Saugatuck Douglas: Michigan’s Most Charming Gay Vacation Destinations
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Tucked between soaring sand dunes and the glorious Kalamazoo River, Saugatuck-Douglas showers the spoils of resort-life on locals and visitors alike. With its beautiful beaches and eclectic cuisine and nightlife, the area’s relaxed atmosphere has charmed gays and lesbians for nearly a century. Whether hosting the club kids or the over 60 crowd, Saugatuck-Douglas proudly offers something for everyone.
History of Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan
Once a thriving lumber town, Saugatuck-Douglas became a popular tourist destination in the early 1800s. In the later half of the century, Chicago and St. Louis natives commonly traveled to the Saugatuck-Douglas lakeshore to escape the summer heat. The area’s true turning point came in 1910, when artists from the Chicago Art Institute established the Summer School of Painting on the Ox-Bow Lagoon. Ox-Bow encouraged a gay presence in Saugatuck-Douglas and over time, the community flourished as a gay safe haven. In fact, tourists have warmly nicknamed Saugatuck the “Fire Island of the Midwest.”
After forging a reputation as a gay vacation destination for a weekend retreat, Saugatuck-Douglas emerged as a pillar of the greater Midwest gay community. Many who once called Saugatuck-Douglas a home away from home for their gay vacations became full-time investors in the town’s success. As they fell deeper in love with their surroundings, the weekend warriors purchased and renovated homes and businesses. What were once abandoned storefronts and dilapidated cottages gradually became quaint bed and breakfast establishments and storefronts. Saugatuck-Douglas became the mecca for gay vacations in Michigan, offering something for everyone. The towns now feature more than 30 art galleries and a local calendar loaded with music, art and film festivals. Currently, more than 30 percent of Saugatuck-Douglas’ impressive restaurants, accommodations, and shops are gay owned and/or operated – including the Dunes Resort!
Something for Everyone
The Saugatuck-Douglas dining circuit bridges the gap between top-shelf taste and low-brow attitude. American, Italian, French, and English delicacies are available in abundance, as are the prerequisite burgers and ice cream demanded by most lakeshore travelers and tourists.
Saugatuck-Douglas’ clothing, gift and antique shops run the gamut from classic to contemporary, with designer brands, thrift shops, and everything in between. Forget a swimsuit? Need a gift to bring back home? You’re certain to find the perfect fit among the various shops in our town!
Tourists also enjoy many options when it comes time to rest their weary heads. Saugatuck-Douglas motels, resorts, cottages, suites and Bed & Breakfast inns are suited to every taste and budget. To feel truly at home during gay vacations, most prefer the Dunes Resort for our frequent events, comfortable accommodations, and relaxing everyone-is-welcome atmosphere.
For art enthusiasts, Saugatuck-Douglas boasts more than 38 galleries, and The Mason Street Warehouse professional theater company in the Saugatuck Center for the Arts presents “uptown theater in downtown Saugatuck” every June – October.
Although both business and tourism thrive year-round in Saugatuck-Douglas, things really heat up for gay vacations between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Swimmers and sunbathers soak up the scene on the infamous Oval Beach. MTV once touted Oval Beach as one of the nation’s five best beaches, and Conde Nast Traveler rated it one of the top 25 in the world, making it a top spot for gay vacation destinations.
Saugatuck-Douglas has plenty of physical diversions for the young and restless to enjoy the natural beauty of the town. Canoeing, jet-skiing and horseback riding can be arranged from several locales, and premier hiking awaits you at the Saugatuck Dunes State Park and Allegan State Park. Be sure to discover the wonderful breweries, wineries, orchards, farmers markets, and nightlife while you are here.
When travelers tire of the sand in their suit, romantic Lake Michigan is on hand to conjure another stunning sunset each and every night.
More Reasons Visitors Choose Saugatuck and Douglas for Gay Vacation Destinations
Saugatuck/Douglas: The Art Coast of Michigan
- USA Today “10 Best Weekend Escapes in the USA” Saugatuck #1 reader vote
- Conde Nast Traveler “Top 12 Beach Towns in the USA”
- Life Magazine “Best Dune Town”
- Midwest Living “Saugatuck #5, 25 Coolest Midwest Lake Vacation Spots”
- Midwest Living “100 Best Small town getaways” Ranked #5
- Travel & Leisure “America’s Best Little Beach Towns”
- and a whole list of other awards.
Come find out what all the fuss is about!
For more information on planning your gay vacation:
Elizabeth Burns, Saugatuck Douglas Area Business Association
269-857-1626 or www.saugatuckdouglas.com
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