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16 July 2010

Things to do in the Saugatuck/Fennville/Holland area of Michigan

Last summer, we rented a house in Fennville, Michigan. We loved it, but made the decision this year to forgo a house rental (for a number of reasons). We are still very much enamored of that area of Michigan, though, and know we'll be back quite a bit.

Last year, we made a running list of the fun things our family likes to do in the area. It's been sitting in my home office on a scrap of paper, so I figured it was high time that I transcribe it to the web for posterity. Please excuse the jumbled order of items. It's a mish mosh of shopping, food and activities.

Chicken Scratch Farm
This is a tiny little family farm on Lake Shore Drive in Fennville (just under a mile south of West County Park). They have freshly laid eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lots of other little treats including baked goods and handmade soaps. Payment is done on the honor system. Write down what you took on the little notepad, and leave your money in the jar.

Pier Cove

This small beach is one of the most amazing places to watch the sunset. It's just stunning (and there is a lot of driftwood around for those who like to collect that sort of thing).We took these gorgeous photos at Pier Cove last summer.

Coral Gables, Saugatuck
This is not the world's greatest or the fanciest restaurant around. However, with its location right on the Kalamazoo River, and its ready supply of Bell's Oberon on tap, you would be hard pressed to find a better place to waste an afternoon sitting in the sunshine. On many days, there is live music (usually Jimmy Buffet covers). The kids always loved going here because there's a small play area on the side with a bouncy house, a trampoline and a rock climbing wall.

Marro's Italian
We are big fans of the pizza here (try it with broccoli!), and again, they have Oberon on tap, so it's hard to leave unhappy. The children's menu is very expansive, and gets bonus points for its inclusion of a silly photo of a baby "drinking" an empty bottle of beer.

Kilwin's
Kilwin's is a franchise, so you might already be familiar with its charms. There is no better place in town for a box of freshly made fudge (you can even watch them make it). They also have terrific ice cream. There are two locations in Saugatuck.

Lyon's Farm Market
This small farm stand has great vegetables and very sweet proprietors, but for many people, the best reason to head to Lyon's is for the Sherman's ice cream stand on the side. There is a scattering of picnic tables for those who wish to sit and enjoy their ice cream right away.

What Not Inn
This place is hard to describe, so you probably have to check it out for yourself. It's pretty smoky, so if that bothers you, you should probably stay away. That said, it is very fun, it is supremely kid friendly, and they have phenomenal pie. We also enjoyed going for breakfast on the weekends - they have both buffet and table service options. You also might want to swing by for Open Mic night on Mondays. I guarantee you a show you will not soon forgot.

Harbor Duck Tour
Yes, this is insanely touristy, but kids LOVE it. You board a bus with a "comedian" on-board who gives you a tour of Saugatuck and Douglas. And then, the bus turns into a boat and goes right into the water.

Dune Buggy Rides
This is so great it got its very own post last year (linked above). Do check it out.

Soda Fountain at The Village Store
Have you ever experienced a real soda fountain inside a drugstore? They have one here (the only one in the midwest) and it's a lot of fun. Try ordering some old fashioned drinks like chocolate phosphates and malteds. Yum.

Holland Farmer's Market
If you are in the area on a Saturday, this is a must-do (but it is not open in the winter/early spring). I have been to a lot of Farmer's Markets in my day, and this is one of my favorites. My favorite vendor is Otto's Chicken, but my kids both flock to Schroeder's Sugar Shack (aka the honey guy) for $1 worth of honey sticks in multiple flavors.

New Holland Brewing Company
After you stock up at the Farmer's Market (bring a cooler), walk up 8th street for some great shopping and then a terrific lunch at this brewery/restaurant. They feature mostly local foods and the beer is amazing (my favorite is the Mad Hatter Saison).


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