September & October in Saugatuck
“Just tickle Earth with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.”
~ Douglas Jerrold
Indian Summer invigorates. The warm breezes from Lake Michigan keep the feeling of summer alive in Saugatuck. Cinnamon mornings and beach walks along a still warm Lake Michigan evolve into lazy afternoons of shopping, cider, beer and wine tastings, antiquing, and gallery openings drift into electric evenings where music fills the crisp fall air. Wickwood bursts with the flavors of fall from the local markets… heirloom tomatoes, squashes, smoky cheeses, mushrooms, corn pudding with spiced maple syrup, Honey Crisp apple bread pudding with vanilla sauce, pears, figs and prosciutto… comforting foods around the Inn’s fireplaces.
All season long there’s a Corn Maze, Hay Rides, Apple Orchards for picking, Artist Studio Tours and demonstrations, Gallery Strolls, Goose Festival, Octoberfest, Chili Cookoff, Halloween Festival and Parades and concerts, and music galore.
We’ve created a getaway guide with some local favorites, suggested stops and insider secrets to help you love life like a local. Use our tips as you will, but let your imagination be your guide!
Loving Life Like a Local | Indian Summer in Saugatuck
Congratulations! Your reservation at Wickwood in September or October means you have discovered the secret shoulder season of our area. People from around the country come to see the magnificent range of fall colors, and just the thought of biting into a HoneyCrisp Apple, picked fresh from the tree, is enough to make anyone’s mouth water. Indian Summer is the perfect time to come and stay a while.
Once school resumes, the lines at Uncommon Grounds and Everyday People Cafe probably will be shorter. Even better, there’s still lots of lovely weather and tons of activities to enjoy. If your timing is good, the lake temperatures may still be just right for a swim at Oval Beach, and after Labor Day, you can enjoy our award-winning beach for free! In fact, as the colors and flavors of Fall emerge, the locals seems to enjoy a burst of energy, and that means you’re in for extra fun. Whether you want to play golf at Clearbrook or The Ravines, get out on the Big Lake in a kayak, stand up paddleboard, or sailboat, take in a show at the Saugatuck Center of Arts, stroll through the shops in downtown Saugatuck and Douglas, tour the Blue Coast Artist Studios, drink a pint at the Saugatuck Brewery or take in the festivities at Oktoberfest, pick apples and eat cider doughnuts at Crane’s Orchard, taste wine at Fenn Valley or sip cider at McIntosh Cellars or Virtue Farms . . . there’s something for everyone to enjoy, no matter what the pace.
Oh, how could we forget to mention Halloween? This town loves a parade and a party! Better get your costume ready.
1. Begin to Experience the Difference of Life at Wickwood
Arrive in Saugatuck and check-in at Wickwood. The off-street private lot at the Inn makes parking a breeze, and the smell of brownie bites baking in the oven beckons you inside. The personalized and professional attention you receive from the Innkeeper sets the stage for an outstanding visit. Sip a cup of single origin coffee from Kobrick as you settle into your well-appointed room. Breathe easy as any strain leftover from your travels melts away.
2. Stroll along Butler Street | Enjoy the Shops & Docks
Step outside Wickwood and begin your exploration of downtown Saugatuck.
- Start at the Old Hardware Building and find every culinary tool you could ever want at The Butler Pantry. This well-stocked kitchen store carries Emile Henry, Nordicware, Cuisinart, Nopro, OXO, RSVP, and other trusted brands, as well as a tasty selection of gourmet sauces, pastas, coffees and more.
- Stay on Butler Street and cross Hoffman to visit Wine Sellers. New owner, Michael Gustaitis, brings his years of experience in the wine industry, and his Level III Advanced Sommelier certification, to this well-stocked wine store. In addition to the wine, you’ll find glasses, decanters, a nice selection of beers that prominently features Michigan’s explosion of micro-brews, cigars, fine cheeses and chocolates, and more. If you can wait to eat them, a few truffles may be just right for tomorrow’s picnic lunch.
- Just next door you’ll enjoy Renuar’s. This chic boutique is just one of the three locations owned by Chantal: Chantal, Chantal for Him, and Renuar. Visit all three shops on Butler Street and enjoy jewelry from Stella and Dot, clothes from Free People and Effie’s Heart, along with other great brand names.
