Staycation Idea: Holland, MI
Sometimes you just need a break from life’s normal routine and with spring break and summer vacations around the corner, you know your newsfeed is going to fill up with pictures of beautiful destinations and tropical beaches. Even if your budget or work schedule won’t allow for an actual vacation, you don’t have to miss out on the fun. Get creative and plan a staycation!
Staycations offer all the fun, adventure and relaxation of a vacation without costly and time-consuming travel. Fortunately, for those of us living here in West Michigan, our state boasts 3,000 miles of beautiful lakeshore. This area is teeming with options for outdoor adventuring (hiking, fishing, swimming at the beach, snowshoeing, skiing, etc.) and our beach towns are exquisitely charming.
(re)Discover Holland, Michigan
Knowing we wouldn’t be going on a spring break trip this year, I wanted to plan a weekend getaway for our family somewhere local. We started planning a staycation to Holland, which is a short drive from Grand Rapids. But, as the billboard says, Holland is “30 Minutes and a World Away.”
I’ve been to Holland many times throughout my life (and actually Nick and I got married there). I’m familiar with this area, but visiting Holland in 100% vacation mode opened up our eyes to rediscover the many reasons that make Holland a perfect staycation destination.
Thanks to the Hampton Inn of Holland for a wonderful two-night stay this past weekend, my family was able to fully relax and soak in this beautiful area. We’ve enjoyed staying at Hampton Inn & Suites numerous times before, but this Hampton Inn is a particularly nice hotel. Their Guest Relations Manager, Jamele Favorite, and the front desk staff, warmly greeted us and were so helpful throughout our stay. I noticed that they were extremely kind and attentive with each guest that came up to their front desk.
Our hotel room had two queen beds, a spacious bathroom, a closet with plenty of room for our bags and more hangers that we needed (isn’t it frustrating when a hotel only gives you a couple hangers?). On top of that, we had a mini-fridge, microwave, coffee maker and ample cupboard space. Any mom knows to travel with lots of snacks for their kids, so you know I made good use of those cupboards! We also had a nice balcony overlooking the pool area with a table and chairs.
If you’ve ever stayed at a Hampton Inn before, then you already know that their beds are extremely divine. Laying on them has to be akin to laying on a cloud…they are SO comfortable! Plus, this Hampton offers free breakfast, wifi and parking, so you don’t get hit with annoying added fees for internet and parking.
This location also features a full-service restaurant, Sharkee’s Bar & Grill. Meaning, ROOM SERVICE is an option here! And if your kids can swim, you can sip on a margarita poolside while watching them play in the water. Dreamy, right?
My kids’ favorite part had to be the large, pristine indoor pool. It was the perfect temperature for a pool–not too cold or too hot. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that this Hampton Inn also features both indoor and outdoor hot tubs. The outdoor hot tub was a BIG hit for my whole family. If you’re looking for non-swimming activities, they also have a game area with arcade and rec games and you can request board games from the front desk.
Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Hampton Inn of Holland and were super impressed with our accommodations. My husband already said we need to plan a getaway there again, but next time without our kids. We sure love them, but an occasional kid-free weekend is essential!
What To Do in Holland, Michigan
There are loads of amazing things to do in Holland, MI from enjoying the white sandy Lake Michigan beaches to strolling through its charming downtown full of great restaurants and shops to tapping into Dutch culture at Windmill Island, Dutch Village and the acclaimed Tulip Time Festival (May 5-13, 2018).
In preparing for our weekend away, I put together a tentative schedule with our weekend plans to make sure we could fit in as much as possible, while also building in time to just chill at the hotel. We had such a fantastic experience, so I wanted to share our itinerary with you all to give you some ideas on where to shop, dine, caffeinate and explore during your next visit to Holland.
5:30p – Leave for Holland!
Nick arrived home and we loaded up the car to head to Holland. It was so nice to only have a 45 minute drive to downtown Holland. So easy!
