Holland, Michigan is a smallish town in Northern, Michigan. Every year, during May, the city boasts over a hundred thousand tulips that bloom around the city, different parks, and the historic windmill. It’s a signature of Old Holland, where early settlers made the journey a long time ago.
I wanted to go up for the tulip festival, but opted instead, because of scheduling, to go the week before (on a Friday). We only saw 1/3 of the tulips in bloom, and missed a lot of the festivities. But what we did miss was the some 10,000 people that come through the park grounds on any given day during the festival week, so it’s a toss up.
It seemed like the main place to go to see tulips is Windmill Island Gardens. I had Siri take us there, but of course, just like me, my Siri likes to get lost. Someone else with excellent directional skills got us there the old fashioned way.
Windmill Island is a small park, with a working historical windmill. It costs $9 dollars to enter ( $5 for kids). With the entry fee you get to tour the mill, with guide, for free. Plus, there is the tiny dutch houses you can wander through, an old post office reproduction, a gift shop, and a field of tulips to walk around. I recommend the tour of the windmill if you love random interesting facts about mills (who doesn’t?). Plus the guides were exceptionally nice, passionate and knowledgeable about their mill.
Tourists interested in flowers, dutch traditions, and a small sampling of history would most likely be thrilled by this place. Everyone else may find it a quick trip and not worth their nine bucks. Kids would love it, especially the carousel, for an hour or so. But don’t expect to spend all day with them being entertained. Pre-teens and older would probably be bored, so best send them to the beach instead. There is a small hot dog cafe inside the building with the gift shop, should you want a light lunch.
We did see about 1/3, maybe more of the tulips either in bloom or about to bloom. We knew how many to expect because of the handy Tulip Tracker the city posts on line. There were a lot of other flowers as well. It was beautiful, so the place in full bloom must be phenomenal. But be warned: if you go early, there are some ugly mesh fences around most of the flowers to keep you from trampling them before their big debut. It spoils the ambiance a wee bit.
There is a big old organ towards the front that chimes EXTREMELY loud every 1/2 hour. Kids love it, but I imagine the workers would hate it (if they weren’t all so darned nice.)
The gift shop was definitely fun. You could find a variety of dutch items hard to find in smaller cities.
Once you are done with the park (after an hour or two), head to downtown Holland to see more flowers and some great restaurants. We chose The Curragh for some Irish pub food (so very Dutch, *ahem*). It was excellent, by the way.
Then finish of the day with touring the Lake Michigan shore, such as the local lighthouse or tunnel park. Both are great!