Family over 3 years ago by Liz Adams

Our Trip to South Haven, MI

Shop the look: J.Crew Swimsuit (a few sizes left, wearing a 4 – also here in black + white), BAGGU Drawstring Backpack, Daisy Sunglasses Chain

For the past few summers we have rented a home in Michigan for a week long vacation to visit Dave’s side of the family and enjoy the charming towns that run along Lake Michigan. Two years ago we went to Sutton’s Bay, last year we were in Frankfort (seen here) and this year we rented a house in South Haven. There are so many amazing towns that are a quick trip from Chicago and South Haven was an easy drive just over 2 hours from home.

Shop the look: Faithfull the Brand Bikini (wearing a medium – similar here, here and here)

We rented this darling home that was perfect for our family and a few family visitors throughout the week. It was a short walk from the beach and downtown South Haven but also set back enough to feel private and separate from the hustle of these small towns. We took advantage of having everything we needed to cook at home and stayed in most nights but felt completely comfortable venturing into town with our masks and dining outside. It had an amazing yard and was in a quiet neighborhood which was so nice for the boys to ride their bikes around. When we got to the house I was prepared with Clorox wipes and Lysol spray but there was a note on the door that the home had been completely sanitized by a company and everything was safe and ready to use. The home itself hadn’t been rented very much and everything was extremely clean and safe by our standards/CDC standards.

Shop the look:

On Liz: Target Puff Sleeve Sweatshirt (wearing a small), Xirena Pants (wearing a small)

On Boys: Janie + Jack Blue Flag Cap, Janie + Jack Striped Polo, J Sport Tee, Zara Palm Shorts

We spent every day at the beach! The beaches closer to town looked pretty crowded from what we could see so we stayed about a mile down on the beach (closer to our house which was inland a few blocks) and were able to safely social distance a good 6-10 feet from other beach goers. I think with this you have to maintain your own level of safety and evaluate the situation as you go, if we were ever in a position to be too close to people or felt too exposed we would relocate or leave. We always had masks with us and were prepared with lots of hand sanitizer.

A few fun activities we did while we were there:

Riverbend Farms U-Pick Raspberries – super cute and small u-pick raspberry farm! The boys loved this (despite their faces, ha) and we felt very safe. It was actually only us and one other couple picking so we were very very distanced. We went right when they opened at 9am!

Shop the look: Xirena Pants, Michael Stars Tank (wearing a small), Silver Narrow Birkenstock (true size)

The Fields of Michigan – this is actually a luxury glamping experience located in South Haven! We didn’t stay here but the owners are our good family friends so we made a pit stop for some blueberry picking! The entire glamping grounds are so incredibly beautiful and the tents are incredible. Seriously luxurious and decorated so well. No details goes unnoticed! I made a comment on my IG that I can’t wait to go back with Dave or a group of friends and a lot of people asked if you could go with children – personally, I wouldn’t take Charlie and Jack there for a stay. I wouldn’t trust them in their own tent and we would be in close quarters with 4 of us to a tent. They do phenomenal dinners/meals, yoga classes and more and I just feel like it would be better to experience it with other adults instead of chasing my children around. We did see a family there with older children (maybe middle school age?) and I could totally see that working! I just don’t trust my children to behave at ages 2 and 4, ha.

Shop the look: Target Puff Sleeve Sweatshirt (wearing a small), AGOLDE Parker Jeans (sized up one size), Janessa Leone Hat (old), BAGGU Backpack

Saugatuck, MI – in my personal opinion, I like the town of Saugatuck more than South Haven. It’s bigger, has more restaurant and shop options and overall I think it is a prettier setting. Seemed to be more family oriented (a lot of the restaurants in South Haven have more of a bar feel) and more centered as a town. I wish we had more time to explore but we did venture in for dinner and ice cream two nights! Our favorite restaurant experience of the trip was at The Southerner – the most DELICIOUS food, drinks and the prettiest setting (we sat on the back deck outside). It’s a little outside of the actual downtown area but only by a few blocks. Followed by ice cream at Charlie’s Round the Corner for ice cream and other obvious reasons.

Shop my look: Ulla Johnson Tie Dye Dress (wearing a 2), Tory Burch Sandals (old), Woven Headband (sold out, similar here)

Traveling during a pandemic is sort of a wild card. We went into it very prepared, knowing that activities would be limited and our focus was to remain outdoors + at home as much as possible (we aren’t comfortable dining indoors yet). If walks, beach days and slow evenings are your type of vacay and you do your research to make sure the house you’re staying in is kept up, cleaned thoroughly and disinfected, then go for it! The more questions you ask in the booking process the better! I will say, I am very comfortable at home in our bubble, in our routine and knowing I’m doing the best that I can everyday to protect myself and my family. Stepping into a new environment made my uncomfortable at first but as long as you carry the same precautions with you then I think you’ll be fine! I felt very prepared with masks, hand sanitizer, wipes and spray everywhere we went and if it was needed, it was used. At some point we have to maintain some sort of living, especially when your days revolve around keeping two little boys entertained. We are all following the guidelines provided to us, no matter where we live. Just keep moving forward knowing you are doing everything you can to follow the rules, protect yourself and others and wear a mask.

I’m always asked about the best places to visit in Michigan and in all honesty, I’m not super knowledgeable. If you’re looking for something farther north then check out last year’s post! Dave’s dad lives on Crystal Lake near Traverse City and that entire area is so incredibly beautiful with so many amazing towns to visit around the peninsula. BUT, if you’re looking for a shorter trip from Chicago then New Buffalo, South Haven and Saugatuck are great options! If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments so this can serve as a resource for all!

