Friday, October 14, 2011

How to Be a Tourist with Your Dog Series: Vacationing in Saugatuck, Michigan

When we started this 'How to Be a Tourist with Your Dog' series, we were curious to see how people travel, or have staycations in their own city, with their dogs. We weren't sure whether we would even get many posts, but we were surprised to get so many posts with so many diverse experiences. Plus, we started seeing people going out and trying new things with their pooches and getting a lot of amazing tips to help with dog travel. We especially loved reading this post where Laura says: We just want to thank everyone who has participated in this series, or made comments on previous posts! You gave us the courage and ammunition to take this trip and make it a stress-free success! Read about her experiences, and her own tips, as they travel with their 2 pooches to Saugatuck, Michigan.

 Thanks to this series, I was able to pull off a successful, surprise birthday trip for my husband from the Chicago area to Saugatuck, Michigan with our two dogs: Indy (our adopted mix) and Tessa (our foster-to-adopt bully mix).
Since we have a small hatchback, we didn’t really try dog seatbelts, but I think we will next time (or some other contraption -- taking suggestions). After a few different configurations, the dogs finally settled down in the car … in very strange places.
This was our first ever trip with dogs, and even though it’s about a 2 ½ hour drive from our house to Saugatuck, we planned on making a halfway stop at Round Barn Winery in Baroda, Michigan since we didn’t know how they would handle the long ride. Thanks to the tips from previous posts, I learned about, which was awesome in planning our whole trip, and we were excited to take this stop!
The facility was extremely dog-friendly, as long as dogs were leashed. We were even allowed to bring the dogs in the tasting rooms while we sampled wines in the winery and beer in the brewery. We strolled through the vineyards and were very grateful for the poop bag stations Round Barn had throughout the property!
Through, I booked a last-minute stay at a dog-friendly studio apartment in downtown Saugatuck. If you are looking to stay in the Saugatuck/South Haven area, I would highly suggest going through LakeShore Lodging as they have many dog-friendly rentals. They even surprised us with a doggie bag upon arrival!
Saugatuck is small, and there were only 2 dog-friendly restaurants listed on, so we did a few rounds of take out, but we didn’t mind waiting outside the restaurant …
… or at a park while the restaurants prepared our food. We don’t think the dogs minded, either since Saugatuck has beautiful areas overlooking the harbor.
We did find an awesome, inexpensive restaurant called Pumpernickel’s that allowed dogs on their sidewalk seating. Since we don’t live in Chicago proper, this was a nice little treat for us!
One thing we did find, was adding bandanas to the dogs seemed to make them 10 times more approachable to the people and tourists of Saugatuck. I tried to find cuter, friendlier bandanas on the trip, but came out empty-handed. Next time, I will be prepared!
We will be the first to admit that we are coffee snobs, so we were very happy to discover that Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck had a doggie-walk-up ordering window and allowed dogs in their outdoor seating area where we met new (and incredibly giant) dog buddies, who are also from Chicago!
I was personally so excited about the walk-up window, that I submitted Uncommon Grounds to
After a short trip, we were on our way home and in the car, yet again. Although Indy and Tessa became traveling nap champions, and probably would have slept the whole way home, we planned another halfway stop at Grand Mere State Park. We walked the wooded trails, climbed the dunes and played in Lake Michigan for the first time (for the dogs, not us!).
The beach was very rocky, so we would suggest wearing sandals, some type of water shoe or have webbed feet when visiting.
It was a great way to finish off our trip as it exhausted all of us. We will warn you though, if you plan on stopping at Grand Mere, be prepared for a workout on the dunes to get to the beach!
Tips/Things We Learned:
1) Packing portioned bags of dog food (from Reggies’s post) was brilliant! I would have never thought of this on my own. But since we do have one picky eater that hardly ate on the trip (probably from all the excitement), I would pack a couple of cups of microwaveable rice and a few cans of wet food next time to entice him to eat.
2) Bring all of your dog’s vet work with you in a binder. You may never know when you will need it. We ended up putting the dogs in a local doggie daycare for one day, and the binder made everything so easy!
3) Since we were staying in a rental where a security deposit was necessary, I brought an extra bed sheet from home to cover the white (eek!) sofa with since I had nightmares of muddy and sandy paw prints all over that pretty white upholstery by the time we left! Clearly, we are failing still working on the no-dogs-on-furniture rule.
4) If you have larger dogs, don’t be shy about dressing them up a bit in a new town. We learned from Mr. B and Ms. M that a few accessories go a long way in the eyes of strangers. From what we saw, Saugatuck had many small dogs and designer dogs, and we got a few nervous looks from passersby when we were walking the town. Some even avoided us by crossing the street, or sanding in the grass as we walked down the sidewalk. Once we added the magical bandanas, we were getting compliments nonstop on how polite and sweet our dogs were, which were very refreshing responses!
5) If you are new to traveling with your dog like us, we would suggest traveling on off days. We went up to Saugatuck on a Monday and came home on a Wednesday to avoid the heavy crowds.

Thanks again to everyone who did make this series a success!


Tucker The Crestie said...

We've never even heard of Saugatuck, so this was a post we especially enjoyed! I'd love to visit that winery!

Kate said...

Great post! It's so neat to read about someone who's used the information from the tourist posts on their own trips!

Christine said...

Awesome post! What a fun trip. And I love the photo of doggie-duck feet.

Two Pitties in the City said...

The duck feet remind me so much of Miss M, and I really think that Indy and Miss M could be stunt-doubles (though Miss M is a bit more rotund). This was one of my absolute favorite posts because I love how you took elements from what you had read before and made it work for you. So inspiring...we hope to do it with our own pooches next summer.

brooke said...

This is great! Love a dog friendly winery/brewery!
Love that they were able to use the other "tourist" posts and go on a trip themselves! Awesome!

Two French Bulldogs said...

What a cool place. Sure looks well worth the visit
Benny & Lily

houndstooth said...

I like this one especially because that is a place that's actually doable for us at some point!

Amy said...

Good for you for taking the leap! Getting over the trepidation of that first trip is the hardest part and I love that you guys has such a good time. This is the perfect example of why we built

Unknown said...

Though I don't travel much at all (hard to find people who can adjust to and care for 20 some dogs), this series has been GREAT and one to which I will refer if and when I ever travel anywhere with a pooch or two. Great photos made each post fun, too.

Anonymous said...

That was a fun trip! Luv the place that left a doggy bag for ya! Excellent!

Waggin at ya,

PeeS: the hunt for the treasure began today :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, everyone! It was a fabulous trip and we plan to visit Michigan again next summer.

dogloverwith7 said...

When you come into Saugatuck again there is a dog store and grooming service that provides up to three hour day care. Check it out at

dogloverwith7 said...

When you come into Saugatuck again there is a dog store and grooming service that provides up to three hour day care. Check it out at

Easymart said...

Thank you for telling such a nice experience and giving ideas about vacations in Saugatuk and Michigan. If you interested to go with your dog on a vacation in a car then please visit my site Easy mart where you find a lot of dog car accessories in your budget friendly.

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