Stroll around tulips and visit a real windmill

Tour an authentic windmill on Windmill Island in Holland, MI. Photos by Jodie Jacobs
Tour an authentic windmill on Windmill Island in Holland, MI. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

Less than three hours north of Chicago there is an authentic windmill that grinds out flour. Surrounded by gardens, small waterways and bridges, it is on Windmill Island and open spring, summer and fall. But a great time to visit is the second week in May when tulips are blooming across the island and its town, Holland, MI.

The whole town celebrates the blooms and its Dutch heritage with dances, art and craft fairs, parades and food during its famed, annual Tulip Festival.

In 2018, it is May 5-13 but don’t worry if you can’t make it or find accommodations during the festival. According to the Veldheer Tulip Farm and Gardens, a company that grows and ships bulbs globally, the tulips should peak the third week of May.

Masses of gorgeous tulips greet visitors in Holland, MI in May
Masses of gorgeous tulips greet visitors in Holland, MI in May

No matter when going, Windmill Island is a must see. The windmill really is from the Netherlands. Dismantled and put back together there, it is run by a licensed operator who grinds flour that can be purchased and used at home. The island also features, a Children’s Carousel, a street organ, a couple of delightful buildings with Dutch figures and gifts and there are good walking paths.

But also visit the downtown for its good food, beer and boutiques.  Stop in at Austrian Alpen Rose for breakfast, lunch or a coffee and pastry break.

Save time to see wooden shoes made and delftware painted on the outskirts of town at the DeKlomp Delftware and Wooden Shoe Factory on Quincy Street. Entry is free but you’ll want to take home well-made gifts for yourself, family and friends. BTW De Klomp is Dutch for wooden shoes.

Learn about Delftware and watch it being painted.
Learn about Delftware and watch it being painted.

Another place is Nelis’ Dutch Village that features dancing, shoes, Delftware and playground activities. Entry has a fee because it is an entertainment area.

Room availability is scarce during the Tulip Festival so make plans ahead of time, then go enjoy the Dutch culture of a Holland that is here in the States.

Jodie Jacobs


Spring equals Tulip Time

Anytime is a good time to visit Holland, Mich. but for glorious spring blooms go during Tulip Time

Third in spring blooms combined with a great destination series is Holland Michigan

It is Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan.

It is Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan
It is Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan

Anytime, is a good time to visit Holland, Mich. where an authentic Dutch windmill grinds stone ground flour, fine-crafted beer is on tap and visitors can see wooden shoes and Dutch-style pottery made from scratch.

However, the town is ready for its closeup the first two week of May. In 2011, its famed Tulip Time festival stretches from May 7 through May 14.

Gorgeous yellow and red tulips line the streets, and black, purple, crimson, white and pink tulips fill Windmill Island. Dutch dancing brings crowds to downtown parks and parades are almost every day. Come for a parade May 11 or May 12 but parade lovers will want to stay for the Grand Finale, May 14.

To avoid the crowds and more easily snag a hotel and restaurant reservation, go the first week in May because the tulips are already showing off their glorious blooms.

Where to stay

The Haworth Inn and Conference Center on the Hope College Campus fills fast because it is within walking distance of the historic downtown and TulipTime activities. Breakfast comes with the room and apples, coffee and tea are always out on a table.  Haworth Inn, 225 College Avenue Holland, Mich. 49423 (800-903-9142).

The Leed certified, contemporary styled CityFlats Hotel with its popular CityVu Bistro, is also downtown at 61 East 7th Street, Holland, Mich. 49423, (866-609-2489).

Holiday Inn Express, Best Western and Hampton Inn are east of downtown Holland near US Highway 31. Click Holland Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) for accommodation availability. The city’s CVB website also lists B&Bs, camp sites and other accommodation choices.

Tour Windmill Island
Tour Windmill Island

What to see

If interested in events check Tulip Time but don’t worry if they aren’t convenient. The town has many attractions including DeZwann, an authentic, brought-over from Holland windmill, on Windmill Island at7th Street and Lincoln Avenue, (888-535-5792). It has the only Dutch Mill Society’s certified miller outside of the Netherlands. Walk Windmill Island’s canals, gardens and shops.

Try to catch the Dutch Trade Fair, May 7-8. And browse shops on the town’s historic 8th Street, its main street.

Before leaving, be  sure to stop at the DeKlomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory east of downtown near the highway. You can watch shoes being carved and talk with artists working on the only authentic Delftware made in the US.

See artists make Delftware and wooden shoes
See artists make Delftware and wooden shoes

Where to eat

Even if staying at an inn that serves a free breakfast, go over to Alpenrose Restaurant at 4 E. 8th Street, (616.393.2111) to ooh at its European ambiance over breakfast or a mid afternoon break.

Stop at New Holland Brewing at 66 E. 8th Street, )616-355-6422) for good pizza, sandwiches and beer.

Now throw some clothes and the camera into the car and go.

(Photos by Jodie Jacobs)