Admittedly, I have a thing for tulips. First, they offer a bright burst of color after a long, gray winter. Secondly, tulips and travel go together – there’s always a new festival to fill my calendar. Lastly, the Holland, Michigan tulips are fun for all ages – and I should know because we took a multi-generational trip to Holland, Michigan Tulip Time. Here’s my guide to visiting Holland, Michigan during Tulip Time.
Where and when to visit Holland, Michigan
Holland’s Tulip Time takes place the first full week of May. The 2021 Festival dates are May 1-9.
You will see tulips throughout the city of Holland, but the best places to see them in large quantities are Windmill Island Gardens and Window on the Waterfront.
Windmill Island Gardens
Windmill Island Gardens is home to over 100,000 tulips and DeZwaan, a centuries-old windmill. If you visit the first weekend of the festival there is a Historic Dutch Trade Fair.
A wagon shuttle to the entrance of Windmill Island Garden runs from the end of Lincoln Ave. You can also walk the quarter-mile path.
Admission to the park is $10/adults and $5/kids. They take cash and card, but the card line was much longer, so it’s helpful to have cash!
Our children’s favorite aspect of the park was the spinning tulip chairs, and the playground (go figure). There is a historic Dutch Carousel, but it travels very slowly and did not impress our kiddos!
The tulips are planted in long rows. During our visit, only half were in full bloom. It’s difficult to time the peak bloom, but if you watch the Holland Tulip Time Tracker website, you’ll be able to see the state of the local tulips. Unfortunately, our dates were set (and we were chasing the good weather).
Window on the Waterfront
This city park was full of the color of tulips! This public space is free to visit and offers public restrooms. There is a walkway that can be followed from the area where the Windmill Island Gardens shuttle drops off.
Large wooden shoes painted by different artists adorn the walkways! This made for a fun scavenger-hunt activity for the kids.
Downtown Holland is adorable! You must stop in this walkable city and view the tulips. There is also great shopping. Unfortunately, our visit didn’t coincide with any of the parade dates! I’d love to see the Dutch dancers come down this street.
Other things to do while visiting Holland, Michigan
Just west of downtown Holland and east of Holland State Park lies the Mt. Pisgah dune climb! 235 stairs to the top and in return you’ll receive a view Lake Macatawa and the Big Red lighthouse at Holland State Park.
If coming from Holland, public parking is located just past the entrance to the climb, watch for signs. Early May is a great time to enjoy the scenery, as the leaves have not fully formed on the trees.
Enjoy the beauty of Holland State Park & the Big Red Lighthouse
Just a short drive from Mt. Pisgah is Holland State Park. Visiting during Holland’s Tulip Time was still the off-season, so entrance fees were not charged and restrooms remained closed.
One of the most noticeable attributes of Holland State Park is its view across the harbor of Holland’s Big Red Lighthouse. A lighthouse has stood in this place since 1872 and the light still shines today up to 20 miles out to sea. The twin-gabled structure pays homage to the Dutch heritage of the area.
Although it wasn’t warm enough to sunbathe on the beach, the adjoining playground was a treat for the kids!
The DeBoer family has been making delicious bread, pastries, and cookies since immigrating from the Netherlands in 1956. We dined at their Northside restaurant (only open for breakfast & lunch) and were pleasantly surprised by the affordable food & great service. Come hungry- the portions are huge!
Travel tips for Holland Michigan Tulip Time
Book your hotel well in advance! I started looking in January and the hotels in downtown Holland were already very pricey – with limited options. We decided to stay closer to Grand Rapids at the Springhill Suites Grandville (<-check rates). The hotel was a 25-minute drive from Holland but located conveniently to the highway, shopping, and dining. If we weren’t budget travelers, a downtown hotel would be better for walkability.
Michigan’s May weather is unpredictable! One day we were in short sleeves, another day we wore our winter coats! Make sure you pack for four seasons.
I recommend contacting the Holland Visitor Bureau ahead of your trip to find out the location of special events. It’s easy to request a brochure on their website.
Have you been to Holland? Do you plan to visit during Tulip Time?
Interested in more Tulip-themed travel? Did you know that The Canadian Tulip Festival happens every year in Ottawa, Canada? Find out more: Ottawa in Bloom- Canadian Tulip Festival with Kids.
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