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“Save your money ... nothing to see here.”

Windmill Island Gardens
Ranked #8 of 42 things to do in Holland
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Windmill Island Gardens is home to de Zwaan windmill, the last mill allowed to be transported from the Netherlands. de Zwaan still functions by grinding locally-grown grain into flour that is sold to visitors and local businesses. A highlight of visiting is a tour of this historic working windmill. Visitors can enjoy music from our antique Dutch street organ given to the City of Holland by the City of Amsterdam after World War II. Children can also ride on our antique carousel from the Netherlands. There are several other replica Dutch buildings and shops. The Island is home to beautiful gardens which feature tulips in the spring followed by beautiful annuals and perennials throughout the summer. Please note that the Island will re-open for the 2019 season on Saturday, April 13. Last tickets sold at 5 pm.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase
Reviewed June 10, 2008

You'll see nice big ads for Windmill Island on the backs of various travel publications from the Western Michigan shoreline. It's a prominent ad, and it certainly sounds good. You'll also see brochures for it everywhere. And again, they sure sound good. But save your money, and keep reading the brochure, because it's far more entertaining than the real attraction. And it'll keep you occupied far longer.

Because when you get there, you find it's $7 a person to get in. So you pay, thinking that the place is going to be really nice, and have all these neat things to see and do, based on what you saw in the ad and the brochure.

Nope. We paid our admission, drove in, and were there all of 15 minutes. And we pretty much exhausted everything to see and do. Perhaps back in the 1960s, when this attraction opened up, it may have been neat. But today, it really begs the question, why be open? There's nothing to DO here. And oddly enough, I'm somone who appreciates roadside kitsch, and cheesy old theme parks and attractions. But I feel that the $14 was completely wasted.

The lush greenhouse? It's tiny, and it's filled with exotic house plants. The garden center down the road from me actually has far more exotic plants in it. I'm not sure what the greenhouse has to do with a faux-Holland setup, anyway. There was a line of Dutch buildings there, it looked like 4 or 5 different buildings. Yet they were connected inside, and it was a snack bar, serving such Dutch treats as "pigs in the blanket," and kielbasa, and a fudge counter, a gift shop selling knockoff delftware souvenirs, and an area selling wooden shoes and books about Holland. (the country, not Michigan) With a couple of sullen teenagers, standing there bored, wearing wooden shoes.

Outside was the Post House," which had restrooms (nicely clean, I'll give them that much), and showing a "full color slide show" about Holland (the country, not Michigan). We skipped it, because in this video age, a slide show presentation just didn't seem a whole lot of excitement. There was also an Amsterdam street organ outside, which played once. There was also a full windmill, originally from Holland (the country, not Michigan). It appears that you can climb up inside it, and look out on the expansive view. Of a bunch of luxury condos nearby. I didn't climb up, and even when I walked in, there were two sullen teenage employees, wearing wooden shoes. They were talking to each other, and didn't talk to me.

Of course, things might be different there in season. We were there the first weekend of June, before tourist season really begins. And perhaps it's much nicer when there's actually tulips in bloom ... they were all gone, and replaced by some annuals. But still, it seems for $7 a person, there should be at least SOMETHING to do there. Even if it was way cheesier, it would have been better. But no, there wasn't even a kitsch factor working here.

If anything, we stayed only 15 minutes, because the woman at the front gate was so friendly and enthusiastic, we couldn't face slinking past her on the way out. We were also thinking of doing the Nelis Dutch Village, and the Klompenshoe factory, but decided that enough faux-Dutch stuff was enough. And plus, we figured we already lost $14 at Windmill Island, and why make it worse? So we passed, and instead went to the beach. That only cost $8, but it was so much nicer.

5  Thank Redbeard1969
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"windmill island"
in 169 reviews
"tulip festival"
in 105 reviews
"gift shop"
in 69 reviews
"gardens are beautiful"
in 15 reviews
"street organ"
in 41 reviews
"guided tour"
in 21 reviews
"per adult"
in 11 reviews
"united states"
in 13 reviews
"admission price"
in 10 reviews
"wooden shoes"
in 45 reviews
"nice visit"
in 10 reviews
"visiting holland"
in 16 reviews
"full bloom"
in 15 reviews
"great place to visit"
in 16 reviews
"dutch history"
in 10 reviews
"merry go round"
in 11 reviews
"off season"
in 11 reviews
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Reviewed November 23, 2018
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Date of experience: November 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 18, 2018
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Date of experience: May 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed May 27, 2018 via mobile
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Date of experience: May 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed January 4, 2018 via mobile
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Date of experience: January 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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