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How To Spend A Day In Holland, Michigan

Updated: Nov 18, 2022


A small windmill at Windmill Island in Holland Michigan

I love smaller cities — which some would even call towns — with enticing cultures or sites that bring in tourists. Holland is one of those. About 30 minutes from Grand Rapids (the second biggest city in Michigan), Holland sits near Lake Michigan and is known for its tulip display in the spring and Dutch heritage.


If you’re looking for a quaint and perhaps more laid-back experience in Michigan that you might not find in a bigger city, plan a getaway day in Holland. Here are some ideas as you get started.


A muffin, cinnamon roll, mango smoothie and coffee at Lemonjello's coffee

Grab your morning pick-me-up at a local coffee shop or bakery.


Holland has a wide selection of coffee shops and bakeries, especially downtown. When deciding which one to visit during our trip, I noticed that most of the businesses boast local or fresh ingredients and bakery items made homemade and in-house. Our pick that day was Lemonjello’s, a coffee shop with different beverages and baked goods, which were yummy.


A bright red lighthouse in Holland Michigan

Take pictures at the Holland Harbor Lighthouse.


I would check out Holland Harbor super early in the morning or in the evening as the sun is going down. We decided to go in the morning and had an adventure parking and walking to the lighthouse, as it’s located on a private condo community beachfront. The signs said to talk to the person at the entrance area before going to the lighthouse, but there was no one there (likely because it was a Sunday), so we decided to take our chances.


Finally, after having to abandon my Goody Two-Shoes personality, we walked the beach with the bright red lighthouse and bright blue pier in our sights. It is a beautiful view. There is a sign explaining the historical significance of this harbor for the original Dutch settlers. We also had a little surprise upon walking the pier: multiple minks along the rocks. One of them was even keen to explore our shoes and bags.


(Note: You might be able to reach the lighthouse by going to Holland State Park, but that wasn’t coming up as an option on GPS at the time.)


The windmill island gardens with a gazebo and flowers

Walk around the Windmill Island Gardens.

Price: While the website says $14 for adults ($12 for children, free for infants 2 years old and under), when we went, it was $10 per adult.


You can’t visit Holland without going to see the five-story DeZwaan windmill located in the Windmill Island Gardens. The city website boasts that it is the only authentic operating Dutch windmill in the U.S. You might have even seen it before on Instagram, as many travelers enjoy taking their pictures in front of it. While there isn’t a lot to do other than tour and learn about the windmill, you can take a relaxing walk around the property, see some horses and explore the shop.


Learn about the city at the Holland Museum.

Price: $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for students, children under 5 are free


Although we didn’t have time to do it on this trip, another spot to learn more about Holland’s Dutch history is the Holland Museum. Here, you’ll learn about the city’s beginnings, its ties to the furniture industry, the start of Tulip Time and Holland during the wars. There is also a collection of Dutch objects and art.


The Nelis' Dutch Village in Holland Michigan looks like a carnival

Take your kids to the Nelis’ Dutch Village.

Price: $14 for adults, $12 for children


If you are traveling as a family and have young kids, this stop is for you. The Nelis’ Dutch Village is a small theme park that looks like a county fairground. Kids have a lot to enjoy, from a wooden shoe (Klompen) shop and fudge shop to some amusement park rides and a petting farm. They can also learn how to Dutch dance and make their own stroopwafel cookies.


Just keep in mind that while there are some shops and a place to eat outside of the village walls (and there are some learnable things within the theme park about Dutch culture), this isn’t an experience for teenagers and up.


Relax on the beach at Holland State Park.

Price: $9 for daily admission


Our plan was to travel the border of Lake Michigan and find some sand dunes, so we didn’t hang out on Holland’s beach, but if you want to stay in one place, Holland does have a sandy area to put your towels down and take a swim. You can also walk some boardwalks and camp there, as it’s located in a state park.



Smell the tulips and attend the Tulip Time Festival (only in May).


Holland is most well-known for its world-famous Tulip Time Festival. Every May, residents celebrate the city’s Dutch heritage and visitors will find more than six million tulips throughout the city. So, even if you can’t attend the festival and are visiting in the spring, take in the tulip sights.


And as you decide which of these activities in this list sound like the most fun for you and disperse them throughout your day in Holland, don’t stress if you can’t get to them all! Enjoy your time in a small city that’s begging you to stop and smell the roses (or tulips, I should say).


 

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