Tulips, water, and plenty of charm are what comes to mind when I think of Holland, and the same is true about the city of Holland, Michigan.
Founded in 1847 by Dutch Calvinists, Holland is a quaint city displaying a lot of its European tradition, complete with windmills and a tulip festival. Its natural surroundings add to its charm: the city sits on the shore of Lake Macatawa, which connect to Lake Michigan. Nearby, the beachfront Holland State Park offers visitors a great natural playground and the opportunity to admire the iconic Big Red Lighthouse, the most photographed lighthouse in the state. Weather permitting, one can get a good workout and a panoramic view of the area by climbing the nearby Mt. Pisgah dune boardwalk.
The lighthouse took half a century of persistent lobbying to come into existence and the area became a popular vacation destination for Chicago residents. As with many old lighthouses, the structure underwent a series of changes and updates, and was in the care of several hard-working keepers. In its current form, use of the steel structure was discontinued after having been painted a mandatory bright red color by the US Coast Guard. The historic beacon still stands thanks to local love and support, guarding the water flowing from Lake Macatawa into Lake Michigan, and offering a poignant visual reference to beach visitors.
We strolled through town on a quiet and sunny fall Sunday, admiring the charming architecture (Dutch Colonial, Craftsman, Victorian, Tudor) and careful placement of colorful blooms, making friends with the local felines and admiring the energy of the local squirrels, relentless in their pursuit of food.
We followed the brick path meandering through Centennial Park and admired the magnificent 6,000 live plant structure depicting L. Frank Baums’ book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The author spent many days in his family cottage by Lake Macatawa and was undoubtedly inspired by the surroundings.