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Local Winter Activities That Are Fun For The Whole Family

Just because the weather is cold doesn't mean you can't have fun in West Michigan. Here are some activities to try with the family.

If you're already getting cabin fever this winter or simply need a break from binge-watching your favorite Netflix series, there is a lot to do around Western Michigan this winter. If you're looking for family-friendly activities, we have some recommendations for you. From holiday light shows to winter markets, there is no reason to spend the entire winter cooped up. This season is one of the most enjoyable and beautiful times of year, so we celebrate it in a big way.

You might just run into one of our real estate agents out at one of these local events:

  • Winterfest 2023 - Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    If you happen to be touring one of these spectacular Grand Haven homes for sale between January 26 and January 29, then we definitely recommend heading over to the Grand Haven Winterfest 2023. Enjoy all a Western Michigan winter has to offer at this special event where you can play 4-on-4 snow volleyball, race sleds, and roast marshmallows over a bonfire. There are plenty of activities for both kids and adults, plus craft beer and cider will be available! This is an annual event we look forward to every year.

  • Griff's IceHouse West - 4444 Holland Ave, Holland, MI 49424
    It's the perfect time of year to learn how to ice skate, and Griff's IceHouse West is the place to do it. The arena hosts a Learn To Skate USA program that is suited for kids age 3+ and adults. A six-week skating session is $99 and includes rental skates, and there are classes held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the winter. If you love to skate, having this great arena just down the road is a huge advantage, so we recommend checking out these Holland homes for sale.

  • Pigeon Creek - 12524 Stanton St, West Olive, MI 49460
    There is lots to do at Pigeon Creek Park this winter. This 444-acre park is one of the area's top cross-country skiing and sled riding destinations, and a nice place to get some fresh air and take-in the scenery. You'll find plenty of groomed trails and sledding hills, and you can even warm-up at the park lodge. It's open daily as long as the park has enough snow. There is no admission fee, and skis and snowshoes can be rented onsite.

  • Holland Winter Market - 150 W 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    At the Holland Winter Market, you can shop for locally-made fresh produce, baked goods, desserts, juices, and much more. This indoor market is held at the Holland Civic Center Place the first and third Saturdays of each month until April from 9 am to 1 pm. Over 25 vendors participate throughout the season. It's a great place to find some gifts or even to do your grocery shopping.

These local activities are sure to keep you busy all winter long. Looking for more things to do around Western Michigan? Contact us today.


Practice Your Photo Skills With These West Michigan Scenic Spots

West Michigan is a photographer's paradise. Here's where you can snap stunning pictures.

Photography is one of our favorite art forms, and it's especially fun when you live in a beautiful place like West Michigan. When you're surrounded by tulips, shorelines, lighthouses, and windmills, you won't have trouble finding beautiful subjects for your photo shoots.

Great photography takes a good eye and a lot of practice. Our real estate agents have been dabbling in photography lately and are always on the lookout for new beautiful landscapes to hone their skills. Here are some of our favorite places to snap amazing pictures in West Michigan:

  • Windmill Island Gardens - 1 Lincoln Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    Windmills are not only a sign of Dutch heritage, but they also make for beautiful photo opportunities. You can snap some great windmill pics at Windmill Island Gardens. The main attraction here is the historic 'de Zwann' windmill, but there are also dozens of acres of parks and exhibits where you can also take pictures. Among the other attractions are an annual themed garden during the summer and 150,000 blooming tulips in the spring. While you're in town, be sure to check out these Holland homes for sale, which are just down the road from the park.

  • Riverview Park - Central Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    You'll find ample photo opportunities at Riverview Park in Holland. Also known as "Window on the Waterfront," this park has boardwalks, open space, and viewing decks that offer amazing views of the Macatawa River. Not to mention the park is home to more than 100,000 blooming tulips every spring. With so much natural beauty, it's easy to snap a few shareable pictures.

  • Saugatuck Dunes State Park - 38th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    Capture gorgeous photos of the sandy dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Saugatuck Dunes State Park. The park consists of over 100 acres with 13 miles of trails that weave in and out of beach, dune, and forest landscapes while providing amazing coastal views. The park is even home to three endangered plant species.

  • Lighthouse Connector Park - Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Also known as "The Boardwalk," Lighthouse Connector Park is a 1.5-mile recreational area extending from the Chinook Pier to the South Pier. It features a trail, beach access, and an upfront look at the amazing Grand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light. It's nice to have a beach in your own backyard, and these Grand Haven homes for sale offer just that.

