Originally founded as "Kalamazoo Village" in 1830, Saugatuck started out as a key lumber port due to its location near both the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan. Over time, however, the town transformed itself into a popular art colony and tourist draw during the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th Century. Saugatuck's cultural importance was later enhanced by the Big Pavilion, a large and extremely popular dance hall that regularly featured music acts from across the Midwest.
Today, Saugatuck is a prime destination for tourism, with a unique confluence of natural beauty, water sports, and eclectic but friendly small-town artsy charm. It is also a friendly haven for LGTBQ tourism and has been labeled "the Provincetown of the Midwest." But whatever you're there for, Saugatuck offers multiple types of hotels along or near the scenic Lake Michigan coast.
When to Visit Saugatuck, MI
With its northern location and abundant water-based scenery and activities, Saugatuck is at its warmest and outdoor-exploration-friendliest in the summer. But unsurprisingly, this also means that, in summer, tourist crowds are at their peak—as are hotel prices. July 4th in particular is the high-water mark for both. By contrast, January is the least expensive time to visit and best for avoiding the crowds. But it's Michigan in January, so check the weather reports, don't forget your snow gear!
As an alternative, consider a trip to Saugatuck in the early fall. At this time, the summer rush has ended and hotels are slashing their rates to keep rooms filled—but temperatures still stay in the 60s and 70s. This is an ideal time for those who are less passionate about being on the water but are more enthusiastic about strolling around the art galleries, hitting the quirky little shops, and layering up to take brisk nature hikes.
Another window for travelers on a budget is late spring. Saugatuck stays cool through April but then hits the high 60s in a hurry, and hotels haven't switched to summer rates yet.
And for snowbirds, the winter excels on both the low-crowd and low-hotel-price front. In this season, Saugatuck offers plentiful snowshoe and cross-country skiing rentals to use in the nearby state park, as well as an abundance of natural winter wonders like the frozen waves and mini-icebergs on Lake Michigan.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Saugatuck, MI:
Averate Rates by Star Rating
Below are 3 charts displaying average nightly cost trends by star rating class in Saugatuck, MI. Analyze these charts to calculate the cheapest dates to stay in Saugatuck during the year.
Luxury Hotel Options in Saugatuck, MI
For those seeking a more upscale getaway, the destination of choice is the Belvedere Inn and Restaurant. The Belvedere is a charming, European-style structure located on a three-star property near the beach, two golf clubs, and many art galleries. It features 10 individually decorated guestrooms, each with a working fireplace. The Belvedere is also beloved for its on-site restaurant, which excels at lavish holiday feasts, custom wine pairings, and special surprises like chocolate-covered strawberries being brought to your table.
For a lively resort at the center of the action for the LGBTQ crowd, there's the Dunes Resort, the Midwest's largest gay-and-lesbian-friendly resort. Located on a scenic 20-acre property, the Dunes offers a range of rooms, cottages, and suites, as well as a gigantic outdoor pool with a patio bar. And for those seeking entertainment, it sports a disco bar, cabaret, game room, and both indoor and outdoor dance floors. Should you ever even think of leaving, it's just a few steps away from world-famous Oval Beach.
Affordable Hotel Options in Saugatuck, MI
3 Star Average Prices: $177.32
The greater Saugatuck-Douglas area brims with affordable accommodations. For a reasonable rate, the Best Western Plaza is a favorite of economy-minded business travelers, offering everything from an on-site fitness center to "forest view" rooms. And it's just minutes from hiking trails and art galleries. For families, there's the AmericInn Lodge and Suites, offering two-family room suites with queen beds, as well as other kid-friendly amenities like an indoor pool and free WiFi. Plus, there's a 24-hour coffee bar for bleary-eyed moms and dads!
2 Star Average Prices: $156.69
Where are the real discounts in Saugatuck
Just down the highway in Grandville, the Rodeway Inn is a triple-score for seniors, AAA members, and current or veteran members of the military. Equally convenient to Gerald Ford Airport, it offers a variety of in-hotel entertainment features that range from billiard tables to LCD TVs to a pet-friendly policy.
