A flower-filled town on one of the Great Lakes allows you go Dutch without the jet lag.
Set just off the shores of Lake Michigan in the southwest corner of Wolverine State, Holland is a quaint, historic village—part quintessential American small-town, part displaced slice of Europe—surrounded by a landscape where old forests share space with rolling countryside dotted with vineyards, apple and cherry orchards and strawberry and blueberry fields. Originally inhabited by Ottawa Indians, the area’s early fortunes were built on timber and agriculture. Holland appears to have emerged from the sepia-toned images of a 19th-century scrapbook, little changed since Protestant separatists called Dutch Calvinists fleeing persecution in the Netherlands arrived in this bucolic spot in the mid-1800s. Not only did they build an impressive collection of now well-preserved northern European architecture, including the only authentic Dutch windmill in the United States, they brought with them something else to make this “city” of 36,500 feel like home: a love of tulips. The five-century Dutch obsession with the bulbs known for their bold satin blossoms is celebrated in Holland each May, when more than 500,000 visitors from 40 countries descend to see tulips sprouting from virtually every patch of soil.
If You Plan to Visit
The Tulip Time Festival, held in May, is one of the most prestigious horticultural and cultural festivals in the world. Not only does it put six million tulips on display for all to see, the annual event (now in its 85th year) features parades, fireworks, arts & crafts and Dutch food, music and dance. Downtown Holland, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a five-block stretch along 8th Street known for its shops, restaurants and May-through-December Farmers Market. Away from the city center, you’ll find Nature’s Market (1013 South Washington Ave.), a store and deli specializing in local organic and vegetarian food, and Nelis’ Dutch Market, a theme park with shops carrying imported Dutch products. There are range of activities for outdoor lovers, including beachcombing and swimming, hiking, mountain biking, camping, boating, sailing and fishing.
Learn more: Holland.org is the official website of the Holland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
In Wanderlust, Shannon Roxborough, Garden Variety’s founding editor-in-chief, introduces GV readers to gardens, arboretums, parkland and other destinations across the U.S and around the world that appeal to gardeners, outdoor lovers and natural foodies.
GV editor Shannon Roxborough, a veteran writer and journalist, has covered everything from renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and conservation-focused tourism to eco-friendly furniture, green fashion and organic wine. A former international consultant, newspaper columnist and magazine correspondent, he has written about destinations in all 50 states and more than 60 countries.
Photos courtesy of Lynn Pokora, Studio 220, Lake Michigan Towns, Audrey Henderson, Julie Henning, Kirk Stanley and Mahr Saleem.