  • Grand Haven State Park - 1001 S Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Snap some awesome beach photos at Grand Haven State Park — a 48-acre park consisting of sandy beaches, dunes, and two lighthouses. It's also one of the best local places to take beautiful pictures of the sunset. If you want to make a weekend out of it, the park has fantastic campgrounds and lodging.

  • The Grand Haven Musical Fountain - 1 N Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    See an amazing orchestration of lights, water, and music at the Grand Haven Musical Fountain. This theatrical fountain puts on a free 25-30 minute show every evening all summer long. Enjoy some great musical hits while practicing your photography skills. With a variety of shows, it's always worth stopping back and seeing something new.

Living in a beautiful place can do wonders for your mental health and energy, which is why we love calling West Michigan home. Contact us today to explore local listings.


The Best Tips For First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a home for the first time can require quite the learning curve. Here are some tips to help you hit the ground running.

The state of the real estate market over the last two years has created numerous challenges for first-time homebuyers. With rising home prices, low inventory, and now rising interest rates shoppers are facing unprecedented challenges. 

Our real estate agents believe navigating the complexities of the current market is not impossible; however, to be successful, you need to start planning ahead of time. With some preparation, patience, and a good real estate agent, you can still easily land the home of your dreams. Here are our best tips for first-time homebuyers:

  1. Save, Save, And Save
    First-time homebuyers are often caught off guard by the various expenses associated with closing on a home. The first and most important is the down payment. Depending on your type of home loan, you may be required to put down anywhere from 3.5% to 20%. The more you put down, the more home equity you'll earn and the lower your monthly payments. 

    Buyers are also on the hook for closing costs, including various mortgage fees and tile fees and usually add up to another 3% to 6% of the purchase price. You may also be required to pre-pay insurance premiums, interest, or property taxes.

    Don't forget to also save for unexpected home maintenance costs. 

    Bottom line — you're going to need to start saving as early as you can.

  2. Check Your Credit
    Your credit score plays a huge role in your ability to secure a mortgage, and it also influences the mortgage rate you're eligible to receive. You can request your credit score from one of the three large Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian, or there are various apps and services that provide free credit scores. You want to make sure your credit score is in good shape before starting house hunting.

  3. Get Preapproved
    A preapproval letter from a lender signals to sellers that you're serious about home shopping and your lender has done a high-level assessment has been done on your financial situation. Preapprovals often require you to provide W2s, paystubs, and bank statements. Your lender will also look at your credit report. If everything checks out, they'll issue a letter stating you'll be pre-approved up to a certain amount. Once you obtain your letter, you can then begin touring some of these amazing Grand Haven homes for sale.

  4. Define Your Location
    Location is always one of the very most important factors to consider. Make sure to pay attention to the neighborhood. What are the average home prices? Is it walkable? How is the school district? Remember that the quality of your neighborhood and your location will be very important when it comes to resale value. If you're trying to find the right location, don't forget to check out some of these Hudsonville homes for sale.

  5. Don't Forget The Inspection Contingency
    As a first-time homebuyer, your home inspection contingency is an important protection. It gives you the ability to walk away from a deal or renegotiate without losing your earnest money if the home inspection uncovers something unfavorable.

    Remember, you can't possibly uncover every issue with a home during a quick tour. The home inspection gives you the opportunity to do a thorough visual examination of the property with a professional. While some buyers waive the home inspection contingency to sweeten the offer, this generally isn't recommended for first-time homebuyers.

Buying your first home can be a stressful process, but by doing your research and finding the right agent, the process can be a lot easier. Contact us today for more tips!


The Best Local Italian Restaurants

Looking for your new favorite restaurant? Here are the local Italian staples you have to visit.

Few meals are more satisfying than a warm bowl of pasta topped with your favorite sauce and paired with a nice glass of wine, especially when celebrating a special event with your family. When we heard National Meatball Day was on March 6th, we thought it'd be a great excuse to head out to our favorite local Italian eatery and indulge in our favorite pasta or pizza.

