There is a lot to explore in Michigan, which has led me to visit different areas over the years with no regrets! This latest family trip focused on the southwest coast, including primarily the port towns of Holland, Saugatuck, and South Haven. We also spent some time in Allegan and Hamilton. This was just a short three day trip, so we kept quite busy with activities! Below are details of my favorite places to photograph, as well as places to explore and dine at. Before I get to that, here is a super short highlight reel:
There is plenty for everyone on the beaches here, including the Beachplace at Holland Park Cafe that features over 24 flavors of soft serve! The beach is always a great spot for photographs at any time of day, with the entrance to the harbor and the Holland Harbor Lighthouse being right there as well. We spent a good amount of time here in the morning, as well as enjoying the sunset here. There is also a small patch of sand dunes, as well as the Mt. Pisgan trail that takes you to a scenic overlook (prepare for hundreds of stairs).
While in Holland, there is also Nelis's Dutch Village and Holland Windmill Island to explore - both with plenty of things to do on their own! For all you foodies out there, I highly recommend Boba House (a huge bubble tea selection), Taqueria Vallarta (authentic and delicious), and Kilwins Chocolates (a wide variety of options). E. 8th Street is a great area to park and shop, which has nearly all of these in walking distance from each other. Check the links for all three to see my Google Review that has photos of what we tried.
We didn't spend much time exploring South Haven, but we did enjoy checking out the main port area and, of course, getting a few aerial shots while I was there. This is one of my favorite harbors, being very compact so you can see a lot of ships at once and beautiful lake homes all in one view.
The iconic artisan town of Saugatuck is a great stop to find a handcrafted piece of art in all forms. This particular port doesn't give a view to Lake Michigan, as the river from the harbor to the lake is a bit longer. The harbor at Kalamazoo Lake is a good size and there are dozens of artsy shops to explore. For food, we picked and had no regrets with Mermaid Bar & Grill. That link goes directly to my Google Review with photos to drool over.
On our way to Holland, I glanced to the right while driving over a bridge and saw a beautiful railroad that crossed over the river, featuring a wooden foundation you don't see very often. It stuck in my mind and eventually we went back to find that there was a park right there with waterfalls! Honestly, this became one of my favorite spots from the entire trip! Yes, I have a thing for waterfalls. Schutmatt Park is located in Hamilton. I visited this location three times, first briefly, second close to sunset, and third at sunrise. What was even better was discovering a bit of a secret waterfall that was tricky to get to, on the other side of the river. Be careful exploring!
Allegan was on our list specifically because we were curious to check out Allegan Event. It is a fantastic indoor adventure park with rock climbing and a three layered ropes course, the largest indoor one in Michigan. It was very affordable and, if you aren't afraid of heights, 150% worth it. We stopped here on the way up as well for a break and found lots of great urban spots to photograph walking around the downtown area.
Of course, this is a photo blog! Sorry for rambling above, I wouldn't be surprised if you skipped right over that but I like to give details for anyone that wants to recreate a similar trip. Below are my favorite photos from all of the above! It is always so hard to narrow down to a "reasonable amount" of photos.
Comment below which port town makes your travel wish list!
Founder and visual artist, specializing in all aspects of a businesses presence from imagery and video to graphics and web. A graduate of IPFW with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, Concentration Photography as well as an Associates Degree in Business. His personal photography works are focused on landscape, travel, and aerial photography.