The Windmill Island Garden truly exemplifies the Dutch heritage surrounding Holland, Michigan. Its 36 acres are filled with seasonal tulip fields, dikes, and canals. The park is also home to the De Zwaan, the only authentic Dutch windmill still operating in the United States.
De Zwaan, which means “the swan,” was originally built in 1761 in Krommenie. Getting the windmill to Michigan was tricky. After World War II, many windmills were left damaged, prompting the Dutch government to implement a ban preventing the sale of mills abroad.
But the residents of Holland, Michigan, were keen to pay tribute to the city’s Dutch heritage. They wanted to create a public park with a genuine Dutch windmill as a landmark. They thus began negotiations with the Dutch government to buy a windmill. In the spring of 1965, De Zwaan finally arrived in Michigan, making it the last Dutch Windmill to leave the Netherlands.
Today, visitors in the Windmill Island Garden can tour inside the De Zwaan, where they’ll see it operating and learn the history of this magnificent windmill. A Dutch-certified miller is in charge of operating the mill, and visitors will have a chance to greet her.
In addition to the windmill, the park also offers other attractions like an antique street organ that previously played in the street of Amsterdam, a Little Netherlands village built by former settlers, a bridge, a greenhouse, and an antique Dutch carousel. Every year in May, the city celebrates Tulip Time, a two-week festival with Dutch dances in the street, art exhibitions, and thousands of tulips that carpet parks and the entire city.