Summertime in West Michigan features fun in the sun, boating on Lake Michigan, and the bounty of Michigan’s agriculture. As electric vehicle adoption is growing and infrastructure is meeting consumer demand in Michigan, some coastal destinations in the mitten state are perfect for travelers with sustainability interests.
This itinerary focuses on the greater Holland area, including activities near Lake Michigan and the communities of Saugatuck and Fennville. While you’re on your electric vehicle (EV) road trip through West Michigan, I suggest going to some stops that provide a nod to sustainability.
I’ve grouped the venues by town so that you can plan your trip based on your starting point and battery charge. Fennville is within about 10 miles of Saugatuck, so you can plan accordingly. These nine stops are near EV-friendly businesses and charging stations around the area.
1. Virtue Cider
Virtue Cider in Fennville, Michigan, sits on a farm that the state of Michigan has environmentally verified. That means they have their soil erosion, pollinator habitats, water use, and animal welfare practices assessed regularly.
They are a MAEAP (Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program) verified farm recognized for sustainability and environmental standards. They have 200 solar panels that provide 61 percent of their electricity. Additionally, they don’t cool or heat their cider houses, resulting in little energy or water usage. With more than 20 acres of grasslands, they have created a monarch waystation for pollinators. These practices help with sustainability in the region.
We sampled the charcuterie board — a beautiful work of art featuring three kinds of cheese and three types of meat. The cheese included three selections from Evergreen Lane Farm Creamery — fromage blanc, an herbed chevre, and cheddar cheese. The featured meats incorporated a spicy capicola, a soppressata, and a traditional dry salami. We piled the cheese and meat high on the grilled Italian Bread. During July in Michigan, you must garnish with some fresh sweet cherries. Pair that with some of their frosé for a refreshing summer thirst quencher.
While you might consider a hard cider producer an adults-only venue, this 48-acre farm is family-friendly. The grandkids will love checking out the bunnies, ducks, and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. In addition, the trails will give them a chance to burn off some of that excess energy. You could spend a couple of hours here enjoying the trails, animals, and cider.
Pro Tip: Their outdoor space has popular greenhouses and firepits. Make reservations for a table, even in the winter.
2. Evergreen Lane Farm And Creamery
Evergreen Lane Farm and Creamery is a fun place to take the grandkids to check out the kids (baby goats) and sample some goat cheese. They have their goat cheese available from mid-March through November. The creamery also makes various cow’s milk cheese year-round, using locally produced cow’s milk.
In the fall, you’ll find fresh organic apples, which pair wonderfully with their cheese for an excellent addition to a charcuterie board.
Pro Tip: Take a cooler to keep any cheese purchases cool while road-tripping on a warm summer day.
3. Crane Orchards And Crane’s Pie Pantry
These two separate but side-by-side family businesses offer lots of family agritourism activities. You’ll find fun here throughout the summer and fall. Crane Orchards is a sixth-generation farm where you can pick your own peaches, sweet cherries, and apples at their U-Pick orchards. Then, get lost and discover your way through their corn maze, or find your perfect Halloween jack-o-lantern from the pumpkin patch. You can also have a tractor-driven hayride, or the grandkids can have fun in their cow train, a tractor-driven train with cars that look like cows.
Midwest road trips are known to offer pie, and this one is no exception. Crane’s Pie Pantry features a complete restaurant, wine tasting bar, bakery, and did I mention pie? The restaurant in the family’s 150-year-old barn offers homemade pie and sandwiches using their house-made bread.
Be sure to pick up your favorite cookies, muffins, and donuts from their bakery. These make perfect road trip snacks or an early morning breakfast on the go.
Pro Tip: The busiest times are September and October, when you may encounter up to a two-hour wait. Get your name on the waitlist and experience one of the orchard’s activities while you wait.
4. Roan & Black Art Gallery
In 2022, TravelAwaits readers named Saugatuck, Michigan, one of the 12 Friendliest Towns In The U.S. Known as Michigan’s Art Coast, Saugatuck features an abundance of galleries and art activities for enthusiasts. They have two juried art fairs in July, and in autumn, they feature the Fall Gallery Stroll.
Situated on the Blue Star Highway in the Saugatuck and Douglas area, you’ll find Roan & Black Art Gallery, a contemporary gallery. The gallery exhibits established artists, emerging artists, and sculptors from around the nation.