- Next, have fun with the collection of specialty Michigan-centric hats and t-shirts at Landsharks. Enjoy their stylish shoes —for men, women and children —from Tom’s, Cushe, Patagonia, Jambu, Keen, and more. Browse all of their apparel, because with brands such as North Face, Prana, Kavu, Horny Toad —and other leaders in stylish outdoor wear —you’re bound to find something you can’t live without.
- Head on down Butler to taste the fruity flavors of the region at American Spoon. With so many of their products (chutneys, preserves, marmalades, salsas, grilling sauces, and more) available to sample, you may have trouble deciding what you’ll pack up for home. Don’t forget to buy a few things for tomorrow’s picnic. We especially like the Ginger Pear Chutney, Sour Cherry Spoon Fruit, and the Farmhouse Tomato Relish.
- Cross the street and make your way to For the Love of Shoes and see the latest trends in men’s and women’s footwear from Fly London, Juil, Seychelles, Charles David and more. Don’t miss their Active apparel and Intimate apparel from Spanx, Hanky Panky. Alo, and Boot Tux.
- Stay on this side of Butler and be ready to make your food sing! Whether you’re planning a backyard barbecue, a cozy evening with friends, or an easy dinner for the kids, Spice Merchants has something for you With everything from 18 varieties of salt, 5 kinds of cinnamon, and an impressive array of herbs, spices, peppers, rubs, and teas, your only problem shopping here will be deciding what not to buy. Thankfully, everything is available in any amount, so enjoy selecting a wide range of things to try. We can’t get enough of the Black Truffle Salt for taking popcorn and potatoes to an entirely new level.
- Round the corner from Butler onto Culver head to The Olive Mill. With an extensive variety of oils and vinegars, all available to sample, you’re sure to walk away from The Olive Mill with exactly what you want. Beautifully bottled, these products make great souvenirs for yourself and for others. Don’t miss the Roasted Walnut Oil, the Blood Orange Oil, and the Fig Balsamic Vinegar.
- Enjoy a seat at Wally’s for a pint of local brew or cider. We especially like the outdoor seating options for curbside viewing while imbibing.
- Tour through Good Goods to see the best of hand-made America. This charming store houses a carefully selected collection of jewelry, accessories, clothing, handbags, fine art, furniture and more. Their collection of Sticks furniture, and their upstairs fine art gallery, are not to be missed.
- Continue on down to the docks and wind your way back to Wickwood. Noticing how completely relaxed you already are, enjoy your room while getting ready for your evening out.
3. Sips & Small Plates | Taste the Bold Flavors Julee Rosso is Known For
When Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins opened The Silver Palate gourmet food store in New York City in 1977, their philosophy was simple: never take shortcuts when preparing foods with high-quality, fresh ingredients; make sure each item bursts with flavor. This founding principle has stood the test of time, and the small, dedicated staff at Wickwood serves an impressive array of appetizers, true to their owners’ convictions, every evening. Start off with the Ginger Carrot Soup. Move on to Cheeses, Salumis, Roasted Vegetables, and Chutneys. Enjoy a taste of wine or bring a bottle of your favorite. Continue with Flatbreads and Crostini. This is one happy hour you won’t soon forget!
4. Sunset Stroll
Take the short drive (5 minutes) to the award-winning Oval Beach and find out why Travel and Leisure exclaims, “Saugatuck has one of the World’s top 10 beaches!” Stroll along the singing sands and watch the sun slowly sink into the horizon. Be sure not to leave too quickly. If there’s cloud cover, you may see magical colors across the sky once the sun has disappeared.
5. Time To Visit Douglas | Everyday People Cafe
We can’t decide which section of this restaurant we like best, only because we can’t reach consensus . . . but no matter where you sit, you’re sure to enjoy what has become a favorite for locals and visitors. Perfectly placed in downtown Douglas, locals all refer to it as “E.P.C.,”unless they evoke earlier days by calling it “The Dinette.”
After putting your name on the list, take a minute to stroll down to Laura Jean to get your fashion fix. Here, you’ll find the latest trends for both men and women. Enjoy brands like DL and 96 and jewelry by Chan Luu and Annie O.
