The moment you all have been waiting for… part 2 of our Christmas festivities! If you happened to click on this post and haven’t read part 1 make sure you check it out! If you have already read part 1 then you know that this blog is dedicated to Holland, MI and the splash-tacular Lake Michigan with a little Christmas magic sprinkled in!
So Andrew and I knew that we wanted to go to Holland and specifically Tunnel Park. However, I was talking with my mom about our upcoming adventure and she told me about this amazing Christmas market that Holland has every year around the holidays. Being that Andrew and I love small businesses we knew we needed to check it out.
Holland’s Kerstmarkt runs from Saturday, November 21 to Saturday, December 12, 2020. So what exactly is a Kerstmarkt? Well, “Kerstmarkt” in the Dutch language means “Christmas market.” Markets like these pop up all over the Netherlands during the Christmas season, offering a venue for local artisans and specialty shops to sell their products while shoppers gather, enjoying traditional food, drink, and entertainment. Holland’s Kerstmarkt began in 1997 with just 10 booths and has since expanded to around 18. On Saturdays, the Kerstmarkt also shares space with the farmer’s market so visitors are able to get a variety of goodies.
Andrew and I had a blast visiting the market as all the booths are decorated so cutely and remind me of markets seen in all the girly Hallmark Christmas movies. While we visited booths included: felt and wood earrings, sweater mittens, engraved wooden signs, engraved tumblers, delicious baked goods, Michigan honey, and sauces, as well as fresh greens and Christmas trees.
One booth I would like to highlight is Thornburg and Company. Not only is the owner an extremely kind woman but she also follows Gone Adventures!! Yay! Be right back as I have a total fangirl moment lol. Thornburg and Company specialize in artisan-made fruit preserves, honey, and maple syrups. I purchased one of their gift sets with 3 different varieties of honey (lavender, wildflower, and cinnamon) which are amazing! It was the perfect way to try a variety of flavors without committing to a large jar and being worried I would dislike the flavor.
After touring around the shops in downtown Holland. Andrew and I headed towards the Big Red Lighthouse. Now if you watch our vlog you’ll see that we tried to access the lighthouse itself so we could get nice and close. However, that access was closed due to COVID and high water levels so we had to turn back. We were both pretty bummed as we wanted to get a different view of the lighthouse than what we previously had. Making the most of it, Andrew and I drove to Holland State Park where you can view the lighthouse from the other side of the channel. Driving around the channel from the lighthouse to the state park is around 25 minutes one way.
There is a large parking lot at the state park as well as a restroom (which is open during peak season). A Michigan recreation passport is required or a day pass can be purchased. The beach is dog friendly and is great for swimming and lakeside recreation. The beach also has a playground and sidewalks which are handicap accessible. Holland State Park is also home to 2 campgrounds with electric and one with full hookups. The most iconic thing that the state park is known for is its views of the Big Red Lighthouse.
So a little history on Big Red. When Holland was founded by Dutch settlers in 1847 they wrote to the U.S. Congress requesting funds to build a harbor. Unfortunately, even with repeated requests, they received no aid from the government. It wasn’t until 50 years later that the effort was begun and the harbor completed. The first lighthouse was erected in 1870. The original light was a small, square, wooden structure that stood on an open platform on legs above the deck of the pier and topped with a ten-window lantern room. The lighthouse keeper had to carry his lighted oil lamp along a catwalk, which stretched from the shore where he lived to the lamp under a lens or magnifying device. When fog obscured the light, he signaled incoming boats by blowing an 18-inch fish horn often used on sailboats.
In the 20th century, the light was converted into a steel tower and was originally painted pale yellow with a maroon base. In 1956 it was painted red to satisfy the requirements of navigation for a harbor entry. The current automated light and fog signal were built-in 1934 and signaled the end of the lighthouse keeper era which had spanned over 68 years.
After soaking in the sights and getting to see a freighter we headed to Tunnel Park for the sunset. Located just north of Holland State Park (5 minutes), Tunnel Park is a 22-acre park with an extensive Lake Michigan beachfront. It has a decent amount of parking, a playground, sand volleyball courts, a picnic area, as well as restrooms which are open seasonally. There are no lifeguards on the beach so swim with caution and pets are welcome on a leash from October- April.
Cost to visit:
- Ottawa County residents: $5/day or $15/annual pass
- Non-residents: $8/day or $25/annual pass
- Seniors (60+): $9/year or regular daily fees
*Parking fees are in effect from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
The highlight of the beach is its unique tunnel through a dune which transports you to the edge of Lake Michigan. Once through the tunnel, there is a trail along the dune which connects to another path up onto the observation deck. The observation deck can also be accessed from the parking lot via a small dune climb or a hike up a wooden staircase. At the observation deck, you can get a glimpse of Big Red in the distance as well as miles of open water.
The observation deck is also home to a beautiful tile representation of Lake Michigan as well as educational signs. Behind the observation deck is a short nature trail with signs that highlight the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Both views were amazing for the sunset. I personally would suggest walking through the tunnel first as it gives you a stunning and unique view of the lake.
To end the day Andrew and I stopped at Farmhaus Cider Company which is located in Hudsonville, MI. If you have watched any of our vlog you know that we have to end the day with a clinky so this was the perfect stop. Located about 35 minutes from Tunnel Park and 15 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, Farmhouse Cider Co. is a locally owned cidery located on a 150-year-old farm. The cidery was started by a group of friends and all their cider is made on-site with 100% Michigan apples.
Now, this isn’t the first time Andrew and I have gone to Farmhaus as it is one of my favorite cideries that I have been to. One of my favorite things about this cidery is that they have seasonal ciders and my favorite cider of theirs happens to come out during the winter season. To comply with COVID-19 guidelines all seating is outdoors and igloos are available for reservation. The cidery is also host to a variety of food trucks with different ones every weekend. Click here to check out their food truck schedule!
If you’re thinking about visiting Farmhaus I would highly suggest getting a flight so you can try a variety of their ciders. They just recently launched a whole new look for their ciders with their new branding while keeping the same great taste. My seasonal favorite is the Lake Effect Blush which is a blackberry lemon cider. I was beyond excited to visit Farmhaus just so I could get some for home as my guilty weekend pleasure. If you are interested in seeing a full list of their ciders, click the link below.
Want to know what we thought of our flight? Tune into our upcoming vlog so you can taste test along with us.
As always, thank you so much for reading our blog and watching our vlogs, crazy bloopers in all. We really appreciate everyone that has liked and subscribed to our channel. If you haven’t already check out our Gone Adventures store to get some cool swag inspired by our travels. I look forward to writing and sharing our next adventure with you!