Our editor in chief takes a classic family road trip to an artsy Lake Michigan shore town for sandy beaches, gallery-peeping and great food.
Fall staff road trips
Saugatuck Dunes State Park
| Credit: Michael DEEMER

I've visited Saugatuck several times, but I hadn't considered it as a family destination until my husband, Nick, and our girls (ages 5 and 8) piled in the car and drove there from Iowa. After seven hours and 7,000 Mad Libs, we arrived at our rental for a few days of Lake Michigan bliss.

Dining Guide


Helmed by a Chopped alum, Pennyroyal Cafe and Provisions has a gorgeous covered courtyard and gardens. For the grown-ups: Greek quiche and Monte Cristo croissant. For the littles: cheese Danish and blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup.


Pizza, room for kids to roam and a delicious cream ale called The Stretch—The Mitten Brewing Company delivers the winning "keep everyone happy" trifecta.


The Southerner makes the most delicious chicken biscuit sandwiches and pepper jelly. Sit on a heated porch by the Kalamazoo River and linger over the bar's killer bourbon list.

Fall staff road trips Fennville Michigan
Virtue Cider
| Credit: Kylee Krizmanic


On a sustainable, solar-powered farm, Virtue Cider brews wonderful drinks—but under-21s will find much to love too. My girls fell hard for the pigs, chickens and a bunny named Grimes.


A float from the giant Root Beer Barrel scored us major bonus points from the kids.

Fall staff road trips
A mural by Michigan artist Erica Bradshaw decks the wall at Mermaid Bar and Grill.
| Credit: Kylee Krizmanic


Butler Street holds many shops and galleries. I bought water bottle stickers and shirts at Landsharks, and margarita mix and apple butter at American Spoon. At James Brandess Studios and Gallery, my art-loving daughter chose note cards as a souvenir.

Outdoor Adventure

Pick a beach, any beach. We spent time at Oval Beach (in Saugatuck), Pier Cove Park (just south in Ganges), and Saugatuck Dunes State Park (north of town, and lovely for sand sculpting and hiking). We swung through Crane Orchards for apple picking and to buy a pie for the road.

Fall staff road trips Saugatuck Michigan
Old Pike Cottages
| Credit: Kylee Krizmanic

Where to Stay

On the reco of a friend, we booked a two-bedroom with a screen porch at Old Pike Cottages, a 1930s property on Kalamazoo Lake that's walkable from downtown. It turned out to be our top discovery; I appreciated all the details—like cottages named after cars in honor of Michigan's auto heritage, freshly remodeled rentals, s'mores kits, docks for fishing, and a lakeside pool heated until November.