A coastal city in the western region of Michigan, the town of Holland is nestled between two major Midwest cities, Chicago and Detroit. Founded in 1847 by Netherlands settler Albertus C. Van Raalte, Holland is known for its extensive Dutch culture, unique architecture and ambiance. The city was the focus of the popular “Pure Michigan” advertising campaign in 2014, and it is chock-full of recreational activities, shops, art galleries, eateries, Dutch attractions and beautiful beaches.
Forbes magazine named Holland as one of the Top Five Cities in the U.S., and the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranked the city as the second-healthiest, happiest place to live in America.
See below for five more reasons to “go Dutch” without needing a passport.
Miles and Miles of Freshwater Coastline
Lake Michigan is one of the city's top attractions with many beautiful beaches in Holland to choose from for sunbathing, swimming and enjoying gorgeous sunsets. Take Holland State Park, for instance; the park opened in 1926 and is famous for its calm sandy beaches and its Big Red Lighthouse. Another Holland beach to check out is Laketown Beach. It’s off the beaten path, located between two private beachfronts. Once you find it, you’ll need to walk down about 500 steps to reach the sand. It’s peaceful, serene and not too crowded.
Vast Array of Arts and Culture Attractions
Best known for its annual Tulip Time Festival during the month of May where visitors from all over the world come to see millions of tulips in bloom, Holland's arts and cultural scence is larger than you may realize. According to Angela Huesman, vice president of talent and innovation solutions for Lakeshore Advantage, an organization focused on driving economic growth throughout Michigan’s lakeshore communities, “I’ve lived in Holland 15 years, and it has always had a vibrant arts and culture scene, thanks in large part to our very own Hope College.”
Hope College is a liberal arts school known for its stellar arts programs. Each summer, it hosts the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre Program, putting on seven shows across three different stages for hundreds of people. Similarly, both the Knickerbocker Theatre and the Civic Theatre are top cultural venues, housing everything from the Holland Symphony to independent film screenings.
A Thriving Job Market and Low Cost of Living
If you want to experience small town living but still be close to urban centers with access to high quality arts, culture and entertainment options, look no further. Holland is 30 minutes from Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in the state. It also holds the lowest unemployment rate in Michigan at three percent, making for a good job market with large employers across several industries including manufacturing, education, health care and tourism.
A Bustling Downtown With Top-Notch Brewery Options
As West Michigan continues to become a “hub” for craft beer breweries, Holland is at the front of the pack with Hops At 84 East, Macatawa Ale Co., New Holland Brewing and Our Brewing Co. all situated in the downtown area. According to Huesman, “It’s no secret a craft beer movement has swept through our region, and here in Holland we have award-winning breweries located right downtown where they’re able to capitalize on the volume of tourists and locals – it’s great place for beer enthusiasts!” Restaurants in Holland also draw crowds, by offering a variety of locally sourced meals and hearty breakfasts.
Endless Possibilities for Outdoor and Recreational Activities
Holland’s outdoor and recreational activities are plentiful no matter the season. The city offers access to more than 1,000 acres of 22 parks and trails for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and 150 miles of separate-use bike paths to explore. If you want to sunbathe and get a little exercise, visit hidden gem Tunnel Park. You’ll enter the park through a tunnel that’s been chiseled inside a sand dune; you can also climb the dunes all while experiencing scenic views of Lake Michigan.
Huesman adds, “I think what stands out to me after all this time living here is that Holland is really a place like no other. It’s filled with countless ‘best of’ accolades for safety, health and wellness, most beautiful, best place to retire and so on. It’s a true gift to live where many people choose to vacation.”