Kid-Friendly Activities Along The Art Coast

Looking for engaging activities that will make every vacation day feel like a new adventure for your little ones? Join us in the Art Coast of Michigan where there’s no shortage of kid-friendly fun things to do. We’ve gathered some suggested experiences for those 10 and younger to keep your budding explorers, artists, and beach enthusiasts happily entertained during your family vacation.

Cruise Along The Water

Watch your kids’ eyes light up as you glide gently along the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan on the Star of Saugatuck. This authentic sternwheeler paddlewheel boat looks like a blast from the past as it takes you on a scenic tour of the Saugatuck Harbor area. Your little adventurers will delight in spotting wildlife, listening to stories about the area’s history and points of interest from the friendly crew, and feeling the gentle breeze on their faces. It’s a relaxing and educational excursion that the whole family will enjoy. 

Kayak The Kalamazoo River

For families who love water sports, renting a kayak is a great way to explore the calm waters of the Kalamazoo River or Goshorn Lake. Several local companies, like In The Elements Rental, Big Lake Outfitters, and Third Coast Paddling, offer kayaks for rent. (And paddleboards for your older kids.) It’s a wonderful opportunity to get your little ones away from their screens to enjoy scenic views and spot wildlife from the water.

The Star of Saugatuck sailing in the water as people in Wicks Park relax.
Star of Saugatuck
2021 07018 Saugatuck 55 Edit (2)
Saugatuck Chain Ferry

Spend The Day At The Beach

With multiple pristine beaches to choose from, our soft, white sand and unsalted Lake Michigan waves are ideal for swimming and sandcastle building. Plan a picnic, play some frisbee, or float on the water. Beach gear, such as chairs, umbrellas, and inner tubes, can be rented from In The Elements Rental and Woosah Outfitters. Don’t forget to stick around to view a stunning Lake Michigan sunset!

Experience The “Ball And Chain”

This summer activity is for those little ones with lots of energy to burn. Hop aboard the Saugatuck Chain Ferry, a one-of-a-kind, hand-cranked ferry that has been in operation since 1838. This historic vessel takes you across the Kalamazoo River to the base of Mount Baldhead, a large dune with an exhilarating 303-step climb to the top. (Don’t worry, there are several platforms where you can stop and take a break.) Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the town, harbor, and the “Ball”—a decommissioned radar tower from the Cold War era. Kids will love the novelty of the chain ferry and the challenge of the climb, but the best part is when they get to run down the 250-ft dune to Oval Beach.

A group of people riding in a dune buggy with their hands in the air.
Saugatuck Dune Rides
Evergreen Lane Creamery

Ride Over The Dunes

Treat your little explorers to an unforgettable adventure with Saugatuck Dune Rides. Kids will love the bumpy, fun-filled ride over the sandy dunes, where they can giggle at the twists and turns and marvel at the landscape. The friendly (and funny) guides share entertaining stories about the area, making it an exciting and educational experience perfect for young ones.

Meet the Animals 

Give your kids an unforgettable farm adventure at Evergreen Lane Creamery and Virtue Cider. At Evergreen Lane, children can play with friendly goat kids or hang out with Falyn, their retired dairy goat, while the adults sample delicious cheeses. Just a short hop away is Virtue Cider’s 48-acre farm, a wonderful place to spend the day enjoying the sunshine and interacting with the animals. Along with a variety of chicken breeds, such as Ancona, Easter Eggers, Blue Silkies, Blue Orpington, Cream Legbar, Barred Plymouth Rock, Dominique, and Rhode Island Red chickens, Virtue features traditional Gloucestershire Old Spot orchard pigs. According to old English folklore, their spots are said to be bruises caused by apples falling from the trees where the pigs graze. 

Just a short drive from Saugatuck, the Outdoor Discovery Center in Holland offers close encounters and hands-on experiences with nature. The center features walking trails and wildlife exhibits where kids can learn about local flora and fauna. Their on-site De Witt Birds of Prey Center is a fantastic place for children to get up close with owls, hawks, falcons, eagles, and vultures, while their Wade & Kris Eldean Wildlife Exhibit features animals such as an opossum, skunk, porcupine, snowy owl, and fox.