Closer to town is Holland's Quality Inn & Suites, which offers numerous types of discounts as well as many convenience touches like in-room refrigerators, microwaves, coffee/tea makers, ironing boards, and complimentary newspapers.
Value Hotel Options in Saugatuck, MI
The Blue Star Motel is a great find, located just 1 mile from Douglas Beach and 6 miles from Saugatuck Dunes State Park and boasting Sleep Number beds and a continental breakfast. Its sister property, the Starlite Resort, is an equally affordable but more style-conscious retro gem with unique decor, a pool and picnic area, and a homey feel. Meanwhile, the Captains Quarters motel is a no-frills affair that is conveniently located near both the state park and downtown and has been highly praised for its friendly, accommodating proprietors.
Hidden Garden Cottages & Suites is a bright and colorful bed-and-breakfast in the heart of downtown, a 10-minute walk from over 20 restaurants, as well as nearby attractions like Wicks Park and performances at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.
Finally, you'll want to book a room at the Twin Oaks Inn in advance but it's well worth it. The Twin Oaks is a bright and colorful 1860s folk Victorian house, but it's also been meticulously restored with modern updates. While an easy walk to all of downtown's attractions, the Twin Oaks is also an extremely comfy place to nest, with thoughtful touches like a screened-in outdoor porch and patio and free private parking.
Top Attractions in Saugatuck, MI
Saugatuck offers a unique "beach" getaway for East and West Coast stalwarts, thanks to the warm, salt- and shark-free waters of Lake Michigan. And there are six distinct beaches to choose from, for every type of visit. Oval Beach has been named one of the world's top beaches by everyone from Conde Nast to National Geographic Traveller magazine to MTV. Pier Cove Beach is an ideal destination for families due to its shallow, smooth-stone-filled wading creek. For the romantically inclined couple looking for the perfect sunset, look no further than the intimate neighborhood of Douglas Beach. Meanwhile, for the more exploration-minded, Saugatuck Dunes State Park has 2.5 miles of secluded beach rippling with dunes of all sizes—the perfect place to explore on foot, dune buggy, or cross-country skis.
And Saugatuck's beaches are only half the aquatic adventures in store. For inland water action, there's the Kalamazoo River, which can be explored by kayak, pontoon, family-friendly double-decker paddleboat tours on board the Star of Saugatuck II, or the lovingly restored 1960s runaround rides available at Retro Boat Rentals.
Back on land, the big draw of Saugatuck is its vibrant, century-old arts scene. Ever since the Chicago Art Institute built its Ox-Bow School in Saugatuck, the town has become home to thousands of artists. On top of dozens of galleries as high-end as the Roan & Black Contemporary and down-to-earth as the Button Gallery, Saugatuck's creators also sport their wares in highly memorable locations. These range from the former one-room red brick schoolhouse now known as Dawn Stafford's Peachbelt Studio to the Khnemu Studio in a giant red barn on Fernwood Farm.
If you're visiting in July, do not miss one of the Saugatuck Douglas Art Club's juried, outdoor art fairs. And if you're itching to try your own hand with a brush and palette, visit the Art Barn, which provides materials and instructions to artists of all ages.
Finally, round out the trip with uniquely creative shopping. Admire glorious artisanal works that could soon adorn your home at Amaru Leather or the Art Glass Alcove. Chuckle at the vintage tin signs layered throughout local favorite clothing store Grins. Treat your taste buds by grabbing a small-batch balsamic vinegar or EVOO from the Olive Mill, or try one of the scores of scrumptious sauces, salsas, and preserves beckoning from the many jars at American Spoon Foods. And be careful of your kids begging to buy all the whimsical, handcrafted creations in the Tiny Tiny Toy Store.
Saugatuck offers endless opportunities to explore worlds outdoor and indoor—on land, river, lake, or art gallery. It has all the sun, sand, and fun of a beach vacation with the scenic lushness of a vibrant watershed. As a town, it's a unique convergence of history, culture, and sport that's very far off the beaten tourist path. And best of all, for the discerning traveler, Saugatuck, Michigan, offers a bevy of hotel options for every taste and budget.