Holland is most known for its Dutch culture and its acclaimed Tulip Time Festival. Founded by Dutch Americans, you can spot the Dutch heritage everywhere you go including the only working windmill in the country.
Located near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, on Lake Macatawa, Holland is also known as a charming little town in Michigan. From the sandy beaches and dunes to the heated sidewalks, you are guaranteed to fall in love with Holland.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Holland (MI)
1. Holland State Park
The expansive beachfront Holland State Park features paved bike trails with sunset views and concessions. There is a great hike in the park that climbs to the top of the dunes via boardwalks and stairs. Not to mention the unique Big Red Lighthouse and the boardwalk tower providing breathtaking views of Lake Michigan.
The park is also a great spot to take pictures of the sunset with the lighthouse in the background or with sailboats passing through to Macatawa Bay. And while the area is known for tulips in the spring, it is definitely known for this great beach destination in the summer!
2. Windmill Island Gardens
The seasonal park of Windmill Island Gardens features tulip gardens, a 250-year-old windmill, a carousel, and Dutch-costumed guides. It is evident that a lot of hard work and love has been put into this little quaint theme park. What makes the place unique is its outstanding landscape with a variety of flowers in bloom most of the year.
The windmill itself is the largest and the only one working in the United States. It was disassembled and moved there from the Netherlands. Also, do take a stroll down to the gift shop for some lovely souvenirs and delicious authentic snacks.
3. Nelis’ Dutch Village
The theme park of Nelis’ Dutch Village celebrates the Netherlands with a wooden shoe factory, cheese-making, and a petting zoo. The park counts with outdoor activities for the kids and indoor shopping areas for the grown-ups. The children especially enjoy the swings, the carousel, and the Ferris wheel.
The setting is so whimsical with beautiful, colorful buildings, antique rides to ride, live clogging performances, and traditional music playing all around. And, of course, all the wooden shoes spread throughout the area. The park is spotless and exceptionally clean, and the staff is beyond helpful, professional, and friendly.
4. Holland State Park – Beach Parking
The Holland State Park Beach Parking of Ottawa Beach is a great spot for sunsets, people watching, and getting fresh air. There are lots of cute older houses and you get a glimpse of Lake Macatawa along the way. The channel has a steady flow of boats and sailboats. If the weather is nice enough, you can walk out on the pier which does get challenging after a while since it turns into a smaller rocky path.
Featuring a playground right on the sand, the beach is not quick to get to but worth the drive. You can park less than 100ft from the water’s edge by the river or lake.
5. Grand Haven Musical Fountain
Built in 1962, Grand Haven Musical Fountain is a beautiful waterfront park featuring shows with synchronized water, lights, and music. With a lighted stage and docking area for boats, the views of the lake are wonderful.
The fountain show is definitely worth seeing. There is plenty of good seating, so there is no need to show up early to find a spot. The website for the fountain show will provide a play schedule of the synchronized music if you are interested. It is nice that they mix up the shows with different kinds of music.
6. Window on the Waterfront
The 30-acre area of Window on the Waterfront along the marsh features walking/biking paths, a baseball field, and thousands of tulips. There are extensive and well laid out walkways along the marsh with benches dotting the path. If you go to the end of the park there is a bridge that leads out to the road, giving easy access to the boat launch and a few convenience stores a short walk away.
An abundance of tulips in many varieties are planted there for the Tulip Time Festival in early May. Everywhere you turn there are more and more colorful tulips, as well as different varieties of them.
7. Veldheer Tulip Gardens
With well-kept grounds and friendly staff, Veldheer Tulip Gardens is actually a beautiful tulip farm. So, take your time walking among the thousands of tulips and learning all the details of these colorful flowers. It has such a wide variety of tulips that you might get tired of walking and looking at each and every one of them.
Also, it has a gift shop where you can order a tulip that you saw in the garden and might want to try planting at home. The staff will also answer any questions you might have about bulbs and how to care for them. And try to spot all the happy bison grazing in the distance too!
8. Grand Haven State Park
Overlooking Lake Michigan, Grand Haven State Park features a sandy beach area on 48 acres with swimming, sunbathing, scenic views, a fishing pier, and a lighthouse. The park is large with lots of room for activities as well as a large parking lot. This is a fun place to visit, and the lighthouse and pier area is just gorgeous!
