The Arts Help Make Southwestern Michigan a Top Pick

Lake Michigan College Mendel Center

Recently, Forbes magazine published an article about the 10 best places if you want to retire early in the U.S. In it, southwestern Michigan tied for second place nationally and leads the pack in the Midwest.

MagnifyMoney, the source of the ranking, studied 217 metropolitan areas throughout the United States and scored each on cost of living, quality of life, and employability. Quality of life measurements are based on weather, access to arts and entertainment, and walkability.

Of the Top 10 places throughout the country to retire early, southwest Michigan ranked number one in quality of life. The area’s thriving arts and entertainment community weighs heavily in this strong showing.

Regional arts groups including Twin Cities Players, Children’s Music Workshop, Citadel Dance & Music Center, and Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra along with art galleries like The Box Factory for the Arts, ARS Gallery, and Krasl Art Center are at the heart of so many great things to do and see. Venues including Acorn Theater, Howard Performing Arts Center, and The Oak Room at the Citadel host a wide spectrum of entertainment events to appeal to all tastes and interests.

The centerpiece in southwestern Michigan for many of the biggest names as well as some of the brightest upcoming touring acts is The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College. Located on the LMC Napier Avenue campus in Benton Harbor, The Mendel Center has been serving the region for more than a quarter century with a lineup that rivals those found in larger markets, but with unparalleled ease of access.

The Mendel Center offers several series and events that cater to all ages and create connections for visitors and residents alike.

The Mendel Center Mainstage Series
The Mendel Center Mainstage Series brings the best in music, comedy, Broadway, dance, and family programming to southwestern Michigan. Upcoming season schedule can be viewed here.

The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series
The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series brings world leaders, politicians, and other newsmakers to the region. It provides unique opportunities for personal and community growth by presenting a wide spectrum of viewpoints on thought-provoking topics. The series is primarily membership-based but individual speaker tickets are available to the public. More information available here.

Hanson Theatre Living Room Series
The Hanson Living Room Series is a live music experience in the intimate setting of the 250-seat Hanson Theatre located in The Mendel Center. The venue is designed for maximum viewing and listening pleasure, and provides audiences with the opportunity to connect more closely with the performers and the performances.

Wine & Food Events
The Mendel Center also features an array of events centered on local food and drink, including the previously mentioned Mix & Mingle Holiday Party and Shamrocked Irish Feast. These events proudly feature local craft beers and wines. Speaking of Michigan wines, The Mendel Center partners on events with Lake Michigan Vintners, whose wines are handcrafted by the students of Lake Michigan College’s Wine & Viticulture Technology program.

Complete information about Mendel Center events and tickets can be found at www.TheMendelCenter.com. A full list of arts and entertainment events throughout southwestern Michigan can be found at SWMichigan.org/events.

Mike Nadolski

World Class Fishing on Lake Michigan

Take a stroll along the Black River in downtown South Haven and you’re likely to encounter the serious fishing boats. If you’re already a fisherman (or fisherwoman), you may know what fishing on the big lake is all about. But if you’re like me, lake fishing invites curiosity and a certain mystique.

I’m not a complete fishing novice. I have experienced the occasional casting from a rowboat or canoe on camping trips, once tried fly fishing in Wyoming and had the distinct pleasure of salmon fishing in Alaska on a rare sunny day where, with a lot of help from a seasoned guide, I caught a 25 pound King Salmon.

Fishing on Lake Michigan, however, is a different experience and fishing with die-hard sports fishermen opens up a whole new world. Chuck Moore and his crew, experienced friends Bill and Kevin, graciously offered to take me out and glimpse their unique world. Moore’s boat is a 33-ft. craft called the Merry More, which he bought 4 years ago and retrofitted for optimum fishing.

We started out at 6:30 am and I was sure to take my Dramamine, though I wasn’t sure I needed it (I did). We headed out of the harbor into open water. It was a cloudy, close to foggy morning, but the lake was smooth. At about 3 miles out, the crew put trolling bags over the side to help with steering and to slow the boat while trolling. One by one, while Chuck steered the boat, Bill and Kevin put fishing lures onto the lines and cast them out, using boards to keep the lures away from the boat until 18 lines were out.

