Windmill Island Gardens

Have you ever seen those pictures on Instagram of thousands and thousands of tulips? If the pictures were from the United States it was most likely of Windmill Island Gardens and their annual Tulip Festival. Every May, during the festival, over a hundred thousand tulips bloom in every color and shape imaginable.

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Jess and I visited in late July (2018) so there were no tulips, but their annual flowers were in peak bloom. It was beautiful. I love Windmill Island Gardens because there is a little bit for everyone, flowers, history, windmill tours, miniature town, gift shop, greenhouse, outdoor checkers, playground, Amsterdam street organ, and a carousel. The admission fee is $10 per person, which I thought was very reasonable considering the amount of time one can spend at the Gardens doing all kinds of activities.

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We arrived with enough time to watch the ten minute introduction video before taking the tour of the DeZwann Windmill.  DeZwann (or “swan”) is a working windmill that was brought over from the Netherlands in 1964. It had fallen into disrepair after being damaged during World War II – there are pieces of the windmill that still have bullet holes in them. Negotiations had to be made with the Dutch in order to purchase the windmill because they are protected as national monuments in the Netherlands.

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DeZwann was the last windmill to leave the country. The brick portion of the windmill is not original. Our tree line in the US is much higher than that of the Netherlands so the three stories of brick had to be added in order to keep the windmill operational. The brick is Michigan brick, but it is laid in the Dutch style in order to support the weight of the gears and blades of the windmill.

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Today it grinds wheat and corn into flour and cornmeal when weather conditions allow.

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After the tour we walked around the grounds and through the miniature town. We tried to figure out if we could pass for children in order to ride the carousel (only children are allowed to ride it), but settled for playing outdoor checkers, which ended in a stalemate. We also checked out the greenhouse. It was a bit of a let down after seeing all of the lovely flower beds.

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I don’t think I would visit during the Tulip Festival due to the gobs of people that it attracts, but I would like to visit right before or right after the festival in order to see all the tulips. I bet it would be an amazing sight to behold.