After shopping, cozy up to one of the two bars and start your night off with a Bell’s beer or glass of L.Mawby sparkling. Order the Drunken Shrimp Sambuca or the Spanish Tapas Plate for starters. Once seated at your table, try the Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna or the Gorgonzola Pork Chop for dinner. If you’re looking for something simpler, Gigi’s Greek Salad is fresh and tasty, and the Smoked Sea Salt and Pepper Crusted Burger always satisfies.
6. Waves & Colors | See the Great Lake and Fall Foliage | Saugatuck Dunes State Park
Enjoy the Fall foliage as you wind your way to the Saugatuck Dunes State Park. (10 minutes by car. Watch for the Brown Signs). Park in the Shore Acres Parking lot and ease your way into your walk with a stroll along the Felt Mansion. Enjoy the birds, trees and topography as you hike along the access road. Cast of your shoes as you hit the sandy part of the hike because you are now nearing Lake Michigan. Skip stones, build a sand castle, or simply sit and take in the beauty of the beach. Head toward the channel and turn back into the woods at the South Trail, or keep going all the way for a stroll along the pier. Either way, the scenery and solitude are sure to entrance.
7. Gourmet Brunch | The Kind Of Breakfast You Wish You Made At Home
Once again, this is where the talents of the bestselling cookbook author and owner of Wickwood Inn, along with her happy and efficient staff, dazzle their guests. Start with a steaming cup of locally brewed Simpatico Coffee. Find a cozy seat in the expansive dining room. Try the Fresh Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots and Blueberries in a Brown Sugar Lemon Sauce. The Zucchini Fritatta with Roasted Tomatoes and Parmesan Shreds tastes divine with a glass of Champagne. The Pistachio Sausage Patties surprise you with their slight crunch and hint of spice. Just right. Your sweet tooth is more than satisfied by the Glazed Apple Bismarcks with Spiced Maple Syrup, but you still delight in a taste of the Pecan Sour Cream Coffee Cake.
8. Take a Swing or Set Sail | Play a Round of 9 or Get Out On the Water?
Asses the weather and your mood before making the next decision. Is now the time for a round of 9 holes at either Clearbrook or the Ravines? Or, is the lake calling your name? If it’s the latter, how do you prefer to travel? By sailboat, paddle boat, kayak, canoe, or pontoon? Your rental options abound, and all of the staff at Wickwood can assist you in your selection and any reservations necessary.
9. Bring Along Your Cooler For Foodie Foraging | Self-Guided Culinary, Farm Tour
It’s time to explore what this area should be known for. The chefs and restauranteurs in Chicago understand the wonders of this region. Now, it’s time for you to learn their secrets and get to know the real rockstars of our community. Head to the orchards, farms, and vineyards to taste the handcrafted flavors of the area’s best artisanal purveyors.
Start off in Fennville at Crane’s Orchards and enjoy the 17 varieties of apples available for U-Pick. Be sure to grab a copy of the recipes they have on hand for inspiration when you return home. Grab a cider doughnut and a glass of fresh cider and fuel up to find your way through the 20-acre corn maze.
On your way back West on M-89, stop in at Peachbelt Studio Gallery. Enjoy the historic one-room schoolhouse setting while you explore the oil paintings of owner Dawn Stafford. You’ll also enjoy sculpture by Jill Lareaux and gemstone jewelry by Elaine Decker.
Next, head to Evergreen Lane Creamery to see the beautiful La Mancha and Alpine goats, but don’t get so distracted that you forget what you came for . . . cheese! You’ll certainly want to buy some spreadable and creamy Fresh Chèvre (we prefer the plain because of its versatility) and we’re also partial to the jersey cow’s milk, Poet’s Tomme. The pair of cheeses provide perfect contrast, in color and textures, for your picnic.
These cheeses deserve the very best in bread, so turn the corner to Kismet Farm Bakery and buy the perfect loaf. Kismet crafts their hearth-baked breads from scratch, using no shortcuts, no artificial anything, and no refined sugars. You’ll feel good knowing they use the finest certified organic flours and grains. Our favorite is The Original Seedy Salt: full of aromatic seeds and crusted with a bit of French sea salt. Baked in their one-of-a-kind wood-fired oven, this bread takes your savory experience to the next level. If there happen to be some Triple Chocolate Cookies, Lemon Tart, or Shortbreads on the counter, be sure and grab what’s left. Anything that comes from this place will be delicious.