That was my first surprise of the day (that’s a lot of lines)–this is serious fishing. Chuck has radar in the cabin to track where the fish are lurking and steered the boat to optimize its position. The lures they used were called spoons (oblong pieces of metal with a treble hook at one end and a grommet or loop at the other.) The spoons were colorful and, it was explained to me, wobble in the water which attracts the predator fish. The lures have colorful names, too. One used was called Mixed Veggie, another, still in its package and never to be used, was named the O.J. Simpson.

Eventually we were 5 miles out in the lake. It occurred to me that we could have been on an ocean. We couldn’t see the shore and I once again marveled at this amazing body of water I have the privilege to live near which offers, what Chuck calls, “world class fishing”.

I confess, despite the Dramamine, I still became a bit queasy. I was told not to go below deck, to stand in the middle of the boat and look at the horizon. It helped. So did being called to land a fish. We hooked one and I was brought to the stern to bring it in. I began reeling it in and then a yellow devise called a rod butt cushion was placed on the butt of the fishing pole so that I could position it in my belly button and give myself some leverage without severely bruising myself. It took a bit of arm strength and I didn’t embarrass myself. The guys were good at giving instruction and I managed to bring the fish in so that they could net it and land it on board. It was a beautiful lake trout.

I let my husband, along for the fun, land the other three we brought in—two king salmon and a steelhead, all three larger than my lake trout. We headed back to the harbor, sooner I know than the guys would have liked. We watched them process the four large fish in about 15 minutes and we bid them farewell. They were headed back out. It was a good fishing day, and they weren’t about to let the day go to waste.

If you are looking for your own world class fishing experience on Lake Michigan, South Haven has a number of charter fishing companies who are eager to help. Here’s a resource to get you started on your fishing adventure: https://www.southhaven.org/experience/fishing-and-hunting

About the Author

Nancy Backas has been writing, mostly about food, for more than 30 years. South Haven is a favorite place, and she and her husband Terry visit as often as they can. The rich food and art culture, along with opportunities to explore South Haven’s magical natural surroundings is what draws she and her husband to SoHa. She looks forward to sharing her South Haven discoveries. And, while they currently live in Chicago, with moving plans in the works, South Haven will soon be their new home.

Southwest Michigan’s Best in Breakfast, Brunch and Bloody Marys

Vacation may be the only chance you get to make time for breakfast, and when in Southwest Michigan, you will be glad you did. Whether you live for breakfast food or you’d rather drink your breakfast you’ll definitely want to start your day at one of these amazing restaurants:

Staymaker at Journeyman Distillery, Three Oaks, MI
The ultimate brunch buffet includes breakfast-themed pizzas, breakfast meats, savory casseroles, fresh-cooked eggs, a donut bar, house-made pastries, a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar and a unique cocktail menu. Gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan plus non-alcoholic drink options are available. Served every Sunday. Call for more information: 269-820-2050.

Mason Jar Cafe, Benton Harbor, MI
Made from scratch, locally-sourced, organic and delicious menu options make this a local and visitors’ favorite breakfast option. Go-to choices (there are honestly too many to list here) include their spicy egg sandwich, stuffed French toast, corned beef hash, huevos rancheros and daily quiche. A wide selection of specialty lattes and hot chocolates are standouts, too. This cozy cafe in the Benton Harbor Arts District is a must try while you’re in town. Open daily.

Plank’s Tavern on the Water, St. Joseph, MI
Brunch with a view! Start your day with a mimosa overlooking the St. Joseph River. Plank’s Tavern is located in the Inn at Harbor Shores. Choices include a selection of benedicts, deviled avocado poached eggs served with sweet potato hash, a breakfast hot pot and more. Brunch menu available Saturdays & Sundays 7am-3pm and brunch buffet on Sundays.

Iron Shoe Distillery, Niles, MI
Southwest Michigan’s newest distillery. Try their “Urban Legend Bloody Mary” paired with their macaroni & cheese waffle. Check their Facebook page for current hours.

Silver Beach Pizza, St. Joseph, MI
Silver Beach Pizza is well known for having the best pizza in Southwest Michigan, so why did they make this list? Because of their Bloody Marys! Start with their famous schooner glass full of delicious Bloody Mary goodness then add basically a full meal as a garnish: a slice of pizza, celery stick, pepperoni, dill pickle spear, pepperoncini, and olives. Enjoy it with a view of Lake Michigan and passing trains. Check their website for seasonal hours.

