An LGBTQ Summer Adventure
A favorite vacation destination for LGBTQ visitors, Saugatuck/Douglas has welcomed everyone with open arms for decades. And while guests in our towns can feel comfortable enjoying any activity or visiting any establishment, we’ve pulled together some specific recommendations for the ultimate summer getaway.
Ryan Walker, Gay Travel Blogger at gaytripper.com, compiled a full list of the best gay-friendly places to go and things to do in his Guide to Gay Saugatuck. We’ve highlighted some of his suggestions here and added a few of our own.
Heralded as the Midwest’s premier LGBTQ resort and one of the largest gay and lesbian resorts in the country, The Dunes features dorm-style rooms, hotel rooms, deluxe suites, and cottages for overnight stays. The Dunes is the area’s primary hub for the hottest LGBTQ entertainment, with themed parties, a live DJ, karaoke, and drag queen bingo. Between The Club, The Main Bar, The Show Bar, The Deck and pool, there is always something happening all summer long at The Dunes.
Offering a cozier, boutique setting just walking distance from The Dunes, the Blue Star Motel provides a comfortable stay with modern furnishings in a minimalist design. Patio rooms open up to a covered porch that overlooks the sun deck and hot tub.
For a more romantic, private getaway, this gay-owned B&B is located right in the heart of Saugatuck within walking distance from the water and downtown restaurants, galleries, and boutiques.
Caffeine addicts and breakfast lovers won’t want to miss this gay-owned coffee shop, café, and bakery where coffee blends are available for purchase, including a Love Wins blend and a Pride Blend.
Enjoy wines from around the world, unique craft beverages, and delicious seasonal small plates at this locals’ favorite gathering place. Relax on the covered porch, play yard games out on the lawn, or just sit and enjoy the outdoor live music that happens every weekend throughout the summer.
The Michigan fruit pies here are a can’t-miss highlight. If the thought of choosing just one is daunting, aim for the pie flight where you can sample several. And while you’re at it, go ahead and order their wine or cider flights. Because you can.
Recognizable for its marquee, Phil’s is an American bistro that offers a full menu of creative flavors ranging from lighter fare to more substantial offerings. During the summer, be sure to take advantage of their al fresco dining area.
While LGBTQ-owned Guardian Brewing certainly has no shortage of phenomenal beers (their draft list features 22 craft beers), their seasonally-inspired menu shouldn’t be considered an after-thought. Focusing on fresh food that’s locally sourced, they ferment their own sauerkraut and kimchi. Featuring weekly live music as well as a monthly Beer School, this a must-visit destination for craft beer lovers.
Creating farmhouse cider from Michigan-grown apples, this cidery and working farm is located in a picturesque setting where sheep, pigs, and chickens love to entertain visitors. Sample ciders, check into a tour, or attend one of their many summer events.
Groups interested in a tour of the area’s craft breweries, wineries, and cideries, should consider chartering a private tour with the LGBTQ-owned Coastal Tours. Aside from the benefit of having a knowledgeable designated driver, the tour company has made special arrangements with wineries/breweries to offer guests discounts.
We’re known as the Art Coast of Michigan for a reason, and no trip to Saugatuck/Douglas would be complete without a stop at some of our gay-friendly local galleries, including Amazwi Contemporary Art, Button Gallery, Water Street Gallery, and Roan and Black.
Hike the Ball and Chain
Take the hand-cranked Chain Ferry (the last of its kind in the US) and then head up 302 steps to the top of Mt. Baldhead for a stunning panoramic view of the area. You’ll also get a close-up glimpse of the Mount Baldhead Radar Tower, a Cold War relic dating back the 1950s and one of the most iconic sights along the Saugatuck shore.
Ride the Dunes
There’s nothing like an open-roof dune ride that takes you off-road and deep into the rolling hills of sand overlooking Lake Michigan. Saugatuck Dune Rides excites visitors with a thrilling 40-minute ride that includes some local lore and comedic interludes.
Cruise the Kalamazoo
Take a 90-minute cruise on the Star of Saugatuck, a 51-ton authentic sternwheeler paddleboat that has been delighting visitors since 1978. With several excursions offered each day, including a sunset cruise, visitors can purchase tickets on-site or book online in advance.
See a Show
Described as the intersection of art, community, and joy, the Saugatuck Center for the Arts features equity theatre, world-class concerts, and notable independent films as part of its rotating event calendar. And for a Cabaret Show featuring fabulous entertainers in magic, comedy, and music, be sure to check out upcoming events for The Dunes Resort.