6:15p – Dinner at Crust 54 (#ChicagoDeepDish here we come)
We arrived at Crust 54 with four very hungry tummies. Since we wanted to try their Chicago deep dish, we called our order in (they take 40-45 mins to make) when were leaving GR. This timed up perfectly. Our food was ready almost right when we arrived.
Crust 54 offers a delicious variety of appetizers, pizzas (Chicago deep dish and stone fired thin crust), and salads on their menu. We ordered the 12” Chicago deep dish with bacon and mushroom and some cheesy breadsticks as an appetizer. I actually was skeptical that a 12” pizza would be enough for my ravenous crew, but it was more than enough.
Crust 54 makes their fresh dough from scratch daily and their pizzas are topped with a flavorful, homemade pizza sauce and high quality cheese (no preservatives, fillers, additives, etc.). You can really taste the difference in their high quality pizzas!
Also worth noting, my hubby is a Chicago suburbs boy, born and raised, and he is a major pizza snob. Nick said it’s so rare to find true Chicago deep dish pizza outside of the Chicagoland Area, but Crust 54 nailed it!
7:45p – Hampton Inn = Home Sweet Home for the Weekend
We arrived at the Hampton Inn and decided to “throw all caution to the wind” and let the boys stay up late. We got in PJs, made popcorn (thanks to Hampton’s Guest Relations Manager!) and watched some TV before bed.
7a – Breakfast at Hampton Inn
Our boys woke up around 7 and, per the usual, they were ready for breakfast immediately upon waking up. It is SO nice to stay at a hotel that offers a free, hot breakfast. The boys loved their scrambled eggs, cereal and yogurt. I liked that you could choose to treat yourself to pastries and homemade waffles or you could opt for something healthier. I tried to pick mostly healthy options (see below) and everything I had was super yummy!
After breakfast, I got in a quick workout in the Hampton Inn exercise room, then rinsed off in the shower before taking a little dip in the pool with the boys. Did I mention that my boys love swimming? I swear they must be part fish!
After that, we left the hotel and drove the short drive to downtown Holland. We parked in a mid-point between the 8th Street restaurants & shops and the newly-opened, Saunders Family Bakery on River Ave.
10a – Saunders Family Bakery (#CarboLoading)
I discovered Saunders Family Bakery on Instagram recently and their drool-worthy pastries were calling my name. We had gorgeous weather this past weekend and enjoyed our walk to the bakery, but we enjoyed our pastries and drinks even more.
The Saunders family recently opened this bakery up, but Mr. Saunders has been a professional baker for many years. Their love and passion for high-quality baking was clearly evident in every bite. They also offer a nice selection of gluten free treats, which is helpful for so many people. I ordered the caramel pecan sticky bun and it was worth every calorie. SO DELICIOUS. Oh and did I mention their coffee was really good?
11a – Easter Clothes Shopping at Tip Toes
Next, we walked down to Tip Toes, a locally-owned children’s boutique that carries high-end clothing and toys for kids. I’m all for bargain shopping and second-hand clothes, but I will say that you often get what you pay for with clothing. My mom purchased some adorable clothes from Tip Toes for Everson when he was a baby and the clothing kept beautifully to be worn a second time by Adler. The fabric didn’t tear, fade or pill. In fact, the clothing we’ve had from Tip Toes has been such high-quality that I can always make money consigning them after both of my boys have worn them.
With Easter right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to shop for some Easter outfits for the boys. Plus, I heard Tip Toes was offering a “toy tester” event on Saturday that we wanted to check out.
Tip Toes carries the Mayoral brand of children’s clothing that is absolutely gorgeous and super high quality. I found adorable short-sleeve polos and nautical sweaters for the boys to wear for Easter. Yes, they will be matching because they LOVE to match (and I think it’s adorable)!
We also purchased Tip Toes’ brand-new “EggMazing” Easter egg decorating kit product (did you see this on Shark Tank?). They were selling it for a discounted price for the toy tester event, but I saw that it’s normally priced at $25.99 (cheaper than Amazon’s price – #shoplocal)!
12p – St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Erin Go Bragh!
