Located in the Great Lakes and Midwest parts of the United States, Michigan has the tenth highest state population and eleventh largest state area. It is the biggest state in terms of physical size situated to the east of the Mississippi River. Michigan is nicknamed 'The Great Lake State' due to its close proximity with the five Great Lakes of North America. Michigan has an estimated population of 9.9 million and covers an area of 96,716 square miles.
The state is divided into two sections, the Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula. Due to its lakeside location, Michigan is a very popular state for water-based activities like boating, fishing, and kayaking. The capital city of the state is Lansing, but the biggest city in Michigan is Detroit. Here are some key details and overviews of the biggest cities in Michigan. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
5 of the Largest Cities in Michigan
- Detroit, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Grand Rapids, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Warren, Photo: pandaclub23/stock.adobe.com
- Sterling Heights, Photo: James Martin/stock.adobe.com
- Lansing, Photo: ehrlif/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of icholakov - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Holland Museum
The Holland Museum is a local history museum in Holland, Michigan. Located next to Centennial Park in a magnificent landmark, a neo-classical-style building that was once the former Post Office building, the Holland Museum tells the story of the city of Holland, beginning with its founding by Dutch immigrants to what it has become today – an innovative, diverse, and successful community. The museum features both permanent and temporary exhibitions and thousands of fascinating historical objects, as well the Dutch Galleries, which feature inspiring artworks from the Netherlands dating back to the 17th century. The Holland Museum also operates two historic house museums, in addition to its museum, namely the Cappon House and the Settlers House museums.
The Holland Museum aims to showcase and present the story of the city of Holland and highlight its history and culture through permanent and temporary displays of local works of art, as well as educational programming and community initiatives. The museum’s excellent exhibits and educational programming aim to connect visitors and inspire them to learn about the history of Holland and contribute towards its future. The vision of the Holland Museum is to shape the future of the city by celebrating and improving the qualities that have made it the city it is today - entrepreneurship, education, family, work ethic, spirituality and commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The Holland Museum features a variety of permanent exhibits showcasing the city’s rich and diverse history and multi-ethnic population o the main floor, while the Wichers Gallery features temporary and traveling exhibits. The second floor of the museum is home to the new Dutch Galleries, which feature Dutch art and culture dating back 600 years, including paintings from the 17th-19th centuries, fine furniture, silver, delftware, and original Dutch costumes. The lower level is taken up by the Archives and Research Library, which houses the museum's collection of papers, documents, books, and photographs relating and documenting Holland's history. Exhibitions at the Holland Museum include ‘Toy Stories: The Toy Collection of Tom & Merrill Taylor’’, and ‘Say Yes to Michigan!’ and events at the venue include Sinterklaas Eve, Deck the Halls, Monsters at the Museum, Lunch at the Museum: Hope College Study Abroad, an Opening Reception: “For the Future Peace” Exhibit.
The Cappon House and Settlers House (also known as the Thomas and Anna Morrissey House) are part of the Holland Museum and relay the story of Holland’s early settlers through beautifully preserved and lovingly restored environments of the first mayor of Holland and a blue collar worker’s family at the time.
Once the home of Holland’s first mayor, Isaac Cappon, the historic Cappon House was built in 1874 and partially restored to its former glory in 1900. The museum takes visitors back to the time of the Isaac Cappon and his large family and is open seasonally from mid-May-September. Visitors can explore the house on guided tours, which begin at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays when the museum is open. Events at the Cappon House include Christmas at the Cappon House, Christmas at the Cappon House, Cappon House by Candlelight: Hallowe’en, Cappon House by Candlelight: Hallowe’en Haunts, and Museum on the Move: The Fire Walk.
Also known as the Thomas and Anna Morrissey House, the historic Settlers House is a small family home that highlights the lives of the working class families that lived in the house over the years. Built around 1867, the building survived the Great Holland Fire of 1871 and lived in until the 1990s, until it was lovingly restored to its former glory as it was in the late 19th century and was opened to the public as a museum. Visitors can explore the museum on guided tours, which begin at the Cappon House Visitor Center every hour Fridays and Saturdays from mid-May-September.
