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Electric Car Road Trip: 9 Great Summer Stops in Michigan

Electric Car Road Trip: 9 Great Summer Stops in Michigan

Summer in West Michigan offers fun in the sun, boating on Lake Michigan and the bounty of Michigan’s agriculture. As electric vehicle adoption grows and infrastructure meets consumer demand in Michigan, some coastal destinations in the state of Mitten are perfect for travelers with sustainability concerns.

This route 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 recommend checking out some stops that give a nod to sustainability.

I’ve grouped the locations by city so you can plan your trip based on your starting point and battery charge. Fennville is about 10 miles from Saugatuck, so you can plan accordingly. These nine stops are located near EV-friendly businesses and charging stations in the area.

Froze at Virtue Cider in Fennville, Michigan

Photo credit: Amy Piper

1. Virtue Cider

Fennville

virtue cider in Fennville, Michigan, on a farm that is environmentally controlled by the state of Michigan. That means they have their soil erosion, pollinator habitats, water use and animal welfare practices assessed on a regular basis.

They are a MAEAP (Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program) verified farm recognized for sustainability and environmental standards. They have 200 solar panels that supply 61 percent of their electricity. In addition, they do not cool or heat their cider houses, so they use little energy or water. With over 20 acres of grassland, they have created a monarch waystation for pollinators. These practices help with sustainability in the region.

Charcuterie Board Combo at Virtue Cider in Fennville, Michigan

Charcuterie Board Combo at Virtue Cider in Fennville, Michigan

Photo credit: Amy Piper

We sampled the charcuterie board – a beautiful piece of art with three cheeses and three meats. The cheese included three selections from Evergreen Lane Farm Creamery – fromage blanc, a spiced chevre, and cheddar cheese. The recommended meat included a spicy capicola, a soppressata and a traditional dry salami. We piled the cheese and meat high on the grilled Italian bread. In July, in Michigan, garnish with some fresh sweet cherries. Pair that with some of their frosé for a refreshing summer thirst quencher.

While you might think of a hard cider producer as 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. Plus, the trails give them a chance to burn off some of that excess energy. You could spend a few hours here enjoying the trails, animals and cider.

Pro tip: Their outdoor space has popular greenhouses and fire pits. Book a table, even in winter.

Evergreen Lane Farm and Creamery

Evergreen Lane Farm and Creamery

Photo credit: Amy Piper

2. Evergreen Lane Farm and Creamery

Fennville

Evergreen Lane Farm and Creamery is a nice place to take the grandkids to watch the kids (baby goats) and taste some goat cheese. They have their goat cheese available from mid-March to November. The creamery also makes a variety of cow’s milk cheeses year-round using locally sourced cow’s milk.

In the fall you will find fresh organic apples, which go wonderfully with their cheese and make an excellent addition to a charcuterie board.

Pro tip: Bring a cooler to keep any cheese purchases cool while road tripping on a hot summer day.

Crane Orchards

Crane Orchards

Photo credit: Amy Piper

3. Crane Orchards and Crane’s Pie Pantry

Fennville

These two separate but adjacent family businesses offer numerous agritourism activities. You will have fun here all summer and fall. Crane Orchards is a sixth-generation farm where you can pick your own peaches, sweet cherries, and apples from 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 take a tractor ride or let the grandkids have fun in their cow train, a tractor-powered train with cars that resemble cows.

Midwestern road trips are known to offer pie, and this one is no exception. Crane’s Pie Pantry features a full restaurant, wine tasting, bakery, and did I mention pie? The restaurant in the 150-year-old barn of the family offers homemade cakes and sandwiches with homemade bread.

Be sure to get your favorite cookies, muffins, and donuts from their bakery. These are perfect on-the-go snacks or an early breakfast on the go.

Pro tip: The busiest times are September and October when you may have to wait two hours. Put your name on the waiting list and experience one of the orchard’s activities while you wait.

Saugatuck

in 2022, Travel awaits readers called Saugatuck, Michigan, one of the 12 friendliest cities in the US Known as Michigan’s art coast, Saugatuck offers a plethora of galleries and art activities for enthusiasts. They have two jury art fairs in July and in the fall they have the Fall Gallery Stroll.

