Water

Mount Baldhead

Mount Baldhead is one of the locals’ favorite places to get a little stair action.  You will often find fitness enthusiasts using the stairs to get their heart rate up.  But if exercise isn’t your goal, don’t worry; it’s still worth visiting.  You can take your time heading up to the top of the stairs, where you’ll see a stunning view of Saugatuck, Douglas, and beautiful Lake Michigan.  This view of Lake Michigan might be the best one on this side of the state.  No, you can’t swim at this location, but you will probably see someone swimming along one of the long sandy beaches in view!

Wrapping it All Up

Before you attend any of the public beaches we’ve talked about, brush up on your beach safety!  The Great Lakes are vast bodies of water and act much more like oceans than small lake beaches, so it’s imperative to understand how to stay safe.   The Great Lakes Surf Rescue reports that there have been 84 Great Lake Drownings in 2022, 38 of which were reported in Lake Michigan.  That’s too many. Be safe!

Because our beaches along the shores of West Michigan are so popular, there are multiple options for lodging nearby, so turn your beach day into a beach vacation by looking into some of the best lodging options!  Take a look at the Saugatuck Douglas Lodging Directory for more information.

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PIN image for the Best Beaches in Saugatuck with a woman on a beach with arms outstretched

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