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Insider tip: Holland, Michigan is not just for tulips.

Holland, Michigan is a great little town to visit.

Holland is clearly a tourist destination along what we love to call the West Coast of Michigan. Busloads of people pour into town every year to enjoy the Tulip Festival. Thousands, maybe millions of tulips blasting color, kids in wooden shoes and hundreds of pigs in a blanket being consumed.  This all happens in May.

But I think Holland is a great little destination for the rest of the year…..it is an easy “staycation” for those of us who live in the area and want a break.  A nice stop if you are heading up the coast to Pentwater, Petosky or Harbor Springs.  Obviously the lovely Lake Macatawa and the Lake Michigan Beaches draw people.   Beyond that, I am fond of the following attractions.

1.   The  real downtown with heated sidewalks and cute locally owned shops and galleries.  The heated sidewalks make a huge difference in our cold and snowy Michigan winters.   Favorites shops of mine are Shaker Messenger,  Mira and Moynihan Galleries.

2. I find that the food is pretty good. Maybe not “knock your socks off” gourmet and fabulous but good basic food.  I go for soups or the hamburgers at 8th Street Grill. They also make a mean milk shake.  Sweets at Alpen Rose and my new fav—Cranes on 8th Street, a new outpost of one of the “insider secrets” of the area.  Cranes pies are fabulous.  Keep one in your freezer for pot lucks and your invites will come pouring in.

3.  Expect to see an openness and forward thinking on someone’s part about keeping the downtown fun.  In the winter you can gather around outdoor fireplace, seated on heated benches and enjoy a hot chocolate purchased in the nearby store.

Not too far away is a pocket park with fountain designed for kids to play in.  This is the opposite of the town where I live, which has a weird little fountain that begs for splashing about in on a hot day but irritatingly has a sign, “don’t do that.”  Well, not those words but the sentiment is clear. Children don’t want to just throw pennies in a fountain, they want to get wet.  I appreciate Holland’s making this possible.

4.   The expanded Farmer’s Market is a true delight—farmers, flowers, baked goods, cooking demos, music.  Festive. Fun. Family.  Food.  The folks who live in this area are amazing gardeners and farmers and bakers.  Their handi-work shows up at the well designed marketplace.

5.   And my all time favorite is driving  outskirts of the downtown and seeing the Padnos metal sculptures.  Their location right near the down town between it and the lake is not the most attractive but they have cleverly disguised a scrap metal business with charming and whimsical art structures that are truly worth a trip, and unique to the area.

Photo of sunrise at Tower Marine by Michael Schimpf.                                                    Thank you for getting up so early to capture the moment and for sharing.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

Comments

3 Comments
  1. posted by
    Disney World Vacation And Savings Travel Guide. | world travel tours
    Sep 5, 2010 Reply

    […] Insider tip: Holland, Michigan is not just for tulips … […]

  2. posted by
    Cindy Schad`
    Sep 5, 2010 Reply

    I love Holland. It is my favorite place to shop. Soooo, you have a Crane’s pie in your freezer at this very moment? 🙂 I’ll be right over!!

  3. posted by
    smithsj
    Sep 7, 2010 Reply

    I’ve been waiting to see if anyone would point out that Tower Marine is in Douglas, not Holland. My mistake. Loved the photo though so I included. It is what I miss about writing for a newspaper. My editors would have picked it up.

    and, Cindy, you are welcome any time. Cranes pie or no.

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