I hope you’ve had a great week!
A little bit of a bummer over here–you know how my mom was supposed to come visit this week? Well, with the huge snow storm hitting Portland, she isn’t going to make it anymore. 😭 I’m really bummed. But she’s hopefully going to be able to come after we get back from Florida! Luckily, I’m still high off the memories we made last weekend in Michigan to keep my spirits up! It was the best time and Neal’s 35th birthday was the perfect excuse to get back.
If you’ve read about our adventures camping in Michigan, and my Fields of Michigan review, you already know that our love for Michigan runs deep. We’ve visited many times in summer and fall, as Michigan is known for its beautiful beaches and charming beach towns, but we had never visited in winter!
We decided that Fennville/Saugatuck area was the perfect mini getaway to celebrate Neal’s birthday–just a short drive from Chicago (about 3 hours!) but couldn’t have felt further from the city! There are too many great destinations to name in the state of Michigan. But Southwest Michigan is where we’ve spent most of our time. It’s the ideal city escape and the perfect quick road trip from Chicago. We loaded up the car, dropped June with my in-laws in Indiana, and headed north for a two night stay.
If you’re looking to plan your own weekend getaway, here’s a little recap of our favorite things to do and see!
A Quick Chicago Weekend Getaway in Michigan
Cozy cabin rental in Fennville, Michigan:
We booked this this cute AirBnB for the weekend and I feel like it was fate!
I actually saved it to my favorites in 2020 in the height of the pandemic when I had cabin fever (literally). We never ended up being able to come stay at that point. And when I was brainstorming ideas for Neal’s birthday, I remembered “that cute Michigan cabin on AirBnB I think I saved somewhere…” and luckily, it was available! I think it was fate! It was exactly what we were looking for: inexpensive, cozy, quirky, unfussy but charming, with a hot tub overlooking the river! It felt super remote, but was a short drive to everything we wanted to do. The best of both worlds!
Fennville is a small town just outside of Saugatuck, which is a great place to stay if you’re looking to be a bit more into nature, away from the action of Saugatuck. It’s also a very short drive to my favorite winery, Modales (more on that below!) and Virtue Cider, which is also a must-visit!
All the knives were really dull so I ended up cooking with Neal’s pocket knife. 😂 Between that and the adorable original (tiny!) stove, it kinda felt like camping, but much more comfortable.
We stayed in and cooked the first night (made Grossy’s Vodka Sawce which turned out great despite not having a whisk or a proper pan to make the sauce in). I also stuffed our own blue olives to make martinis and they were SO good!
The Midwest isn’t exactly known for its fine wines, but Modales is changing all of that. It’s a fully functional vineyard and tasting room, where they grow their grapes and make their small batch wines with minimal intervention. This was our second time visiting and it was so much fun to come back! We did a tasting and were so blown away by how good the wine was that we joined as members of their wine club! Heads up: it gets really busy, even in winter! We didn’t make reservations and were surprised at how busy it was in February (we couldn’t even find a spot in the parking lot!) So I highly recommend booking in advance if you can, or preparing to wait. If you get Pat to lead your tasting, you’re in for a treat! Our favorite wines were the Cremant, the Pinot Blanc, and the El Suelo.
Go for a hike in Saugatuck Dunes State Park:
We went on such a pretty walk through Saugatuck Dunes State Park! The loop trail has a little bit of everything, from forest, to a beautiful stretch of beach. A few steep includes, but overall fairly easy. Just enough to get your heart rate elevated but not TOO much! The ideal amount of activity to follow a leisurely breakfast!
Explore downtown Saugatuck:
Saugatuck is such a charming little town with lots of fun shops, restaurants, and bars! While it is a little sleepy in the winter with some places closed for the season, there is still plenty to see and do. And it’s nice to visit without having to deal with swarms of tourists!
After our hike, we headed here to spend a couple hours perusing the cute shops and exploring town.
We stopped in and did a little olive oil and vinegar tasting at the Olive Mill which was so cute and charming. And their products were SO delicious it was impossible to choose which to buy! We ended up with a tuscan herb olive oil, roasted onion olive oil. And their traditional balsamic vinegar which was all to die for!
We also stopped in for a cup of soup at Wicks Park bar and grill, which is a fun cozy bar scene. (I believe they have live music in the evenings, too!) Multiple readers recommended Phil’s too, which hopefully we can get to next time!
If you want a little exercise and a beautiful view of Saugatuck, you can climb the MANY, many stairs at Mt. Baldy, which is very close to downtown. (I can’t say that’s my personal idea of fun, but the view might be worth it.) There is an old radar tower at the top that was put in place during WWII and is one of the few in the country still standing! (Pretty cool!) We also did the trail down to the beach. But be warned it’s a steep sandy incline on the way back. 😂 (Not sure I’d do that over again.)
Dinner at Salt of the Earth in Fennville:
On the second night of our weekend, we had dinner at Salt of the Earth. It was our second time back, and just as great as we remembered! They’ve become well-known as one of the best restaurants in Michigan, with their hyper-local focus on farm to table ingredients. The staff is just as welcoming as the food is, and each visit is truly a treat. We sat at the bar this time and it did not disappoint. (Kathryn, the bartender was wonderful, as was her specialty mezcal and aperol hot chocolate.)
I hope this helps you plan your own Michigan road trip or weekend getaway from Chicago! Can’t wait to plan our next visit soon! Oh, and happy birthday to my #1. 😉♥️