Uncategorized

Downtown Holland, Michigan

Having grown up in a major city and continuing to live in another one, I find visits to small towns idyllic since they’re such a contrast to my daily life (specifically many of the negatives like traffic, noise, panhandling). While I couldn’t imagine living in one (i.e. permanent), visiting one for a short stay is just about perfect. Although I’m sure that people who grow up in small towns feel the same when visiting large cities.

Holland, Michigan as its name suggests was founded by Dutch Calvinists separatists who were escaping from persecution in the Netherlands. It’s located on the western side of the state and is one of Michigan’s coastal cities (it’s right on Lake Michigan). While we didn’t stay in the downtown, we were still only a five minute drive from it. One of the things that impressed me the most about Holland was its abundance of FREE parking right in the downtown. I’ve been to enough areas where unless it’s a Sunday or after a certain time, parking is not free, costing anywhere from .25 for 30 minutes to .25 for 15 minutes, But here was a city that simply wanted to make its offerings more accessible to both locals and visitors. Our first night there was a Friday and while spaces directly outside of the businesses were taken, if you ventured away from 8th Street (the main drag in Holland’s downtown), spaces could be found. And as Michigan is flat (extremely so) and it was May and not January, walking around was most enjoyable. Not to mention, drivers in Holland actually yielded to pedestrians at crosswalks unlike in other cities (ahem Pittsburgh).

I visited Holland Memorial Day weekend and so many of the storefronts featured historic patriotic posters in their windows. There were a lot that I recognized (Howard Chandler Christy’s “Gee!! I Wish I were a man, I’d join the Navy”) and some that were unfamiliar, but many that I absolutely loved including those of the Vietnam and Korean Wars (the forgotten wars) in addition to one that depicted the soldiers of the American Revolution with those who fought on D-Day as in the struggle to win continued. The downtown advertised Holland’s annual Memorial Day parade and it’s something I would have loved to see. Although parades in major cities are fun, I think to witness one in a small town where there is such a deeper sense of pride and community due to many people knowing each other, would have been extremely meaningful.

While the downtown did feature some chain entities (Coldstone Creamery and JoS A. Banks for starters), there were still plenty of unique ones including a vast array of restaurants, cafes, and shops. The downtown was a delight for just about everything-eating, shopping, walking. It’s easy to see why it is such a popular destination for tourists and a place that locals are most proud of.

More in this series!
Holland, Michigan-a sneak peek
A Walk Through Holland, Michigan’s farmer’s market
Saugatuck Dunes State Park

You Might Also Like

11 Comments

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    May 31, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    And IF you did come in January or February, you would still be able to walk downtown in comfort because we have a snow melt system under our sidewalks and most of 8th Street downtown ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    JoAnn M.
    May 31, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I really enjoyed this post! Although, like you, I prefer the “big city”, I love the quaintness of small town life, the unique shops and restaurants and the usually friendlier atmosphere. It forces you to slow down and really appreciate small things that might otherwise be overlooked in a big city setting.

    Your lovely photos make me want to visit Holland Michigan. Especially love the wooden shoes & the chess set!

  • Reply
    the red headed traveler
    May 31, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    @anonymous-Thanks for commenting! Ahh yes, I can’t believe I forgot to mention the snow melt system! Another major plus in my eyes of Holland’s awesomeness. Now if only there were such a system here in Pittsburgh ๐Ÿ™‚

    @JoAnn-I totally agree-only visits to such places make you realize how charming and unique certain things are. The chess set was probably one of my favorite things that I saw. While I don’t know how to play the game, I love the look of them. Definitely go visit!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    June 1, 2013 at 12:40 am

    I was born and raised in Holland. Have done a lot of traveling in the US and abroad, but am always glad to set my feet back in my hometown. I has been a great place to live and raise my family. Our downtown is thriving largely because of a local businessman whose heart and soul was helping make this community a place where people wanted to be. I’m glad to be called a
    Hollander!

  • Reply
    the red headed traveler
    June 1, 2013 at 1:57 am

    Thanks for commenting! And it’s wonderful to hear people like yourselves being so proud of one’s hometown. Although I was only there a short time I could definitely tell that it was a place where the locals were incredibly proud of.

  • Reply
    2013 Travel Recap | My great WordPress blog
    May 4, 2014 at 12:34 am

    […] None of the places I visited this year were disappointing; however, the drive to Holland was a bit long (around seven hours) for what it was. I’m glad I went but I think it would be a […]

  • Reply
    Holland, Michigan dining recap | My great WordPress blog
    May 4, 2014 at 1:18 am

    […] in this series! Holland, Michigan-a sneak peek  Downtown Holland, Michigan Saugatuck State Park-Michigan A Walk Through Holland, Michigan’s Farmer’s Market […]

  • Reply
    Nelis’ Dutch Village-Holland, Michigan | My great WordPress blog
    May 4, 2014 at 1:31 am

    […] in this series! Holland, Michigan-a sneak peek  Downtown Holland, Michigan Saugatuck State Park-Michigan A Walk Through Holland, Michigan’s Farmer’s Market […]

  • Reply
    Holland, Michigan-a sneak peek | My great WordPress blog
    May 4, 2014 at 1:31 am

    […] in this series!Downtown Holland, MichiganSaugatuck Dunes State ParkA Walk Through Holland, Michigan’s farmer’s […]

  • Reply
    Restaurant Review-New Holland Brewpub (Holland, Michigan) - The Red Headed Traveler
    May 21, 2014 at 1:21 am

    […] in this series! Holland, Michigan-a sneak peekย  Downtown Holland, Michigan Saugatuck State Park-Michigan A Walk Through Holland, Michigan’s Farmer’s […]

  • Reply
    Saugatuck State Park-Michigan - The Red Headed Traveler
    July 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    […] in this series! Holland, Michigan-a sneak peekย  Downtown Holland, Michigan A Walk Through Holland, Michigan’s farmer’s market Saugatuck on Dwellable var […]

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    Shares