Now you’re not far from the latest addition to the stops on our culinary tour: Virtue Cider. Founder Gregory Hall, formerly of Goose Island Brewing, uses premium heirloom apples for the branch to bottle ciders that delight with every sip. Head into their Tasting Room & Bottle Shop to try out their latest offerings. Red Streak is an English style cider with a lemon hue, touch of oak, and a crisp, tart finish; perfect any time of year. Sidra de Nava is Spanish style and perfect for Summer and blue skies. Its tart, lemony flavors taste like sunshine in a glass. For cooler weather, The Mitten is the perfect choice to keep you warm. Aged in bourbon barrels, the notes of caramel, vanilla, and charred American Oak are smooth and full of comfort. Pick your favorite, purchase a pint, and head out to the tables where you can open up your cooler and enjoy an impromptu picnic of bread, cheese and cider. No fuss —only farm fresh foods and fantastic flavors.
From here, it’s just a short jaunt across the street to Fenn Valley Vineyards & Wine Cellars, where the wagon awaits your tasting tour through the vineyards. The hour and forty five minute tour speeds by as you sip wine, all the while learning how wine their premium wine grapes are grown. Stock up on your favorites in the tasting room after the tour. We like the Riesling and the Meritage (delicious with pizza!)
10. Keep The Party Going | Sips & Small Plates
Tonight you opt for Smoky Potato Soup with Arugula and some Dijon Mustard Breadsticks. The Garlic Shrimp and Crab with Scallions on top of Crostini catches your eye, and the Caramelized Onion Roquefort and Parmigianino Reggiano Flatbread is not to be missed.
11. No More Driving | Walk Through Charming Downtown Saugatuck To Dinner
Enjoy the shops, the boats, and the people of Saugatuck as you make your way to Phil’s Bar and Grille. The marquee makes this popular place easy to find, and if truth be told, we read the sign every day to make sure we’re up on the latest sliver of news. A seamless blend of locals and tourists, families and singles, this full-service bar, buzzing with energy, offers more than typical bar food. We’re rather addicted to the Nutty Salad, and while the Broasted Chicken is the well-loved classic, try the Adobo Rubbed Ahi Tuna, the Tasso Pizza, or the Scallop Pad Thai. The crayons at the table, and the animal crackers served with the bill, still make us smile.
12. Wake Up Your Legs | Breathtaking Views Are Your Reward
Yesterday’s indulgence provides perfect motivation for a morning climb. Park at the base of Mt. Baldhead (5 minute drive, just across the River), stretch your calf muscles, and begin your ascent. Count if you like, but we assure you, there are a steep 302 steps up the dune! Take your time, rest often, and when you do, be sure to turn around and take in the views. Congratulate yourself on reaching the top and stroll around the deck for as long as you like. The hard work is over. The walk down is easier.
13. You’ve Worked Up An Appetite | Brunch Is Ready
You are really going to miss this. Life at Wickwood is indeed different, and it’s the kind of life one could get used to! How does the staff make all of this seem so effortless? The Homemade Granola and Scones, Frittata and Popovers . . . the Fruit and Bread Pudding. Everything is excellent. The Brunch alone will bring you back to Wickwood time and time again.
14. Discover Why Saugatuck Has Been Named One of Top5 Art TownsIn America |Downtown Art Galleries
The Bruce Baughman Studio & Gallery and the James Brandess Studio & Gallery are located next door to one another on Butler Street. Baughman works in many styles, but he is well known for his reverse paintings. The textured and layered look of Brandess paintings can be spotted in restaurants and shops throughout town. Did you notice them on the wall beyond the bar at Phil’s?
15. Although You Hate To Go | Checkout from Wickwood Inn Boutique Hotel
As you finish putting your things together, it dawns on you. It’s true. The rooms were lovely and the food was fantastic, but there’s something else that made your time at Wickwood memorable. It all seemed so effortless, but you understand it was the level of service you received —from start to finish of your stay —that thoroughly impressed. This staff has figured out the perfect balance between helping, without ever being overly obtrusive. It seems simple, but it’s all of the small touches that make Wickwood truly special. Even as you check out, the Innkeeper has encouraged you to leave your car safely parked in Wickwood’s private lot for the remainder of the afternoon. As you walk out, you glance at your bill and smile when notice there are only two lines: Room & Tax. No hidden fees, no extra costs. Apparently there’s no charge for expert service; you understand it’s priceless.
