Destination Dupes: Art Coast or East Coast?

Why spend the extra money and travel time on a vacation out east when a charming coastal town awaits you right here in West Michigan? Close to major airport hubs in Chicago and Grand Rapids, the Art Coast towns of Saugatuck and Douglas offer the same culture, natural beauty, and high-end accommodations you’d expect to find along the Atlantic.

Two friends on top of a sail boat going down the channel. Lake houses and Mt. Baldhead are in the distance.

Destination Dupe #1: The Hamptons

If you’re seeking a laid-back version of the Hamptons without the price tag or crowds, check out Saugatuck/Douglas. Nestled along the Art Coast, these neighboring towns offer white sandy beaches, rolling dunes, and lake-side cottages, all nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan. And with all that this great lake has to offer (along with an absence of salt, sharks, and jellyfish), you won’t miss the ocean.

To explore the Big Lake, book a charter with Sweetwater Sailing, Sailing with Desire, or SeaSun Sailing. They’ll take you on a leisurely tour of Saugatuck’s harbor and into Lake Michigan’s sparkling blue water. If a fishing excursion is more your speed, choose from numerous charters, including InShore Adventures, Best Chance Too Charters, and MIRYHA Charters. You’ll be on the hunt for Lake Trout, Steelhead, and King Salmon.

A group of people playing in a pool at The Dunes Resort. Some people are relaxing on the poolside while a man rides a float.
The Dunes Resort
Rainbow Sidewalk Downtown Saugatuck
Douglas Halloween Parade for Adults

Destination Dupe #2: Provincetown

Just as Provincetown is the colorful tip of Cape Cod, Saugatuck/Douglas is a proud rainbow gem along the lakeshore. Saugatuck and neighboring village Douglas share Provincetown’s rich legacy of inclusivity and have been a welcoming destination for people in the LGBTQ+ community for decades. 

A must-stop during your visit is The Dunes Resort, one of the largest LGBTQ resorts in the country. Here, world-renowned DJs and cabaret performers entertain thousands of visitors each year. The community also has many LGBTQ-owned businesses, restaurants, bars, and hotels. If you’re in town in the fall and missing some of Provincetown’s legendary LGBTQ+ events, check out the Douglas Halloween Parade for Adults. We promise it will not disappoint!

Michigan Wine Co.
Virtue Cider
An aerial shot of Evergreen Lane Farm & Creamery.
Evergreen Lane Farm & Creamery

Destination Dupe #3: Vermont

Let’s face it. Vermont is gorgeous, but it’s not the easiest spot to get to. If you’re looking for small-town charm and pastoral beauty, look no further than the Art Coast. This agriculturally rich region is dense with farms, orchards, and vineyards that supply farm stands, farm-to-table restaurants, wineries, and vineyards. It’s also the perfect place to go on a fall color tour. If you’re staying in Saugatuck or Douglas, take a scenic drive down to Fennville. You’ll want to stop at Virtue Cider, Fenn Valley Winery, and Evergreen Lane Farm & Creamery for a taste of West Michigan’s bounty.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park
A view of downtown Saugatuck from the height of Mt. Baldhead.
Overlook on Mt Baldhead
A large cast performing on stage at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.
Saugatuck Center for the Arts

Destination Dupe #4: Bar Harbor

Much like Bar Harbor, the Art Coast is ideal for people seeking outdoor adventure and cultural activities. For those who want to spend a few days hiking, Saugatuck Dunes State Park features sandy trails that take you through wetlands, dense pine forests, and up massive dunes with stunning views of Lake Michigan. If it’s a workout you need, scale 303 steps up to the top of Mt. Baldhead, where you take the trails down to Oval Beach, designated by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top 25 beaches in the world. 

After all that time on the trails, you’ll welcome a cultural break. The Art Coast is home to galleries featuring fine art in every medium and finely crafted goods from a mix of local and national artists. Explore the studios of talented artists and watch their works in progress, or enjoy a Broadway-caliber performance or show at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.

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