Scattered within the downtown area, Holland has many historical sculptures and monuments. I don't know exactly how many there are, but I saw at least a half-dozen.
There are information signs near each other which describe the scene and reason for the tribute. Many are immortalizing things specific to Holland, but others are of a larger scale. Either way, they are all relatively small and unobtrusive. If you were not looking for them, many would go unnoticed.
Michigan has sand dunes flanking the entire coast of Lake Michigan. There are many national parks in Michigan that focus on the dunes. If you don't have access or time to see some of the larger parks and dunes, don't worry, there are still some within easy access of Holland.
If you cross the bay (Lake Makatawa) to the north side and then go west until you reach the coast, you will enter Holland State Park. The beaches here have many large dunes and it is also where you can see the "Big Red Lighthouse". While it is red and a lighthouse as well as an important historical marker, it is not all that big.
Overlooking the Holland State Park is Mt. Pisgah. There is a long wooden staircase and boardwalk that allows you to view the dunes and coast, while at the same time protecting the dune from erosion. Entry is free and open at all hours.
Along the walk there are information signs explaining the history, formation and life cycles of the dunes.
Holland State Park has a great sandy beach that's the best in summer, but is beautiful in other seasons, too.
I recommend packing a picnic to eat along the channel. There are picnic tables and grills there and you can watch the boats coming to and from Lake Michigan.
You can also walk out onto the pier, which is fun but but can be dangerous is there are big waves. If its fairly calm, its a fun walk.
Holland State Park is a fun place to camp, too. The Lake Macatawa overflow section is grassy and wooded while the main section is very sandy with pavement lots. The overflow section is just down the road, right across from a beach on Lake Mac (a small inland beach, perfect for swimming in before the "Big Lake" gets warmed up). Its an easy bike ride down to the Lake Michigan beach.
Affectionally known at "Big Red," the Holland Lighthouse evolved from a simple wooden tower in 1872, to a stronger steel tower, to the present structure in 1936. The large square building was needed to house giant boilers to power the station's steam fog signal.
Access to the light itself is very restricted because private property must be crossed, and it is an active lighthouse. Good views may be had from across the channel at Holland State Park.
This is my favourite part of Holland! I specially enjoy it during winter time when is snowing and the trees are full of lights. It's beautiful!
This award-winning downtown covering eight square blocks of Victorian-era architecture provides a unique atmosphere for shopping and dining. More than 100 retail shops and restaurants offer everything from ice cream and fudge to contemporary art, fine apparel, gift and home accents, books and jewelry.
As historic as it is hip, Downtown Holland has won both the "Great American Main Street Award" and the "All-American City Award." Its unique snowmelt system makes it a delight for winter shoppers as well, and for Sinterklaas (the Dutch St. Nicholas) as he rides his stately white horse into town each December.
The Nelis family came to America in 1910. After years of farming, and moving about the Midwest, they settle in Holland. They opened their Dutch Market here in 1952. Since then, it's expanded into this village. The Village is now operated by the third generation of the Nelis family to live in this area.
There are many things here, to include restaurants, shops, a petting zoo, and exhibits of Dutch history and culture. It's worth stopping for a few hours.
One of the favorite things we did was go on this adorable boat called the Holland Princess. We boarded the boat and were served dinner, which was really good (even the kids liked it!). After dinner, we went up to the upper deck and we were out in Lake Michigan-- it was so beautiful! On the way back, the kids sang Kareoke while I relaxed and took in the sights. Make sure to bring your camera!
One of the most memorable things are family did was a two hour cruise on an adorable boat called the Holland Princess. It was a beautiful night, we boarded the boat and had a really nice meal (even the kids liked it!). After dinner we went to the upper deck and sang Karaoke and just relaxed. The boat cruises from Lake Macatawa to Lake Michigan and back. We all had a great time! Make sure to Bring your camera!
Holland State Park is on Lake Michigan. We were here in early May so it was windy and cold. You can walk along the lake shore which feels very much like the ocean beach. Ring-billed and Herring Gulls are here. This is where a channel comes out from Lake Macatawa. A little red lighthouse sits across the channel from the park. In 1849 the residents of Holland petitioned Congress to make a channel from the lake to Lake Michigan but it was refused so the people of Holland eventually dug this channel themselves with picks and shovels. It was quite an undertaking but they finished it and a steamboat put into port here from Lk Michigan in 1859. By 1899 it was a big harbor. The first lighthouse was put here in 1872. In 1907 the current one was built. The gable roof reflects the Dutch influence. It was abandoned in 1970 but the citizens rescued it and today it remains a landmark of Holland. Cost of the park is 8 dollars for each vehicle.
