Welcome to my world in Holland, Michigan!
Nestled against the shores of Lake Michigan, bearing the sweet scent of tulips that permeates the air in spring, Holland always leaves visitors with wonderful memories.
Living here feels like a never-ending vacation, brimming with diverse cultural experiences, recreational activities, and delightful surprises around every corner.
With its enchanting blend of Dutch heritage and modern Midwestern charm, Holland has a unique rhythm that pulses through every season.
Come, join me as we explore the best things to do in Holland, Michigan.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.
Have a Weekend Family Trip to Holland State Park - Macatawa Campground
There's no feeling quite like waking up to the sound of crashing waves and a salty breeze rustling through the leaves.
My backyard just happens to be Holland State Park - Macatawa Campground, a gem nestled along the Michigan coastline.
This park and campground offers an idyllic blend of vibrant happenings and serene nature trails.
One of the greatest perks of living by the park is the extensive network of bike trails.
Whether it's a weekday morning ride to start the day or a weekend family trip, there's always a new path to explore.
The picturesque beachfront view from these trails is something that never gets old, especially with the stunning sunset views.
Holland State Park - Macatawa Campground is even more special because of its proximity to local amenities.
It's just a quick bike ride away from the heart of the city where quaint restaurants and charming shops await.
And for those who love a taste of history and stunning views, the iconic big red lighthouse is but a stone's throw away.
The park also caters to campers with spacious and level sites, some even offering full hookups.
It's a joy to see families and friends gather for an unforgettable camping experience under the stars.
That said, the park ensures that the peace and tranquility of the area are maintained by implementing a strict noise policy.
One of the major highlights for those visiting during the summer is the bustling ice cream shop on-site.
There's nothing like enjoying a cool treat after a game of beach volleyball.
See Local Species at Nature at the Outdoor Discovery Center
Just the other day, my family and I decided to take a break from our usual routine and venture into the beauty of the Outdoor Discovery Center.
It's not far from where we live, and yet it feels like a completely different world.
The place is an absolute haven for nature lovers like us.
The landscape is stunningly beautiful, a perfect blend of serene woods, lush green fields, and sparkling water bodies.
It's like walking through a carefully curated gallery of Mother Nature's best artwork.
One aspect that sets this place apart is the educational signage.
They're top-notch, providing fascinating details about the native animals inhabiting the preserve.
It's amazing how much more you appreciate the beauty around you once you understand it a little better.
However, it's not all about scenic beauty and education here.
The Outdoor Discovery Center is also a playground for the young and the young-at-heart.
There are play areas that my kids adore.
And as for the adults, we had our share of fun, too, with a zip line that makes you feel like you're flying through the woods!
But for me, the highlight of our visit was the trails adorned with hidden sculptures.
Walking through these trails felt like a treasure hunt, each sculpture more intriguing than the last.
And the sight of bald eagles up close? Absolutely spectacular.
We wrapped up our day with a surprise feast from the food trucks near the pavilion.
It was the perfect way to end our day-long adventure.
Explore the Greens of Centennial Park
Every morning, I step into my own little piece of paradise, Centennial Park, a lush expanse of greenery nestled in the heart of Holland.
The park is a canvas painted with a myriad of colors, courtesy of the tulips and tropical plants adorning it.
These are not the only displays, though; the park also hosts a variety of memorials that add a touch of solemnity and history to the vibrant atmosphere.
One of the park's main attractions is the gazebo, a quaint structure that lends a storybook charm to the place.
I often find myself sitting there, lost in the pages of my favorite book, as the gentle hum of the park plays in the background.
Not far from the gazebo, the fountain stands as a focal point in the park. Its water cascading rhythmically is therapeutic to watch and listen to.
The park's trails are another feature that I enjoy.
They meander through the park, offering a chance to explore and appreciate its beauty up close.
Each trail is dotted with different types of tulips, their vibrant hues making the walks more enjoyable.
The best time to visit Centennial Park, in my opinion, is during the Tulip Festival.
It's when the park blossoms into a riot of colors, with tulips of every imaginable kind in full bloom.
During this time, the park is also host to Dutch dance performances.
These dances, performed by local school children, are a sight to behold and add a lively rhythm to the park's ambiance.
