Nelis’ Dutch Village: Family Fun in Holland, Michigan

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.

Nelis' Dutch Village entrance

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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Scheduled demonstrations

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.

Dutch Village heese making demonstration

Dutch Village Delftware demonstration

Dutch village wooden shoe carving

Wooden shoes for sale at Nelis' Dutch Village

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.)

Accused of witchcraft

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.

Street 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.

Klompen dancers at Dutch Village

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).

Carrying the water at Dutch Village

Fun at Dutch Village

In the cookie shop, the kids each made their own cookie.

Cookie making at Dutch Village

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!)

Ringing the school bell

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.

Hardewyk Chapel

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.

Feeding the goats in the petting zoo

Petting zoo at Dutch Village

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.

Dutch swing ride 2

Petal Pump Cars at Dutch Village

Photo ops

Who can resist photo ops like these?

Photo op in the tulips

Photo op at Dutch Village

Wine Tasting

While one daughter stayed with the kids at the rides, the rest of us adults went for the wine and cheese tasting.

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.

Accommodations

Find the best hotel deal, compare prices, and check reviews here.

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Nelis' Dutch Village

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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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10 thoughts on “Nelis’ Dutch Village: Family Fun in Holland, Michigan

  • August 17, 2017 at 7:07 am
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    This looks like a place to put on my list of family to-do mini-trips.

    PS – I look forward to reading your postings. This is a great idea for a website.

    Reply
    • August 17, 2017 at 7:32 am
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      Dutch Village was definitely a fun time!

      Reply
  • August 17, 2017 at 7:19 pm
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    What a great article & cool photos! I enjoyed both very much <3!

    Reply
  • September 5, 2017 at 11:14 am
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    I LOVE all the hands-n activities for children at this attraction! Neat Find Midwest Wanderer

    Reply
    • September 5, 2017 at 11:20 am
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      There really is a lot for kids—and adults—to do at the Dutch Village.

      Reply
  • September 7, 2017 at 11:47 am
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    We were just in Holland this past weekend and thought about stopping by but I wasn’t sure how much my kids would be into it. Good to see that there’s lots for kids to do ! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • September 7, 2017 at 11:55 am
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      I wondered the same because we took our kids there when they were young and don’t remember nearly as much as they have now, including the rides. I was pleasantly surprised to see how Dutch Village has evolved over two decades.

      Reply
  • September 8, 2017 at 6:37 pm
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    This sounds like such a fun day out! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • September 8, 2017 at 8:17 pm
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      We had a great time!

      Reply

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