Two-Day Itinerary for Holland, Grand Haven and Muskegon
The Lake Michigan shore towns west of Grand Rapids—Holland, Grand Haven and Muskegon—offer a mix of Dutch heritage, impressive gardens and pretty boardwalks.
A 251-year-old windmill towers above a 36-acre island at Windmill Island Gardens in Holland, which attracts more than 500,000 visitors each May for its Tulip Time Festival.
Boutiques, galleries, gift shops and cafes line 8th Street downtown, and seafood stars at Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant.
You'll find a great beach and lighthouse at Grand Haven State Park.
At dinner, choose from three dining rooms at Kirby House: K2, an upstairs pizza place; Kirby House, a midrange bar and grill; and Grill Room, a classic steak house.
For 50 years, the town's colorful Musical Fountain has danced to a fun soundtrack every night after sunset.
Turn in at Harbor House Inn, which has comfy, quaint cottages (from $170).
Learn about Lake Michigan in the Gillette Visitors Center or head straight to climbing the dunes at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon.
The harborside Dockers Fish House and Lounge specializes in lobster rolls and shark tacos.
Master gardeners re-create Monet's famed gardens at Giverny in The Monet Garden on a once-vacant lot in Muskegon's historical district.
Engaging tours reveal the impact the USS Silversides had during WWII.
Finish the day with pints of Guinness alongside sliders and traditional Irish fare, such as potato pancakes, at Hennessey's Irish Pub.
Stay to remember
Though you'll find some great hotels and B&Bs along the Lake Michigan coast, many travelers choose from the more than 3,500 vacation rentals throughout the area. Options run from simple cottages to million-dollar homes.
The pros: You can find places with plenty of space for groups and an extended stay, and kitchens save on dining out.
The cons: You often have to pay before you go and need to track down property managers if something goes wrong. To learn more, visit vrbo.com.
Five Great Places to Have Fun in Saugatuck
Eleven miles south of Holland, Saugatuck makes a great day trip-or the next overnight stop in your Lake Michigan vacation.
1 Oval Beach Voted one of the world's best, this fine-sand playground has a wide, deep beach; views of Saugatuck's original lighthouse; and 302 steps to the top of Mount Baldhead. (269) 857-1701; saugatuck.com/beaches.asp
2 Saugatuck Dune Rides Stomachs jump and arms fling into the air as trucks dive down the faces of dunes and fishtail through tight curves during the 35-minute ride. (269) 857-2253; saugatuckduneride.com
3 A Culinary Walk Three-hour tours don't cover more than a half-mile, but in that distance you'll taste many regional favorites, including Michigan jams and jellies plus Michigan wines. (269) 857-1700; hungryvillagetours.com
4 Art galleries Two dozen galleries reflect Saugatuck's artsy spirit. Favorites include the co-op Discovery, Marcia Perry's Sculpture Studio, Good Goods, and James Brandess' Studio and Gallery for oil paintings. (269) 857-1701; saugatuck.com
5 The Belvedere Inn and Restaurant On 6 acres just northeast of town, the 1913 Prairie-style mansion has fireplaces in each of its 10 guest rooms and elegant furnishings. From $225. (877) 858-5777; thebelvedereinn.com
More information: (888) 784-7328; michigan.org