Visit Oval Beach Saugatuck: A Top World Beach
Lake Michigan is home to many beautiful beaches, but Oval Beach in Saugatuck MI is both one of the prettiest and the most renowned. With a wide, sandy beach backing up to low, coastal dunes, and an expansive, sparkling blue Lake Michigan, you’ll fall in love with nature’s beauty at this gorgeous beach.
Ranked by Conde Nast’s Traveler magazine as one of the “top 25 beaches in the world,” this stunning west Michigan beach is truly something special. It’s definitely one of the best freshwater beaches in the world, too: just ask anyone who has ever been there.
Perfect Lake Michigan Beach
You find everything you need for a perfect beach day at this post near downtown Saugatuck. It’s one of the top Michigan beach towns. There’s lots of beach parking, a concession stand, and clean restrooms, too. You’ll find soft, sand beaches with plenty of room to stretch out and watch as the picturesque Star of Saugatuck paddle boat cruises up and down the coast.
Read on to discover why I love Oval Beach Park, and why I think you will, too.
About Oval Beach: West Michigan Beach Paradise
Set alongside Lake Michigan near the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, this is one of the top Michigan travel spots. In the summer, tourists and Michiganders alike spend days swimming, relaxing, and watching the sun set into Lake Michigan, one of the most picturesque spots for a Michigan sunset.
The Saugatuck Douglas area is well-known for it’s beaches, and the sand dunes at Saugatuck State Park that lead into the Lake Michigan and Laketown Beach are beautiful, too.
Yet, there’s something about Oval Beach that calls me back every summer. It’s something that grabs my attention and makes me eager to return to Saugatuck, Michigan every summer.
Where IS Oval Beach in Saugatuck, MI?
Favorite Summer Getaway
Sure, St. Joseph and Grand Haven have beautiful Lake Michigan beaches, but there’s nothing quite like Oval Beach.
Truly one of my favorite southwest Michigan beaches, or heck, beaches in the USA, I can’t wait to put my toes in the sand by this top freshwater beach every summer.
Whether you want to take a short walk on the nearby dunes or just meander along the soft sand at the water’s edge, this easy-access spot is perfect for a beach day getaway.
PRO-TIP: If you want to ensure a spot in one of the parking lots, get there early! This hidden gem is not-so-hidden, and you’ll find others vying for spots during the height of summer.
What to Know About Visiting Oval Beach
Where to Park
As I mentioned, parking at Oval Beach at the height of the summer beach season can be …tricky. Sure, there’s ample parking, but it’s also a very popular beach. Don’t let that deter you from visiting this amazing spot, though.
If you chose to park in the lot, it’s $10 per car (collected 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Memorial Day-Labor Day), $50 season pass. Day passes & season passes are purchased at the beach gate. Cash and credit cards are accepted. Beach entry is free Labor Day-Memorial Day.
Other Ways to Get to Oval Beach in Saugatuck
You can also ride the Chain Ferry (Memorial Day-Labor Day) across the river from downtown Saugatuck ($2 per person, each way), and walk a half mile along Perryman Street to the beach. Find more informatin about the Chain ferry below.
If the chain ferry is not for you, call the Interurban Bus, 269-857-1418, from anywhere in Saugatuck/Douglas and they will drop you off and pick you up at the beach for $1 a ride, each way. You will not be required to pay the $10 beach parking fee.
What to Bring to Oval Beach
Bring a blanket to stretch out on the sand, and some towels to dry off. Trust me, you’ll want to get into prety Lake Michigan and splash around a bit. Be sure and add some sunbock to your beach bag, too.
I always pack an umbrella or small beach tent to protect me from the sun; there are many shady areas here.
No Dogs Allowed
Please note: There are no dogs allowed at Oval Beach, but you can bring your pup to Deerlick Creek Beach in nearby South Haven.
Things to Do Near Oval Beach
Saugatuck Chain Ferry
While you stop at this Michigan must-see beach, a rare opportunity awaits you. The Saugatuck Ferry Chain, the last hand-cranked chain ferry in the United States, will give you an experience worth sharing. This ferry, also known as Dianne, will take you down part of the Kalamazoo River as it flows into Lake Michigan from Kalamazoo Lake.
Traveling on a budget? It only costs $2 each way! Traveling with kids or dogs? They are not only welcome but ride for free!
Explore Downtown Saugatuck, MI
Looking for more to do in Saugatuck or enough events to jam pack a long weekend? Check out their adorable downtown full of boutiques, restaurants, knick-knackack shops, and even browse for live theater showtimes at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.
Or if you’re craving more of nature, hike Mount Baldhead, walk along Saugatuck Dunes State Park, or head South of Saugatuck and explore the beautiful West Side County Park.
Just for you all, I will tell you my favorite thing about Saugatuck, Michigan. While I love a good afternoon shopping, topped off with Kilwin’s chocolate ice cream cone, there is just one thing that takes me back to Saugatuck every chance I get. And that is…Oval Beach! Surprise. Well, probably not.
Ride the Saugatuck Dunes
Head over to Saugatuck Dune Rides (6495 Blue Star Hwy, Saugatuck, MI 49453) for a thrilling adventure!
Saugatuck Dune Rides provides the ultimate experience of exploring the local dunes and more of Michigan’s hidden treasures.
This dune ride is 40 minutes filled with the history of the lost town of Singapore and the surrounding environment/ wildlife. You will get the chance to get out of the buggy and walk around to explore. The staff at Saugatuck Dune Rides make the most of every ride and try to provide visitors with the most fun and knowledge of the area.
Oval Beach Getaway
But seriously, if you can, enjoy the relaxing, welcoming, and irresistibly comfortable feeling this beach provides. So do me a favor when you visit this special travel destination, close your eyes, listen to the sound of the waves, and let the environment breathe through you. It just might feel like you’re sitting on the porch of your very own beach house, waiting for dinner to be ready or the sun to go down on an amazing day.
So don’t wait! Type 690 Perryman Street, Saugatuck, Michigan in your phone or GPS and you’re on your way to the start of a great Michigan exploration!
Where to Stay When You Visit Oval Beach
One of the best things about planning a trip to Saugatuck’s beautiful Oval Beach is that there are lots of places to stay. You can use our Guide to the Best Places to Stay in Saugatuck, or choose from some of our favorite spots in the area.
The Wake Robin private home rental is a real find, and a great choice if you’re staying with other couples or a large family. This tasteful three-bedroom home also has three bathrooms, which is really rare with some private rentals. It makes for a much more confortable stay, as does the large furnished deck and large, bright kitchen. You’ll find a fire pit, too, for evening bonfires.
One thing I love best about the Serendipity Bed and Breakfast is the the full English/Irish breakfast, with locally-sourced ingredients when available – it’s really divine. This is a very comfortable spot with friendly owners, and you can choose from standard rooms or a cottage.
There aren’t many chain hotels in this area, and the Best Western Plaza is a very solid choice. Just a short ride from Oval Beach, the rooms are clean and comfortable. There’s an indoor pool here, too, as well as a daily continental breakfast.
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About the Author-
Allie Horning is a current undergraduate Senior studying Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science at Michigan State University. She has had a passion for writing since elementary school and hopes to continue writing throughout her life, whether it be for fun or for work. Or, if the two overlap that would be even better! Currently she is figuring out her post-graduation plans and enjoying her last true summer.