Saturday, June 26, 2010
Saugatuck: "The Art Coast of Michigan"
"Ever since the Art Institute of Chicago began sponsoring a summer camp in Saugatuck in 1914, this Victorian resort town has embraced its reputation as an arts colony and never let go. It's home to a thriving community of artists, art galleries (more per capita than any other small town in the Midwest), and art installations like the annual Art 'Round Town, with some 40 sculptures by nationally recognized artists.
Saugatuck has a genteel quality, a grande dame among resort towns along the southeast Lake Michigan shore. Tucked into wooded sand dunes near the mouth of the Kalamazoo River, lovely Victorian mansions recall Sagatuck's heyday as a busy lumber port. Enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk along the harbor or listen to band concerts in the park. An inordinate number of restaurants and fine inns are always busy, none more lovely than the Wickwood Inn, once the home of an early Saugatuck mayor and now owned by Julee Rosso Miller, coauthor of the seminal The Silver Palate cookbook series, Guests enjoy a first-hand taste of Rosso's inventive evening hors d'oeuvres and breakfasts (her almond croissant French toast with spiced blueberry sauce is unrivaled).
Even when summer crowds seem to inundate downtown Saugatuck, there are plenty of placed to escape and explore. Step aboard the frilly gingerbread Chain Ferry for the short shuttle across the Kalamazoo River to Mt. Bald Head, a high dune perfect for sunset-watching, and Oval Beach, a lovely arc of sugary sand on Lake Michigan. Three miles north of town, Saugatuck Dunes State Park preserved 2 miles of pristine beach and undulated dunes, some more than 200 feet high."
After about 5 passes up and down the streets of Saugatuck I found a parking spot - woo-hoo! Just a few steps down the sidewalk and I found myself in cheery, charming community brimming with grills and cafes, live music, and gift shops galore. I grabbed an ice cream cone and browsed the colorful shops, then I climbed the lengthy stairs of the North Woods Trail and took in the view on the overlook at Mount Baldhead, and continued the rest of the trail-turned-sand barefoot to busy Oval Beach, where children were making sand castles, kids were splashing in the nice, cool water, speed boats were zooming Lake Michigan, a wedding party was setting up, and beach bums were catching tan. This lovely beach was the perfect place to be on a day like this. I walked the shoreline and continued past the beach all the way to a port where sweet jet boats entered and exited the water of Lake Michigan.
Tonight in my tent after reviewing my atlas and desired points of interest, I decided it would be most efficient to modify my route and visit Indiana first, then Michigan, followed by Ohio on East. I'll head to Indiana tomorrow morning.