My 5 Favorite Places in Michigan: Bill Hess (Mayor of Saugatuck, Michigan)
In this week’s My 5 Favorite Places in Michigan segment, the mayor of a recent nationally recognized city of Michigan joins us to share some of his favorite places in the state. Bill Hess, mayor of Saugatuck, recently took the time to pick his five favorite places in the state of Michigan to visit.
Hess was elected to his position as mayor of Saugatuck in November of 2012. His term will end in November of this year. Prior to serving as mayor, Hess was on Saugatuck’s city council.
The city of Saugatuck has been profiled recently on Travel the Mitten, due to the continued national coverage it gets. Saugatuck won the USA Today national poll selecting the Best Coastal Small Town. After winning this award, Saugatuck can expect more visitors this spring and summer seasons, which are already typically busy months for the small town with a population of around 1000 people.
A big thank you to Mr. Hess for joining us to select his five favorite places and best wishes in the future with his endeavors after his position of mayor of Saugatuck comes to an end. Without further ado, here are the selections:
#1 Saugatuck: Of course, Saugatuck is my very favorite place in Michigan. Our fun and funky waterfront downtown evokes the feel of an authentic Midwest small town. We have great shops, art galleries and restaurants and a wide variety of lodging options right in the middle of town. Downtown Saugatuck is small, compact and very walkable. Last year, Saugatuck was named the #1 Weekend Summer Escape in the USA” by USA Today.
In the Summer visitors can ride the historic Chain Ferry that crosses the Kalamazoo River to Mt. Baldhead Park and the History Museum. Any time of the year the climb the 302 steps to the top of Mt. Baldhead provides a panoramic view of the City and the surrounding area. Another not to be missed attraction is our famous Oval Beach on Lake Michigan and the adjoining Saugatuck Harbor Natural area. There is nothing like a sunset at Oval Beach.
When I mention to someone that I’m from Saugatuck, the typical response is “I LOVE Saugatuck!”. It is indeed a very special place.
#2 Bay View, MI: I’ll never forget my surprise at coming upon Bay View. This National Historic Landmark community was founded in 1875. It is situated on 337 terraced acres in the northwest portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula between Petoskey and Harbor Springs. Bay View is home to more than 30 public buildings, nearly 450 brightly painted Victorian cottages and two inns which have been preserved as they were a century ago. It a resort community that has been frozen in time.
#3 M-22 from US 31 to Frankfort: Based on the number of M-22 bumper stickers seen on cars, Michigan Highway 22 is well known and loved. While the entire route is a treasure, I especially like to travel the portion where it begins just north of Manistee at US-31 to Frankfort. The views of Lake Michigan are spectacular.
#4 Fishtown in Leland: Leland’s Fishtown has preserved Northern Michigan’s commercial fishing heritage. You can walk along the docks to see vintage fishing shanties and smokehouses. There are still fishing tugs moored on the Leland River. Fishtown still operates as one of the only working commercial fishing villages in the state of Michigan. Fishtown was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1973 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
#5 Ox Bow School of Art: The Ox-Bow Summer School of Art and Artists’ Residency is located just outside of the Saugatuck City limits between the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan. It is affiliated with the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and offers a diverse range of visual arts courses as well as public events. Ox-Bow is one of the oldest, still operational summer schools of art in the nation.
The Ox-Bow campus is located on Ox-Bow Lagoon. The campus encompasses 115 acres of pristine natural forest, dunes and collection of late 1800’s and early 1900’s cottages.
On five Friday evenings during Summer the Ox-Bow campus is open to visitors. During these open studio nights you can see artist demonstrations, visit the studios and attend a auction of student and instructors’ art. Mostly importantly you can find out why “As much as Ox-Bow is a place it is also an experience”!
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out other top five lists from notable Michiganders.