One of the activities held during the Tulip Festival is the Queen's Cavalerie Skill at Arms Competition. It is held at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. This exciting event shows exercises historically used to train soldiers for battle. The Queen's Cavalerie is from the Netherlands. There were also the U.S. Army Blue Devils Horse platoon and the British Army competing. We arrived early and watched them getting the horses ready for the competition. It began with a color guard and then the competition. A small white board is placed in the dirt. The rider on the horse has a long lance. The horse had to run at full gallop toward the board while the rider leans down with the lance and spears the board. Points are given for hitting the board. More points are given for spearing the board and even more if the rider could carry away the board on the lance. Each rider had 3 runs. Some of the horses didn't get the rider anywhere near the board. Others were excellent and allowed the rider to spear the board. As the last ride, the commander did a demonstraton which involved having his wife hold the small white board and he galloped at her and speared it with the lance. What a brave woman. After the competition we watched them bathing the horses with hoses and were able to talk to some of them. We found out that a horse from London had never been in this competition before. He's in the Queen's Guard that does the parades with the Queen. So no wonder that some didn't do that well.
Two different mornings we went to this park to bird. The park is on the north side of Lake Wacatawa and has nice boardwalks along the lake through deciduous woods. In was during early May so the migrants were coming into the trees. Dogwoods were in bloom. Some of the more interesting birds we saw here were: Yellow,and Black-throated Green Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, and D. Cr. Cormorants out on the lake.
We were looking around in an attraction called Dutch Village. There are 2 parts to this attraction. The main attraction charges $9 entrance fee and is more for children. But there is an area of shops here that you can visit for free. We went into a candle shop and were fascinated by how beautiful wedding candles were being made. The owner of the shop was making a candle. First she dipped the candle form into different colors of wax 35 times in a certain order. Then while it was still warm, she began to carve into the wax. As she did that, it curled back revealing the different layers of colors. She told us that she had to carve the candle in 15 minutes while the wax was still warm. These weddish candles cost $40. You can see finished ones on the shelf behind her in the photo I took.
Windmill Island is an attraction in Holland. It has recreations of Dutch buildings such as an orphanage and old inn. It also has an Amsterdam street organ built in 1928. There are also thousands of tulips here for the tulip festival but the main attraction is an authentic Dutch windmill. I took a photo of the windmill from across beds of tulips. From here you have no idea just how big a windmill really is. We walked up to it for our tour and were amazed. It's as tall as a 12-story building. Wildmills were used to power saws that cut lumber as well as turning grain into flour as this one does. Our tour took us up 5 stories in the windmill where we could see the grinding area and look out at the huge blades which each weigh 6,600 pounds! This windmill was brought here in 1964 and was the last windmill to leave the Netherlands because it's now illegal to sell them since they are considered national monuments. The position of the blades indicated to the people in the countryside whether the miller was there and grinding the grain. A + shape indicated he was there and an X shape indicated he was not. Shutters on the blades could be closed to catch more wind and they could also add sails on the blades.
This is an incredible place which was ablaze with acres of tulips on our visit in May. That's the best time to see the tulips. They also have lilies and other bulbs which bloom other times of the year but the May tulip display is not to be missed. At the front part there are beds with mixed bulbs including some daffodils, hyacinths, lilacs, crab apples, cherries and other plants mixed in with the tulips. Then there are beds of mixed tulips. In the back part are rows and rows of the different types and colors of tulips planted in blocks with a number to identify the type from an order form your are given when you pay your $7 to come in. I could not believe all of the 125 different types such as ones that look like peonies and others that are fringed. The farm was started in 1945 with 100 red tulips and 300 white ones. Today they plant over 5 million each fall. This is an experience not to be missed.
At the back of Veldheer Tulip Farm are two pastures where they have 2 herds of buffalo. In one pasture there were 15 juvenile buffalo. In the other pasture were 12 adults and one female with a baby. As I have mentioned on my home page, I'm a bird watcher so I had my binoculars with me. There were sparrows around the fence and one was a White-crowned Sparrow which is a bird I had never seen before in Michigan.