Saugatuck Named One of the 25 Greatest Beach Towns in America

What do you see when you envision the perfect beach? For us, it’s pretty hard to beat Oval – the largest beach in Saugatuck/Douglas. Although our beaches are a beloved part of our community, our year-round attractions, local character, food scene and charm factor, all distinguished Saugatuck/Douglas from the rest when Thrillist Travel chose the “25 Greatest Beach Towns in America.”

Thrillist Travel described Saugatuck/Douglas as summertime hotspot for travelers with unique lodging options, a thriving arts and food scene and a popular retreat for LGBT travelers. Thrillist Travel says:

“Saugatuck is to western Michigan what Provincetown is to Cape Cod. It is thoroughly a tourist’s beach town – invaded in the summer, but its character is also impeccably maintained.”

Thrillist Travel hit the hotspots when it comes to food – mentioning coffee from Uncommon Coffee Roasters, Saugatuck Brewing Company, The Southerner and the newly-opened New Holland Spirits Tasting Room. Of course, Thrillist Travel listed Oval Beach and Mount Baldhead as a must-visit.

From our beaches, trails and waterways to our restaurants, shops and lodging options, Saugatuck/Douglas in summertime is truly hard to beat – come see for yourself! Plan your beach town retreat to Saugatuck/Douglas today at Saugatuck.com/stay.

Click here to read the full Thrillist Travel article.

Exploring Public Art in the Twin Cities

Exploring Public Art in St. Joseph

Southwest Michigan is home to the vibrant and artistic Twin Cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. Visiting the waterfronts of Lake Michigan and the St. Joseph River, walking along Lake Boulevard in St. Joseph or exploring the Arts District of Benton Harbor soon reveals that there is a wide range of artists and artworks integrated throughout the community. In particular, there are several publicly placed outdoor sculptures and monuments. As part of the community, these artworks and memorials are a source of community pride. They beautify our neighborhoods and make them unique.

The merits of public art have become increasingly recognized. Public art offers informal opportunities to experience art during outdoor activities and exploration. It can be experienced in formals or flip flops, costs nothing to see, is available day and night and is barrier free. Public art frequently becomes a shared site to gather or a visual marker for destinations. People take photos in front of it, using it to capture and share special memories and moments. It is fun and invites engagement. Further, public art is known to increase the safety of the sites where it is located as well as drive cultural tourism, providing tangible benefits to the community in which it resides.

Read further to learn about the organizations and sites that host public art in the Twin Cities.

KRASL ART CENTER

Krasl Art CenterThe Krasl Art Center (KAC) in St. Joseph has collected sculptures since it opened its doors in 1980. Believing in the power of art and community, KAC originally developed its collection to complement the memorials along Lake Bluff Park through the commissioning and acquisition of unique contemporary sculptures. Today, the KAC celebrates its newly renovated grounds with the monumental sculpture Rising Crossing Tides by Richard Hunt at its focal point – both of which purposefully invite the community to engage with the grounds and the art on view as an extension of the beautiful outdoor surroundings.

Sculpture in the KAC collection ranges from regional artists to internationally recognized sculptors. On the west face of the KAC building the kinetic sculpture Three Lines Diagonal by artist George Rickey may be found. Rickey was a native of Indiana yet his artworks are on view in museums and sculpture parks throughout the world. Three Lines Diagonal is a dynamic sculpture of vertical elements held together by industrial airplane bearings. The elements twist and turn, powered only by the wind, usually off the lake, echoing its ferocity and calm from day to day, hour to hour.

KACLightedBench1American Treasure Dale Chihuly’s Beacon Gold Chandelier bursts with color and energy in its perfectly framed location within the KAC entrance. Day and night guests can see this world-class glass sculpture. On the KAC grounds, is a bronze sculpture by artist Dr. Burt Brent called The Heavyweight (renamed Lotus the hippo by local children), that welcomes young guests to crawl on her back because it is perfectly accessible and broad enough to sit on.

SILVER BEACH COUNTY PARK

Krasl Art CenterAdditional sculptures from the Krasl Art Center’s collection may be experienced at Silver Beach County Park. These works happily reside alongside beach-goers, surfers, volleyball players, children and adults alike. They endure the blowing sand of the beach year-round, which is why all are made of steel and often unpainted. Preeminent American sculptor Richard Hunt’s And You, Seas is located at the north end of the park, along the pier. It is a monumental steel sculpture overlooking the mouth of the St. Joseph River. Referencing waves, wind and nature, it is a commemorative artwork that also acknowledges the sailing community within the region.

