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From windmills to dining, there are many things to do on a getaway in Holland, MI. Explore the downtown, head to the beach or visit a real wooden shoe factory. And don’t forget to check out the popular Big Red lighthouse!
The City of Holland is a unique small town in west Michigan on the shore of Lake Michigan. Here you’ll find beautiful beaches, plenty to explore and see and a quaint downtown focused on authentic Dutch culture. Not to mention a wide variety of shopping and dining options! Visit in springtime to enjoy their annual Tulip Time festival, held the first week of May. But Holland has much to offer during any time of year for plenty of family fun.
Located on the south shore of Lake Macatawa, Holland’s downtown is a unique mix of culture and opportunity. It’s not just the attractive brick architecture of adjoining Hope College. There’s something different about what at first glance appears to be a rather stereotypical Michigan small-town downtown area. Maybe it’s the outdoor brick fireplace that’s kept burning every day where locals and tourists can gather to rest and relax for a few minutes.
Perhaps it’s the many statues you can find along the tulip-adorned streets or in local parks.
Or the snowmelt system that keeps downtown street and sidewalks clear of snow and ice in the wintertime.
Or the block after block of shops along 8th Street where you can find something for just about everyone, of all ages. Check out the Tip Toes baby boutique, the Holland Clock Company, Velo City Cycles and a lot more.
The downtown has a good wayfinder signage program that provides several outdoor guides and maps to the area so you can find where you want to go easily. There is on-street, angled parking available along 8th Street, and just about everything in the downtown is within easy walking distance.
Read More: Our favorite family vacation spots in Northern Michigan.
Holland Michigan Restaurants
Whether you’re looking for fine dining, a quick snack or sweet treat, Holland’s dining options have you covered.
If you love ethnic cuisine, check out Mizu Sushi or their sister restaurant, OI Asian Bistro. Plus Mr. Kozak’s II offers authentic Greek gyros and more. The Curragh Irish Pub takes you from the feel of the Netherlands over to Ireland. And if you prefer more of a Mexican or Latin American flavor, don’t miss Poquito, Taco + Bar or Taqueria Vallarta.
Did someone say pizza? Don’t miss Fricano’s Too, home of the most famous pizza in Michigan! I’ve eaten at the original Fricano’s in nearby Grand Haven and it is definitely delicious.
Beer and Brewing
The craft beer scene in Holland has plenty to offer as well, from the comfort food of Hopcat to the Waverly Stone Gastropub, Big Lake Brewing, Hops at 84 East, Butch’s Dry Dock and Obstacle No 1. Local breweries include Our Brewing Company, Coppercraft Distillery and New Holland Brewing.
Enjoy a beautiful view of Lake Macatawa while dining at Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant.
And in a town called Holland, you just have to stop in to the Windmill Restaurant for a true diner experience.
Sweets and Treats
While walking through downtown Holland, don’t forget to duck into the local Kilwin’s. Any Michigander can tell you that here you’ll find incredible sweets like fudge and ice cream. I can personally vouch for that – as well as for the chocolate shakes, which I have discovered are divine.
More into healthier treats? Check out Peachwave Frozen Yogurt & Gelato which offers vegan Dole soft-serve among other options.
Whit’s Frozen Custard and the Saunders Family Bakery are a couple of other great options to satisfy your sweet tooth. Not to mention the Holland Peanut Store, which sells much more than peanuts. Their yummy chocolates are a must-try.
Shopping in Holland
Walking around downtown Holland is a lot of fun both with a group or on your own. Some (not all) of the stores stay open into the evening, so whether you prefer to window shop or spend that hard-earned cash, you’re covered.
I always love walking through the Tip Toes baby boutique, where I mourn the fact that I no longer have any babies or toddlers in the house. As an avid knitter and sewist, I never miss a chance to stop in to Field’s Fabrics or the Garen Huis Yarn Studio.
Reader’s World is an independent bookstore, something that’s not easy to find anymore.
Looking for unique gifts? I always love wandering through Carolyn Stitch Studio and Seedling’s Boutique. They offer so many fun options. However, I think my favorite shop to browse is The Apothecary Gift Shop. Here you’ll find jewelry, toys, fun stickers and so much more.
I know that my aunts used to enjoy shopping in downtown Holland on their annual summer visits to the area, and I certainly understand why.
