48 hours in Saugatuck.

I love weekend getaways.

Living in the Chicago-area, I am lucky to be close enough to Michigan that is a pretty convenient weekend destination. While it is only a few hours away, I feel like I’m in vacation-mode as soon as I cross the border.

My favorite childhood memories are from the shores of Southwest Michigan, an expanse of sandy white beaches and cute harbor towns. It is also home to some of the Midwest’s hidden gems. Growing up, we primarily vacationed in New Buffalo and Union Pier, but St. Joseph, South Haven, Grand Haven, Saugatuck and Holland are great weekend destinations, as well.

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My brother and me in Union Pier, circa 1999 (killin’ it in the classic GAP outfits and overalls)

This past weekend, my friends and I took a girls trip to Saugatuck.

As soon as we crossed into Michigan, we got off the highway at Exit 1 to grab dinner at The Stray Dog in New Buffalo. With walls covered in dog photos (seriously, if you visit, bring a photo of your dog!!), this restaurant and bar is a great stop for a bite to eat, a beer, or just a place to watch the sunset from their rooftop patio. I’m on an Oktoberfest kick right now, so I tried the Great Lakes Oktoberfest. Definitely at the top of my list (which also includes another Michigan brewery – Bells Octoberfest).

Even though Saugatuck and the harbor towns that surround it are primarily summer locales, the fall weather is perfect for wandering around the area. In Saugatuck, we stopped in some local favorites, like Landsharks and Uncommon Coffee Roasters.

While Saturday morning started as overcast and drizzling, the sun came out for an afternoon adventure to Holland. Just 12 miles north of Saugatuck, Holland is also located near the coast of Lake Michigan, but sits inland off Lake Macatawa.

The downtown was full of people, as Hope College had a football game and the sun decided to finally wake up. We decided to grab a bite to eat and a beer at New Holland Brewing. Again, I chose the Oktoberfest.

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Another great thing about Southwest Michigan is the sunsets. Wow. You don’t get these in the suburbs. At least, not with the beautiful waterside view.

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Now, if you’re looking for a weekend getaway that includes a bustling nightlife, maybe Southwest Michigan isn’t for you. But, if you’re ready to get down with the locals and meet some new friends, then you definitely want to explore the bars downtown Saugatuck.

From dancing at a daytime dock bar turned “nightclub” (loosely calling it this) at Coral Gables, to singing at the local piano bar, you’ll definitely have an interesting night. Actually, The Annex is a coffee/ice cream/hot dog place by day and a piano bar by night. Only in a small harbor town 😉 The Annex was my favorite stop of the night!

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Our final stops of the weekend were Pumpernickels Eatery and Kilwins. Every Sunday, Pumpernickels has live acoustic music to accompany your breakfast. You really can’t beat cheesy hashbrowns, biscuits and cinnamon rolls while being serenaded by a man and his guitar. And as always, Kilwins is just… well, Kilwins. I don’t think I could go home without bringing their fudge to share. In other words, I’ll definitely be hitting the gym after work today.

Definitely a successful weekend and can’t wait until next time!

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Just another 20-something trying to figure out this whole adulting thing.

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