Top 5 Reasons Why Art Coast Beaches Are The Best

There’s a lot to love about the Art Coast of Michigan, including being the home to some of the best beaches you’ll ever dig your toes into. If you haven’t experienced the magic of our sandy shores yet, here are the top five reasons why the beaches of Saugatuck/Douglas should be at the top of your summer getaway list.

An aerial view of the lake and people relaxing under umbrellas at Oval Beach.

1. Unsalted Waves

Here along Lake Michigan, you get to enjoy all the sun, surf, and sand without the sting of salt in your eyes or the sticky residue on your skin. Our freshwater beaches and unsalted waves offer a refreshing and pleasant alternative to ocean coastlines. Whether you’re an avid swimmer, a paddleboard enthusiast, or someone who loves just wading in the shallows, you’ll appreciate the pure, clear water that’s easy on your senses.

2. Soft, Sugar Sand

One of the unique features of our beaches is the incredible softness and color of the sand. Primarily composed of fine-grained quartz particles, the sand here has a sugary, white appearance and a soft, comfortable feel underfoot. Over thousands of years, as rocks were weathered and broken down by the elements, these quartz particles were carried by rivers and streams and eventually deposited along our shoreline. This softness makes our beaches perfect for long walks, sunbathing, and building sandcastles.

The sand along the beaches of Lake Michigan has also been known to “sing” due to its high quartz content. To try the phenomena out for yourself, find a dry patch of sand where the tide can’t reach and shuffle your feet quickly across. 

Learn more about what makes our beaches special

3. Dynamic Dunes

Did you know the Art Coast is home to one of the largest freshwater dune systems in the world? This dune system is so extensive that it’s visible from space! These natural Michigan dunes are dynamic and constantly shifting in response to the elements, meaning the landscape can dramatically change from year to year. Our dunes are nothing short of spectacular and can be experienced by hiking along the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, which features 2.5 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline, climbing up Mt. Baldhead, a 230-foot dune that offers stunning panoramic views of the area, or taking an off-road excursion with the Saugatuck Dune Rides

Mount Baldhead
A group of people riding in a dune buggy with their hands in the air.
Saugatuck Dune Rides
A family of three hiking the shore of Saugatuck Dunes State Park.
Saugatuck Dunes State Park

4. Protected Natural Habitat

Nature enthusiasts can rejoice in knowing that conservation efforts that began in the early 20th century have resulted in a thriving ecosystem for the Art Coast. The Saugatuck Dunes State Park, where trees were planted in the 1920s to help stop erosion, now boasts over 13 miles of trails leading to a sandy coastline of rolling dunes. This protected area is home to diverse habitats, including three endangered plant species and a wide array of bird species. Exploring this pristine stretch of shoreline area offers beachgoers a peaceful escape and stunning views free from houses or commercial buildings.

5. Variety of Beaches to Explore

With six beaches and over 12 miles of coastline, the Art Coast ensures that every visit brings a new opportunity for adventure and discovery. Each beach has its own distinct vibe, offering something for every beachgoer. Set along the southeast coast of Lake Michigan near the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, Oval Beach has won numerous awards, including Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 25 Beaches in the World,” National Geographic Traveler’s “Top Freshwater Beaches in the USA,” and MTV’s “Top 5 Beaches in the USA.” Other beaches in the area offer unique experiences, from tranquil solitude to perfect places for picnics, skipping stones, or watching the sunset. Many of our beaches feature convenient amenities, making it easy to spend a whole day soaking up the sun and splashing in the water.

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