16. Grab a Light Lunch | Walk To Lucy’s Little Kitchen or Ida Red’s
Lucy’s Little Kitchen (across the street from the Chain Ferry – open weather permitting) continues Chef Matt Balmer’s tradition of farm fresh foods that he’s had in place for years at Everyday People Cafe (EPC). Think EPC behaving more like a food truck . . . or something like that. Like at EPC, everything made at Lucy’s, is made from scratch. The fish arrives daily. Their Zero Proof Sugarcane Juice Bar is something you will not find for at least 1500 miles. This entirely open air restaurant embodies vacation. Select from their favorite juice combinations posted on the menu, or you can order up something custom. The Tuna Nachos and the Ceviche rise to to the top of our list, but we think you’d enjoy tasting your way through this entire menu.
If Lucy’s is not an option, continue down Water Street to Ida Red’s. This cozy cottage is a breakfast favorite for locals and tourists. However, we think their lunch menu is one of the best kept secrets in town. Be sure and check the Specials Chalkboard when you walk in. That way you’ll know the sandwiches, salads and sides that aren’t listed anywhere else. If you’re lucky, they’ll be featuring a tostada. We suggest you start there. If you want something refreshing to drink, the orange juice is freshly squeezed and delicious. See any muffins left up at the counter? Have them packed up for your drive home or for tomorrow’s breakfast. You won’t be sorry. Oh, and make sure you have cash or your checkbook. No credits cards accepted here.
16. See Saugatuck From The Water | Board The Star Of Saugatuck & Cruise The Great Lake
Sit back and relax as you listen to the water cascade from the paddle wheels. Enjoy the entertaining narration, take in the Fall colors, enjoy the view of the shops and houses, and spy for wildlife as you cruise along the Kalamazoo River. As you make your way through the channel, look left to see the Singapore Harbor Natural Area, and right toward the Saugatuck Dunes State Park. You hope you will be back hiking in both sometime soon. Maybe this winter on cross country skis or snow shoes? Sounds good.
17. Make It Last | 3 More Fine Art Galleries
Thankfully, there’s still time to visit a few more of the many local art galleries. Begin on Blue Star Highway at the newly opened (Summer, 2013) Roan & Black. Here you’ll see an intriguing blend of contemporary art and found objects in almost every price range. From there, continue on Blue Star to Button-Petter Gallery, where they offer a wide selection of art including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, blown glass and prints. Turn into downtown Douglas for your final destination: Water Street Gallery. This contemporary fine art gallery highlights the work of over 60 established and emerging artists.
18. Linger A Little Longer | This Unique Store Is Not To Be Missed
Indian Summer is a store that has created a large, loyal customer base both from folks in town and from very far afield. Owners Carl and Susan spend May – October in Saugatuck, but the rest of the year they are in New Mexico. Because they deal directly with the artists and collectors during their time out West, they can tell you a story about every piece of jewelry, every rug, and every piece of pottery that is in their store. Whether you are a serious collector looking for that very rare pair of vintage silver salt and pepper shakers, that special Navajo rug, or a most unusual piece of Zuni pottery, there’s something here for you. Perhaps you simply love turquoise jewelry, or want to find a charming pair of earrings to bring home as a gift, this is also your store. Carl and Susan will happily show you anything you are interested in and share their stories if you want to know. Enjoy this special shopping experience.
19. One Final Stop | Saugatuck Brewing Company
Featuring an outdoor patio, a full menu, and oftentimes live music, this pub with an Irish flare makes local brews in several varieties. Take in the sounds of The Last Call Band and order their best-selling Oval Beach Blonde for an easy-drinking, light bodied American craft beer. Amp it up with their Singapore IPA, Pier Cove Porter, or a Boathouse Stout. For just $12, you can taste your way through a flight of 6, 5 ounce pours to find out exactly what you like. Try the house favorite Drunken Hummus and Fish & Chips, and do save room for the Ginger Chocolate Stout Cake.
20. Time To Head Home | Reserve Your Room For Your Next Visit To Wickwood
It’s unbelievable how much you have done, and how FAR you have gotten away, in one weekend. You smile as you drive home thinking about Wickwood Inn, and you start dreaming of all you’ll do when you return . . .