From the serene trails to the lively Dutch dances, Centennial Park is more than just a park.
It's a sanctuary, a cultural hub, and, most importantly, it's home.
Unleashing My Inner Artist at Holland Area Arts Council
It's not every day that you stumble upon a treasure trove in your own neighborhood, but that's exactly what happened when I visited the Holland Area Arts Council.
This unassuming building houses a vibrant hub of creativity that truly surpasses expectations.
One of the highlights was a recent art show, where a multitude of artists showcased their work.
It was a bustling affair complete with food, beverages, and the chance to engage in enlightening conversations with the artists themselves.
The beauty of it all was that one could choose to interact as much or as little as they wished.
I preferred to soak in the artistry, silently interacting with only one of the creators.
But the Holland Area Arts Council is more than just an art space - it's also a learning center.
Here, you can dabble in a wide array of classes, from painting to general art and even clay - the possibilities seem endless.
If you're planning a visit, their website provides a wealth of information that can help you better prepare and select the course that tickles your artistic fancy.
To my delightful surprise, I also discovered 'The Studio' - an arts and crafts haven that quite simply blew me away.
For a modest $5, my children and I were allowed access to an array of materials that would make any artist's heart race.
The staff were helpful, guiding us and ensuring we had everything we needed to create our masterpieces.
It was such a gratifying experience that we ended up inviting friends over to join us, instead of visiting them as planned!
Go Bird-Watching at Saugatuck Dunes State Park
Having had the pleasure of living close to the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, I can confirm that it is truly one of Michigan's hidden gems.
Taking the time to explore the park's various trails is an absolute must.
Each trail offers its own unique experience, leading you to different corners of the spacious beach.
And let me tell you, the sight that awaits you at the end of each trail is nothing short of breathtaking.
The park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, making it a bird-watcher's paradise.
I've even come across a secret yellow sandcastle bucket tucked away in the sand from time to time.
If you're lucky enough to find it, I highly recommend putting it to use and building your own sandcastle.
Trust me - it's a simple pleasure that never loses its charm, no matter how old you are.
One of my favorite times to visit the Saugatuck Dunes State Park is in November.
During this time, the forest area bursts into a symphony of colors amidst the moss, mushrooms, beech, and maple trees.
Once you've had your fill of the woods, the beach awaits with its soft sand. A peaceful walk along the shoreline is the perfect way to end your day.
Remember, the park is dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friend along for the adventure. Just make sure to keep them on a leash.
Also, don't forget to purchase a recreation pass, available on-site, for entry.
Keep in mind that there are vault toilets in the parking area but none on the beach, so plan your bathroom breaks wisely.
Hike the Mt. Pisgah at Historic Ottawa Beach
I've lived near Mt. Pisgah Historic Ottawa Beach all my life, and I still can't resist the lure of its rugged trails and breathtaking views.
To me, this place is a paradise hidden in plain sight. There's nothing quite like the satisfaction of conquering the steep climb, navigating the 239 steps to reach the summit.
The hike may be short, but it's quite the workout.
On more than one occasion, I've had to rest halfway up, catching my breath while admiring the woodland scenery.
But no matter how many times I've done it, there's always a sense of accomplishment when I finally stand at the top.
The panoramic view of Holland and the gleaming lake with its lighthouse never fails to take my breath away.
One of the best things about Mt. Pisgah's trail is how it stays cool, even on the hottest days, thanks to the generous canopy of trees.
The shade offers a welcome respite from the warm Michigan sun, making the hike more comfortable and enjoyable.
However, as much as I love my furry four-legged friend, dogs aren't allowed on the trail, so I usually leave him at home.
And besides, the walk is a great opportunity to enjoy the charming neighborhood.
The one thing I always make sure to do is to stay on the official path and carry out any trash I generate.
As locals and visitors, it's our responsibility to keep Mt. Pisgah at Historic Ottawa Beach pristine for everyone to enjoy.
Experience the Dutch Heritage at De Zwaan
When the winds of summer blow through my town, there's one place that always comes alive - the De Zwaan windmill.
Positioned along the Macatawa River island, this functioning Dutch windmill is more than a city landmark - it's a piece of history.
