After exploring the Indiana Dunes National Park, we continued driving north up along Lake Michigan until we came to the charming city of Holland. Holland Michigan was founded by Dutch immigrants and continues to be home of one of the largest populations of people with Dutch heritage here in the states. While the city itself is lovely, most people who come to Holland have one place in mind to visit- Windmill Island Gardens.
Windmill Island Gardens offers visitors a look into the Dutch culture that they are so proud to be part of. Especially in the spring when they showcase their beautiful tulips everywhere, this is a very popular place to come. We bought our tickets at the small hut next to the parking lot before entering. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children aged 3-15. These gardens are dog friendly too so long as they are on a leash.
Upon entering the gardens the first place you come to is the old post house surrounded by flowers and adorned with green and white shutters. This is the main area of the gardens and has a movie that gives the history of the Dutch community coming here to Michigan and how they are working on maintaining that heritage. They also have a working post office inside so you can send postcards home from Holland.
With a canal running through the center of the gardens they have recreated a bridge from the Netherlands that goes across the water.
We began our visit with a tour of the De Zwaan windmill. This 250 year old windmill was the last windmill to leave The Netherlands before they were all designated national landmarks. It is a working windmill that is still used to grind grain into flour.
The windmill stands at 125 feet. Wooden stairs take visitors up to the five floors of the windmill as they learn the different parts of how the windmill works. People in period dress provide information with demonstrations and information about the beautiful windmill.
We walk back along the canal where we noticed a line of bird house hotels that were all big enough to house at least 20 birds. Tulip chairs were set out as a fun gathering place for people. And tall trees were being carved into decorative tulips.
At the other end of the canal we found an Archimedes Screw that could be used to pull up the water from below as it came up the spiral shaft. It hard to say who enjoy this more between the adults and the child.
The gardens have a recreated Dutch street with a miniature windmill in place of a street sign. The small group of houses are colorful and interesting and give a small glimpse into the Dutch heritage.
The first of these homes has on display an intricately created small scale Dutch village. Every aspect has been painstakingly constructed and painted giving a wonderful overview of this imagined village.
In the next home is a large store that is filled to the brim with Dutch items. Need some wooden clogs, delftware, or treats to eat- they got you covered. They have a large collection of the beautiful Delftware that is so famous in the Netherlands. They also have rows on rows of wooden clogs in every size. They also serve a range of Dutch food items.
Along the street they have an old Dutch mailbox set up for visitors to mail their postcards from after they have gotten them stamped at the post house. The postal service stops here daily to pick up any outgoing mail.
These gardens are not large, but really a charming glimpse into a people who still carry a love of their homeland here by the Great Lakes of the states and it is easy to see why it is such a popular place to visit.
If you have enjoyed this heritage rich place, then you may also be interested in these places:
Thanks for coming along on this walk through the Windmill Island Gardens. May there always be wind in your sails and clogs on your feet.