Welcome to S.W. Michigan

Welcome to My Michigan Lakefront Home and the beauty of “Pure Michigan”. S. W. Michigan’s western border, defined by the banks of Lake Michigan is one of three fresh water seas surrounding the state; often known as the “Third Coast” because it offers some of the world’s best beaches and the largest freshwater dunes. Along the way are half a dozen lighthouses and 80 miles of pristine sand and surf.

Southwest Michigan’s real charm lies in its small towns, big skies, and the wide open spaces that envelope them. Explore by car or bike and immerse yourself in the splendor of the countryside known as Allegan County, home to the villages of Saugatuck and Douglas, which attract thousands of visitors each year as they have for over 175 years. Both communities offer a broad array of attractions that include great sandy Lake Michigan beaches, the most popular being Oval Beach  which was rated one of the top five beaches in the country by MTV and was also ranked as one of the 25 best shorelines in the world according to Conde Naste’s Traveler magazine. Excellent restaurants, world class shopping, a large marina that attracts boaters from Chicago, weekly farmers markets, wineries, Ox-Bow affiliated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, live theatre, and the Saugatuck Waterfront Film Festival,  ranked as one of the top 10 Fantastic Film Festival Vacations by Film Threat.com, are all a part of Allegan County.

Scattered throughout the county are a handful of historic bridges spanning the Kalamazoo, Rabbit, Gun, and Black rivers. Unique in their designs these bridges helped shaped the history of the county and remain a part of the local culture. Located in downtown Allegan, the Second Street Bridge is a Whipple-Murphy or Pratt through-truss iron and structural steel bridge built in 1886. This ornamental wrought-iron bridge is one of the largest ever constructed by the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, Ohio and was completed at a cost of $7,532 in 1886. It is eighteen feet wide and spans 225 feet of the Kalamazoo River. King Bridge Company was noted for its designs and technical contributions, which helped revolutionize bridge engineering nationwide. The bridge was restored at a cost of $552,000 in 1983 after having been listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

The region of Allegan County was once a major peach growing area that produced nearly a quarter of all the peaches grown in Michigan. The produce was shipped by rail or by boat from Saugatuck to major cities like Chicago, where Michigan peaches were known as “Michigan Gold”. Even today Michigan’s “Red Haven” peaches are well known and there are many U-pick orchards for apples, peaches, cherries, pumpkins, and berry farms in the area, one of my favorites being Cranes Pie Pantry Restaurant and Orchard in Fennville.

Within Allegan County, are two parks managed by the State of Michigan; Saugatuck Dunes State Park and the Allegan State Game Area. The Saugatuck Dunes State Parkis a day-use park near the City of Saugatuck, offering 1,000 acres of land with 2.5 miles of Lake Michigan frontage. This park contains freshwater coastal dunes over 200 feet high and beautiful wooded terrain that varies from steep slopes to rolling hills that take you to the beaches.

The Allegan State Game Area, which surrounds sections of Lake Allegan and My Michigan Lakefront Home, is approximately 50,000 acres in size and is the largest of the 40 state game areas in Southwest Michigan. It’s a showcase for oak-pine barrens (also called oak-pine savanna), a unique community of plants and animals adapted to life on the dry, sandy soils of this area. It also features lowland hardwood and oak-pine forests, wetlands, ponds, and open meadows. In the fall the most dramatic wildlife viewing opportunity is the Allegan State Game Area where a mass concentration of Canadian geese assembles. More than 100,000 geese pass through the area and as many as 40,000 may be seen at one time. Best viewing is at the Fennville Farm Unit on the southwestern boundary of the property. The Fennville unit is a refuge and doesn’t allow visitor access but viewing from the road is excellent. The main park office is on 118th Street, which is directly off of Allegan Dam Road leading to My Michigan Lakefront Home.

Southwest Michigan offers endless choices of parks to play in, rivers and lakes to swim in and forests to explore. Sunsets are glorious, color rich extravaganzas with glints of light that linger well past 10pm due to the extension of Eastern time zone to Michigan’s S.W. lakeshore. S.W. Michigan truly offers something for everyone.


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