MARGARET B. UPTON ARBORETUM

Krasl Art CenterSince 1996, the KAC has produced its Biennial Sculpture Invitational. This 15-month long exhibition brings in sculptures by artists predominantly from the region. It provides an ever-changing display of public art throughout the twin cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, with one of its main locations being the Margaret B. Upton Arboretum. Twelve sculpture pads feature Biennial artworks. This effort is coordinated with the City of St. Joseph, with engagement by both the city and community in its selection and placement.

 

BOX FACTORY FOR THE ARTS

ArtThe KAC partners with the Box Factory for the Arts to place six Biennial sculptures directly across the street from its main entrance. Sloping up a hill, artworks enliven the space with color, texture and form. The Box Factory curates a selection of artworks for its immediate grounds as well. This tradition honors their commitment to regional artists. Presently, South Bend artist Dora Natella’s sculpture The Sentinel stoically greets guests as they enter the front doors of this dynamic arts organization. Natella is a master of the human figure and this piece is a strong testament of her vision and skill.

BENTON HARBOR ARTS DISTRICT

Public ArtThe Arts District of Benton Harbor is filled with art, some placed by the KAC, but most placed by artists living and working in the community. There are several small pocket parks in the district and the influence of Water Street Glass Works and its Metal Shop is evident in the types of artworks often found within them. Quarterly Art Hops bring even more temporary art placements, pop-up galleries and exhibitions to the neighborhood making it an exciting place to visit and wander through.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of art sites in the Twin Cities. Several memorials may be found on Lake Bluff Park in St. Joseph and more Biennial sculptures may be seen at Lookout Park along Lakeshore Drive and at Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor.

If you have not explored the art in this area, do so. Ride your bike, take a picnic, go on a walking tour. A sculpture map and additional content may be found at krasl.org that will help you get started. Have fun with it. Ask yourself, your children or your friends what they see. There are no wrong answers.

By Tami Miller, Curator for the Krasl Art Center

Fun at Full Sail Onboard Friends Good Will

The ropes are untied and the boat embarks. You slowly steer through the Black River channel and into the blue sprawl of Lake Michigan, which reflects the diamond chips cast by the sun.

Once you’re on the lake, the strengthening air begins to cool: You pull on a sweatshirt. Crew members dressed as 1800s merchant seamen begin to move on the deck. One asks you to help him.

You join in raising a sail, which billows and cracks as you face the horizon. The wind whips your hair and the beaches of South Haven grow smaller behind you.

You cruise and float with your fellow passengers until the sky begins to dim and splash the coming night with celestial paint. You gaze out at the South Haven sunset, a blazing ball of copper that drops slowly like an eyelid at bedtime.

And somewhere, deeper within it all, you sense the spirit of an American era.

You’re at the pinnacle of South Haven sailing.

Built entirely of wood (mainly Douglas fir) in 2004, the boat on which you stand is an exact replica of Friends Good Will made specifically for the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven. If you lose yourself in the moment, you might even imagine what it was like to be on the deck of the vessel during her early 19th century voyages.

The original Friends Good Will was built in 1810 at River Rouge in Michigan by Oliver Williams, who owned a dry-goods store in Fort Detroit (now within Detroit city limits).

Williams sold everything from hammers to cut trees for houses to candles and barrels of whiskey. Before building Friends Good Will, the only way he could get the goods to his store was to buy them in Buffalo, New York, about 260 miles away on the far east side of Lake Erie. Once loaded on wagons, the goods would make a horse-drawn trek back to the fort, which could take from four to six weeks depending on the weather.

Determined to be more efficient, Williams built the ship so the goods could be acquired by traveling down the Detroit River and straight across Lake Erie. When sailing in good wind, the ship would trim the Buffalo trip from several weeks to two or three days.

In summer 1811, soon after Friends Good Will’s initial launch, Williams’ business was profitable. Just two round trips with the ship could stock his store for more than a year.

In fall 1811, Williams entered a contract with the U.S. government. Friends Good Will would transport soldiers, materials and military supplies including guns and gunpowder first up Lake Huron to Fort Mackinac (now part of Mackinac Island) and then down to Fort Dearborn in what is now Chicago.

