Get a solitude adjustment
Escape traffic, smog and other urban irritations for these quaint and quirky getaways.
Distance 150 miles
Travel time 2½ hours
Don’t miss On Saturday nights, dance to live blues at hopping local hangout Sand Bar Saloon
Saugatuck, a Bedford Falls–like tourist town on Lake Michigan, is known as a summertime spot, but in the winter, you’ll feel as if you’ve got the whole town to yourself. After enjoying a sunset stroll on the harbor’s boardwalk with not another soul in sight, head for warmth (in the form of a pint) at Wally’s (128 Hoffman St, 269-857-5641), a bar that displays a stuffed ferret and a dummy in a hang glider (“It’s art,” the waitress explains).
When asked for dinner recs, most locals will say Everyday People Cafe (11 Center St, 269-857-4240) in nearby Douglas. It has the aspirations (and prices) of an upscale urban restaurant, but not quite the execution: Despite excellent service, the food is so-so. Instead, try the reliable—and cheaper— Phil’s Bar and Grille (215 Butler St, 269-857-1555).
Butler Street also hosts the surprisingly jumping Sand Bar Saloon (141 Butler St, 269-857-2676), where locals shoot pool, order $1.25 beef jerky and take in a live band Saturday nights. Blues band Tailshaker is so good it’ll inspire you to do just that.
If there’s enough snow on the ground, rent cross-country skis or snowshoes at Landshark’s (306 Butler St, 269-857-8831, saugatucklandsharks.com) for $14 a day, then drive a few miles to Saugatuck Dunes State Park (3834 66th Street, 269-399-9390) and trek through the snowy woods to the lake.
Reward your hardworking feet with a soothing pedicure at the sleek Bella Vita Spa and Suites (119 Butler St, 269-857-8482, bellavitaspaandsuites.com), whose recently opened suites—supermodern and très chic—will surely become a destination hot spot…and another reason to beat the summer hordes.
Saugatuck is B&B central, but if doilies and country decor give you the heebs, Hidden Garden Cottages (247 Butler St, 269-857-8109; $135–$180/night, hiddengardencottages.com) offers an alternative: Eschewing 7am meals with strangers in a communal dining room, the owners leave a continental breakfast in each room’s fridge. All four suites have themes, from San Juan (tiled floors and fabric fans) to Tuscany (a stand-alone cottage with imported tiles) to Orleans (Louisianan motif). But don’t sound the kitsch alarm: Tastefully decorated, each room boasts a two-person whirlpool tub and a fireplace (Duraflame log provided). And there’s not a stitch of lace to be found.