The Holland Museum is located at the corner of 10th Street and River Avenue, directly opposite Centennial Park and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and Sunday (April-September only) from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The Cappon House is located at 228 W. 9th Street Holland, MI 49423, and the Settlers House is situated at 190 W. 9th Street, Holland, MI 49423.
31 W. 10th Street, Holland, MI 49423, Phone: 616-392-9084
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Attraction Spotlight: Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway
The Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway (ODCMG) is an outdoor educational organization in Holland, Michigan. The non-profit organization was established in the year 2000 to better connect people with nature, and to promote conservation and protection of wildlife through education. The Outdoor Discovery Center operates several programs throughout West Michigan. Their project at the Macatawa River Greenway protects the 1,200 acres surrounding the river, as well as a 150-acre nature preserve.
The Macatawa River Greenway was founded to protect and refurbish the banks of the Macatawa River, its floodplains and surrounding marshes, meadows and forests. The Greenway begins in downtown Holland at the River Avenue Bridge and continues for 10 miles to the city of Hudsonville. The Greenway consists of a one mile-long paved trail, as well as more than four miles of hiking trails. Wildlife viewing platforms are located throughout the trail system.
The Outdoor Discovery Center Nature Preserve spans 150 acres of land, also in Holland. The Preserve includes lowland hardwood forests, ponds and wetlands, meadows and remnant prairies. Over 3 miles of boardwalks and walking trails guide visitors through the different ecosystems. The Founders Hall Visitor Center at the ODC displays an impressive taxidermy collection that represents the wildlife native to the area. Live animals at the Visitor Center include reptiles and amphibians, and two Eastern screech owls. The building is home to a gift shop and classroom space.
The DeWitt Birds of Prey facility is onsite at the ODC. Since 2003, the facility has been housing rescued birds of prey whose injuries prevent them from being released back into the wild. Visitors can view birds in their cages with interpretive signage. Twelve species include hawks, owls, eagles, falcons and vultures. The birds occasionally attend special events at the Outdoor Discovery Center allowing guests to view them up close.
Also on site at the ODC is the Neshnabe Summer Village. This cultural history exhibit displays authentically recreated Native American structures and artifacts, including bent pole wigwams, a traditional wooden cook house, a three pole home, and a historic replica garden.
Trails are free and open to the public from dawn to dusk daily. A variety of programs and events are offered throughout the year.
History: The Macatawa River Greenway project was first conceived of in 1994 as an effort to protect the wildlife habitat surrounding the river, and to improve the quality of water flowing into Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan. In 1996, the Macatawa Greenway Partnership, a non-profit organization, was formed to bring together stakeholders from the community and the government as well as the private landowners along the river’s corridor. The Outdoor Discovery Center and Macatawa Greenway merged in 2009 to form the ODCMG. Today, over 75,000 people visit the Greenway annually to take advantage of the trails and outdoor recreation opportunities.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Since the Center’s opening in 2000, they have served over 200,000 children and adults through recreation and educational programming. Educational programming is offered year-round. Programs are themed around fishing, pond and wildlife studies, bird watching, hiking, ecosystem studies and natural history education. In the winter, snowshoeing programs allow visitors to view winter wildlife and birds.
Community recreational programs include summer camps, river paddling tours, workshops and guided hikes. Programs are available for all ages, from scout programs and summer camps for children, to adult programming such as Women in Nature and the family-friendly River Encounters. Snowshoes are available for rent, and fit anyone aged 8 and older. An archery facility on site is available for use by those who have completed a certification program with a range master at the Kuipers Archery Education Facility. Recurve and compound bows may be rented on site.
All student programs meet Grade Level Content Expectations for the state of Michigan. A nature-based preschool, Little Hawks Preschool, is located at the ODC and operates in partnership with Hamilton Community Schools.
Annual events include the Macatawa Water Festival, which takes place each July. The day-long event at Holland’s Windmill Island encourages families to engage with Lake Macatawa and to learn about the watershed and the importance of its protection. Activities and educational exhibits include river paddling, crafting with recycled items, and water related games. Treats and Trails is a Halloween-themed family event that offers trick or treating, games and activities, and an up close look at birds-of-prey each October.
