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A Trip to Holland to See the Tulips

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

I love tulips. Every year I’ve lived in Michigan I’ve wanted to go to Holland during the Tulip Time Festival, but something has always come up. This year, I will make it to the festival. It starts next week, May 2 to 9.

I really want to see what six million tulips in bloom look like, planted in private fields, city parks and gardens all around town—and I don’t even have to buy a ticket to the Netherlands.

Given our recent weather, I wonder how many tulips will actually bloom during the festival week? I’ve been in Washington, D.C., for the Cherry Festival when not a bloom was in sight, and I’ve also been there when the petals were so full that they were showering passersby like a gentle white-and-pink snow. So I understand that timing is everything.

Even without the tulips, however, the festival has much to offer, as the whole town turns out to celebrate the city’s Dutch heritage. For example, I’ve been told the Dutch dancers doing the Klompen in their wooden shoes are not to be missed. Imagine 1,000 costumed locals performing traditional dances decked out in their regional best!

If dancing doesn’t appeal, you can try the Art & Craft Fair, the Quilt Show or the Carnival. And I want to make at least one of Tulip Time’s three parades — the Volksparade, Kinderparade and Muziekparade.

I think this is the time to return to the Wooden Shoe Restaurant, a 50-year-old Holland icon known for serving “hot food fast.” Their cinnamon rolls are the size of a small dinner plate and almost too much to eat, alongside one of their “as you like it” omelets. They also offer a Dutch delicacy, homemade Baulkenbrie, scraps of pork from the head of a pig and cooked in a broth flavored with herbs known as rommelkruid. I’m not sure I’ll order this, but if you do I may take a bite of yours!

With so much to do during Tulip Time, I’m going to start checking out lodging on the off-chance there is a room left in town. I imagine there isn’t a lot of choices left, given the hundred of thousands of visitors who will come to Holland during the festival. But if you go at any other time, Holland has a number of charming bed and breakfast lodging choices and a raft of comfortable chain hotels.

My favorite is still City Flats, a modern hotel with 56 unique and very serene rooms. The bed was to die for — a platform with a Michigan-made CityDrēm mattress.

I can also recommend their CityVū Bistro that has great views of downtown Holland. The food is outstanding; all locally sourced in keeping with the enviro chic sensibility of the hotel. I can recommend the New York style pizza; the SoHo was my favorite with olive oil, fresh rosemary, mozzarella and sea salt.

A stop at Coppercraft, an authentic local distillery with a great tasting room, is de rigueur. In 2012, two friends shared their passion to create premium small-batch spirits by hand, using local ingredients, and the result was Coppercraft. The tasting room offers handcrafted cocktails, mixed one at a time and featuring local ingredients.

Holland has a full range of restaurant choices, but I’m always drawn to places with a water view. The Piper, on Lake Macatawa, offers every diner a table with a view of the harbor. My husband ordered the Almond-Fried Walleye, while I ordered the tenderloin. Both came with Yukon gold mashed potatoes. We enjoyed a leisurely meal while joking about which boat we would like to own.

I hope to see you at Tulip Time or any other time in charming Holland, another great travel destination in Michigan.

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