Things to do in Holland: The Ultimate Pure Michigan Guide
It’s little surprise that Holland claims a rich Dutch history. From tulips to wooden shoes and windmills, there’s a touch of the Old World around every corner. But there’s much more to this West Michigan college town. Whatever your interest, whatever the season, Holland offers a host of Pure Michigan experiences.
Enjoy a Festival
Holland is famous for its annual Tulip Time Festival each May, when millions of colorful blooms line city streets and fill flower beds. But Holland hosts a dozen festivals year-round. Check out the summertime Street Performer Series with more than 30 musicians, acrobats, mimes and jugglers lining 8th Street. As many as 300 artists sell their works at Art in the Park each August. The Tulipanes Art and Film Festival takes place each September and Dutch WinterFest kicks off just after Thanksgiving.
Sample Dutch Treats
Buy a loaf of Dutch sugar bread. Dunk krakelingen or jan hagel cookies in your coffee. Order up a plate of pigs-in-the blanket for breakfast or add a slice of Gouda to your sandwich. Dutch food specialties are available at restaurants and shops across Holland. Check out deBoer’s Bakkerij for authentic Dutch baked goods. Visit the Holland Peanut Store for Dutch chocolates and licorice. Or just head to the grocery store, where Dutch cheeses and cookies are commonplace.
Sip a Craft Beverage
New Holland Brewing Company enjoys a solid reputation with craft beer lovers nationwide. But the downtown brewery and craft distillery is only one of a half dozen in this beer- and spirits-loving town. Wet your whistle at Macatawa Ale Company, Big Lake Brewing or Our Brewing Company for a sampling of Holland’s best. If spirits are more your style, enjoy a craft cocktail at Coppercraft Distillery. Some facilities even offer behind-the-scenes tours.
Tour Holland on Two Wheels
More than 155 miles of paved bike paths crisscross Holland, from the thickly-shaded 20-mile Lakeshore Connector Path on the city’s north side to the hilly mountain bike trails at the Upper Macatawa Natural Area and the dedicated bike lanes downtown. Don’t have a bike? You can rent one at Velo City or Rock ‘n’ Road.
Tour a Dutch original, the 260 year-old historic DeZwaan windmill. The only authentic working Dutch windmill in the United States, the mill was purchased and transported to Holland’s Windmill Island Gardens in the 1960s. She’s still at work, milling grain for purchase at the gardens’ shops and for use in baked goods around town. While you’re visiting, take time to see the gardens’ 36 acres of flower beds, its Dutch street organ and carousel.
Dine al Fresco
There’s no place better for enjoying the beauty of Lake Macatawa than dining at Boatwerks Restaurant, whether on the deck during the warm weather or behind floor-to-ceiling windows in winter. Downtown, enjoy a drink or a meal outdoors at Butch’s Dry Dock, Alpenrose, The Curragh Traditional Irish Pub or New Holland Brewing Company, among many others.
Savor the Taste of the Lakeshore
The Lake Michigan shore ranks as the state’s most agriculturally diverse region, with asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches and apples all readily available in season. Pick up a sampling of locally-grown goodies at roadside stands, where payment is still in a little cash box, on the honor system. Experience harvesting yourself at one of the area’s U-pick farms. Or visit the Holland Farmers Market where twice a week local farmers sell produce, fresh flowers, cheese and meat.
Shop Downtown Holland
Experience Holland’s unique mix of retail. Independently-owned boutiques line downtown’s 8th Street, selling items ranging from outdoor gear at The Outpost to the hundreds of magazines and books at Reader’s World; from performance and fashion shoes at Borr’s to one-of-a-kind artworks at galleries like Moynihan. And downtown Holland’s unique snowmelt system guarantees snow- and ice-free sidewalks even in the midst of winter.
Hit the Trail
Holland’s natural beauty shines at area parks. Lace up your hiking boots to explore the trails at the Outdoor Discovery Center or the DeGraaf Nature Center. Near Lake Michigan, you can climb the 230 steps of Mt. Pisgah, a towering sand dune with stunning views of Lake Michigan, Lake Macatawa and Big Red Lighthouse. And to the east is the Upper Macatawa Natural Area with its foot- and bike paths.
Learn a Little History…
Pick up a self-guided historic walking tour brochure at the Holland Area Visitors Bureau and wander through Holland’s charming historic neighborhoods. You’ll learn about the 19th-century Dutch settlers who left their indelible mark on Holland and the entire lakeshore. Don’t miss the Holland Museum and the Cappon House and Settlers House Museums.
…and Take in a Little Culture
Experience award-winning theatrical performances each year at the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre. Also on the Hope College campus are the Kruizenga Art Museum, the 800-seat concert venue, the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, and the Knickerbocker film and performance theatre. Elsewhere in town, check out the paintings, Delftware and silver of the Dutch Collection of Fine and Decorative Arts at the Holland Museum and the musical performances of the Holland Symphony.
Visit the Big Lake
Holland offers lots of opportunities to enjoy views of beautiful Lake Michigan. Head to Holland State Park for swimming, fishing, camping, views of Big Red and water sports rentals. To the north, Tunnel Park and Kirk Park provide sugar-sand beaches and playground equipment. At day’s end? All of Holland’s Lake Michigan beaches promise rainbow sherbet sunsets and a year’s worth of Pure Michigan memories.