Italian cuisine has always been a favorite of our real estate agents, so it wasn't too difficult for us to compile a list of our favorite Italian restaurants around Western Michigan. Here are six of our favorite restaurants:

  • Porto Bello - 41 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Located in the historic Piano Factory building, Porto Bello is a laid-back Italian restaurant just down the street from these Grand Haven homes for sale. Choose from all your favorite pasta dishes or share a delicious specialty pizza. Don't forget to finish your meal with a piece of Italian Lemon Cake or Tiramisu. Looking for a place to host a special event? Porto Bello also caters meals at the beautiful Harbourfront Grand Hall which is adjacent to the restaurant.

  • Noto's At The Bil-Mar - 1223 S Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    This upbeat, modern Italian restaurant on the lakeshore offers a variety of shared Italian plates, pizzas, salads, and an eclectic wine list, to mention great views of sunsets over Lake Michigan from the dining room. The combination of great food, spectacular views, and a fun atmosphere makes Noto's At The Bil-Mar the perfect date night location.

  • Two Tonys - 723 E Savidge St Suite E, Spring Lake, MI 49456
    Enjoy authentic Italian cuisine in an old-world atmosphere at Two Tonys Kitchen and Wine Bar. Start off your meal with Two Tonys Meatballs, which are topped with fresh marinara and fresh mozzarella cheese. For dinner, choose your favorite pasta, risotto, or Italian entree and finish your meal with some sweet, savory cannoli. The casual vibe and great food at Two Tonys make it a local favorite.

  • Stomboli's Express - 6210 96th Ave, Zeeland, MI 49464
    If you're craving a gourmet pizza, handmade Stromboli, or some tasty subs, we recommend stopping by Stromboli's Express. This carry-out only dining establishment is known to have some of the best pizza in town. It's always fun to pick up a pizza at Stromboli's and take it to a nearby park for a picnic in the summertime.

  • Scooters Cafe & Pizzeria - 322 Culver St, Saugatuck, MI 49453
    Scooters Cafe & Pizzeria
    is known for its big bright dining room and delicious pizza and pasta. Choose from a wide selection of specialty pizzas or try the classic Spaghetti with Meatballs. If you still have room, Scooters S'mores Pizza is the highlight of the dessert menu.

  • Licari's Sicilian Pizza Kitchen - 3627 Baldwin St, Hudsonville, MI 49426
    Home of MLive's 2016 Best Pizza award, Licari's Sicilian Pizza Kitchen's pizzas feature homemade dough and a secret homemade sauce that can't be beaten. While they're known for pizza, they also offer pasta entrees, sandwiches, salads, and more. There is also a great wine selection, cocktails, and happy hour specials. Best of all, you'll find some spectacular Hudsonville homes for sale just down the street.

The quality, variety, and taste of our local Italian restaurants are what make them special. For more information on the wonderful local businesses around Western Michigan, contact us today.


Find Delicious Sweet Gifts In Grand Haven This Valentine's Day

Grand Haven shops have the perfect gifts for this Valentine's Day. Here's where you can find the best chocolate and candy.

Regardless of your relationship status, Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to show love for those you care about the most. There's no better way to do so than with a sweet gift.

If you're looking to get out and do some last-minute Valentine's Day shopping, finding the right gift is easy in Grand Haven. We have so many wonderful local businesses serving up delicious chocolate, candy, baked goods, and more. Here are seven recommendations from our real estate agents:

  • Sweet Haven - 411 Phoenix Street, South Haven Michigan 49090
    The ultimate candy shop — Sweet Haven offers both old school candy, new candy, and a great selection of chocolates, fudge, and caramels. For Valentine's Day, you can customize your own gift box, so you can give your special someone exactly what they like. If you love this candy store, you might consider checking out some nearby Grand Haven homes for sale.

  • Grand Finale - 225 Franklin Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Delicious desserts, amazing pastries, and gourmet baked goods can all be found at Grand Finale, a spectacular local treat shop with tons of sweet options that make for great Valentine's Day gifts. Grab a delicious cake or some amazing cupcakes, so you can top off your romantic Valentine's Day dinner with a tasty dessert.

  • Betty Jane's Sweets - 518 Pine St, Spring Lake, MI 49456
    This family-owned and operated business has become a Grand Haven staple. At Betty Jane's Sweets, you'll find all the chocolate, candy, and popcorn you need. The Chocolate Covered Oreos and the Coconut Clusters are both highly recommended. Specialty gift boxes and baskets are available for Valentine's Day.