When planning our Holland staycation, I, of course, looked at Holland.org’s event calendar to see what community events were going on in Holland during our stay. I was so happy to see that Holland was doing a St. Patrick’s Day parade at Saturday on noon. The parade was going right down 8th Street, so after shopping at Tip Toes and a few other local shops, we found a bench on the sidewalk and settled in to wait for the parade to start. We didn’t stay for the entire parade because we wanted to get to our next stop, Square Play Cafe before they closed, but it was fun to do something festive for a bit! (My maiden name is O’Callaghan after all!)
12:45p – Square Play Cafe (aka Parent + Kid Heaven!)
Square Play Cafe is located in the quaint little Washington Square area of Holland (right across from the locally-loved, Italian restaurant Pereddis). They offer creative play activities and toys for kids in a bright, clean, inviting space AND they offer a free wifi and delicious coffee for adults.
We weren’t able to play here very long, but I loved meeting Stephanie, who opened Square Play Cafe, with her husband last year. Her husband is a retired military veteran and they only recently put down their roots here in West Michigan. Make sure to go to Square Play Cafe for your next play date. Your kids will have a blast and you will, too!
2p – BAM! Entertainment Center – Endless Indoor Fun!
Next, we drove to BAM! Entertainment Center where we had a full afternoon of fun planned. We had a Slam Play Package for each of us that includes a game of laser tag, 1 high ropes course session, a $7 arcade card, 1 hour of bowling with rental shoes, 2 slices of pizza and a 22-oz pop for each person.
We love bowling with our kids and the boys think arcade games are the coolest things ever. We had not yet played laser tag or done high ropes with Everson (Adler is too little, so we were going to take turns with E), but we figured he would love those activities, too!
We had a great time at BAM! Entertainment Center..the staff was friendly, the facilities were clean and the bowling shoes were even comfortable! This would be the perfect spring break outing, but BAM! is very busy on weekends and over spring break week so they highly recommend you make a reservation. Reservations can be made over the phone by calling 616-392-7086.
4:30p – Back to the Hampton Inn – Time to Relax
Whew! We sure fit in a lot on Saturday and by the late afternoon our boys were ready to chill out for a bit at the Hampton Inn. We went back to our hotel room and sank right into the cozy beds. We didn’t want Everson to fall asleep because if he naps, he stays up super late. Adler had already gotten a car nap (see proof below). So, we decided to turn on some cartoons and just veg out until dinner time. Our Hampton Inn hotel room, with our uber comfortable beds, was the perfect place to rest up during our busy staycation.
5:30p – 8th Street Grille – New Owners/New Favorite!
If you’ve ever been to Holland, or grew up in West Michigan like I did, then you are sure to know about 8th Street Grille. They are a well-known, downtown Holland bar and grill. But, what you may not know is that the Westerlund family, owners of Macatawa Ale Company, took ownership of 8th Street Grille just last month.
They are breathing new life into this restaurant, while still maintaining its character and charm. With the new ownership, has come a refresh on their menu (but don’t worry they’ve kept beloved 8th Street Grille classics like the famous corn chowder). I tried one of their new menu items, the Grilled Bahn Naan and it was absolutely scrumptious! It was their twist on the Vietnamese classic with some Indian influence. It is one of those rare dinner entrees that is filling yet light and packs a big punch of flavor. I, personally, loved the heat from the fresh jalapeño, but order this sans jalapeño if you like more mild heat levels.
We had a nice, relaxing morning on Sunday starting again with a delicious breakfast at the Hampton Inn. Did I mention how much I love having breakfast made for us and no dishes to clean up afterward?
The boys watched some cartoons in the hotel room, while we packed up. We were so sad to leave Hampton Inn of Holland. We had the best stay there and we hope to be back soon!
Before heading back home to Grand Rapids, we did a quick stop at the Holland State Park beach. The sun was shining and the water looked gorgeous. Even though it was cold, we had fun walking along the pier and it made us all the more excited to head back to Holland for beach days this summer!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hampton Inn of Holland and we also received complimentary items from various Holland businesses. We are thankful for our sponsors that make this blog possible and hope you support these amazing local businesses! All opinions are completely honest and my own.