In the spring, during a normal year, it’s nearly 6 million tulips that line city parks, gardens and private fields that draw thousands of visitors to Holland.
By summer, it’s time to hit one of the incredible Lake Michigan beaches, or cruise around Lake Macatawa.
Come fall, the attention stays on outdoor attractions and natural beauty, but turns to relaxing days centered around:
- Exploring the massive Holland Farmers Market
- Touring seasonal orchards and u-pick farms
- Hiking nature reserves and trails in county and state parks
- Biking the 150 miles of trails that offer paved pathways or dirt trails for off-road riding
- Shopping quaint downtowns filled with unique, one-of-a-kind merchants
- Dining at creative, farm-fresh restaurants
- Sipping craft beer and spirts along the lakeshore
“I think people are always surprised by how much there is to do, see and discover in and around Holland,” said Kara de Alvare, the farmers market marketing and promotions coordinator. “Our market fills a whole city block, and there’s far more than just produce. There’s a little bit of everything.”
That little bit of everything includes all Michigan-raised or Michigan-made products, from seasonal produce to meats, cheeses, baked goods and more. Those items round out a complete fall experience in which visitors can find farm fresh food ranging from orchard fruits and root vegetables to pumpkins, gourds, and corn shocks.
There are roughly 50 vendors at the market, which is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with the first hour reserved for seniors, the immunocompromised and pregnant women. The market is adhering to strict safety measures, including requiring mask use, following social distancing guidelines and limiting occupancy. Leaders have also installed hand-sanitizing stations.
“It’s all local and the selection is really amazing,” de Alvare said. “We are always excited to have new people come and enjoy the experience.”
The market has ample, free parking and is located near the Holland Civic Center, which recently underwent a $16.5 million renovation. The work included all new awnings that shelter shoppers as they explore the market.
After a market visit, the day opens up to outdoor recreation that fits any energy level. Here’s where to find a guide to plan your own adventure to build fun-filled, memory-making moments for families, friends and group getaways. Below are several suggestions to help start your vacation dreaming:
- Visit Crane Orchards & Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant for a one-stop adventure that can lead guests through u-pick fruit fields, successfully completing a 20-acre corn maze and grabbing warm baked goods or a crisp and refreshing cider or wine.
- Climb historic Mt. Pisgah for panoramic views of Lake Michigan. The 58-acre natural area has double shorelines, 750 feet on Lake Michigan and 2,400 feet on Lake Macatawa. The wooded dunes make a stunning fall vista for photos, selfies or just quiet solitude.
- If it’s an adrenaline rush that guests seek, mountain biking the paths at the Upper Macatawa Nature Trail and Riley and Pigeon Creek parks are up to the task with rolling terrain that wind through woods and along the Macatawa River. For a more leisurely ride, looped routes can show off Holland’s DeZwaan windmill and a variety of parks.
- Holland’s 200 downtown businesses can match any shopping desire, whether it’s looking for something to decorate a home, find something new to wear or find a gift for any holiday or celebration. There are art galleries, public sculptures and other nooks that guests won’t find anywhere else.
- All this activity creates quite a hunger, and that will only be challenged by trying to figure out where to eat among the Holland area’s 100+ restaurants that span all international tastes as well as everything from casual to upscale dining. A couple of hotspots: For waterfront dining, consider Boatwerks and its Lake Macatawa-side patio; for a local pizza joint, head to Fricano’s Too located in downtown Holland; the Alpen Rose is a long-time favorite of locals and guests seeking classic European fare.
- At the end of the day, it’s time to kick back with a craft beer or cocktail, and once again Holland’s makers come through with a variety of brews or handmade distilled liquors. Among the selections are New Holland Brewing, which was among the leading edge of brewers in Michigan; Big Lake Brewing, which debuted its expanded downtown location in 2017 and has built a statewide reputation for using locally grown hops and ingredients in its India Pale Ales and stouts; meanwhile, Coppercraft Distillery routinely wins state and national awards.
Like to go off-the-cuff and decide upon arrival? Check out these itineraries to piece together an adventure.