When Friends Good Will was making one such voyage to Fort Mackinac in summer 1812, Williams was not yet aware that the U.S. and Britain were at war. The British, who had taken Mackinac Island just days before, lured the ship into the harbor near the fort by flying false colors above the ramparts. They seized the boat and its cargo and crew and renamed it HMS Little Belt, an insult at that time. The British then armed the vessel and added it to the Royal Navy for battle against the U.S.

In September 1813, U.S. Commodore Oliver Perry recaptured the ship at the Battle of Lake Erie and kept the name Little Belt as a snub to the British. He also did not return the boat to Oliver Williams; rather, he put it into service for the American Great Lakes navy, which used it to ferry military cargo and ammunition.

In December, the ship was driven ashore by a storm just south of Buffalo. The crew unloaded it and went up to the city. Later that month, a British raiding party entered Buffalo and burned it down, including the boat.

Thanks to South Haven’s Michigan Maritime Museum, Friends Good Will lives on through day sails, school field trips and educational tours. Schedule your ride today for an exhilarating Lake Michigan journey guided by the ghosts of history.

Discover more about the museum’s other inspiring boat rides as well!

Friends Good Will
Michigan Maritime Museum
260 Dyckman Ave., South Haven, MI 49090
(269) 637-8078 / www.michiganmaritimemuseum.org

 

About the Author

A creative writer for many years, Jon Davis (eloquentarrow.com) paints pictures with his words and captivates readers with distinctive language. He now shares his love for South Haven with us, writing about the experiences you can have only in the Haven. Jon resides in Oswego, IL, with his wife, Kristie, and two daughters. They visit South Haven often to take in the scenic beauty and spend meaningful time as a family.

 

Find Your Sensory Feast at the South Haven Farm Market

Farm-to-table produce and meat. Freshly picked berries and nuts. All-natural Amish cheese. Herbs and spices. Artisan woodwork. Whimsical jewelry. Candles and soaps. Leather wraps.

You’re not in the middle of an exotic bazaar – you’re among the 80 vendors at the South Haven Farm Market at the Huron St. Pavilion, an annual highlight of downtown South Haven.

A point of interest in South Haven for many years, the market connects regional producers and artists with people from all over for a celebration of original food, beauty and creativity.

The Delight of Diversity

The joy and success of downtown South Haven’s farm market reside in its variety.

Farm Manager Harold Stanton of Stanton Farm of Gobles, Michigan, has been selling his farm-raised, non-GMO beef, chicken and pork at the market for eight years.

“For us, being at the market is like going to an event,” he said. “We really enjoy the customers, the personal aspect and the South Haven atmosphere. People there ask a lot of questions because they care about where their food comes from. They like being able to speak to the farmer and know how the animals are raised and fed.

“The market is also a meaningful extension of our farm’s livelihood. It represents about 20 percent of our sales.”

Stokes’ Blueberry Farm & Nursery has been participating in the market for the past six years. The farm and nursery

specializes in blueberries but also offers asparagus; dark sweet, Rainier and sour cherries; peaches; apple varieties such as Gala, Red Delicious and Jonagold’s; and jarred jams, jellies, preserves and pickled asparagus.

“As a first-generation family farm, we take pride in our Michigan farm land and feel blessed and honored to be providing locally grown produce alongside other hard-working Michigan farmers,” said Jamie Stokes-Glowacki, the farm and nursery’s office administrator.

“We enjoy being able to interact with market visitors and answer their questions about how we grow and care for our crops. We believe the power to obtain safe and healthy foods needs to be with consumers. A local farmers market lets them purchase fruits and veggies that are truly ‘in season’ from trusted local sources.

“The South Haven Farm Market is a great way to bring the community together and support local business, all within walking distance of beautiful Lake Michigan. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

The Honduran family–owned Patas de Pluma (Michigan City, Indiana) offers a variety of handmade artisan carvings (e.g. bowls, jewelry boxes, wall art, statuettes), as well as hammock chairs. In 2019 they are also adding Mayan woven cloths and purses, Garifuna shell jewelry and some handmade pottery items.

Born and raised in Honduras, Roberto Enamorado is in charge of Patas de Pluma’s products and sales. He has found great value and appeal in the market since joining in 2018.

“The South Haven Farm Market brings together beautiful summer days, interesting people and great food all in one place,” he said. “It’s also conveniently located for those who come to enjoy Lake Michigan’s coastline.”

The market has been a boon for business as well.

