Dutch Heritage in the US: Holland, Michigan
I am currently in the US visiting family and I stopped by Holland, Michigan, since I hadn’t been there in 20 years. It was founded by Dutch settlers in the mid 19th century and a large majority of Dutch Americans still live in Michigan. There is also a city called Zeeland nearby. Holland is often ranked as one of the happiest cities in the US and one of the best places to retire.
I did not go to Nelis’ Dutch Village this time (where I bought my klompen – wooden shoes – when I was 10) but I did go to Windmill Island to tour the last windmill that the Dutch government allowed to leave the Netherlands, called De Zwaan. Ninety percent of the windmills in the Netherlands were destroyed during WWII so the remaining windmills are protected by the government and cannot leave the country. De Zwaan is still a working windmill and you can buy the flour that is ground there in the shops.
Unfortunately it was too late to see the tulips, but there is a Tulip Time Festival in Holland every May (as well as a Dutch Winterfest every winter to celebrate the arrival of Sinterklaas). Windmill Island Gardens is still pretty cute without the tulips:
The tour of the windmill also includes a short Dutch folk dancing performance:
There are plenty of wooden shoes around:
And signs written in Dutch, of course:
Many of the street signs in Holland have a tulip on them as well:
Admission to Windmill Island is $7.50 and admission to Nelis’ Dutch Village theme park is $10 though you do not need to enter the park in order to visit the shops and cafes.