13 Top-Rated Things to Do in Holland, MI

Written by Meagan Drillinger
Dec 29, 2022

Author Meagan Drillinger visited Holland in the fall of 2022 while on assignment for PlanetWare.

The name "Holland, Michigan" is not a coincidence. Brimming with things to do, this charming city on the coast of Lake Michigan shares more than just a name with a country in Europe. It shares an identity, as well.

Centennial Park in Holland, Michigan | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Holland, Michigan, was founded by Dutch Americans in the 19th century and still strives to preserve the history and culture of the Motherland. Today the Dutch cultural identity is vitally important to its residents, and is one of the top reasons the town is among the best places to visit in Michigan.

From the original Dutch windmill on Windmill Island, to the thousands of tulips that bloom every spring, and even a recreated 19th-century Dutch village, you don't need a trans-Atlantic flight to get a heavy dose of the Netherlands when you visit Holland, Michigan.

Beyond its Dutch roots, Holland has many other wonderful things to see and do, which make it decidedly Michigan. Read on to discover the best things to do in Holland.

1. Explore Holland State Park (Ottawa Beach)

Holland State Park

Holland, Michigan, enjoys one of the best locations on the coast of Lake Michigan. It's such a coveted location that a section of the coastline has been preserved as a state park. Holland State Park just happens to be one of the most visited state parks in Michigan, and it's all thanks to the gorgeous beaches.

Holland State Park has two beaches – one on Lake Michigan and one on Lake Macatawa. In addition to the beaches, visitors can use the campgrounds, concessions, playground, paddle rentals, and the miles of trails that weave through the park.

Holland State Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

If you can stick around the park for sunset, it's completely worth it. Ottawa Beach overlooks Lake Michigan and is known for its spectacularly explosive sunsets. Standing on the banks of Ottawa Beach, it's easy to forget that what you're staring at is, in fact, a lake, and not an endless sea.

Address: 2398 Ottawa Beach Road, Holland, Michigan

2. Visit Windmill Island Gardens

Windmill Island Gardens | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

You can't have a mini Holland without the windmills, so you can bet that Holland, Michigan, is sure to deliver. One of the best things to do in Holland is to visit the Windmill Island Gardens. The Dutch-inspired park is wonderful for getting out onto walking paths, slipping outside of the busy city, and experiencing nature.

Windmill Island Gardens is one of the best places to experience the city's Dutch Heritage. It features one of the last working windmills that was allowed to leave the Netherlands. In 1964, the windmill was brought to Michigan and is the highlight of the park, living among 36 acres of gardens and natural areas.

If you're wondering whether the mill still works, the answer is yes. The mill is still in operation and grinds grain into flour. Visitors can take a tour of the windmill to see it in action.

Among other attractions at the gardens are an antique carousel, a working street organ, 15,000 tulips that bloom in late April and early May, themed holiday plantings, and replica structures of Dutch buildings.

Address: 1 Lincoln Ave, Holland, Michigan

3. Hike in Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

The dunes along Lake Michigan are one of Michigan's best hidden jewels. Undulating sand dunes roll for miles along Michigan's west coast. When visiting Holland, one of the best spots to see the dunes are in Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

The state park has 2.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, which are veined with rolling, scrub-brush-covered dunes. In addition to the dunes are 13 miles of hiking trails and the 300-acre Patty Birkholz Nature Area. If you want to hike the dunes, the park has four trails that lead over the dunes to Lake Michigan.

Saugatuck Dunes State Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Another way to get up close to the dunes is to take a dune ride. Visitors can sign up with Saugatuck Dune Rides for a 40-minute tour up and down the dunes in an open-air vehicle. It's a thrilling and unique way to get to know the dunes of Lake Michigan.

Address: 6575 138th Ave, Holland, Michigan

4. Take a Tour of Nelis' Dutch Village

Nelis' Dutch Village | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

At Nelis' Dutch Village, historic traditions are kept alive. Step back in time more than a century when you hit the red brick streets of this historic theme park.

The theme park opened thanks to Harry Nelis, who emigrated to America in 1910. Eventually he and his family made their way to Holland, Michigan, where they opened a tulip farm, which brought tourists to Holland.

The theme park lives to keep the history and culture of the Netherlands alive. While strolling the streets, visitors can discover a historically accurate village, rides, a petting zoo, restaurants, and souvenir shops. The village also has activities, from wooden shoe carving to photo opportunities and Dutch Dancing.

Address: 12350 James Street, Holland, Michigan

5. Relax in Tunnel Park

Tunnel Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Once you arrive at Tunnel Park, its name will become quite obvious. The way to access the beachfront park is through, you guessed it, a tunnel. The tunnel burrows underneath a towering sand dune and opens up to the scenic shores of Lake Michigan.

The park has 22 acres of Lake Michigan beachfront and is a popular place to visit for swimming and sunbathing. In the fall, it becomes a wonderful spot to peep the leaves changing and catch a glorious Lake Michigan sunset.

Other facilities include picnic areas, two picnic shelters, volleyball courts, restrooms, and concessions in the summer. A staircase leads up to the top of the dunes and has a beautiful viewing platform, which makes for a great panoramic view.

The park is open from spring until the first snowfall of the season.