Every visit to De Zwaan feels like a step back in time.
The moment you enter, your eyes are drawn to the intricate wooden gear mechanism that breathes life into the monolithic structure.
And the enthusiasm of the staff, adorned in traditional Dutch costumes, is nothing short of infectious - they're always eager to share stories about the windmill's history and workings.
What's truly amazing is the journey of De Zwaan itself.
The wooden mill was transported over shores and waters from the Netherlands in 1964, and the sturdy brick base that supports it was built right here.
It's been a testament to the power of the wind, a symbol that has come full circle with our growing reliance on wind energy today.
But, of course, the charm of De Zwaan extends beyond the windmill.
The Windmill Island Gardens that it presides over is a sight to behold, especially during tulip season, but you can visit us all year long.
The sea of vibrant tulips is a sight that brightens even the gloomiest days, making every visit a memorable one.
Buy Fresh Produce from Holland Farmers Market
There's something quite magical about weekend mornings at the Holland Farmers Market.
The bustling atmosphere, the friendly chatter, the scent of fresh produce and baked goods mixing in the air.
It's an experience that never gets old, even if I've been coming here for years.
One of my favorite things about the market is how true it stays to its roots.
Unlike other farmers' markets that have started to resemble craft fairs, Holland Farmers Market puts the spotlight on the real stars of the show - Michigan's farm produce.
The stalls are laden with fresh fruits, vegetables, and prepared foods that are as delicious as they are intricate.
Holland Farmers Market's commitment to local farming is evident in the diversity and quality of its produce, making it a haven for food lovers like me.
And let me tell you - it's not just the food that's great.
The ambiance is equally charming. With its location right next to the downtown area, the market is always buzzing with energy.
There's plenty of parking available too, both in lots and on the streets, making it super convenient for everyone.
But if I had to pick one product to recommend, it would be the white fish.
It's fresh, locally sourced, and simply divine.
If you're planning a visit in the summer, you absolutely can't miss the cling free peaches.
I load up every year, and it's always worth the wait.
Take Snaps with the Tulips at Windmill Island Gardens
When the calendar reads May and the tulips at the Windmill Island Gardens burst into a riot of colors, the city transforms into a little slice of the Netherlands right in our backyard.
Picture yourself among fields of multicolored tulips, a majestic 250-year-old windmill towering above you, and Dutch-costumed guides adding to the rich cultural experience.
Let me tell you the $12 admission fee is a pittance for the vibrant serenade of nature that awaits you.
The gardens are a feast for your senses. Each step you take brings you past tulips of every imaginable hue, their delicate petals swaying gently in the breeze.
The fragrance is intoxicating, and the windmill, oh, the windmill!
The guides inside are marvelously charming, brimming with fascinating tidbits about the windmill and its history.
I can't help but smile when I see the crowd around the carousel; the sheer joy on the kids' faces is infectious!
It's usually busy, but there's plenty of parking space, and it's free. So, no hassles there.
Windmill Island Gardens isn't just gardens and windmills.
There are restaurants offering a small but satisfying selection of food options and, of course, ice cream!
The gift shop is particularly impressive, with garments, arts, and showpieces of all sorts.
A pair of those unique wooden boots will definitely be my next purchase.
While I wish the tulip fields were as expansive as the ones in the Netherlands, the vibrant charm of the Windmill Island Gardens never fails to lift my spirits.
It's the perfect day trip, a chance to escape into an enchanting world, and it's right here, at our doorstep.
Enjoying the Serenity at DeGraaf Nature Center
There's something incredibly soothing about starting my mornings at DeGraaf Nature Center.
With a cup of coffee in hand, I stroll down the wooden walkways, immersing myself in the tranquility of this small yet captivating 18-acre nature preserve.
It's a real treat to watch the sun's first rays gently touch the canopy of leaves, bringing everything to life.
As I meander through the trails, the air is filled with the chirping of birds, making for a great birdwatching experience.
It's an absolute delight to spot some unique species flitting around.
I always carry my binoculars along, never wanting to miss an opportunity for a closer look.
But the charm of DeGraaf Nature Center isn't confined to its outdoor beauty.
The interpretive center, nestled in the heart of the preserve, is like a treasure trove.
