Located 165 mi/265 km west of Detroit, on the shores of Lake Michigan, Holland—as you might expect from its name—makes much of its Dutch heritage: It was founded by immigrants from the Netherlands in 1847, and it continues many of the traditions of the mother country. Tulips are foremost: Millions of them bloom in the spring, and they get their public coming-out party at Tulip Time, a cultural festival and flower extravaganza in May (if you go, be prepared for traffic jams and a shortage of parking). More Dutch items: a 225-year-old windmill imported from the Netherlands (said to be the only authentic Dutch windmill in the U.S.); Dutch Village (reproductions of Dutch architecture and exhibitions of klompen—wooden-shoe—dancing during the summer); and the Wooden Shoe Factory (free tours).

Be sure to stop at the Holland Museum: We especially like its collection of Delft pottery. The Holland area also boasts more than 100 mi/160 km of bike trails, some running along Lake Michigan.

A few minutes south of Holland, just inland from Lake Michigan, are the twin towns of Saugatuck and Douglas. Downtown Saugatuck, though tiny, is home to some interesting art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts. Saugatuck is considered to be a popular, gay-friendly resort town. A boardwalk along the Kalamazoo River offers a pleasant spot to watch boats motoring by. Our favorite way to hop between the two towns is the hand-operated chain ferry (it runs only during the peak summer travel season). There are steep dunes to the west of the towns (by the lake) and orchards to the east. Mount Baldhead provides a good vantage point from which to take in the sunset or look down on picturesque Oval Beach. Harbor Days is held in Saugatuck and Douglas in late July, with a Venetian boat parade and fireworks.

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