Address: 66 N, Lakeshore Ave, Holland, Michigan

6. Walk the Mt. Pisgah Dune Boardwalk

Mt. Pisgah Dune Boardwalk | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

For the best view in town, you'll want to experience Mt. Pisgah Dune Boardwalk. This meandering boardwalk and stair system climbs 157 feet above Lake Michigan, with its apex offering sweeping views of Lake Macatawa, the marinas, and Lake Michigan.

The trail is an out-and-back wooden walkway that winds through the forest and eventually up Mount Pisgah. It's an easy climb for almost anyone.

It takes about 12 minutes to complete the half-mile walk, and you'll find ample parking not far from the entrance to Holland State Park.

7. Stroll the Veldheer Tulip Garden

Veldheer Tulip Garden

Close your eyes and just try to fathom six million tulips. Six million is a staggering number, so try to imagine the explosion of color that comes each spring from the six million tulips that bloom at Veldheer Tulip Garden. You might start to believe you are actually in Holland.

Vern Veldheer started his tulip garden in Holland, Michigan in 1947 with 100 red tulips and 300 white tulips. Since then it has grown to become one of the top tourist attractions – and most colorful places – in the country. Other blossoms to enjoy include daffodils, hyacinths, and crocus. In the summer, expect to see Dutch lilies, daylilies, and peonies.

Tulips bloom around mid-April and finish around the end of May. This window is the absolute best time to come see the rainbow of color that rises from the green fields outside Holland.

Address: 12755 Quincy Street, Holland, Michigan

8. Walk along the Water at Kollen Park

Kollen Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Overlooking the Macatawa River, Kollen Park has a lovely promenade that has wonderful views of the water. Residents and visitors consider Kollen Park, just outside of downtown Holland, to be one of the city's most beautiful green spaces.

In addition to the boardwalk, the park has a boat launch, playground, and picnic shelter. You can stop by the Queretaro Fountain, which was given to Holland by its sister city, the city of Queretaro in Mexico. An Immigrant Statue is a gift from the Netherlands.

The park is hopping with activity year-round, but one of the best times to visit the park is during the summer, when it hosts outdoor live performances at the bandshell.

Address: Kollen Park Drive, Holland, Michigan

9. Learn at the Outdoor Discovery Center

Outdoor Discovery Center | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Take a deep dive into West Michigan's natural beauty with a stop at the Outdoor Discovery Center. This non-profit outdoor education center provides visitors and the community with programs and interpretive exhibits to educate about the natural environment of Holland and the surrounding area.

The Outdoor Discovery Center sits on 130 acres, with nearly five miles of walking trails to explore. The center is home to 12 different species of Michigan birds of prey. You can visit the De Witt Birds of Prey Center to learn more about these species, which include owls, hawks, falcons, eagles, and vultures.

Among the programs offered at the discovery center are summer camps, school programs, guided hikes, and much more.

Address: 4214 56th Street, Holland, Michigan

10. Wander Sanctuary Woods Preserve

Sanctuary Woods Preserve | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

If you thought you'd exhausted all the woodland wanderings available in Holland, think again. Sanctuary Woods Preserve is a lush, tree-covered, protected 40 acres that has a really fantastic (and easy) hike through the forest.

The secret of the preserve is that the path leads to a stairway that crests a high dune. From the top, you'll have a wonderful view of Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa.

Address: 4750 66th Street, Holland, Michigan

11. See the Exhibits at the Holland Museum

Holland Museum | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Soak up some culture with a visit to the Holland Museum, part of three museum sites in the city that also include restored houses, The Cappon House and Settlers House. The museum has an impressive collection of more than 100,000 artifacts and archival materials that help tell the story of Holland's past.

Among the exhibits are the famous Dutch Galleries. The Holland Museum has been gifted an extraordinary amount of Dutch heritage artifacts, which are all on display.

The second floor galleries in the museum house the Dutch Collection of Fine & Decorative Arts, which includes paintings from the 17th to the 20th centuries, as well as more than 170 cultural objects from the Netherlands.

Address: 31 W 10th Street, Holland, Michigan

12. Stroll through Centennial Park

Centennial Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Perhaps the prettiest place in downtown Holland is the Victorian-era Centennial Park. Stepping onto the leafy brick pathways will really feel like you've stepped back to the 19th century.

The park is a 5.6-acre space that sits on where Holland's original marketplace used to be. It was redeveloped to be a park in 1876. Today it is brimming with flowerbeds, a gazebo, a Dutch fountain, and a fish pond.

You can also visit the Veterans Memorial, which is a Michigan Historic marker that honors the Dutch settlers in Michigan.

Address: 250 Central Ave, Holland, Michigan

13. View the Dorr E. Felt Mansion

Dorr E. Felt Mansion | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

While visiting Saugatuck Dunes State Park, be sure to stop at The Felt Estate, one of the most historic mansions in Michigan. Built in 1928, the mansion was built by Dorr Felt for his wife, Agnes.

Felt, an inventor and industrialist, came to Western Michigan in the early 20th century. He built his estate for he and his wife and their four children. The Felt Estate is a 12,000-square-foot mansion with 25 rooms spread across three floors.

After The Felts left the home in 1949, the mansion was used as classrooms for The Saint Augustine Seminary, a Catholic prep school. In the 1970s, it was used as a prison. It was sold in the 1990s to Laketown Township to be used for the public.

Today it is one of the top places to host events in Western Michigan, and is popular for history tours.

Address: 6597 138th Ave, Holland, Michigan

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