Me at Lake Michigan

Growing up is an odd thing… as a child, you long for it – to be an adult, to be free and able to do what you want. And you want it even when all of the adults around you say you shouldn’t… Come to think of it, this is probably WHY we want to grow old. Silly rebellious – and stubborn – creatures we are.

Other half and I

My other half and I decided to make a trip up to Holland, MI this past weekend. We wanted to get away and breathe, as everything has seemed a little stressful lately. So, why Holland? Well. That was all my idea. My idea based on countless childhood memories from the Dutch Village, Windmill Island, Hope College, the Pier and most of all, Lake Michigan.

Historic Windmill at Windmill Island

We ventured to the shops at the Dutch Village first. The wooden shoes, cuckoo clocks, candle-making and white and blue dishes were enough to take me right back to running around in a Dutch apron, dress, bonnet and my very own wooden shoes. I’m serious. As a child, I would go about pretending to own my very own windmill and be in charge of making my own flour. I was beyond imaginative and incredibly content in my own company. The world was a fabulous place and everything appeared to be platinum and perfect – everyday was a new blank piece of paper, I’d turn to art.
Then, I grew up.
No, no. I’m not going to go on about how I long for my childhood adventures and careless mind…no. I will say, this weekend…opened my eyes to where I’m at now, with life. Graduated from college, moved away from home, full time career, adventuring, growing, learning…and even still imagining!

When the idea to return to Holland and Lake Michigan popped into my mind, I couldn’t let it go. I HAD to feel the sand and walk along the fresh water, watch the Dutch dancers and see the historic windmill. I wanted to feel like a little kid again. Did I? No. Of course, you can really never go back to thinking as a child when society’s reality taints your mind… However, I went with the intention of a small escape to the past, and from this excursion, I’ve taken more than I could’ve ever imagined.

As much as I love Lake Michigan and the many other places I’ve ventured to, I want to make new adventures. I want to go and travel to new places and really make the most out of the free time I have. I know that the little girl is still inside of me, but my small bit of twenty-something wisdom surely adds value to everything I do! We are all pieced together through our adventure of life, and although I couldn’t have the same experiences in Holland I cherished as a child, I had new experiences, I will surely never forget.

On that note, what DID I do in Holland?!? Well, if you’re venturing to Michigan and you wish to make a stop to this little city, here are some ideas for you!

Red Lighthouse Holland State Park

Food, first…

Day One we ate out at the 8th Street Grille downtown. Although it was greasy, it was certainly tasty! The smoothies are refreshing after a hot day, too!

If you’re a lover of sweets, check out Kilwin’s Ice Cream (and other chocolate treats). In addition, if you’re searching for delicious craft beer, the New Holland Brewery Restaurant is downtown and the brewery itself holds tours nearby!

City Delicatessen is the sandwich shop of all sandwich shops downtown. My other half and I grabbed our sandwiches for the beach prior to going on day two! De-lish.

Now, as for breakfasts…there are a ridiculous number of breakfast options. deBoer Bakkerij Restaurant and The Biscuit are outside of downtown, both are quite good…although deBoer is a little pricey – you get to draw on the tables there so I suppose it makes up for it 😉 Be prepared to wait at these places…we faced 40 minutes to an hour wait at both.

One place we weren’t able to check out was the Windmill Restaurant. The wait at this place was plain to see as we passed the line out the door. Unlike the other two, this place doesn’t take your name and how many are in your party, you simply have to wait in line till a seat opens up (yikes!).

The last breakfast we had was a simple stop at The Good Earth cafe. It had over 20 types of bagel sandwiches on all sorts of freshly made bagels. (The lox was delicious!).

A last note on food, if you’re interested in good coffee, and I’m judging this based on my other half’s incredibly high standards (no, this does not mean Kuerig or Starbucks…), check out Lemonjello’s. It’s a very hipster location with impressive coffee.

So, what’s to do?!

Sunset at Oval Beach

Downtown Holland is filled with little art galleries, shops and food. Honestly, it’s just nice to walk around and window shop.

The Dutch Village is a neat place to take little ones (and the shoppes are neat for the adults).

Windmill Island is also a good place for little ones, but also adults too! You can learn about Dutch culture and Windmill history. It’s a neat place to just go and get your steps.

There are two beaches I would suggest: Holland State Park (lighthouse and pier included) and Oval Beach (at Mount Baldhead). Yes, yes, I know, Oval Beach is truly in Saugatuck, Michigan…but it’s only 20 minutes south. Both beaches you can drive to and park right there.

Holland State Park has a shop with everything you could ever need AND over 20 flavors of soft serve ice cream…who would pass that up?! 😉

Although you can park on the beach, when we went to Oval we decided to park behind Mount Baldhead and climb over the 300 plus stairs to the top and back down the dune onto the beach. I’d like to consider myself pretty fit, but at the end of the day after sunset, walking back up and over the dune killed my calves and had me out of breath (i.e. this likely isn’t the best for little ones). On top of this, if you decide to wait for sunset to leave the beach, I’d suggest relocating your car to the parking lot prior to sunset to avoid the massive amount of deer fly and mosquitoes that appear at dusk when you hike back up the dune. Can you say bug bite welts?!

I think my other half and I preferred Oval Beach to Holland State Park as it just seemed more away from everything, quieter and overall nicer.

Holland (and Saugatuck) are wonderful places to visit along Lake Michigan. Have you been there? Or anywhere else along the Lake? Also, when did you realize you’d grown up? And how are you staying young at heart if you haven’t? Let me know about it in the comments below!