Outdoor Weekend Getaway in Saugatuck and Douglas, Michigan
1Dive right into the local art scene at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Every summer evening, students and staff open their studios to showcase their works. At other times during the year, there are musical performances and free gallery exhibits, so check the schedule in advance.
2Our pick for dinner is Hercules Bar and Grill, which serves a loosely Greek-influenced menu of raved-about grilled rainbow trout, fresh Greek salad, chicken marsala, and piled-high pastitso, with a perfectly light topping of parmesan and bechamel custard. Get some fresh air on the garden patio or screened-in porch when it's warm.
3Head across the lake for a nightcap at Douglas bar and restaurant Zing, where summers bring live cool jazz every Friday and Saturday night. Top sips on the "Zingtini" list include pomegranate and gin martinis.
1Ron and Vicki Beisel have put their heart, soul, and lots of TLC into their 2012-opened Douglas spot, Vicki's Family Diner — and it shows. Especially in the big, beautiful blueberry pancakes and Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream; three-egg omelets done up right in a sauce pan; eggs Benedict with shaved ham; and all-American breakfasts with eggs, meat, potato, and toast. Local artwork decorates the walls and is all for sale.
2Grab your towel and sunscreen and make your way to Oval Beach, a brilliant stretch of white sand beach that brings everyone out in warm weather. Concessions and facilities make it easy to stay awhile and soak up the Lake Michigan shore scene.
3When you've dragged yourself away from the beach, head for a light lunch at Everyday People Café in Douglas. Behind its nondescript exterior is an art deco-styled breath of fresh air and creative food. Try the Prince Edward Island mussels, the smoked sea salt- and peppercorn-crusted burger, or the B.E.L.T., a bacon, fried egg, bibb lettuce, and tomato sandwich with organic goat cheese, arugula, and avocado mayonnaise.
4Get your art back on with a browse through downtown Saugatuck's four-block radius of galleries surrounding Butler and Water streets. Local co-op the Discovery Art Center covers multiple genres including painting, weaving, jewelry, photography and polymer clay. Each artist takes a turn manning the store, so be sure to ask them about their work and inspiration.
5Drive north and jump into the open-air truck of the Saugatuck Dune Ride. Prepare to be jostled around on this "scenic thrill ride." The 40-minute excursion takes groups over the dunes and through the woods for fun and some historic info, stopping at one of the area's highest dunes to stretch your legs and — optional for adults — roll down the hill.
6Back in town, settle into the recently re-energized Toulouse for classic French dishes. Try the coquilles Jacque with sea scallops, mushrooms and a marsala cream sauce or the cassoulet, bursting with flavorful great northern beans, bacon, duck breast, housemade duck sausage and duck confit.
7Keep the night going with a stop at Coral Gables, where four different bars offer something for every type. We recommend the Annex Piano Bar where even the most modest sing along and the outdoor Tiki Bar with pure summertime vibe.
1Nearly 25 years together give locals Kate Casey and Heather Barton bragging rights to one of the best breakfasts in the area at Monroe's, complete with plenty of Marilyn memorabilia. The hollandaise in the eggs Benedict is made from scratch, with that perfect hint of lemon. Or go for some green with the asparagus omelet special.
2Squeeze in the quick round trip across the Kalamazoo River on the Chain Ferry. Built in 1857, the hand-cranked chain ferry is the only one of its kind left in North America.
3Wind down your trip with a wine tasting at Fenn Valley Vineyards and Wine Cellar amidst the rolling hills of nearby Fennville. Depending on the time of year, you can explore the cellar or vineyard. Self-guided tours are year-round; guided tours typically pick up in the fall with a stroll through the vineyard.