I love exploring the exhibits, which tell stories about the local ecosystem and its geological wonders.
The Center also houses live animals- turtles, snakes, frogs, a bunny, and even a rescue owl!
Watching the kids' faces light up upon seeing these creatures is a sight that never gets old.
This place is not just about wildlife; it's also about community.
The warmth of the staff is commendable.
They are knowledgeable, friendly, and always ready to share interesting anecdotes about the preserve's fauna.
Stroll through History at Holland Museum
The other day, I decided to take a break from my usual routine and revisit a gem in my hometown, the Holland Museum.
It's not just a museum; it's a testament to the rich history and heritage of our area, wrapped up in an intriguing early 20th-century post office building.
Walking into the museum felt like stepping back in time.
The exhibits capture Holland, Michigan's story in a way that makes you feel like you are living it. I was particularly drawn to the art exhibits on the second floor.
The impressionist paintings, each telling a unique story, were a feast for the eyes.
My personal favorite was a serene landscape painting that instantly transported me to the peaceful countryside.
What makes the Holland Museum even more fascinating are the countless historical items on display.
Many of them reminded me of the imagery in Lynn Austin's book, 'Waves of Mercy,' a story set in our very own Holland.
It was as if the words were coming to life right before my eyes!
The museum also houses a special children's area that I’ve seen stir up creativity in young minds.
It’s amazing to see the kids get hands-on experience with STEM concepts, turning ideas into reality.
The entrance fee is a mere $7 for adults and $4 for children, a small price for such an enriching experience.
I spent about an hour and a half touring the museum and the art exhibits, which was just enough time to absorb everything.
Gaze at Stunning Art Pieces at yhe Kruizenga Art Museum
I've always been a big fan of art.
With the Kruizenga Art Museum just a short stroll away from my home, tucked away in the Hope College campus, it's safe to say that I have the privilege of living in close proximity to a breathtaking array of both permanent and rotating exhibitions.
The size of the museum is deceiving.
Despite being small, it has an indomitable spirit and a collection that rivals those of larger-scale Kruizenga Art Museum.
I remember one of my visits where they were showcasing an array of Buddhism artifacts.
It was a unique opportunity to immerse myself in the richness of another culture right in the heart of Holland.
The museum is not just a place for art.
It is also a place for education. I’ve learned so much about diverse cultures and histories from their exhibits.
It's a must-visit for anyone who is in the area and looking to deepen their understanding of the world in a visually stunning way.
And the best part?
The museum offers free admission.
This makes the rich cultural experience accessible to everyone, making it a true gem of the local community.
Snap a Memory with Holland Harbor Lighthouse
Ever been mesmerized by a beacon of light guiding the way for the lost?
That's exactly what the Holland Harbor Lighthouse, affectionately known as the "Big Red," does for everyone around.
The lighthouse stands guard by the Holland Channel, ushering in ships with its warm, red glow.
An average day starts with a brisk walk through Holland State Park.
The park, in itself, is a beauty with its large beach and clear view of the Big Red.
On some days, you might even spot the coast guard around, as I did once.
A walk on the pier, especially during the colder months, is an experience on its own.
The lighthouse against the snowy backdrop, the icy walkways, the cold wind against your face - a sense of calm and serenity that is hard to put into words.
Although access to the lighthouse is restricted, its view from the park side is so unhindered that it hardly matters.
One of my favorite pastimes is to sit and gaze at this majestic structure from the park or the pier.
Every season adds a new charm to it.
In winter, its red color stands out against the white snow, making it a picturesque spot.
For those who are passionate about history and architecture, the lighthouse offers plenty. It's unusual but stunning all the same.
The sight of the lighthouse against the setting sun is truly breathtaking, enough to make you stop and admire.
And if you're a photography enthusiast like me, you'd find the lighthouse and the surrounding beach a treasure trove of opportunities.
Every angle, every light setting, every season gives you a new perspective to capture.
Walk the Woods at Sanctuary Woods Preserve
You know that feeling when you see something so beautiful it just takes your breath away?
It is the same feeling I get every time I step into Sanctuary Woods Preserve.
Let me tell you, the sight of the morning sun glittering over the dew-kissed leaves is something straight out of a fairy tale.