You will catch people surfing, kite surfing, fishing, playing volleyball, and lots of other things there during the warm season. Overall, it is a great place to walk around and take it all in. Also, it is close enough to downtown Grand Haven where you can explore the local stores and restaurants.
9. Outdoor Discovery Center
The educational facility of Outdoor Discovery Center is located at a nature preserve with exhibits on native animals and play areas for kids. The grounds feature easy and well-marked trails with many informational signs along the way. The trails are wide and long with lots of walking to be done. Not to mention all the great natural habitats to explore.
The visitor center is full of great taxidermy and explanations of not just the local area but much of Michigan and outside of Michigan as well. There are also many exhibits with things for kids and adults to touch and explore. Make sure to check out the Raptor Center with its large number of birds of prey on display.
10. Craig’s Cruisers
Craig’s Cruisers is an amusement park featuring go-karts, batting cages, trampoline, and much more. Overall, it is a great place to take your kids to play arcade games and go on rides outside. The go-karts are quick, and the track is in excellent condition. They even have small karts for little kids. The mini-golf is also a good value and its course offers a good mix of difficulty, pleasing everyone.
The park is large enough that there is room to walk around yet small enough to keep an eye on the kids playing. Also, they serve delicious pizzas!
11. Big Red Lighthouse
The unusual, picturesque Big Red Lighthouse by the Holland Channel has plenty of history to tell. This lighthouse is very convenient to photograph or watch the sunset above it from the north riverbank of the Macatawa inlet. It does sit across the harbor entry from the beach on private property so ask them if you can park in their lot on the right just behind the gate.
The history of this location is of great importance towards the expansion of the country. The deepwater channel provides excellent fishing and the activities vary from season to season with Spring and Summer being the busiest.
12. Coopersville & Marne Railway
The cute little train ride of Coopersville & Marne Railway takes about 90 minutes round trip. There are about 4 cars to choose from to sit in. Interestingly, the passenger cars date back to the 1920s and the engine is from 1948. One of the cars has dining tables and it is air-conditioned. There is entertainment on the train, and you can bring food and light drinks. It is great for kids and affordable for families.
Besides the traditional scenic train tours, they also offer a special Santa Train ride around Christmas time and the Famous Pumpkin Train in October. And if you can go when they do the “Great Train Robbery”, do not miss the opportunity to do it!
13. North Ottawa Dunes
North Ottawa Dunes is a great place to hike the dunes on a nice boardwalk, and then go for a relaxing swim in the sunset. The area counts with miles of very well-marked trails that you could spend hours walking through.
The trails line up against Lake Michigan, so a shoreline run in the morning is feasible. There are also pretty stairs leading up to the top from where you have a great view over Lake Michigan. Not to mention access to PJ Hoffmaster State Park.
14. North Beach Park
With super soft sand and beautiful views, North Beach Park is a smaller, more intimate beach on Lake Michigan. There are plenty of picnic tables and places to set-up for the day and available spots to toss trash. The beach has a small playground and behind it, there is a walkable hiking path on sand dunes.
North Beach features a very nice trail with built-in steps running up to the top of the dune and back down; then the trail continues through the dunes if you want a longer hike. The beach also offers really easy access to the trails on the North Ottawa Dunes.
15. Tunnel Park
With a historic tunnel through a huge sand dune leading to the beach, Tunnel Park is a 22-acre preserve featuring a swimming beach and a scenic climb. Even though it offers great accessibility, it is a bit of a walk from the parking spot to the beach with lots of stairs so you will need to be comfortable with walking.
The park is super clean with lots of shade. Moreover, there is outside playing equipment for the kids and a few outside pavilions and random benches to sit and relax. Sunsets are spectacular facing the lake with seating areas.
16. Olive Shores
With a wooded dune leading down to the beach, Olive Shores is a hidden gem for a park and beach in the area. A short walk connects the parking lot to a steep stair climb over “Mount Olive” dune to the lakeshore including about 100 stairs up and another leading down the other side. The crushed stones path takes about 5 to 10 minutes from the parking lot to the beach.
Leave the kites and volleyball at home, this is a swimming beach and stunning waterfront. A large swim area is marked off and clean sandy bottom makes for wonderful wading.
