Holland Michigan Is Like a Road Trip Vacation to Europe

Head to this city for vibrant Dutch history and attractions for every member of your family. Put Holland, Michigan on your road trip list and start making plans with our guide.

Close to the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline lies the city of Holland, Michigan. This vibrant location awaits families looking for rich Dutch history, bustling downtown streets and outdoor activities.

The area is famous for its exceptional springtime tulips and authentic working windmill. And, what’s really special about Holland is the small-town feel that makes this Michigan destination one you’ll want to come back to again and again. Many restaurants, shops, museums and attractions are locally owned and operated, allowing visitors to truly connect with the city and its culture.

Mom of three, Janet Michaelsen from Ohio, visited Holland last summer with her family and she said it was one of the best vacations she has ever had. She says her family enjoyed the old-world European feel.

“My whole family absolutely loved it. We were able to do something for everyone and my kids were never bored — which is saying a lot because my 5-year-old son has a ton of energy. Our favorite part was seeing the little Dutch village. It was like stepping back in time. We will definitely be back.”

For families located in metro Detroit, Holland is just a short road trip away, making it the perfect weekend escape. But who knows, maybe you’ll visit and want to stay a week! Either way, you can use this travel guide as a way to get to know the city and plan your trip.

Be sure to check out our other two articles within this series to see all that Holland has to offer, from spring and summer to fall and winter. And find out what a local family did when they took a road trip to Holland.

How to get there

From downtown Detroit, Holland is 181 miles, or two hours and 45 minutes away. 

Make your way to I-96 W, where you’ll stay for the majority of your trip. (Reduce fatigue by using adaptive cruise control, part of your Ford CoPilot 360 technology!) Take exit 46 for M6 W toward Holland. Then merge onto I-196 W and follow the signs to the heart of Holland. 

Don’t forget to use your Ford navigation system to get the best route for traffic and road conditions.


Pit stops along the way

By the time you reach Grand Rapids, you’ll be ready to stop and stretch. No matter the time of year, stop at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Little ones will love the David & Carol Van Andel Children’s Gallery and everyone can refuel at the cafe. 

John Ball Zoo, also in Grand Rapids, is where your kids can get close enough to touch the animals. There are trails, a waterfall overlook and a zip line. On Tripadvisor, Jessm531 says it’s the “perfect size zoo! A good amount of animals out. We went for the light show and it was so cute! Great to visit with kids. Would definitely return.”

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum always has something new to experience, thanks to its rotating exhibits. This is a hands-on museum with everything from classic Legos to beehives and plenty of opportunities for play. On Tripadvisor, M-Pilot says it’s a “Good museum for small children,” age 10 and younger. 

Top attractions

There is much to see and do in Holland, making sure active families will never run out of options. The following top attractions just scratch the surface of all the city has to offer.

Wooden shoe carvings at Holland Michigan
Photo Credit: Holland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

For more recommendations, check out our articles on things to do in the warmer and colder months.

  • Windmill Island Gardens has the only authentic Dutch windmill that still turns and grinds wheat into flour. In the springtime, the gardens are filled with a display of 150,000 tulips.
  • Holland Museum offers the best history crash course in the local and international culture.
  • Nelis’ Dutch Village is a happy little town filled with dancing, wooden shoe carving, rides, games, friendly farm animals, food and more. “Step back into the Netherlands of over 100 years ago.”

Where to eat

  • Beechwood Grill is a modern American steakhouse serving wood-grilled steaks, seafood, chicken and burgers. The kids menu is sure to impress even the pickiest of eaters. For the warmer months, the outdoor patio offers a welcoming, upbeat atmosphere. 

Beechwood Grill
Photo Credit: Beechwood Grill

  • Waverly Stone opened in 2018 to bring fresh, creative food and warm, friendly service to Holland’s restaurant scene. Its menu combines pub-style dishes with international tastes. The kid’s menu offers curry chicken salad, flatbreads, macaroni and cheese, baked pasta and more.
  • Vee’s Grill & Coney Island offers all-day breakfast, perfect for families who want to sleep in or are craving hash browns and eggs for dinner. It’s truly the ultimate breaky spot.
  • Crust 54 serves up Chicago-style pizza right in the heart of Holland. There are lunch specials every day that include slice(s) of pizza and a fountain drink for $8 a person.
  • Mezkla Taquería & Frutería creates authentic tacos and Mexican street food, taking pride in using fresh ingredients and bold flavors. It’s open for lunch and dinner, and closed on Sundays.
  • Sandy Point Beach House is a casual fine dining restaurant featuring New American cuisine: bringing new culinary trends, fresh seafood, and steaks of the best quality to your plate. The kids menu is filled with all the classics including chicken tenders, cheeseburgers, pizza and Kraft mac and cheese.
  • The Paisley Pig Gastropub offers unique, delicious food prepared with the freshest, high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. The menu features favorites like baby back ribs, fish and chips, sandwiches, burgers, soups, salads and more. 

84 East Holland Michigan
Photo Credit: 84 East

  • Hops at 84 East’s Sunday brunch dishes are not to be missed. Local favorites include Izzy’s Quiche and Jake’s French Toast. For parents, there are $6 bloody marys and mimosas.

Where to stay


  • DoubleTree by Hilton is right next to Highway 31 and has an indoor saltwater pool. It’s located within Holland’s business district, three miles from Windmill Island Gardens and nine miles from Holland State Park Beach.
  • White Pines Inn & Suites, a beach-town hotel, offers tranquility and comfort. You can discover the Dutch Village shops, restaurants and galleries all located just a half mile from the hotel.
  • Hampton Inn Holland is just 10 minutes from the city center. You’ll be within five minutes of the shops at Westshore and local dining, and 15 minutes from the beach. It features an in-house restaurant, free breakfast, indoor pool and hot tub.
  • Courtyard Holland Downtown has a newly designed lobby with a bistro for breakfast, drinks or dinner. It’s located right downtown, making for easy access to the center square and other attractions.

Family Biking at Holland Michigan
Photo Credit: Holland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

B&Bs, campgrounds and rentals

  • Oak Grove Resort is a family-owned and operated campground located on the north side of Holland. It’s within walking distance to Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa. The modern cabins are perfect for families and allow access to the on-site heated pool, hot tub, dog park and candy store — pretty much everything you need. 
  • Lake Michigan Cottages offers luxury vacation rentals along the western shoreline. These are ideal for larger groups and families.
  • Unsalted Vacations has cottages, rental homes and cabins convenient to everything you want to do in Holland: beaches, restaurants, lakes, bike paths, hiking, boating, markets and more. A great option when you are looking for the comforts of home. 
  • Lake Ranch Resort is located directly on Lake Macatawa and is a short walk to Holland State Park and Lake Michigan. There are six gas grills and picnic tables for the perfect family cookout.

Content brought to you by Southeast Michigan Ford Dealers. Learn more at buyfordnow.com. Find more articles like this at Metro Parent’s Ultimate Family Road Trip Guide.

Metro Parent Editorial Team
Metro Parent Editorial Team
Since 1986, the Metro Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for metro Detroit families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.


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