On my usual weekend stroll, I always make sure I'm armed with a bottle of water and my trusty hiking boots. The trails can be a bit challenging for the unprepared, especially on a hot summer's day. And let's not forget about the insects - a quick spray of bug repellent is usually enough to keep the pesky critters at bay.
Sanctuary Preserve is small but full of wonders. Its size, around 40 acres, might sound limiting, but believe me, it's packed with diverse flora and fauna that manage to surprise me every time.
The trails do come quite close to private property, making it feel a bit less secluded than some might like, but the views are worth it.
And speaking of views, the centerpiece of the Preserve is a 368-step staircase.
This might sound daunting, but the benches built into the sides offer a resting spot and an opportunity to soak in the scenery.
At the top, a lookout spot offers a perfect place for a pause and maybe even a photo or two.
Step into a Different World at the Charm of Nelis' Dutch Village
Every weekend feels like a mini vacation when I have the pleasure of visiting the heartwarming theme park, Nelis' Dutch Village.
With the aroma of freshly baked waffles wafting through the air and the clatter of wooden clogs echoing in the distance, it's like stepping into a different world.
From the moment I step through the gates, I am transported into a charming realm that celebrates the Netherlands.
I've always been fascinated by the wooden shoe factory, where I watch skilled craftsmen create these traditional shoes with precision and finesse.
The process is mesmerizing, and the final products are works of art.
But it's not just about the shoes. There's something for everyone here. The cheese-making demonstrations are an absolute delight and a must-see.
I adore treating my taste buds to the fresh, savory cheese that is crafted right there. And don't get me started on the petting zoo.
The lovable animals that crave your attention will definitely melt your heart. It's always a joy to interact with them.
The rides are a fun addition to the park. Even though I'm not a child anymore, the vibrant atmosphere and the joyous laughter of kids make me want to hop on for a ride.
The park is also a photographer's paradise. The vivid flowers around the park provide the perfect backdrop for some beautiful pictures.
Pricing is another aspect that makes Nelis' Dutch Village a go-to place for me.
With tickets costing around $15 online, it is a decent value for money.
Plus, kids under three get in free, so it's a great place to take the entire family for some weekend fun.
Spend a Peaceful Afternoon at Kollen Park
Nothing beats a peaceful afternoon at Kollen Park, a serene waterfront park nestled in the heart of my hometown of Holland.
A stroll through the park is like stepping into a nature lover’s paradise.
Towering trees provide a comforting shade, while the well-kept landscape showcases the charm of the park.
Visit the park to explore its beautiful surroundings and soak in its tranquil ambiance.
One of my favorite activities in Kollen Park is watching the glorious sunset over the lake from the playground area.
It’s a sight to behold, especially when I'm sitting on one of the many benches scattered throughout the park.
I must mention the playground, a haven for kids, teeming with exciting play equipment and offering plenty of space to run and fly a kite.
The park also houses a band shelter where free concerts take place every Tuesday at 7:30 pm during the summer months.
The music resonates against the backdrop of the lake, the trees, and the open sky, creating a surreal experience.
A walk along the wide boardwalk is another enchanting experience.
It’s a great place for fishing or just enjoying a leisurely stroll.
I particularly enjoy watching the wildlife, including swans and mallards, as they gracefully move around their natural habitat.
A Stroll Through Veldheer Tulip Gardens
When Springtime heralds its arrival, and the weather begins to warm, there's nowhere I love to spend my time more than at the enchanting Veldheer Tulip Gardens.
As the frost recedes, the grounds explode into a riot of colors – vibrant, serene, and everything in between.
One of the joys of the Veldheer Tulip Gardens is the incredible variety on display.
Every type of tulip imaginable - in all shapes, sizes, and colors - blooms in orchestrated harmony.
I find myself walking leisurely through the gardens, each time discovering a new favorite bloom.
The pure joy and amazement of seeing so many diverse tulips, it's hard to describe without experiencing it yourself.
For just $15, you get an entire afternoon of tranquility.
There may not be much to do, but the gardens offer a unique opportunity to simply be - to relax, unwind, and take in the sights.
And believe me; the sights are worth every penny.
