In 1964 Holland, Michigan, purchased from the Netherlands the best landmark a Dutch town could hope for: An authentic, working windmill built in 1761. The windmill remains the only authentic, operational Dutch windmill in the U.S. and will remain so into the future--the Dutch government has since outlawed such sales.
Visitors can tour De Zwaan and watch grain milled into flour by the nation's only female, Dutch-trained miller. But while the windmill is the centerpiece of Windmill Island Gardens it isn't the only site worth seeing. Thirty-six acres of canals, dikes, wetlands and gardens burst into color in spring. In summer and autumn the tulips are replaced with colorful annuals. Recreated Dutch shops sell authentic wooden shoes and Delftware as well as imported foods and lace. You can also purchase sacks of DeZwaan’s fresh-ground flour and watch Holland's Klompen dancers perform Dutch-inspired folk dances in costume.
The small Posthouse museum inside a replica 14th-century Dutch inn presents a video explaining life in the Netherlands, windmills and the 1960s relocation of De Zwaan. An authentic Dutch carousel with hand-carved characters is popular with kids.
While we found Windmill Island a great place to learn about Holland’s Dutch heritage, we found prices a bit steep: $7.50/adult and $4.50/child (although Holland residents enter free with proof of residency). The garden is open mid-April to early October; Tulip Time is in early May.