Located on the Blue Star Highway in the Saugatuck and Douglas region, you will find: Roan & Black Art Gallery, a contemporary gallery. The gallery showcases established artists, emerging artists, and sculptors from across the country.

Roan & Black Art Gallery also offers an electric car charging station where you can view their gallery and sculpture gardens while your battery is charged. You might walk away with a new piece of art next to your fully charged battery.

Pro tip: Once you’ve seen the gallery, check out the nearby Pennyroyal Cafe & Amenitiesif your car needs more charging time.

The shore of Lake Michigan at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

The shore of Lake Michigan at Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Photo credit: Michael Deemer/Shutterstock.com

5. Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Saugatuck

Green initiatives in Michigan’s award-winning state parks include green building practices as they replace and renovate state park buildings. Examples include the use of natural and recyclable materials and sustainable design elements such as natural ventilation – saving water through water-saving fixtures and other water-saving techniques. In addition, they use “Grow, Not Mow” management practices to reduce environmental footprints and stabilize habitats. These methods also reduce costs.

Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, Saugatuck Dunes State Park is a day park without camping facilities. The park features 2.5 miles of sandy beach. With 13 miles of trails in the park, they divided the miles into four different trails, leading visitors over rolling terrain and dirt trails to view Lake Michigan. In addition, a 300-acre Patty Birkholz nature reserve offers a coastal dune system.

Pro tip: The Michigan State Park system requires: recreation passports for vehicles to enter most Michigan state parks.

6. Coast 236

Saugatuck

Coast 236 offers a seaside dining experience and brings freshness to its dishes. In addition, the James Beard Foundation recognized the restaurant as a Smart Catch Leader for its efforts to promote sustainability. Their menu must be at least 80 percent sustainable to qualify for this award.

Although 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 will also find dishes such as local mushroom risotto and beef tenderloin on the menu. So landlubbers won’t be disappointed.

Pro tip: Coast 236 is about 1 mile from Roan & Black Art Gallery and 5 miles from Saugatuck State Park, which has EV charging stations.

If you’re looking to extend your time in Saugatuck, check out this article on The Best Things to Do in Saugatuck, MI: Where to Stay, Eat, and Play.

Lighthouse in Holland State Park

Lighthouse in Holland State Park

Photo credit: Amy Piper

7. Holland State Park

Holland

Holland State Park has many activities. You can camp at this park, so you have plenty of time to explore. With a marina, many use the canal to get out to Lake Michigan, have some fun boating and even 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 the grandkids, they will enjoy the accessible playground.

Pro tip: Holland State Park offers two free charging stations for EVs. Families grilled and enjoyed a picnic dinner when I visited while charging their car. The picnic table was a stone’s throw from the charging station and the concessions were nearby.

8. Outdoor Discovery Center

Holland

The Outdoor Discovery Centers nature reserve is open to the public daily. Start by checking in at the 5,000-square-foot Visitor Center, which features reclaimed barn wood furnishings. You’ll find exhibit space with touch tables, live animals, and exhibits about taxidermy in North America. Check out the birdwatching room if you want a quiet place to sit and relax. Then explore the multipurpose room to view the fishing pond.

The center offers attractions that will attract the attention of people with different interests. They have an art trail for art lovers and a Cultural Historic Center for the history buffs. The center has an indigenous village, trapper’s hut, three sisters’ gardens and an archery range. They also have a wildlife exhibit and a play park.

With so much happening here and it’s all free, you’ll definitely 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

Holland

One of the best times to charge your electric car is at night while you sleep, so you can start your day with a full battery. Located in the heart of the center of the Netherlands, City Flats Hotel, Netherlands is a great option. The hotel is part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton and continues the sustainability theme as a LEED Gold certified hotel offering EV charging stations.

Each room has floor-to-ceiling windows with a beautiful view of the center of Holland. Riverview Park, also called Window on the Waterfront, is just a block away. In this area alone you will find about 100,000 tulips in the spring.

Restaurants within walking distance include curragha traditional Irish pub, and New Holland Brewing Companya craft brewery.

Pro tip: City Flats Hotel is part of the downtown social districtthat allows adults over the age of 21 to purchase alcohol and drink outside on public sidewalks.

If you want to spend more than a few hours in Holland, Michigan, learn how to spend a beautiful weekend in charming Holland, Michigan in this article.