Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Holland, MI

  • Published 2023/03/13

Holland feels like a slice of the Netherlands from centuries past accidentally dropped on Ottawa County, Michigan.

It is situated between the coasts of Lakes Michigan and Macatawa; Forbes Magazine named it one of “America’s Prettiest Towns.”

The Dutch Americans who established the city in 1847 are responsible for its unique moniker.

The Ottawa Indians were the area’s first inhabitants to become a Dutch colony.

The colony acquired property along the Black River, which fed into Lake Michigan, making Holland famous for its pervasive Dutch culture and history.

Today, Holland is home to many Dutch Americans; more than 28 percent of the population claims Dutch ancestry.

While exploring Dutch history and culture is a popular pastime for tourists, there are also other opportunities for those seeking a different experience, with many free.

For a budget-savvy vacation, here’s a list of the free things to do in Holland, Michigan:

Try Lakeside Activities at Holland State Park

Sand dunes at Holland State Park

Ganeshkumar Durai /

Beachgoers at Holland State Park can choose between two different options.

Enjoy the beach of Lake Macatawa or Lake Michigan, or switch it up and visit both!

Stroll down the beach, take in the scenery, bask in the sun, work on your tan, or cool off in the lake.

People fishing at Holland State Park


If you’re energetic, you may choose from various water sports, play volleyball on the beach, or go fishing.

The park is full of hiking routes, and the dunes are also open for exploration.

Sunsets over breathtaking Holland State Park are stunning, making for a romantic afternoon.

Aerial view of Holland State Park

Dee Parsons /

Go Sunbathing at Laketown Beach

Are you looking for a beach that is both lovely and devoid of crowds?

As a remote beach perched on a dune, Laketown Beach is only accessible by boat.

A breathtaking panorama of Lake Michigan from the highest point welcomes visitors.

Once you arrive at the beach, you will discover nearly complete seclusion as you bask in the sun’s warm rays.

To reach the beach, tourists must ascend the stairs on a dune at the end of a road that leads nowhere.

Although the location is difficult to find on a map, the journey toward Laketown Beach is part of the adventure.

Laketown Beach is an excellent place to spend the day sunbathing and swimming in peace because it is a location that tourists do not commonly visit.

Take Photos with the Tulips at Window on the Waterfront

The Window on the Waterfront, sometimes referred to as Riverview Park, is home to breathtaking walking and bike pathways that reach out over the marsh.

It is possible to see De Zwaan, situated on Windmill Island, from a few observation platforms.

See over a hundred thousand tulips displayed at Window on the Waterfront.

It contains a sizable field and several winding roads across the park, providing attractive photography options.

Take a seat on the bench and enjoy the view of the tulips.

Take photos or videos of yourself and your loved ones in this lovely setting.

Bring Your Family to Mt. Pisgah Dune Climb and Boardwalk

Steps at Mount Pisgah Dune Climb and Boardwalk

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The Mount Pisgah Dune Climb and Boardwalk culminates with stunning vistas of the Big Red, marinas, and lakes Michigan and Macatawa, located 157 feet above Lake Michigan.

Hiking along the Mt. Pisgah Dune Climb and Boardwalk is one of the most pleasant things to do in Holland.

Along the wooden boardwalk, you may enjoy an escape from the strains of everyday life while still having the opportunity to spend quality time with your significant other or your family.

Pathway of Mount Pisgah Dune Climb and Boardwalk

T-I /

Other on-site facilities include beach volleyball courts, picnic shelters, and bathrooms.

You will be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of Lake Michigan and the Big Red Lighthouse if you ascend the tall stairway and climb around 200 to 300 steps.

See the Local Wildlife at Outdoor Discovery Center

A trip to the Outdoor Discovery Center on the Macatawa Greenway is in order if you want to reconnect with nature.

It’s a great spot to go hiking or biking since there are more than five miles of paths to explore.

Deer, otters, and beavers are some native animals that could make an appearance.

The facility also features a learning center where visitors of all ages can participate in environmental education programs and summer camps.

The Outdoor Discovery Center is a lovely outdoor destination open throughout the year.

Learn Maple Making at Van Raalte Farm Park

A historic house at Van Raalte Farm Park

Rachael Martin /

The historic Van Raalte Farm Park was formerly a working farm and is now a park and entertainment area.

Part of the old farmhouse, built in 1872, has been converted into a Nature Center.

It also features two historic barns.

The park’s spectacular maple grove is notable because the farm’s proprietors originally planted it.

The modern addition of a Sugar Shack provides guests with information on maple syrup-making.

Hikers, picnickers, and parents alike may stop by and enjoy Van Raalte Farm Park’s many amenities.

Cross-country skiing and sledding are two of the most popular winter activities at the park.

Learn about the Environment at DeGraaf Nature Center

The De Graaf Nature Center is an 18-acre nature preserve with pathways through various natural habitats, including a marsh, shrubland, forest, and pond.

The Outdoor Discovery Center Network manages this facility.

De Graaf Nature Center is a natural haven comprising woodlands, ponds, and marshes that you can explore via a network of trails.

The paths are constantly available for exploration, and the Helen O’ Brower Visitor Center is stocked with interactive displays and live animal exhibits.

Kids can get outside and have an adventure they will never forget, all while learning about the environment, wildlife, and plants.

Strike a Pose with the Statues at Oz Sculpture Garden

For years, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been a go-to bedtime story for youngsters everywhere.

Almost everyone is familiar with at least the story’s bare bones, which follows Dorothy and Toto as they encounter the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and other characters.