If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

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  1. As a Michigan native I love seeing more bloggers visit here as I think it’s the best hidden gem ever!! South haven is definitely a lot more well suited to those without kids, as is grand haven in my opinion. But it’s fun to explore them all. Looks like a fab trip!!!

    1. Thanks for sharing this! I grew up going to Saugatuck every year with our good family friends and miss it dearly. Can’t wait to start going back again with my little one.

  2. So fun to see you went to South Haven! I grew up there and it has my heart! Did you get a chance to walk on the pier out to the lighthouse? Or get out to Sherman’s for ice cream? If you get go back, those are two things you definitely need to do. I love going to Saugatuck too. Honestly, it was really fun to see your pictures and recognize the places! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Looks and sounds like such a great trip! Enjoyed following along via stories. The glamping spot looks sooo amazing – definitely wouldn’t might checking it out in the future.

    xo Laura Leigh

  4. Our family was there last week as well with our 2 children, and it was wonderful! The weather was beautiful and it was nice to be able to do many outdoor activities safely during this time. I too am expecting, so we kept it very low key with going to local establishments. We will definitely go back!

  5. Looks like y’all had so much fun! I’m dying – so easy to imagine “teenage Charlie” in these photos! <3 Glad you enjoyed!

  6. This trip looks like so much fun! It’s amazing that there are places we can all go to still enjoy the summer while practicing safe social distancing.

    I would never assume this is your intention and I can’t ask you to be responsible for anyone but yourself, but given the amount of work I have seen you do on Instagram to promote inclusivity and support the Black Lives Matter movement, I feel like you’ll hear this in the spirit of improvement. Dave’s “Detroit Police” shirt looks a little bit tone deaf. For all I know, Dave does support the Detroit Police and that is his right. But based on what you’ve expressed your views to be and what you have done to work on making this online community feel safe for people of color, it just doesn’t jive. There are still thousands of Americans marching in major cities to end police brutality and the unjust treatment of Black Americans. Putting up photos of this shirt right now honestly makes it feel like we’ve moved on to fun summer content and have forgotten about all the work that must be done. Thanks for reading this and understanding that I’m coming from a place that loves this community and know you had no intention to hurt.

    1. Hi Casey! Dave is from Detroit, he has literally had this tee for the 11 years I’ve known him. It is just a t-shirt, nothing else. Thanks 🙂

  7. St. Joseph is another great spot!! Even closer than south haven. Great beaches (Jean knock) Lots of restaurants, ice cream places and shops. A cute historic downtown. Another great place to vacation ❤️

  8. Might be best to just put it away for now, given the climate we’re living in, and the sensitivities surrounding equality for all.

  9. Liz have you ever been to holland? That’s where I’m from and it’s super family friendly, large downtown, holland state park and a few other more secluded beaches. Less than 10-15 minutes from Saugatuck. Highly recommend it!

  10. I live in South Haven and when I viewed the article I was shocked. I wish I can could have been a tour guide for you. You grabbed the basics but barely scratched the surface of what South Haven has hidden, you looked great doing it but there are plenty of local gems everywhere. Even in Saugatuck lol. Some restaurants have higher reviews based on location where the amazing food is tucked back on golf courses. With two boys a short ride on the Kal Haven trail is worth it. Boats galore (I own a Maina on the North side of town) and we love taking the boat to other towns. There is even a self guided tour on a submarine up the coast that any child would be dazzled over. As far as privacy and location these downtown homes are great. But Palisades Park and Linden Hills have private beaches, private dining and plenty scenery that brings you back to old South Haven. The charm is perfect and its safe! I hate to say but even as a destination vacation its not safe to let children ride around the town on bikes alone. We do have Harbor town (which gives off bar vibes) but Saugatuck has twice as many bars as we do and most locals prefer it to stay that way. I live for the shops and art work to our neighboring town. But off the beaten path before someone takes your cash next time you come ask about North Point ask about the country side, and if you’re gunning for a lavish stay or busting out of city on a budget get in touch with a local. And safe travels to anyone visiting Michigan. This weekend we will watch the sunrise on lake Huron and watch it set back home on lake Michigan… Pure Michigan style. My Instagram is blackfoxfeather if anyone is looking for more things to do like Oval Beach and Mt. Baldy that view is stunning and with nearly 300 steps it better be!!! but I climb up as often as I can. Our beaches use to be so vast but the rising waterline has taken our beaches. But the upside is there is many spots you can walk out and have a sandbar picnic and feel safe letting younger kids swim around well over 30 to 40 ft from shore.

  11. Thank you for this information. It is extremely helpful.
    We are looking into the same type of vacation and the same locations and were concerned about keeping safe.
    I’m glad your vacay was great.

  12. I totally agreed with all your comments .
    We did the same thing, raspberry picking , bike riding and of course the beach.
    We love the South Shore and it’s only 2 blocks frm our house we rented .
    Looking to make another 2 weeks booking for this year.

  13. We went to South Haven and Saugatuck summer of 2019, and had the opposite impression of you, we felt South Haven was much more family friendly. My kids 6,4, and 3 loved Kids Corner and Tot Lot. The local library and art center had multi-activities for kids. We also enjoyed Bumble Berry Acres. And of course the pier. Kal-Haven Trail, and Van Buren Trail are on our to do list this summer when we go with the kids. Both communities are beautiful. Hope you have another great vacation this summer.

  14. Grand Haven is just a couple of hours north. It is a very charming town! It’s just north of Holland which is also a fun town with more restaurants and shops. I suggest renting a house in either town.
    I have been going to Grand Haven for the past 60+ years with my cousins and friends. At times there were 80 of us!!

  15. Thank you for this blog post, we are heading to South Haven on Monday to go camping. I’m looking forward to hopefully visiting Oval Beach and Saugatuck, too.