Holland: Visit without a visa
Monday, March 02, 2009
If you want to catch a glimpse of Europe in just a weekend, Holland, Mich., is a must-see this spring. Just a three-hour drive from Chicago, this small town hosts a family-friendly Tulip Time Festival each year—a refreshing sight after a harsh winter. Tulip Time runs from May 2-9.
The highlight of the trip is seeing fields of brightly colored tulips at Veldheer’s Tulip Farm. More than five million tulips, spread over 30 acres of land, bloom against a backdrop of windmills. The colors alone, lined in neat rows, are a feast for the eyes. From deep purple to every shade of pink, there is much to admire. You can take a piece of Holland home by buying tulip bulbs at the farm. Admission to Veldheer’s Tulip Farm is $7, $4 for kids 3-13.
After the tulip farm, visit the Dutch Village Family Theme Park for cheese tasting, candle-making and attractions for all ages. Children can slide down a "klompen" (Dutch wooden shoe) while parents enjoy watching candles being carved by hand. The skilled craftswomen quickly dip the candle base repeatedly in different shades of hot wax and use a sharp knife to slice and dice the candle in a way that makes all the layers visible. Starting around $40, the candles are a pricey but beautiful memento to take home. For the avid collector, a wide variety of the famous blue and white Delft dishes and other serving ware are also available.
A small petting zoo, a ride on an antique carousel and a Dutch folk dance round out the trip. There is no charge to visit the stores, which are open year round. The other attractions, which open in the spring, have admission fees.
If a trip to Amsterdam is not on the cards, enjoy a miniature version with a weekend getaway in Michigan this spring.
• Holland Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
• Veldheer’s Tulip Farm
• Dutch Village Family Theme Park