April 10, 2010

Holland, Michigan: Windmill Island Gardens; things to do

Windmill Island Gardens  1 Lincoln Ave., 616-355-1030. Daily April 30-Oct 1.

Situated on a small island in the eastern shallows of Holland's Lake Macatawa, this is the only authentic Dutch windmill in the United States. The 12-story tall, 248-year-old DeZwaan (The Swan) was brought over from the Netherlands in 1964 and is still used to grind grain into graham flour--bags of which make the perfect souvenir. (It is the last one brought to the U.S., because they are now national monuments in Holland and can’t be exported.) It runs silently on gears greased with bees wax, and its blades usually turn every day during Tulip Time.

The windmill is the centerpiece of the lovely island, which also includes the Posthouse Museum, a miniature Dutch village called "Little Netherlands," an 1895 Dutch carousel, and lush pastures where Frisian horses and cows graze. The park also has canals, a drawbridge, and a replica roadside inn, and it displays a 1928 Carl Frei street organ donated by the city of Amsterdam in 1947 to the city of Holland in gratitude for its role in liberating The Netherlands in World War II.

Even though the 150,000 tulips that bloom here in spring will be long gone, in summer Dutch klompen dancers dance in wooden shoes to traditional music and picnicking is choice.

More things to do in Holland, Michigan.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images c2010 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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