Editor’s note: This is a monthly feature to highlight what Ottawa and Allegan counties have to offer residents and visitors alike.
Even as the weather turns chilly, there are still plenty of fun things to do along the Lakeshore. Whether you want to get outside or stay home, there are enjoyable ways to explore Ottawa and Allegan counties. This list includes options for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or interest.
Put some ‘Sparkle’ in your life
Spring Lake Sparkle
Downtown Spring Lake, Savidge Street between Division and Buchanan streets
5-9 p.m. Nov. 27-28
Be among the first to visit a winter wonderland of holiday lights, sights, and sounds. Head to downtown Spring Lake from 5-9 p.m. Nov. 27 or Nov. 28 for the kickoff of “Spring Lake Sparkle,” a new event that is sure to put a smile on your face and a sparkle in your eye. More than 120,000 multicolored lights will light up the trees lining Savidge Street between Division and Buchanan, as well as the buildings on the south side of Savidge. The Polar Express will offer train rides for the kids; there will be pop-up musical groups, food trucks, commemorative ornaments, and holiday give-aways; and you can even shop for your Christmas tree or holiday wreath. Some downtown businesses will offer extended hours to greet you with holiday cheer. And word has it that Santa just might make an appearance. If you can’t make it that weekend, the Sparkle continues every Saturday evening through Dec. 19, and the lights will keep sparkling through Jan. 3. To make it even more festive, local radio station WAWL will be airing Christmas tunes for all to hear. So, gather your loved ones and start a new holiday tradition with some Spring Lake Sparkle. For more information check out [email protected]
, or springlakesparkle.com.
Hawthorn Pond Natural Area is located in Holland Township. (Photo by Mike Lozon)
Hawthorn Pond Natural Area
9876 Black River Court, off Adams Street, Holland Township
Looking for a new fall fishing hole that’s off the beaten path? Look no further than this 40-acre park. The lake is open year-round for fishing, and in recent years, Holland Township has even stocked fish in the 5-acre pond. Explore the walking trails — there are lookout stations around the pond as well as on the Macatawa River. If kayaking is your thing, the park also boasts a kayak launch ramp. Be sure to pack a lunch, as there are picnic tables and gazebos. And best of all, your furry, four-legged friends are also welcome. More details online.
New Groningen Schoolhouse dates back to 1881. (Photo by Sandy Karsten)
Back in Time Driving Tour
Greater Zeeland Area
Take a trip back in time and discover the similarities and differences of the 1847 Dutch settlements located just east of Holland. Founded the same year as Holland, the charming communities of Zeeland, Groningen/New Groningen, Overisel, Drenthe and Vriesland still maintain their unique personalities. As you travel the winding back roads, you’ll not only be captivated by the local history, but also by the natural beauty of the area. Sponsored by the Zeeland Historical Society, the driving tour includes 16 interesting, historical stops. Pick up a copy of the tour, unveiled in October, at the Dekker Huis Museum, 37 E. Main St., Zeeland, or online
The Coopersville Historical Museum is housed in a former depot.
History, trains and rock ‘n’ roll
Coopersville Historical Museum
, 363 Main St.
Hours vary; donations welcome
The little town of Coopersville, in northern Ottawa County, is home to a very interesting hidden treasure — the Coopersville Historical Museum. Housed in the former depot and substation for the Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Muskegon Railway, (1902-1928), the building is not only a Michigan Historic Site, it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Besides housing an interurban train and railroad exhibit, the museum is home to memorabilia of Coopersville rock ‘n’ roll star Del Shannon, aka Charles Westover. Also featured are military, household, and business exhibits, including a re-creation of a local drugstore that opened in 1880. Adjoining the historic building is a rustically designed Sawmill and Early Settlers Building that focuses on the history of this once heavily forested area. Young ones are especially drawn to the Lincoln Log table, a model railroad that circles the sawmill exhibit, and an early schoolroom, as well as “Merlin,” a rare, wooden-bodied interurban passenger car that sits beside the museum.
Herrick District Library is offering virtual storytelling activities in November.
Rediscover the wonderful world of books
Herrick District Library, 300 S River. Ave., Holland
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
As the colder weather begins to nip at our toes, there’s no better time to rediscover the wonderful world of books, and there’s no better place to do that than Holland’s Herrick District Library. Having just launched The Big Read Lakeshore with Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea, the library is partnering with Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore to offer three very diverse virtual seminars tied to the book’s theme of maritime life and sustainability.
Nov. 10: Learn more about the city of Holland’s new recycling system, and try to “Stump the Chumps” by asking your toughest recycling questions.
Nov. 16: Join author and shipwreck hunter Ross Richardson as he explores Michigan’s Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve, just off Sleeping Bear Dunes, one of the deadliest areas of the Great Lakes.
Nov. 23: Spend an evening with Skip Finley, author of Whaling Captains of Color: America’s First Meritocracy, and learn how a man got to be whaling captain, not because he was white or well-connected, but because he knew how to hunt whales.
Registration is required for all events. To register or for more information, go to herrickdl.org/events
Downtown Holland's fireplace is a favorite place to warm up on a chilly day.
Shop for that perfect holiday gift
Nov. 13-20; business hours vary
Get a head start on your holiday shopping during downtown Holland’s “Shop ‘Til You Drop” event. Expanded from it’s usual one-night format, this year’s event begins Nov. 13 and runs through Nov. 20, with participants offering discounts, promotions, and giveaways all week long. And you won’t need to worry about slipping and sliding on the sidewalks, thanks to downtown Holland’s unique snowmelt system, the largest municipally run snowmelt system in the United States. If a chill does set in, you can warm up in front of downtown’s outdoor fireplace, or pop into a local pub or eatery. Be sure to check out downtownholland.com
for more information and participating merchants.
Bysterveld Park is an ADA-accessible park in Dorr.
Take a walk in the country
, 4171 14th St., Dorr
If you feel like taking a walk in the country, head to the little village of Dorr, about 20 miles southeast of Hudsonville, in Allegan County. Established in 1847, the name Dorr was brought forth by a settler from Rhode Island, who suggested the community be named after Thomas Wilson Dorr, the principal in Rhode Island’s Dorr Rebellion (1841-1842), often referred to as “Rhode Island's very own, very small Civil War.” The village is home to the beautiful Bysterveld Park, a 70-acre parcel of natural area that was donated to the county by the late John and Josie Bysterveld. This ADA-accessible park features rolling hills, wetlands, woodlands, and meadows, along with 2 miles of nature trails, a grass picnic/recreation area, a playground, and a catch-and-release fishing pond. This hidden treasure is definitely worth exploring.
Need suggestions for specific destinations or activities, check out these tourism resources for details:
Holland Area Visitors Bureau
Grand Haven CVB
Ottawa County Parks & Recreation
Allegan County Parks & Recreation
Sally Laukitis, Chair of the Michigan Travel Commission, recently retired as Executive Director of the Holland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. A longtime Holland resident, she can often be found exploring the county’s many dog-friendly parks and attractions with Tulip, her faithful Boston Terrier puppy. If you have an idea of something to do, email her at [email protected]
What to do in October? 8 ways to enjoy fall along the lakeshore
What to do in September? 9 fun ways to explore the Lakeshore
What to do in August? 8 ways to explore your Lakeshore backyard