A Day in Holland, Michigan
Written by Michaela Stock.

From Tulip Time to lakeshore access, the city of Holland is a West Michigan gem. Its Dutch history charms every cobblestone corner of Downtown, and it boasts some of the state’s most beautiful landscapes.

Not only does Holland provide a robust community for families and tourists, but it’s also home to Hope College, a liberal arts school nationally known for its excellent academics–and unruly squirrel population. Whether you’ve never been to Holland or are a repeat visitor, there’s something here for everyone. Welkom!

Holland Farmers Market  |  Open seasonally on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Holland Farmers Market hosts numerous vendors and food trucks at the Holland Civic Center in Downtown. Local businesses and farms sell vegetables, fruits, plants, homegoods, treats, coffee and more at the market. There are even events for kids every Wednesday morning, such as Market Story Time provided by the Herrick District Library. Lastly, the Holland Farmers Market has partnered with a variety of financial assistance programs–including Bridge Cards, Pandemic EBT Cards, Senior FRESH, and offers additional funding by Double Up Food Bucks–to keep fresh food accessible for all. 

Holland Museum  |  The Holland Museum is more than just a two-story gallery on the edge of Downtown–it also maintains a variety of historic sites around the city. This includes the Cappon House, home to Holland’s first mayor, which tells a story of the Cappon family in a meticulously maintained 1900s setting. The Settlers House, located on 9th Street, is another well-preserved historic site which features a working-class home that survived the Great Holland Fire in 1871. On the other side of Downtown is Caboose No. A967, a 1940’s train car that has been transformed into a free outdoor exhibit with bilingual signage in English and Spanish. Lastly, visitors can make an appointment to stop by the Holland Armory, which contains an exhibition on Holland’s National Guard.

Tulip City Paddle Tours  |  The only thing better than walking around Holland is paddle boarding through it. Tulip City Paddle Tours offers beginner-friendly stand up paddle board tours from a variety of Holland waterways. Led by an experienced guide, visitors can explore Windmill Island and Pigeon Lake from the water. If paddle boarding makes you uneasy, you can request a kayak in advance instead. Tulip City Paddle Tours even offers a locals club, where folks can bring or rent a board and join other paddlers at different locations around Holland, every Tuesday evening.

Scrapyard Climbing Collective  |  Scrapyard Climbing Collective is on a mission to transform the Holland community through indoor bouldering and belaying. Motivated by education and accessibility, Scrapyard provides beginner-to-advanced routes for climbers of all levels. They provide gear rentals, host events, and even have a weekly climbing club for women and non-binary people. Their walls range from 16 to 24 feet tall, and they reset a portion of the routes every Monday, giving even the most experienced climber a never-ending challenge. 

The Park Theatre  |  As a champion for Holland’s artistic expression, The Park Theatre has provided a stage for West Michiganders since the 1930s. Originally built in 1886 as a woodworking mill and feed store, The Park Theatre has spent decades transforming itself as a performance art staple in West Michigan. The nonprofit organization hosts touring and local bands, comedians, and open mic nights every week, giving the city a platform for creatives of all kinds.

Windmill Island Gardens  |  Windmill Island Gardens is aptly home to the historic De Zwaan windmill, which was brought over from the Netherlands in the 1960s. The five-story windmill can be accessed through guided tours, and it still grinds grain into flour today. In fact, its flour is available for purchase onsite and can be used to make baked goods, beer and more. Several Dutch exhibitions and replicas also call the gardens home, so you can spend time in history and nature during your visit.

Tulip Time  |  Tulip Time–the event that has put Holland on the map as a global tourist destination–is a weeklong festival centered around, well, tulips. Vibrant flowers line the streets of Downtown and fill fields at Windmill Island, providing an awe-inspiring visual experience. Traditional Dutch dancing, a family-friendly race, carnival rides, walking tours, artisan markets, and more stitch together this festival as a favorite for travelers and West Michiganders alike.

Hope College  |  Hope College’s campus is not just for students. From walking through the tree-lined sidewalks to shopping at the campus’ bookstore, visitors can enjoy Hope College’s meticulously maintained quarters located right next to Downtown. Hope College also offers a variety of public events, from gallery viewings at the Kruizenga Art Museum to a film series at the Knickerbocker Theatre. Supporters of Hope can even sponsor a Pine Grove Squirrel and receive a plush squirrel in return–just be sure to watch out for the real ones while strolling through campus!

Downtown Shopping District  |  Holland’s Downtown area is built on local businesses. From chic clothing shops like Frances Jaye and Spring Sweet, to historic storefronts like the Peanut Shop, even those who don’t care for shopping will find a store that peaks their interest. There’s also no shortage of restaurants, breweries and cafes to stop at between shops, so be sure to come hungry and stay for the good deals. 

De Klomp Wooden Shoe and Delftware Factory  |  What’s more Dutch than Delft glassware and wooden clogs? At the De Klomp Delft Factory, you can visit artisans as they mold, paint and glaze the only authentic blue-and-white delftware made in the U.S. You can also watch as they carve shoes from poplar wood using authentic Dutch machinery. Visitors are able to purchase these handmade items, along with other Dutch treats, at the factory as well.