“I love to talk to people about my home country of Honduras and the wealth of its talent and the resourcefulness of its people,” Roberto said. “The response to what we offer has been overwhelmingly positive. Many people say they have never seen anything like our products before.”

For even more insight into the vendors’ diversity, view the complete listing.

Make Your Plans for the Market

Whether you’re here for fun in the sun, dining, fishing, shopping or trips out on the lake, the South Haven Farm Market adds excitement and culture to your stay. The market welcomes visitors 8am–2pm on Saturdays May–October as well as on Wednesdays June–August.

For more information, call (269) 206-0324 or visit www.southhavenfarmmarket.com.

While many market vendors accept credit cards, some do not; carrying some cash is recommended.

 

About the Author

A creative writer for many years, Jon Davis (eloquentarrow.com) paints pictures with his words and captivates readers with distinctive language. He now shares his love for South Haven with us, writing about the experiences you can have only in the Haven. Jon resides in Oswego, IL, with his wife, Kristie, and two daughters. They visit South Haven often to take in the scenic beauty and spend meaningful time as a family.

 

Top 5 Autumn Activities in Saugatuck/Douglas

There’s lots to do in Saugatuck/Douglas all year round, but fall is an especially special time to visit. From traditional autumn activities like apple picking and color tours to more creative ones like gallery walks and beverage tours – spending time in Saugatuck/Douglas in the fall is an experience you’re sure to enjoy.

1. Fall Color Tour – Saugatuck Style

Taking a drive to see the fall colors is a popular Michigander tradition, but in Saugatuck/Douglas, we do color tours a little differently than the rest of the state. One of the most popular ways to see the colors around here is on the water. The Star of Saugatuck offers rides along the Kalamazoo River and into Lake Michigan, giving guests a view of the Saugatuck/Douglas colors that you can’t see from land.

For the active color-seekers, Saugatuck/Douglas offers many opportunities to experience the magic of a Michigan fall. Hiking through the 13 miles of Saugatuck Dunes State Park that lead into acres of rolling dunes is an amazing way to see the colors and get some exercise. For a more romantic color tour, try walking our world-renown Oval Beach for a view of the colors along the lake shore. Finally, what’s more refreshing than a fall bike ride through the colors? Ride along the 11-mile bike route that stretches from Saugatuck to Holland along the side of 62nd Street, 138th Avenue, 64th Street and Blue Star Highway.

2. Apple Picking/Cider Drinking

If you’re from the Midwest, you know that a visit to the local apple orchard is a must. Here in the Saugatuck/Douglas area, we live among a 30 mile stretch that is considered Michigan’s “Fruit Belt,” where apples and pumpkins are plentiful in the fall.

At Crane Orchards, getting the chance to pick your own fruit (u-pick) is only one of the fun fall outdoor activities to take part in. Their 20-acre corn maze is fun for the entire family, as well as a tour of the Crane farm, orchards and woods on a tractor driven hayride, or a cow train for the kids to enjoy. The Saugatuck Center for the Arts also hosts a farmer’s market every Friday, which sells local produce and goods through the end of September, a great place to get local apples or cider!

3. Experience the Arts

The arts are woven into the fabric of the Saugatuck/Douglas community and can be found at every turn throughout the entire year, but the autumn season is always accompanied by annual community arts events that shouldn’t be overlooked!

If you like live music, the Saugatuck/Douglas area is a year-round haven for local musicians, but during the fall months, venues like Salt of the Earth, Fenn Valley Vineyards, Crane’s Pie Pantry & Restaurant, Borrowed Time, and Saugatuck Center for the Arts host local, regional and nationally known musicians.

For live performance, theater, video and community arts events, the Saugatuck Center for the Arts is a venue that is known for bringing in Broadway level productions and nationally known live music. This year, you’ll find shows like A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, running from  August 16 – September 1.

If you’re a fan of visual art, galleries across Douglas and Saugatuck will be open for viewing, but a few special events make it worth the trip! On October 12, The 42nd Annual Fall Gallery Stroll is a yearly local favorite featuring dozens of galleries, special receptions, live music, drinks, demonstrations and more throughout Saugatuck and Douglas. If you want to see the colors in conjunction with artwork, join the Blue Coast Artists Tour, on October 5 & 6 to visit eight studios that are situated between South Haven, Saugatuck and Fennville.

4. Take a Beverage Tour

The Saugatuck/Douglas/Fennville area is rich with a great collection of wineries, breweries and cideries, all within our community borders. Let the drinks lead the way!

