Visiting Holland, MI For the First Time? Check Out These 8 Spots
Visiting a new city is always a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Yes, you're about to experience new things but, if you have anxiety (like I do) having a plan of action is a must.
Recently, with out-of-state family in town, I ventured to Holland, MI, a place I had yet to visit. Sure, you can always do a quick Google search on the best places for dinner, things to do, and so on. However, I always like hearing recommendations from the locals. So, I decided to make a quick Tiktok asking for advice from those who either lived in Holland or had spent some time there in the past:
You can see all of the suggestions in the comments of the above video. As you can see, there are at least 70. However, these were the top 8:
Before we get to the list, if you're going to visit Holland for a long weekend, make sure you get there on a Thursday. The downtown area, otherwise known as New Holland, closes to traffic every Thursday evening as the streets fill with performers. That includes magicians, bands, solo violinists, singers, and more. It was a lovely surprise and definitely something you should make time for if you can. Now, on to the list:
1. Big Lake Brewing
Big Lake Brewing was originally opened in 2009. While they've moved locations since then, they've never stopped brewing their own beer. Their menu features American cuisine mixed with a bit of Dutch influence. If you're looking for recommendations, I would go with their Mango Haze and their appetizer Bitterballen. It's described as a "Dutch drinking snack" and was delicious. See their full menu on their website.
2. New Holland Brewing
You'll definitely want to make a reservation if you plan on visiting New Holland Brewery. It's popular for a good reason. Thankfully, we were able to snag a table on the covered patio. They do serve food as well but, beers vary by location and seasonal availability. If you visit their 8th street location (in Holland) I would definitely recommend the Tepache Like It's Hot. It's a fruit beer with a mix of tangerine and cinnamon which may sound like a weird combo but it works. Be careful, though. This beer is at 8% ABV and it sneaks up QUICKLY. See more about New Holland Brewing on their website.
3. Bowerman's on 8th
For breakfast, especially if you're someone who loves blueberries, Bowerman's on 8th is a must. They have a few non-blueberry breakfast and lunch options, like the one pictured above. But, they also offer blueberry cheesecake, donuts, blueberry jam, blueberry muffins, salad topped with blueberries...the list goes on. They also have a separate U-Pick farm located in Michigan where you can snag your own blueberries right off the bush. See more on their website.
4. Windmill Restaurant
Alternatively, if you're looking for a great breakfast, the Windmill Restaurant was highly recommended. The wait was a bit too long for our schedule but, worth a visit if you have the time. Their bread is home-baked and the line was out the door so, it has to be good, right? See their full menu here.
If you're craving some tacos before heading to the beach in Holland, Playa is a great choice. You'll find it on the way to Ottowa Beach in Holland State Park. They serve family-style tacos made with fresh ingredients and specialty margaritas in their open concept space. Meaning, there are no doors. Just open air. Learn more about Playa on their website.
1. Holland State Park/Ottawa Beach
Ottawa Beach, located in Holland State Park, offers gorgeous views of Lake Michigan. There's a designated swimming area, indoor bathrooms, and lots of space for everyone to spread out as they soak up the sun (which refused to show itself when we visited). To enter Holland State Park, you will need a Recreation Passport which you can purchase when registering your vehicle or at the entrance of the park. There are also camping and boardwalks to explore at Holland State Park. See more here.
2. The Big Red Lighthouse
While you're visiting Ottawa Beach, make sure you look to the left. That's where you'll see the historic Big Red Lighthouse. This lighthouse has stood in Holland for about 100 years. While the public was able to access this spot in the past, it is no longer allowed until further notice. However, it's just across the channel from Ottawa Beach and easily visible to all visitors. See more here.
3. Nelis' Dutch Village
Nelis' Dutch Village has a rich history in Holland dating back to the 1920s. While it started as a Tulip farm, it has blossomed into a full-blown attraction for those visiting. Here you'll find rides, a petting farm, Dutch Dancers, and more. They're open 7 days a week and tickets cost $15 for adults and $14 for kids aged 3-15. See more here.
If you don't have time to visit the actual village, you can check out their downtown store which offers some Dutch foods, souvenirs, and wooden clogs:
There were tons of things we didn't get to see/do during our quick weekend in Holland. However, if it's your first time visiting the area this list will hopefully be a start to a very enjoyable trip.