Starting your own tradition can be a lot of fun! Once you find a place that you really enjoy, …the scenery, the weather, the locals, pretty much the overall vibe, going back feels a little like coming home. You get excited to visit places you know and love. Me and my traveling companion, Ariel made our second trip to the East Michigan coast for Labor day weekend. It’s a time when a lot of summer vacationers have gone back home for the start of school, so the crowds are less dense, but the weather is still very sweet. Plus, as we drive up through Northern Indiana, we usually stop at the Blueberry festival in Plymouth, a regular Labor day festival with tons of antique-ing opportunities. We love browsing through trinkets and treasures – reminders of my own childhood! Yeah, I had that very same Schwinn Pixie when I was seven, only mine was purple, not blue! Same with the record player…
We began our official vacation in Holland because we tried to visit there on Sunday the year before and everything was closed. This time, we made a point to go on Friday night. We had dinner at the New Holland Brewing Company where we were served the very best reuben sandwich I’ve ever had…and I’ve eaten a lot of them,… ever since I was ten! Oh, and their beer is pretty good too! We had the Monkey King Farmhouse Ale which was superb! Very light and refreshing on a hot day! The server explained that the restaurant sources almost all of their protein locally, so that explains why the corned beef was so tender and rich. If you’re up in that area, don’t miss this popular local treasure. After eating, take a leisurely walk among the shops until dark when local bands take the stage in several locations about town.
The next morning, we got into Saugatuck at 9:30am. The sun was reflecting off the water, like crystals and we sipped our coffee on a park bench by the water. Mornings there are quiet with locals walking their dogs and fishermen netting bait for bigger fish they’ll catch later on open water.
Most of the shops on Butler Street don’t open until 10, so after coffee we walked the boat docks, admiring the vessels, some having come all the way from Key West to summer on Lake Michigan. The Singapore Yacht Club provides a great place to hang out and watch the boats come in and out of the inlet off the lake.
Art is everywhere in Saugatuck – sculptures, paintings and local gardens, even the houses boast the creative nature of the area! Perusing the galleries and gardens bring variety to a full day of shopping!
We shopped for hours looking for a specific Lavender dress, one that could be worn to Ariel’s’ best friend’s upcoming wedding, but we did not find it. Instead we found a lot of other treasures along the way (tea, books, bar-b-q sauce, postcards, etc.) and of course we had to stop in the Mermaid for a local beer, this time, the Oval Beach Blond from Saugatuck Brewing. At 2 pm the outdoor restaurant/bar was still crowded with lunch goers and not a single table was free so we had to sit outside and sip our beers by the boat docks. We didn’t mind at all!
The Mermaid was our last stop before heading to the beach where we planned to spend the rest of the day in the sun and sand! We asked a few locals where to go near the water and the man who owned the bookstore said, “just get on this road (he pointed out front of his shop) and you’ll find beaches all along it. Stop anywhere that looks good.”
And so we did. I don’t think it was any coincidence that the first place we came to was Oval Beach! We paid to park and headed up and over a dune to the water. The beach was crowded initially, but as suspected since it was afternoon people were already packing up to leave. We laid out our towels and soaked up some sun for hours!
Everyone said the water had been warmer the week before…We tested it out and it was frigid. We didn’t do any swimming that day even though the temps were in the high 70s. We just lounged on the sand, people watching and chatting.
As the day wore on and the sun began to droop toward the water, we considered heading home. Even though our trip had been shortened due to a family funeral we wanted to get back for, we both agreed the trip had been satisfying. We talked about hiking and exploring the dunes next time. It’s always good to leave with something you still want to do – that way you’re sure to come back. Thanks everyone for reading. Hope you too can make it up to Michigan some time, ..a beautiful state.