Saugatuck Mini Golf
Alley’s Pizza at Lakeview Lanes

Tee Off For Some Fun

Get in a little physical activity and improve hand-eye coordination as you and your little ones navigate those humps, bumps, and fun obstacles on the Saugatuck Mini Golf course. Along with enjoying some challenging, family-friendly competition, you can help your kids brush up on their math skills as they keep score and count strokes. This 18-hole natural-style course also has a snack shack with hot dogs, snow cones, lemonade, and mocktails so everyone can stay refreshed.

Bowl A Strike

Hit the lanes at Alley’s Pizza at Lakeview Lanes for a fun-filled family outing where everyone will enjoy some quality time together. This welcoming (and delicious) pizza joint features eight lanes of bowling, making it easy to keep everyone fueled as they knock down their pins.

Child painting ceramic truck at the Art Barn
Express Yourself Art Barn
Ox-Bow School of Art

Unleash Some Creativity

Let the little artists in your family create some masterpieces at Express Yourself Art Barn, where they can paint pottery or craft mosaics. With all materials provided, including a dazzling array of glaze colors and thousands of tiles to choose from, all they need to bring is their creative spirit. Or consider enrolling your little one in a 4-day, 2-day, or 1-day camp at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. This vibrant cultural hub is a fantastic place for kids to get inspired and express their creativity through instruction from professional artists specializing in painting, drawing, printmaking, cooking, acting, sculpture, and more. Family art classes are also available through the renowned Ox-Bow School of Art, which offers Family Workshops such as watercolor painting or screen printing for participants aged 5 and up (plus their adult counterparts). Find out more here.  

Learn to Sail 

Set sail for adventure at the Saugatuck Yacht Club, where kids can dive into the thrilling world of sailing. Enroll your young seafarers in the Dinghy Demons class, designed for children aged 5 to 7. This program introduces them to the joys of sailing with a focus on safety and fun. Each session combines on-shore activities with hands-on sailing, ensuring every child is supervised on the water. Beginner sailing classes are also available for older kids. Find out more info here.

Pickleball Courts at Schultz Park
The Felt Mansion during sunset.
Felt Mansion

Explore Our Playgrounds

Let your kids’ imaginations soar at the newly renovated playgrounds in downtown Saugatuck and Douglas. Village Square Park, Schultz Park, and Beery Field offer safe and exciting play areas for children to climb, swing, and explore. You can also get active and enjoy a game of pickleball with your kids at Schultz Park. This fast-paced sport is easy to learn and tons of fun for the whole family. 

Go Letterboxing

Introduce your little explorers to the exciting world of “letterboxing” in Saugatuck/Douglas. This fun treasure hunt combines the thrill of solving clues with the joy of discovering hidden boxes containing unique stamps. Kids will love the adventure of following coordinates or deciphering riddles as they search for the secret locations scattered throughout the Art Coast. It’s a fantastic way to spark their curiosity, engage their imagination, and spend a day outdoors. Learn more about this engaging pastime here.

Bring History To Life

Take a step back in time and explore the Felt Estate’s fascinating history and beautifully restored property through a self-guided tour. A lavish 12,000+ square foot mansion featuring 25 rooms, three floors, and a one-of-a-kind ballroom will have kids thinking they walked into the pages of a storybook. The mansion’s expansive grounds include a carriage house, chapel, and plenty of additional space for running and playing. Each season features a different and delightful experience, including summer outdoor concerts on the grounds, haunted tours during October, and a festive light display and decorations during the winter holidays.

Crane’s Orchards
Crane’s Orchards Holiday Light Show

Fun For The Picking

Every season brings a new adventure for kids at Crane’s Orchards. Springtime offers little ones the opportunity to revel in the beauty of blooming apple and cherry blossoms as they explore the landscape. During the summer, juicy cherries and sweet peaches are ripe for picking, turning a day in the orchards into a delightful treasure hunt. As fall arrives, the orchards transform into a magical wonderland where kids can find their way through the sprawling corn maze, pick their own apples and pumpkins, and enjoy a hayride through the vibrant autumn scenery. Winter offers a different kind of fun with a drive-through holiday light show that will captivate both young and old. 

Linger In The Library

Rainy summer days can pose a challenge in keeping your kids entertained. Depending on the day, there are activities such as Storytime at the Saugatuck/Douglas District Library for kids aged 1-5. Here, they’ll listen to stories, sing songs, and get moving with action rhymes and silly dances. Stick around afterward for open-ended play with toys, Playdough, sand, and water tables. For older kids going into 6th-8th grade, the library also has a Library Lock-In on Tuesdays from 6:00-8:00 pm when the library closes, and the kids take over with different activities each week.

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