What to do in August? 8 ways to explore your Lakeshore backyard

Editor’s note: This is a monthly feature to highlight what Ottawa County has to offer residents and visitors alike.
August is a prime time to enjoy the Lakeshore’s enchanting summers. This is a great month to get outside and explore the county’s treasures. This list includes options for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or interest. 

Ottawa Sands Park is located in Ferrysburg.
Go for a walk, hike, or bird-watch
Ottawa Sands County Park, 18153 North Shore Drive, Ferrysburg. Open daily 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Check out this beautiful 345-acre park that was once used for sand mining. The park boasts forested dunes, an 80-acre inland lake, and riverfront land with wetlands. While the park is still being developed, there is a 2.9-mile trail that is great for hiking and trail walking. Along the way, you’ll find stunning lake views. Don’t forget your binoculars or your hat and sunglasses: the bird-watching is excellent, and a large portion of the trail is not shaded.

Spring Grove park is wheelchair accessible.
Have a picnic or host a wheel-chair accessible gathering
Spring Grove Park, 1800 Greenly St., Jamestown Township. Open daily 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Barrier-free facilities include restrooms, trellis, playground, and trails to key areas.
A true hidden treasure, Spring Grove Park is a wonderful place for a family picnic or a large gathering. With picnic tables, grills, a playground for the kids, a horseshoe pit, ballfield, and firepit, this barrier-free 16-acre park features towering trees, a flowing spring, and a small natural area that bursts forth with wildflowers in the spring. There is also a specially designed trellis for outdoor weddings, and a picnic building that can be reserved for reunions, meetings, or special celebrations.

Watch a Lake Macatawa sunset from a wheelchair accessible location
The parking deck at Ninth Street, between River and Pine avenues in downtown Holland.  
Unusual as this may sound, one of the best places to catch a sunset is on the top floor of the Ninth Street Parking Deck in downtown Holland. With unobstructed views of Lake Macatawa, you can watch the sun slip below the horizon in all its glory. Then take a stroll — or a roll — and enjoy a craft beer at one of Holland’s downtown breweries or grab a frozen yogurt or ice cream from a locally owned eatery.

Enjoy a tasty summer tradition 
Bowerman’s Blueberries, 15793 James St., Holland. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (cash, check or credit card)
Kamphuis Blueberries, 4140 148th Ave., Holland. Kamphuis — 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (cash or check only; ATM onsite)
‘Tis the season for all things blueberries. And western Ottawa County is just the place to explore. If you want to pick your own, shop for mouthwatering blueberry treats, or just pick up some fresh-picked berries to create your own delectable treats, we’ve got you covered. Great fun for all ages. Both farms provide buckets for picking and bags to take your berries home. The cost is the same at both farms: $1.80 per pound (u-pick).

Hike, bike, boat and ride
Bass River State Recreation Area, Bass River Road, Grand Haven 
No matter what your favorite outdoor activity, be sure to check out Bass River State Recreation Area. Located in Allendale Charter Township and Robinson Township (between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids), this beautiful 1,665-acre recreation area is a mix of open meadows, brush land, mature hardwoods, small ponds and 300-acre Max Lake; plus it has almost 3 miles of frontage on the Grand River. Pack a lunch and hike, bike, paddle, or ride surrounded by nature. Michigan Recreation Passport required.

The Holland Oz Project is located by Herrick District Library.

Bring the kids to see the Wizard for this wheelchair accessible activity
The Holland Oz Project, 12th Street and River Avenue, Holland
Visit life-size statues of Dorothy and Toto, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, a Munchkin, a 12½-foot Fighting Tree complete with a Flying Monkey, and, of course, the Wicked Witch of the West. Then follow the yellow brick road across the street to view a 12-by-10-foot living book, filled with 6,000 plants, depicting the cover of the famous novel. L. Frank Baum is purported to have written parts of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz while staying at his family’s cottage, The Sign of the Goose, in Macatawa, just miles from downtown Holland. (Free)

Catch a sunrise and catch a fish
Charter boat options in Grand Haven and Holland
While Ottawa County may be most well-known for stunning sunsets over Lake Michigan, watching the sunrise from a charter fishing boat is nothing short of spectacular. Early morning is one of the most peaceful times on the lake; and when the reds, yellows, and oranges of dawn’s first light color the sky, the sight is truly breathtaking. Couple that with the anticipation of “catching the big one,” and you create a memory for a lifetime. 

Grand Ravines Dog Park is located in Jenison.
Take a walk with your dog 
Grand Ravines Dog Park, 3991 Fillmore St., Jenison. Park Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. March 1 through Oct. 15; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 16 through Feb. 28
There is little better than enjoying nature while walking your dog, and Grand Ravines Dog Park is the perfect spot to do just that. This 21-acre park is amazing for all breeds. It has areas for both large and small dogs, as well as fenced-in walking trails where you can walk your dog off-leash. There are even indoor showers for your dog.

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

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 sallyjlaukitis@gmail.com 

Read more articles by Sally Laukitis.