Other Things to Do in Holland, MI
Holland State Park and Big Red Lighthouse
Although much more than just a ‘beach town’, you can’t miss the fact that the beach is a huge part of life here. Holland State Park offers a beautiful sandy beach, camping, playground and more. Plus, it’s the home of the iconic Big Red Lighthouse, on the channel connecting Lake Macatawa to Lake Michigan. Big Red is an icon that is an absolute must-see when you visit.
Nelis’ Dutch Village
If you’re looking for authentic Dutch culture, this is the place! It’s been a little while since I’ve visited Nelis’ Dutch Village, and they’ve definitely added to their offerings since then. This is where you’ll find authentic (wearable!) wooden shoes to try on and purchase, along with many other Dutch and European handcrafts. The village also contains several food stores with everything from sweets and ice cream to cheese.
The village is perfect for families with plenty for kids to do. They have a petting farm with goats, sheep, bunnies and more that you can pet and feed. There is also a playground, giant wooden shoe slide and a theme park with Dutch-themed carousel, petal cars, a windmill ride and more.
Veldheer Tulip Garden and De Klomp Wooden shoe and Delft Factory
Veldheer’s tulip farm is a must-see in the spring, when millions of tulip bloom. But there is plenty to see and do during the other times of year as well. Their perennial garden is open June-mid October. You can also tour a real wooden shoe factory and talk to artists as they work on the only authentic delftware made in the US.
This city park offers beautiful grounds with over 100,000 tulips that bloom every spring. The park also is home to “De Zwaan”, a 250-year-old working Dutch windmill. You can take tours of the windmill, visit their Little Netherlands Village display and kids will love the antique Dutch Carousel.
Mt. Pisgah Dune Climb and Boardwalk
Climb the stairs and boardwalk here up to amazing views of Lake Michigan, Lake Macatawa and the Big Red Lighthouse.
Along with Holland State Park, this is one of the most popular Lake Michigan beaches for both locals and visitors to enjoy. There is also a playground, picnic areas, sand dunes to climb (including a dune stairway) and a unique tunnel through a dune.
Every spring West Michigan comes alive with spring blooms, as the Tulip Time Festival begins in Holland. For over 80 years, the community has celebrated its Dutch heritage with hundreds of thousands of tulips, parades, concerts and much more.
You don’t have to be Dutch in heritage to enjoy this festival, however! There’s plenty to do for people of all ethnicities, genders and ages.
Parades and Dutch Dancing
One of the truly Dutch events during Tulip Time is the annual Volksparade. And afterward, you can stay to watch hundreds of people in Dutch costumes take to the streets to scrub them clean with brooms as well. Then don’t forget to come back for the Kinderparade, with over 7,000 area schoolkids and marching bands.
You can find Dutch Dance performances taking place during every day of Tulip Time, including Kinder Dutch Dance which involves local children in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. The dancers’ costumes are handmade locally and each one is inspected before it can be worn – the costumes are patterned after traditional Dutch dress.
Holland MI Tulip Time in 2021
The 2021 event looks a bit different from typical years since most of the traditional in-person events and parades are not occurring. But there is still much to see and do as I discovered on my recent visit. Even just walking through the downtown area and seeing the many beautiful tulip blooms is a wonderful experience during Tulip Time.
I also walked down to the Window on the Waterfront park, which has come alive with tulips in so many different colors and varieties. Everywhere you look there is color. Plus the scenic overlook lets you get a beautiful view of Lake Macatawa.
Several events are virtual in 2021, including a quilt raffle, artisan market, scavenger hunt and run. There is an in-person carnival midway and historic tall ship dockside tours. New this year is the Dutch costume exhibit and Dutch market, which is in-person as well.
Also, don’t miss the virtual Tulip Tracker, where you can see live views and virtual tours of the local tulip beds and displays.
The schedule of events for Tulip Time, as well as information about the local area and more, can be found at http://www.tuliptime.com. You can also find out more about the festival by following on Twitter or becoming a fan on Facebook.
Getting to Holland
Holland is located about 30 miles west of Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan. This makes it a perfect day trip if you’re already visiting Grand Rapids. By car, it’s easily accessible via I-196 or I-96, coming from Chicago or Detroit. Other nearby lakeshore communities to check out include Grand Haven, Saugatuck and Muskegon. Each of these has much to see and do along with gorgeous lakefront beaches and sand dunes.
West Michigan is definitely well-situated for traveling by plane, with commercial flights available at airports in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Muskegon and Traverse City. Any of these are easily drivable to Holland. Plus with Detroit’s Metro Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare each only a 2-3 hour drive away, there are always options to compare flights to get the best possible fares.