Step on the old-time scale to see if you’re a witch … walk in wooden shoes … feed a goat … see how cheese is made. There is so much to do at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, Michigan, our three-generation family spent almost a full day there.
When we found deeply discounted Groupons for Dutch Village last spring, I bought enough to treat our kids and grandkids. We had been to Dutch Village when our girls were young and thought our grandkids would enjoy it, too. It turns out Dutch Village offers much more than I remember, from cookie making for the kids to wine tasting for the adults.
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Throughout the Dutch Village you learn the culture and history of the Netherlands. Check the schedule of events that you get with the park map and plan accordingly. Watch demonstrations in cheese making, Dutch Delftware making, and wooden shoe carving.
Are you a witch? Try your innocence by stepping on a scale in the 17th century weighhouse. In the days when they tried people for witchcraft, the accused stepped onto a scale that’s usually used to weigh commodities. It was said that witches had hollow bones, so if you didn’t weigh a certain amount, you were accused of being a witch. At Dutch village, non-witches receive a certificate. (Apparently everyone gets a certificate these days, even if you weigh below the minimum for a non-witch.)
Relieved at being a completely mortal family, we sat and listened to the street organ concert. Much larger than a typical street organ, De Gouden Engel (Golden Angel) was built in Belgium in1908 as a dance hall organ.
Hands-on or feet-on fun
Later we enjoyed the Dutch dance performance They say the wooden shoes aren’t so uncomfortable—as long as you wear seven to nine pairs of socks with them. In August? No, thanks. After the dance, the klompers invited everyone to join them to learn a dance.
Throughout the park, find fun mini-activities, like carrying a water pail yoke over the shoulders or two of you coordinating your walk in wooden shoes (available in both child sizes and adult sizes).
In the cookie shop, the kids each made their own cookie.
Who doesn’t love to ring an old-fashioned school bell? Inside the one-room schoolhouse, I explained to the kids the hole at the top corner of the desk. (Yes, I had a desk with an inkwell, but refillable ink pens were no longer used when I went to school. I’m not that old!)
The kids got a kick out of the Hardewyk Chapel. Originally a wayside chapel for vacationers and maintained by the Hardewyk Church in Holland, the church donated the chapel to Dutch Village.
Hanging out in the petting zoo
The petting zoo turned out to be a family favorite. It was hard to pull the kids away from feeding the sheep and goats, and walking goats on a leash. Just as we started to leave the area, they discovered they could go into the chicken coop and pick up the chickens.
Rides and a playground
The handful of rides were a hit with the kids. Rides include a carousel and a Dutch swing ride. Petal Pumper cars for young children were originally at KiddieLand near Chicago. Harry’s Windmill Ride is a combination of an old Ferris wheel and a windmill reproduction.
Who can resist photo ops like these?
While one daughter stayed with the kids at the rides, the rest of us adults went for the wine and cheese tasting.
Food and Shopping
Besides wine, there are plenty of beverages and food options at Nelis’ Dutch Village. We ate lunch at the Hungry Dutchman. I enjoyed a turkey wrap in a spinach tortilla with sweet onion dressing. Other options are authentic Dutch dishes like Saucijzebrodjes (try to pronounce that one!)—pork sausage baked in pastry dough. Or try the erwtensoep, pea soup for which they’re known.
For those who like to shop, Dutch Village offers lots of options. Foods like bakery goods, cheese and Dutch licorice are popular. There are also plenty of shops selling everything from inexpensive souvenirs to hand-painted Delftware. And of course, wooden shoes.
If you visit Nelis’ Dutch Village
Nelis’ Dutch Village is located at 12350 James Street in Holland, Michigan. Hours vary by season. Check the website for calendar and admission rates.
Disclosure: This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a room via the accommodations link above, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.
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