Saturday, July 16, 2011

Inspiration in Holland and Saugatuck

After finding such great inspiration from our previous vacations in Colorado and North Carolina, Mom and I made gathering more of that inspiration one of our missions while on vacation in Michigan.

We make it a point to eat at locally owned restaurants and seek out locally owned boutiques and stores in the areas we visit. I love this for many reasons. One, we're supporting those local business owners whose very existence keeps life interesting. Two, we're witnessing and appreciating the area and its own character, which you can't get from larger chains and businesses. Three, when you purchase something made by a local artisan, you know you'll be one of the few people in the world -- if not the only one -- who owns that item. And for those of us with an interest in creative fields, it serves as inspiration for your own work.

And "inspiration" and "stealing" are two different things. I'm talking about the inspiration side of the equation.

Through some great recommendations, Mom and I heard that the Saugatuck area of Michigan is known for its arts and crafts scene, so we decided to end our trip with a stop there. (Bonus: it meant we were three hours closer to home.) When we researched hotels for our one-night stay, we weren't able to find much in our range in the actual town of Saugatuck, so we stayed in Holland, instead, which is a larger town and about 20 minutes from Saugatuck.

I'll admit, my outsider's idea of Holland wasn't overly enticing. It seemed as though everything I'd ever seen or heard about that town related to wooden shoes... and kitschy really isn't my thing.

I'm happy to say now, though, that I was wrong -- both Mom and I were impressed with Holland. Dutch history and tourist attractions may be one of the main things they advertise, but we found the town itself beautiful and the local shops top-notch. Downtown Holland (where we spent most of our time) even boasts snow-free sidewalks in the winter thanks to heated cobblestone walkways.

On our way out of town, we drove by the only operating Dutch windmill in the United States:
We spent our final morning strolling through Saugatuck, which didn't disappoint. Again, the local galleries and stores were great. An art fair was scheduled for the day we were there, but by this point I was feeling like a sponge that had soaked up its fill of inspiration-water... so we stuck to the town, grabbed lunch at a restaurant along the water's edge, then headed home.
Mom and I both came back from vacation feeling relaxed and energized, and we both have lots of great ideas for our own creative businesses. I'm looking forward to adding some new items to my Etsy shop in the coming months!

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