From time to time, I find myself sitting on one of the numerous chairs scattered around, simply absorbing the serene views or capturing picture-perfect photos of this blooming paradise.
The gardens provide more than just a visual treat. There's a quaint gift shop on the premises, selling an array of adorable Dutch crafts and tulip bulbs.
I often find myself picking up souvenirs and delicious snacks, adding to the overall joy of the visit.
Yes, some parts of the grounds do need some TLC, but that's all part of the charm of this enchanting place.
It's a living, breathing, evolving landscape - not a manicured showpiece.
It's a place where the beauty of nature takes center stage, and everything else, quite rightly so, fades into the background.
Go Fishing at Howard B. Dunton Park
Ah, there's nothing quite like the tranquility of Howard B. Dunton Park on a mild afternoon.
With its scenic views and serene atmosphere, this park is an ideal escape from the bustling city.
I've spent countless afternoons there – just lounging in my truck, absorbing the peacefulness, and drinking in the scenery.
You can find me there, usually when it's quiet.
The park is not just about idyllic landscapes; it's a haven for leisure activities too.
The imposing fishing pier is a particular favorite of mine, where I can cast a line and lose myself in the soothing patterns of the water.
For lovers of the outdoors, Howard B. Dunton Park is a treasure trove.
There's a wealth of walkways, perfect for those leisurely strolls or invigorating jogs.
And if you fancy a bit of grilling, the park is equipped with numerous grills and gazebos.
They are superb for hosting big family get-togethers or simply having a relaxed picnic.
In fact, there are three pavilions, each with its own grill. Although, do note that the one by the boat launch is sans grill.
And speaking of boats, there's a kayak launch for the more adventurous among you.
Not to mention, the park is also home to three playgrounds, ensuring your little ones have ample space and facilities to let off some steam.
Step Back in Time at The Cappon House
Have you ever wondered how the mayor of a city lives?
Well, I did and decided to explore the historic Cappon House, right here in our beautiful Holland.
Their website piqued my curiosity about the abode of Holland's first mayor from the 1870s.
As soon as I stepped foot into the carefully restored house, I felt like I had time-traveled back to the late 19th century.
Cappon House boasts period furnishings that give you a glimpse into the past life of the former mayor's family.
Every piece of furniture, every painting, and each artifact in the house has a story to tell, and the friendly tour guides made sure to narrate each one of them.
One of my favorite parts of the tour was visiting the settler house where the family started their journey and the main house where they ended up when they held the mayoral office.
The houses are furnished predominantly with original pieces, offering an authentic feel.
For all history enthusiasts out there, don't forget to check out the historic exhibits that provide a deeper understanding of the town's past.
Bring your questions and curiosity along; the guides are more than happy to answer.
Admire Nature's Artwork on the Window on the Waterfront
Every now and then, I find myself drawn to the serene environment of the Window on the Waterfront, my very own escape in the heart of the city.
Nestled along the marshy landscape of Holland, this 30-acre park offers an alluring blend of urban convenience and natural tranquility.
An ordinary day at the park is anything but dull.
The myriad paths, perfect for both walking and biking, are my favorite place to admire the local flora.
On any given day, I spend my time cycling around the park, observing the beautiful tulips painting a mesmerizing canvas of color.
From the brightest yellows to the deepest purples, the floral carpet threads a tapestry of nature's artwork.
When it's baseball season, I often join the local league games on weekends.
The park's field is always buzzing with energy, bringing together people of all ages in our community.
But the beauty of the park truly shines during Tulip Time.
Thousands of tulips bloom in a riot of color, transforming the landscape into a vivid spectacle.
It's a sight to behold, a sight that you wouldn't want to miss.
But do take note of the heavy traffic, both from vehicles and pedestrians, as everyone flocks to marvel at this spectacle.
For those with young ones, a playground lies adjacent to the park, perfect for a day out with the family.
With its proximity to downtown Holland, Window on the Waterfront is an easy walk to continue your day exploring the charm of our city.
The charm and vibrancy of Holland, Michigan, is truly unparalleled.
Every day in Holland brings with it a promise of adventure, of beauty, and of community.
So, whether you're a long-time resident or just passing through, I hope you'll find as much joy in exploring the best things to do in Holland, Michigan, as I do.