4214 56th Street, Holland, MI 49423, Phone: 616-393-9453
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Attraction Spotlight: Nelis' Dutch Village
Nelis’ Dutch Village brings the Netherlands to Holland, Michigan. Over 30 structures represent iconic Dutch architecture from several regions of the Netherlands throughout a ten acre property landscaped with water features, gardens, and brick walkways. The village offers family friendly rides, entertainment, and sales of Dutch souvenirs and food, as well as the tulips that made the village famous.
Children’s rides and activities at the Dutch Village include Harry’s Windmill Ride, a full sized 1940’s Dutch windmill converted into a Ferris wheel. A carousel, or Draaimolen, is a classic, restored ride from 1924 with hand carved painted horses. The Dutch Chair Swing Ride, or Zweefmolen, is among the most popular rides. Young children will enjoy riding Plasma Cars on the ‘KinderBaan.’ The pedal-less bicycles use the forces of physics to allow kids to kick and wiggle their way through a miniature highway. A playground area offers a giant wooden shoe to climb in and on, a climbing castle, a water-pumping race and a Dutch shuffleboard game named Sjoele. A petting zoo allows children to take a goat or a sheep for a walk on a leash, and to pet rabbits, pigs, cows and Princess, the mini-horse.
Additional areas of interest include a life-sized stone frieze that represents the story of Pieter and the Dike. The legend of the “Little Dutch Boy” tells the story of Pieter, who noticed a leak in a dike on his way to school one day and alerted the village, saving them from flood. A sculpture of a giant stork, a symbol of fertility and luck in the Netherlands, offers a photo opportunity. A giant windmill is representative of the classic type used for pumping water from land back to sea. The Kolean Museum houses antiques, family histories, and Dutch costumes. The Waaggebouw is a weighouse replica, where children may follow the Dutch tradition of being weighed to see if they might be a witch.
Dining options include the Hungry Dutchman Café, which serves a variety of traditional Dutch faire, including the popular Banket, an almond dessert pastry. For casual snacking, an ice-cream shop, cheese shop, chocolate, candy and fudge shop are located throughout the village. Areas available for event rental include the Thirsty Dutchman Pub, as well as the Het Terras Event Patio.
The famous souvenir shops are open year-round. Guests may purchase a pair of traditional Dutch wooden shoes, hand painted gifts and ornaments, lace, nutcrackers and pewter steins. Tulip bulbs are sold between July and December.
History: In 1910, Harry Nelis was the first of his family to immigrate to the United States in search of rich farmland and a better future. His family joined him soon after in 1911. After unsuccessful attempts at turning a profit through vegetable farming in Missouri, the family of 12 moved to Chicago, where they were working odd jobs when they heard about a Dutch settlement in Michigan, named Holland. The Nelis family purchased 80 acres north of town, and during the Great Depression, made the switch from vegetable farming to tulips. As the tulip farm grew in popularity through the 1930’s, the family added a windmill and began to sell souvenirs. When the souvenirs became just as popular as the tulips, the Dutch village was born. The first buildings were constructed in 1952 on 40 acres bisected by the precursor to U.S. Route 31. By 1970, the family, now operating a successful company, added a wholesale division for worldwide sales of their tulip bulbs and imported Dutch souvenirs, followed by a mail order business in the 1990’s. The company is still family owned and managed, now under the direction of the third generation of Nelis family immigrants.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Entertaining performances are ongoing throughout the day. Dutch dancers in traditional costumes perform folk dances in front of the historic Golden Angel Street Organ. The 109-year old street organ recently returned from the Netherlands where it underwent a full restoration after 50 years of service at the Dutch Village. The organ received 450 feet of new piping, and played on the tulip season’s opening weekend in 2017. Dance lessons are available immediately following each dance performance.
Carillion bell music plays from the main entrance’s bell tower every hour on the hour. The Bioscoop Theater shows vintage short films about the Netherlands, each lasts approximately 20 minutes. A one-room schoolhouse, De Oude School, offers visitors the opportunity to learn a few Dutch words.
12350 James St., Holland, MI 49424, Phone: 616-396-1475
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