Michigan: Holland State Park and the “Big Red” Lighthouse

Michigan is known as the Great Lake state, being surrounded by four of them. Along the shoreline of these lakes are lighthouses, parks, harbors, sand dunes, magnificent beaches and more.

Holland State Park, one of most popular, sits on the west coast of lower Michigan along Lake Michigan.  A short drive from downtown Holland, a destination in and of itself, this park offers the visitor a lot of fun while being surrounded by incredible scenery.

Holland State Park entrance in Holland, Michigan

The beach is large. There is ample room to swim for everyone. There is also an accessible beach trail leading right down to the water.

Holland State Park Beach and Lake Michigan shoreline

Holland State Park Beach. Plenty of sand and beautiful shoreline.

Holland State Park Beach. Plenty of sand and beautiful shoreline.

The sand isn’t just limited to the beach. As with a lot of areas along lower Michigan’s west coast there are sand dunes. The sand also sits in drifts and over the sidewalks and major parking areas, adding to the ambiance.

Sand over the sidewalk at Holland State Park

Holland State Park - Sand Dunes

Many people visit the park to see the Holland Harbor Light, better known as the “Big Red” Lighthouse. It’s Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse built-in 1917 and sits on the south side of the Holland Channel. It sits on the opposite side of the channel from the park. Access to the lighthouse side to get up close and touch the lighthouse is limited, because you can only get to it through a private neighborhood.

Holland Big Red Lighthouse along Lake Michigan

Holland Big Red Lighthouse along Lake Michigan

The Holland Channel connects Lake Michigan with Lake Macatawa. On the north (park) side many people bring lawn chairs and picnics to watch the sail boats come and go from Lake Michigan. “Big Red” serves as the perfect back drop. Many people walk the boardwalk that lines the north side as well.

Channel going between Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa

You can get great views of the lighthouse, beach, shoreline, channel and the vastness of Lake Michigan from the North Pier. There are two more modern lights on the pier. At times you’ll find high waves crashing onto the pier. I’ve left soaked. Though it’s not allowed, you’ll see brave folks jumping off into the cold waters which aren’t that deep. There will be others taking photographs and fishing.

Holland State Park pier

Holland State Park pier

Lake Michigan at Sunset at Holland State Park. Romantic spot at end of pier.

Holland State Park is an amazing place to watch the sunset over Lake Michigan. There are always a lot of people and photographers soaking it in on the beach by the shoreline and along the pier. A great romantic spot.

Lake Michigan at Sunset at Holland State Park on the pier.

Lake Michigan at Sunset at Holland State Park.

The park and lighthouse are definitely worth a visit in the colder months too. There is ice everywhere along the pier and shoreline and snow drifts several feet high. It is a winter photographers dream. The park sits right in the lake effect snow belt of Lake Michigan.

Holland Big Red Lighthouse in the winter

Holland State Park pier. Iced rails and snow covered.

Holland State Park Beach. Snow in the winter.

I’ve been to Holland State Park several times and I’m always in awe. If your ever on a lighthouse tour or just want to hang out at a beautiful spot and on the beach along Lake Michigan, this is a must stop. What lighthouse is your favorite that you’ve visited? Any recommendations on beaches to visit on the Great Lakes or any other lake?

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