17. Tri-Cities Historical Museum
Tri-Cities Historical Museum has exhibits on topics such as Native Americans and early pioneers. Tucked away amongst the small shops, it has three separate floors with displays to browse through. The museum showcases artwork, sculptures, historical text, and information on the logging industry that helped jumpstart civilization in the northern states. Information on the US Coast guard can also be found there.
Some exhibits are set up to show how life was back in the days. There is an interesting array of displays from rocks, Indians, and traders to house styles with an example of Victorian style. Overall, the museum shows a nice progression of history about the development of the Grand Haven area.
18. Sundae Sundae Golf Golf
Sundae Sundae Golf Golf has a total of 36 holes split into two 18 set fragments. Besides being well-kept, they also offer a wide range of club sizes, attending from really tall people to even toddlers.
The course itself is beautiful featuring a waterfall and green well-kept scenery that really makes this place one of a kind. They also offer a mini-golf course with a unique design. From varying heights, different challenge levels at each hole, to the beautiful plants and trees. The creek flowing through also adds a nice touch to it.
19. Saugatuck Dunes State Park
The day-use preserve of Saugatuck Dunes State Park features 2.5 miles of shoreline, bird-watching, and trails to coastal dunes and woods. The park offers a great way to see nature and get some awesome hiking accomplished. There are lots of trails and beautiful landscapes to keep you busy.
Besides a fun hike in the woods leading to the sand dunes, there is a trail that will take you right down to the lake. It is a fairly flat and improved surface so most people can take advantage of this access to see the lake and dunes. Be sure to wear proper footwear for this hike as you have dirt, sand, mud, water, and more to work through.
20. The Felt Estate
The Felt Estate park has a beach when you follow the signs showing you the way. It also has frisbee golf at the Felt Mansion, a cute church by the parking lot, and great trees to hammock on. In the winter, the hills are great for sledding!
The Felt Mansion itself is also an absolute dream venue. It looks so clean, light, and sharp, it is the perfect canvas for any kind of creative decor you can imagine. And if you are just curious, the mansion is open to tours.
21. Bowerman Blueberries Farm Market
Bowerman Blueberries Farm Market is a cute little market with the yummiest treats and friendliest staff. The blueberry doughnuts are amazing, as well as the blueberry and pineapple soft serves, blueberry cinnamon rolls, and pies. There are so many good things to choose from you will have a hard time picking!
Also, there is a small play area outside with a wooden tractor/ trailer and wooden train that the kids love climbing all over. If you are a townie or a visitor this is a must-stop destination!
22. DeGraaf Nature Center
The 18-acre nature preserve of DeGraaf Nature Center features an interpretive center with exhibits, live animals, and gifts. This is a cozy park with plenty of wooden walkways and benches. The paths give you a nice picture of the West Michigan ecosystem.
Most of it is a boardwalk, so you can even take a stroller if you like. There are a few offshoot trails to make it a little more of an adventure. There are a couple of stops at a small pond where you are bound to see a bunch of turtles (some fairly big) and some small fish. At a slow pace, you can go through the whole center in about an hour.
23. Holland Museum
Holland Museum is a 1914 post office that turned local history museum featuring exhibits, art, and vast archives. This one hour stop has many interesting facts regarding the Holland area. Overall, this is a nice way to see some of the Dutch influences on this area. The displays include farming tools, ships, and local sailing items, some very nice paintings and furniture items of the local and European artists, and Dutch galleries dating back to the 1600s.
Across the street, there is a beautiful park, Centennial Park. And as you can expect from the city, the flower displays in this park are awesome.
24. Holland Farmers Market
Right in the heart of downtown Holland with loads of free parking is the wonderful Holland Farmers Market. It is definitely worth a visit to see the wonderful colors, support local businesses, enjoy tasty food, and people watch. This is a nice place to get fresh produce, flowers, honey, and an interesting snack.
The best surprise visiting this spot is eating the pretzels from Knot Spot. They are absolutely delicious, soft and with loads of taste packed into them!
Boatwerks is a light-filled space with waterfront views and a patio serving New American fare as well as homemade desserts. The staff is very friendly and accommodating for food allergies such as gluten-free meals. Plan ahead since this place is in high demand on summer days. Or you can choose to walk down the waterfront to Collin Park or drive downtown 8th Street for a stroll in the downtown while waiting to be seated.
And besides the incredible view of Lake Macatawa, they serve delicious food. Their most popular dishes include white fish, black rice, and grilled walleye platter.