Spring is in the air, and before the fireball of summer takes over; we could not think of a better to enjoy the weather than visiting the famous Tulip Fest in Holland, Michigan. The Dutch town hosts travelers from around the world as they celebrate the tulip bloom. Mrs. CurryOnTravel and I could not pass up the opportunity to enjoy the small town, admire the tulips, and climb a windmill.
What to do there
In early May, when the weather is just right, the town of Holland hosts a Tulip Festival. The entire town, from sidewalks to backyards, is covered with Tulips. The citizens of the town really get into the spirit, from the Tulip Times Parade to the Concerts in the Park.
The three-hour drive from Chicago was worth it as we traveled through Illinois and Indiana to get to Michigan. The Tulip Times Parade runs couple of times on weekdays, and we made it just in time! It was great to see most of the town participating in the parade. The town takes pride in their Dutch heritage and it was evident as rows of kindergartners to high school students marched in authentic Dutch garb.
The downtown has many local shops that steep in Dutch culture. From decorations to souvenirs, you can spend hours strolling around downtown Holland, while brewery hopping (more on that later).
After the parade, we made our way to the Windmill Island Gardens. Close to the downtown, you get another slice of a garden in Holland, with rows and rows of different color tulips, and a grand windmill. There is an entry fee to enter the gardens, and set aside an hour to tour to the entire garden, and take a tour to the top of the windmill. The different tulip colors will transport you to another time and another place, as the sun shines on each bulb.
After the gardens, we traveled back 100 years to Netherlands by visiting Neli’s Dutch Village. The 40-acre farm was constructed as a village in late 50’s, and now the family-owned village is a must stop for any traveler that wants to experience Dutch culture. We learned the Klompen dance, watched a demo of wooden shoe carving, and had fun petting friendly farm animals.
Aside from tulips, Holland is also famous for its breweries and wineries. As you drive to Holland, you’ll see signs of wineries in Fennville and Hudsonville. Enjoy a local brew as you take a break from the sightseeing. Grab a “passport” from the Visitor Center so you can make your way around the breweries in the cities.
To learn more about the history of Holland, or to view the local art scene, check out the Holland Museum. If you’re not satisfied with tulips yet, then stop by the Veldheer Tulip Farm. What better souvenir then bringing home some bulbs to plant in the fall?
Hacking Tip: Drones are not allowed around town, but folks are more than welcome to take their cameras and selfie sticks. Get to the town early, if you’re in town for the day, to skip the crowds. Weekdays are better to visit than weekends, so you won’t have to fight the crowds while taking that perfect picture.
After a full day in Holland, as the sun was beginning to set, and the parades gave way to dinner shows, we began to head back to Chicago. Holland is a charming town, and memories of friendly folks and beautiful tulips will be with us for a long time.
How to get there
Holland, Michigan is conveniently located in the middle of several major cities. A three-hour drive from Chicago or Detroit; or a four-hour drive from Indianapolis. The city is only a 30-minute drive from Grand Rapids.
Where to stay
Day-trippers can visit the town earlier in the day, and get back to Chicago, Indiana, or Michigan with plenty of time to spare. Folks that are interested in staying the night can enjoy the hotels and room-sharing facilities; though it does book up fast during the Tulip Fest.
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