Start your beverage tour in Fennville with a glass of crisp apple cider at Virtue Cider, and then hop across the road to Fenn Valley Vineyards for some classic Michigan wine. While in Fennville, be sure to stop by Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant & Winery for a snack and perhaps more wine. Finally, don’t forget to stop by one of our area’s newest breweries, Waypost Brewing Company!

When heading back to Douglas, Saugatuck Brewing Company is your next stop for some craft beer before heading to Saugatuck to stop at some in-town tasting rooms like Tabor Hill Wine Port, Fenn Valley Tasting Room, Coppercraft Distillery Tasting Room, Crane’s Tasting Room, Ridge Cider Co. Tasting Room, and The Mitten Brewing Company.

5. Festivals/Parades/Special Events

Part of what makes Saugatuck/Douglas the charming, quaint small town that it is, is its unique local events. Below is a list of some of our favorite fall events happening in our region:

Plan your autumn getaway to Saugatuck/Douglas today! Check lodging accommodations and availability at Saugatuck.com/stay.

Planning a Beach Day in SWMI

Sitting on the beach with your toes in the sand. It’s an iconic image of summer – and frankly, no summer feels complete without at least one beach day (at least to me). If you’re looking to spend a day at the beach in Southwest Michigan, consider these tips while planning your trip.

  1. Choose your beach carefully.

    Beaches and parks pepper the coastline throughout Southwest Michigan, and each has its own personality and fits different beachgoers. Here are a few different options to choose from:

    1. Silver Beach County Park: Silver Beach is the busiest of beaches and for good reason. With more than 20 beach volleyball courts, playground equipment and lifeguards on duty during the summer, it suits those who are most interested in being active on their beach day. If you choose Silver Beach, be sure to plan a walk to the pier for a little relaxation mid-day (it offers a great view of the North Pier Lighthouses). Silver Beach is located within walking distance of many of St. Joseph’s greatest attractions. Take the kids to the Whirlpool Compass Fountain to frolic in the water jets, for a ride on the Silver Beach Carousel and a trip through the Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone. Silver Beach can easily fill a full day of fun for even the most finicky of beachgoers.
    2. Warren Dunes State Park: For the nature loving beachgoer, Warren Dunes provides a beautiful beach filled with unmatched beauty. Plan some time to hike the trails throughout the park – they run anywhere from .2 miles to 6.0 miles and offer views from all levels of the dunes and beach. Give yourself plenty of time to explore. Hike the large sand dune and look out over the coastline to get a view you’ve never seen before. Walk along the stream and find the clay pit. If you’re an adventurer, try skim boarding along the stream. Or take a ride down the blow-up water slide in the parking lot – the breeze is refreshing! Warren Dunes is a more natural environment than many beaches and as such has many species to keep your eyes out for. Here are some tips provided by the State of Michigan.
    3. Jean Klock Park: Jean Klock Park is a jewel located in the city of Benton Harbor. With parking so close to the shoreline, it’s a great spot to go if you only have a short period of time to enjoy the beach (or a full day, too!). To get to the beach, you’ll walk through a trail of dune grass that is sure to give you that feeling of awe and wonder that any beach trip should. Crafters will love Jean Klock Park as it’s a local favorite for finding crinoids and beach glass. Amateur photographers will love it too with a gorgeous view of the North Pier Lighthouses (framed by beautiful dunegrass).
  2. Plan for a full day.

    Any amount of time at the beach is refreshing, but a full day can leave you feeling revitalized and ready to take on the world. From the peaceful sound of seagulls in the morning to the spectacular sunsets at night, few things can calm the soul like a beach day. Take in as much as you possibly can for full benefits.

  3. Don’t forget the food.

    Prepare yourself for a long day of sun. Whether you pack a cooler full of snacks and sandwiches or plan to buy some food throughout the day, don’t let the day pass without filling your belly. Fresh Michigan fruit from one of our local farms makes for a great beach snack (refreshing and keeps the blood sugar up!). And if you don’t feel like making yourself a bagged lunch or you just plain forgot, Jimmy John’s delivers to Silver Beach. Just call in your order and meet the delivery person at the flag poles.

  4. Enjoy!

 

Guest Blogger: Katie White is a lifelong resident of Southwest Michigan and professionally encourages visitors to spend time in the region every chance she gets.