L. Frank Baum frequently traveled to Holland on vacation.

While in Holland, he had an epiphany that would later provide the basis for a timeless tale.

Giant bronze statues of characters from the story are set up along a charming yellow brick path in the Oz Sculpture Garden to honor the author and the famous novel.

You may visit this free exhibition in the heart of Holland.

Seasonal flowers at Oz Sculpture Garden make it look like a giant children’s book.

Wander Centennial Park

Trail at Centennial Park

Nagel Photography /

In 1876, the area now known as Centennial Park was renovated from its previous usage as the town market and dedicated to parking use.

Set between 10th and 12th Streets and River and Central Avenues, this park encompasses a total area of 5.6 acres.

Downtown Holland’s Centennial Park follows the style of a Victorian Garden, featuring a lush garden transforming as seasons change.

The grounds also have statues, a fish pond, and the traditional Dutch fountain.

A gazebo at Centennial Park

MercadoCreations /

Here you may find several of the most attended events in Holland.

Locals and visitors consider this park one of the best stroller-friendly parks and trails in West Michigan.

Like Window on the Waterfront, this park is one of the best places to see tulips in all of Holland.

Centennial Park is worth a visit if you plan to be there during tulip season.

Vibrant tulips at Centennial Park

Roberto Galan /

Stroll along Kollen Park & Heinz Waterfront Walkway

Located at the end of 10th Street and Lake Macatawa on the park’s western side is the 24-acre Kollen Park & Heinz Waterfront Walkway.

The H.J. Heinz Company also gave access to 4,000 linear feet of the boardwalk, which is where this structure is attached.

Kollen Park & Heinz Waterfront Walkway is a popular destination for locals and tourists because of its proximity to Holland’s historic central business district.

It’s a beautiful place to take your family or pet dog for a stroll, with scenic overlooks, a fountain, a bandshell, and a playground for the kids.

After enjoying a meal at one of the neighborhood restaurants, take a stroll and take in the beautiful scenery of the surrounding lake.

Kids of all ages are welcome to join you in Kollen Park, where they may play on the park’s playground equipment.

Take Photos of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse

Exterior of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse

Kenneth Keifer /

The Holland Harbor Lighthouse is one of the most famous landmarks in the area.

The Big Red Lighthouse, which stands at nearly 50 feet, is a popular tourist attraction and photo subject throughout Michigan.

The lighthouse on Holland Harbor’s west pier provides breathtaking panoramas of Lake Michigan and the dunes.

Facade of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse

5Digital /

Holland State Park’s north pier and accompanying boardwalk offer the most excellent vantage point for viewing Big Red (wheelchair-accessible).

Mt. Pisgah, accessible by a sand staircase, is another fantastic vantage point from which to observe Big Red.

If you want to take pictures, the ideal time to visit the Big Red Lighthouse is in the summer when the weather is nice and sunny.

Aerial view of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse

Frederick Millett /

Take Selfies with the Windmill at Van Bragt Park

One of the few things that set Van Bragt Park apart is a reproduction of the windmill that stood on W.K. Kellogg’s Gull Lake home.

The area was renamed on April 6, 1966, to honor John Van Bragt, Holland’s first Park Superintendent.

After 24 years, Mr. Van Bragt retired as Park Superintendent.

While in the military, he drained the marsh and built the base from scratch.

Bragt created the paths at this location.

He also planted the tens of thousands of tulips and bushes that line the tracks here.

Van Bragt Park has significant historical significance for the yearly Tulip Time celebration, another intriguing historical nugget about the area.

This park has traditionally conducted a wintertime “blessing of the tulips” prayer in the hopes of ensuring a fruitful spring harvest.

There are also paved walkways, seats, and, at our visit, displays of student artwork from nearby schools and the windmill.

Visit Holland’s Oldest Structure at Old Wing Mission

Exterior of the Old Wing Mission

rossograph, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Old Wing Mission has been around since the middle of the 1800s.

It is the oldest home in Holland.

It became part of the National Register of Historic Places list in 1986.

It was once home to a Christian preacher who came to this area and spread his religion among the native population.

There have been several developments and ownership changes at the Greek Revival property.

You may observe the outside and learn about the area’s history without entering Old Wing Mission.

Look at the marker outside the property for further information.

Appreciate Young Local Talent at Kruizenga Art Museum

If you think Holland only boasts the beauty of nature, wait till you visit this art museum.

The Kruizenga Art Museum at Hope College is a teaching museum that features artwork from various historical periods, cultural contexts, and artistic disciplines.

The museum’s collection features works from worldwide and is open to the public on certain days of the week.

Use your imagination as you observe the artwork and appreciate the creators’ bold efforts.

Many works in Kruizenga Art Museum present alternative perspectives on the world to dismantle preconceived notions.

Marvel at the Amazing Architecture of Downtown Holland

Shops along Downtown Holland

Claudine Van Massenhove /

One of the best ways to get to know Holland is to explore its downtown.

Enjoy one of “America’s Prettiest Towns” and its distinctive historic architecture.

Downtown Holland is accessible all year, unlike many other Lake Michigan resort communities.

Sitting garden at Downtown Holland

MercadoCreations /

Don’t forget to stop by the Visit Holland office in Downtown Holland and check out the gigantic wooden shoes.

If you happen to be here on a cold day, you can bundle up in front of the fireplace.

Buildings at Downtown Holland

Roberto Galan /

Final Thoughts

A trip to Holland will surely be a memorable experience whenever you visit.

You don’t need to spend much to have a good time here.

Use this list of free things to do in Holland, Michigan, as a guide to exploring this picturesque city for a budget-friendly vacation!

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