For a quick weekend getaway from Chicago, I highly recommend visiting the towns along the East coast of Lake Michigan! It’s a short 2.5 hour drive from Chicago to get to Douglas and Saugatuck, and there’s plenty to do without being so overwhelmed that you didn’t get to do everything the area has to offer. It’s also a 5 hour drive from Cleveland, 3 hour drive from Detroit, and 4 hour drive from Indianapolis if you’re from any of those areas. Totally doable!
Despite being in Chicago for almost 2 years and being bombarded with gorgeous commercials and billboards promoting Pure Michigan tourism, I haven’t spent much time in the gorgeous state shaped like a hand. I had close neighbors growing up who always spent their summers at their Michigan lake house, but still never made the trek. My brother and sister in law found an incredible airbnb on a lavender farm in Douglas, MI and invited us to join, and I’m so glad we did!
When we arrived, it was so quiet that you could hear the crickets in the yard. A far cry from the bustle of the city! It’s good to get out of the concrete jungle once in awhile and experience a bit of nature, fresh air, and peace. Here are some highlights and photos from our quick weekend trip!
Where We Stayed on the East Coast of Lake Michigan
- The Summerhouse At The Lavender Farm. The house itself is really modern and so chic! It has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, and a lovely modern kitchen and living area with touches of lavender-scented products placed around the home. The property includes the lavender gardens, a zen garden with peaceful fountains, the lavender distillery, and a gift shop! During the day, people will come to visit the farm and gift shop, but they won’t go into the house or anything. It was so peaceful and comfortable – I highly recommend it!
East Coast of Lake Michigan Towns To Visit
- Douglas – Douglas is very small, but there are a few restaurants and boutiques that make it worth seeing!
- Saugatuck – Very charming, with endless galleries and shopping.
- Grand Rapids – we didn’t visit on this trip, but we went a couple years ago for a friends’ wedding! Grand Rapids is a big more urban than the lake towns. And if you’re a big nerd like us you can visit the Gerald R Ford Presidential Library.
Things To Do on the East Coast of Lake Michigan
- Walk On The Sand Dunes – You have two options: park at Mount Baldhead park and go up the 300 stairs, then take the sandy route down to the beach! We walked up the stairs, then decided to drive to the beach instead. We parked at Saugatuck Dunes State park, which had a $10 parking fee.
- Have a Pie Flight at Crane’s – They change the pie flight flavors, but I’m into all kinds of pie so I tried the flight! I had apple, raspberry, blueberry, and cherry, and my favorite was definitely the apple. Crane’s also has wine and cider flights, which looked really good. You can eat a full meal there, but the food was basic and not too interesting, so we just stayed for the pie and beverages.
- Visit Evergreen Lane Creamery – This is the goat cheese farm! We got to taste the cheese and purchase some straight from the farmer, and visit the goats that make it all possible. In the fall they also have pick-your-own apples.
- Tour The Lavender Farm – If you aren’t staying there, then it’s worth seeing!
- Shopping in Saugatuck – Saugatuck is full of cute antique shops, art galleries, and boutiques. We found a used bookstore we loved called The Book Nook, and had fun popping in and out of a few stores. Saugatuck also has a lovely boardwalk along the water.
Where To Eat on the East Coast of Lake Michigan
- Marro’s Italian – this must be a Saugatuck staple, because it was packed! And people were streaming into the bar giving each other hugs and kisses, so I gathered it is the neighborhood place to show up and be seen! Dan had the shrimp scampi (pictured below) and I had the seafood pasta with red sauce. Both were incredible.
- Grow – a nice cafe-style brunch and lunch spot! I had the avocado toast that featured local goat cheese from the farm we visited. Everything was fresh and delicious.
- Wild Dog – The wood-fired pizzas are what motivated us to come here. Dan and I split the frites (photo below), broccoli salad, and bbq chicken pizza. My brother and sister in law are vegetarians and split a salad and veggie pizza as well!
- Pumpernickel’s – We got drinks here (I had a mocktail) but the food coming out looked really good. Great vibes, too!
- Kilwin’s – One of my favorite ice cream spots. Try the Kilwin’s tracks or toasted coconut flavors.
- Everyday People Cafe – A cute cafe in Douglas that had bottomless mimosas for a ridiculously low price. I would have partaken if I wasn’t pregnant! The food was delicious, although I will say the service was horribly slow.
What I wore during our getaway to the East Coast of Lake Michigan
- I kept it comfortable and casual for this trip! The weather was cool and in the low 60’s with a bit of rain. Since we drove, I was able to throw lots of shoe options in the car and multiple jacket options like my favorite jean jacket and my go-to rain jacket.
- Two of my outfits are from Amazon, along with my favorite maternity leggings (I brought them to Hawaii, too!)
- I clearly needed sunglasses in the second two outfits, haha! I was squinting like crazy! These are the $8 ones I brought.
- Full outfit details are below! You can click on the text links or widgets.
Have you been to Michigan? I can’t wait to go back! I also want to make it up to Traverse City and Mackinac Island!