A WEEKEND OF BEAUTY
For our girls trip this year we decided to keep the flower theme going! Last year we went to Newport, RI for their annual flower show. It was spectacular. You can read about that trip here! This year we wanted to stick a little closer to the Midwest. Once I researched the Holland Tulip Festival in Michigan and saw that in May there are millions of tulips in bloom I knew this was our next destination.
I couldn’t even imagine a million tic tacs much less a million tulips!
Two weeks a year is peak tulip viewing in Holland, MI. A general rule of thumb is to plan a visit in mid May and you should be ok! Click here for the Holland, MI tulip tracker and tulip planting information.
Holland, MI was settled in the mid 1800’s by Dutch immigrants who left the Netherlands for religious freedom and more say over their education. These problems were exacerbated by failed crops and poverty leading them to immigrate to the United States. Holland, MI has retained its deep Dutch Heritage since its founding and has integrated many cultural events and traditions.
One of the special Netherland inspired events is the famous Tulip Festival they have proudly hosted every year since 1926.
Day 1: We left on a Thursday morning with a 6 hour drive ahead of us. We love an easy road trip with plenty of time to stop along the way. With that said, we didn’t want to take too long getting into town because we rented the cutest house in Holland. Check out our weekend escape here! Adorable right? The host was perfect, the house is located in a quiet spot, and was walking distance to the water! It was also decorated so cute with several lounge areas, tables and porches.
This house was actually the ‘favorite thing’ of the trip for 2 in our party!
After settling in it was time for dinner. Reservations were made at Salt and Pepper Grill and Pub. I would describe this restaurant as upscale pub fare and décor. We loved the Cheddar Ale Chowder and their savory hot steamy bread rolls. We talked about that bread for days! After dinner we went back to our rental and enjoyed the indoor porch after a walk around the subdivision that lead us to a small dock and a beautiful sunset.
The town goes all out for two weeks each spring during peak tulip blooming with Dutch dancing demonstrations, historic city walks, parades, and more. Here is a link to this years tulip time calendar if you want additional information as to what is available in town for the festival. We made our own schedule for the weekend but these are great ideas and some of them are ticketed so make sure to purchase those early because they sell out months in advance.
Day 2: We started our morning at the Windmill Island Gardens where they have plenty of pretty tulips to admire and the renowned “De Zwaan” or Swan Windmill. This famous windmill was purchased by the United States and brought over from the Netherlands in 1964 in 7,000 pieces. It stands 125 feet and overlooks acres of gardens and bridges with views all around. We toured the windmill, climbed its three short floors, and looked out from its observation deck. We loved its unique design.
What could be more charming in a Dutch Garden than an authentic windmill?
They have beds of tulips and gorgeous gardens that we stopped to admire. They also have a fun gift shop! Here we bought delft ornaments, postcards, tried on the famous wooden shoes and ate Dutch treats. This garden was a perfect place to enjoy Tulip Time. It costs $12 for adults and had free parking. The children’s carousel was beautiful and we were blown away that the horse tails were real!
At noon we had a pasta making class at the Galleria. Here we joined Chef Ratti to make fresh pasta by hand. One person in our group was invited to the kitchen to make our sauce and be an assistant chef. It was so fun learning a new technique and eating fresh Italian food. Chef Ratti made our experience educational, fun, and memorable. Even when we made mistakes he offered easy corrections and put us at ease. Stop here for a meal at the bistro if you don’t want to take a class.
Chef Ratti is talented and creates a dynamic class and menu for his restaurant!
After our cooking class we headed back to our rental for some rest and leisure. We made dinner at the house tonight and decided to take a drive to Captain Sunday for an Ice-cream dessert. This multi location ice-cream shop came highly recommended. Of course we had to see what the hype was about. It was ok but it’s always a good day whenever you can enjoy some ice-cream. They also have food offerings here.
Day 3. The crown jewel of the locations in Holland, MI to see tulips was definitely Veldheer Tulip Gardens. This garden in particular has over 5 million tulips in bloom with hundreds of varieties. Did you skip over the fact that I wrote over 5 million tulips? It was the most spectacularly beautiful experience.
We were blown away over and over again with the variety, colors, styles and shapes.
Tickets are $15 a person and a must see! You are even able to order tulips in packs of 10 after you enjoy the gardens and they ship them too you in the fall. We ordered 5 different styles and it was hard to choose! We are already looking forward to our tulip bulbs coming in the mail in a few months and remembering our trip. Don’t miss out on this place!
Hungry, we pried ourselves away from the tulips and headed 30 minutes out of town for the chance to eat at Cranes Pie Pantry Restaurant & Winery. We each had delicious food and they delighted that they had a bakery full of pies, breads, jams, candy and more! This is a must stop for a memorable lunch. After our meal we headed to our rental house happy and tired.
After some rest we knew we needed to end our Holland, Michigan trip with a big bang!
With a few bites of pie to tide us over in the early evening we boarded the Holland Princess Riverboat for their 8:30pm Dinner and Fireworks Cruise! The weather was perfect for this cruise so we sat on the top deck of the 65′ Victorian Style Paddle-Wheel River Boat. We had views of Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan and loved watching the sunset over the water. We enjoyed dinner, dessert, entertainment and a cash bar. There were multiple drink options and free lemonade and water. It costs $65 for adults and $35 for children. What a deal!
The cherry on top was watching the Holland, MI Tulip Time fireworks from the water surrounded by other boats and a starlit sky. Pure michigan magic.
Day 4: We left our rental around 8 am and headed back to our real lives. What a magical, beautiful, and memory making trip. I’ve always liked tulips but now I absolutely love them. There is something so special about traveling hours to see and experience the abundance of beauty and this town delivered in spades.
I tend to pick up a little something to remember my trips by. This gorgeous 18K gold plated White Opal Tulip pendent necklace was a must have for me. This unique design is absolutely stunning! I got myself one and purchased a few more for my Etsy shop. If you would like to grab one of these beautiful necklaces for yourself or give as a gift click here!
Have you been to Holland, Michigan for their Tulip Festival before? I would love to hear what you did!
Want a longer trip itinerary? Check out one my most popular travel posts to the Badlands, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons here!