Roan & Black Art Gallery also offers an EV charging station, where you’ll enjoy checking out their gallery and sculpture gardens while your EV battery charges. You may walk away with a new piece of art in addition to your fully charged battery.
Pro Tip: Once you’ve checked out the gallery, check out the nearby Pennyroyal Café & Provisions, if your car requires more charging time.
5. Saugatuck Dunes State Park
Green initiatives in Michigan’s award-winning state parks include green construction practices, as they replace and renovate state park buildings. Examples include using natural and recyclable materials and sustainable design elements such as natural ventilation — water conservation through low-flow water fixtures and other water-saving techniques. In addition, they use “Grow, Not Mow” management practices to reduce the carbon footprint and stabilize habitats. These methods also reduce costs.
Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a day-use park with no camping facilities. The park features 2.5 miles of sandy shoreline. With 13 miles of paths in the park, they divided the miles into four different trails, guiding visitors over rolling terrain and sandy trails to view Lake Michigan. In addition, a 300-acre Patty Birkholz natural area offers a coastal dune system.
Pro Tip: The Michigan State Park System requires recreation passports for vehicles to enter most of Michigan’s State Parks.
6. Coast 236
Coast 236 offers a coastal dining experience and brings freshness to its dishes. Additionally, the James Beard Foundation recognized the restaurant as a Smart Catch Leader due to its efforts in promoting sustainability. Their menu must be at least 80 percent sustainable to qualify for this award.
While the menu changes often, the Norwegian fjord trout and the Faroe Island salmon were two delicious dishes on the menu when we visited. If you prefer something other than fish or seafood, you’ll also find dishes like local mushroom risotto and beef tenderloin on the menu. So, landlubbers won’t be disappointed.
Pro Tip: Coast 236 is about one mile from Roan & Black Art Gallery and five miles from Saugatuck State Park, where you’ll find EV charging stations.
If you want to expand your time in Saugatuck, check out this article on The Best Things To Do In Saugatuck, MI: Where To Stay, Eat, And Play.
7. Holland State Park
Holland State Park has lots of activities going on. You can camp at this park, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore. With a marina, many use the channel to get out on Lake Michigan, have some boating fun, and even do some fishing.
The park also features Big Red Lighthouse, one of Michigan’s most photographed lighthouses. They also have a one-mile dune trail. If you bring along the grandkids, they’ll enjoy the accessible playground.
Pro Tip: Holland State Park offers two free EV charging stations. Families grilled and enjoyed a picnic dinner when I visited while their car charged. The picnic table was steps away from the charging station, and the concessions were nearby.
8. Outdoor Discovery Center
The Outdoor Discovery Center’s nature preserve is open daily to the public. Start by checking in at the 5,000-square-foot visitor center with reclaimed barn wood décor. You’ll find exhibit space with touch tables, live animals, and North American wildlife taxidermy exhibits. Check out the bird-viewing room if you want a quiet place to sit and relax. Then, explore the multi-purpose room to view the fishing pond.
The center offers attractions that will capture the attention of those with various interests. They have an art trail for art enthusiasts and a Cultural History Center for the history buffs. The center has an indigenous people’s village, a fur trader’s cabin, three sisters’ gardens, and an archery range. They also have a wildlife exhibit and a play park.
With so much going on here, and with it all being free, you’ll want to make this a stop on your road trip adventure, especially if you’re traveling with the grandkids.
Pro Tip: The Outdoor Discovery Center has four level II chargers for public use.
9. City Flats Hotel
One of the best times to charge your electric vehicle is overnight while you’re sleeping, so you start your day off with a full battery. Located in the heart of downtown Holland, City Flats Hotel, Holland is a great option. Part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, the hotel continues the sustainability theme as a LEED Gold Certified hotel that offers EV charging stations.
Each room features floor-to-ceiling windows offering great views of downtown Holland. Riverview Park, also called Window on the Waterfront, is only a block away. In the spring, you’ll find about 100,000 tulips in this area alone.
Pro Tip: City Flats Hotel is part of the downtown social district, which allows adults over 21 years old to purchase alcohol and drink it outdoors on the public sidewalk.
If you want to spend more than a few hours in Holland, Michigan, discover How To Spend A Beautiful Weekend In Charming Holland, Michigan in this article.