  • Ryke's - 623 A Way, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    One of the best dessert destinations in all of West Michigan, Ryke's offers a wide selection of sweet baked goods including cupcakes, cakes, and cookies. Your mouth will start watering as soon as you walk in the door. They're accepting custom orders for Valentine's Day, so make sure to get yours in!

  • Blueberry Haven - 213 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    If your special person loves blueberries, a gift box from Blueberry Haven could make for a great gift. Start off Valentine's Day morning with the ultimate Blueberry Breakfast Box — pancake mix, fresh blueberries, blueberry syrup, blueberry butter, blueberry topping, and blueberry coffee. Or try one of the famous blueberry jams.

  • Patricia's Chocolate - 126 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Premier ganache and caramel chocolates and extraordinary specialty confections can be found at Patricia's Chocolate, located in downtown Grand Haven. A custom chocolate package makes for a great gift. Choose from 4 to 18 pieces of handcrafted chocolate. Stop by the store or submit your order online.

  • Kilwins - 101 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    For a great selection of chocolate, fudge, and ice cream, make a visit to Kilwins as part of your Valentine's Day. If you're in need of a great gift, Kilwins has traditional heart-shaped boxes of assorted truffles in all different sizes. Their caramel apples are also a must-try! Stop in or order pick-up or delivery online.

Finding the perfect Valentine's Day gift isn't always easy, but you can never go wrong with something sweet. Shopping local is the best way to find a great gift while supporting local businesses. Contact us today for more information on Grand Haven.


Visit West Michigan With These Sights

Feeling like planning a trip? Look no further than these scenic West Michigan Destinations

The stunning beauty and culture of West Michigan makes it a popular destination for travelers all over the world. From its beautiful forests to its miles of beaches along Lake Michigan, it's truly one of the best places for outdoor activities. Our area is also filled with rich history, fine dining, and diverse culture. 

With so much to do, our real estate agents enjoy providing visitors with great recommendations for things to check-out while they're in the area. If you're planning a visit to West Michigan, make sure these five things are on your list:

  • Holland State Park - 2215 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424
    This 142 acre West Michigan state park is actually one of Michigan's most popular. Holland State Park sits between Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa, making it an ideal spot for swimming, sailing, kayaking, hiking, or simply relaxing on the park's sandy beaches. While you're there, make sure to get a picture of the famous "Big Red" lighthouse. If you enjoy your time at the park, there are some spectacular Holland homes for sale just down the road.

  • The Felt Mansion - 6597 138th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    One of the most beautiful, historic homes in all of Michigan is found in Laketown Township. This 12,000+ square foot mansion has over 25 rooms across three floors. Built in 1925 by the Dorr Felt, The Felt Mansion has been a staple of West Michigan history for decades. Today, the mansion offers tours, hosts fun events, and is even a popular wedding venue.

  • Tanglewood Winery - 15811 Riley St, Holland, MI 49424
    Some of the finest, tastiest West Michigan wines can be enjoyed at the Tanglewood Winery in Holland. Stop by to enjoy a variety of farm-to-table fruit wines in a relaxing tasting room. If you love their products, you can even join Tanglewood's Wine Club which provides access to exclusively produced small batch wines. Tanglewood is a great local spot for a romantic date or to hang out with friends.

  • Nelis' Dutch Village - 12350 James St, Holland, MI 49424
    Take a step into Dutch History at Nelis' Dutch Village. This one-of-a-kind amusement park resembles an old Dutch village and celebrates the Netherlands' history. You'll find unique shops such a wooden shoe factory and a cheese making shop. There are also outdoor rides and tons of events for the kids. A trip to the Nelis' Dutch Village makes for a fun and educational weekend event.

  • Veldheer Tulip Gardens - 12755 Quincy St, Holland, MI 49424
    After you're done exploring Dutch history, top off the day with a visit to the beautiful Veldheer Tulip Gardens. With over 5 million tulips, it's one of the most beautiful attractions around. It's the perfect place to shop for beautiful perennials, or to simply take a walk around and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The most popular time to visit is late April through Mid-May; however, they also have a ten-acre perennial garden on display from June 1 through Mid-October. The garden features thousands of flowers set amongst traditional Dutch scenery such as windmills and canals.

West Michigan's beautiful scenery, Dutch influence, and rich history make it one of the most livable places in the mid-west. For more information on local activities, contact us today.

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