Planning a trip around the spring bloom is one of the hardest itineraries to create. When we visit, I know where everything is, and I know how to get from location to location. I even know how much it will all cost me. It is the prediction of the best time to see the bloom that can be real guesswork. Many places have tulips on display and even have festivals and events to celebrate. However, they need to plan everything that goes with an event so that they have a set date every year. But this doesn’t work well if the weather is out of the ordinary.

I had wanted to go to Holland, Michigan, long before we started to travel. It is a small town with a large Dutch heritage. It is almost natural that they would celebrate the tulip as their namesake does in Europe. 

I have created many travel itineraries; most get used, but a few sit on the shelf for some future plan.  The Tiptoe Through The Tulips travel itinerary was made with such a spring trip in mind. Fortunately, there was an opportunity to go. I did as much research as possible on the status of the flowers, and I crossed my fingers that everything would work.

And it did.

I could not have planned it any better!

We arrived at peak bloom.

The tulips were at their best. Daffodils stood proud and bright. Cherry, apple, crabapple, and every other flowering trees were in full swing.  

The timing was perfect.

This winter was mild, and spring had sprung earlier than usual. 

We stayed close to the original itinerary. On our first morning, we had a repeat visit to Frederick Meijer Gardens. We had visited a year earlier during the winter, and that trip, too, was timed perfectly because of the fresh snow. During this visit, they had a butterfly event, which I have wanted to see. Fredrick Meijer Gardens has a high-class feel with all the sculptures, rotating art exhibits and extensive grounds for various explorations. This place alone is worth driving to and purchasing a membership.

Our next visit was a five-million-tulip eye-feast! Veldheer Tulip Gardens had more tulips in one location than we had ever seen. We walked the grounds, admiring all the varieties of tulips.  

Attached to Veldheer Tulip Gardens are DeKlomp Wooden Shoes and Delftware Factory. I tried on some wooden shoes and seriously considered purchasing a set. I did not think wearing wooden shoes on our hard floors would go over well with the people I live with. Too bad, they were surprisingly comfortable.

Dekker Huis Museum was a free museum in the nearby town of Zeeland. One part is a heritage home with period furnishings, and the other is the history of the Dutch immigrants who migrated here. Here, I realized just how little I know of my heritage. I am half Dutch, and I know that my grandparents lived through the Nazi occupation. Other than this information, I know nothing more. It was never spoken, and I have seen very few pictures from that time. Sadly, it is now too late to learn about my ancestry.  

We traveled to Windmill Island Gardens, the crown jewel of Holland, Michigan. The centrepiece is a classic Dutch windmill. We had the opportunity to go inside and see the mill’s workings. Also, tulips showed their best side to all the present photographers. I was hoping for more heritage at this location and left feeling a bit disappointed. Maybe it was because the Dekker Huis Museum got me thinking, and I wanted to learn more about the Netherlands.

We travelled next to a state park. We love camping. Setting up the tent, cooking our food, and swatting the mosquitoes all add to the experience of travelling. After all, isn’t that why we are exploring the world – to experience it all? It is a short walk to the coast of Lake Michigan, and I wanted to catch a sunset. Sunset gazing is one of our favourite evening pastimes, and when we plan one, it usually fails, as it did on this night. Rain was threatening, and the clouds covered the sky. We did go for a hike and stumbled upon deer. One of them was sleeping. I have never seen deer curl up and sleep. We would continue our hike and discover how well-camouflaged deer are in their environment. 

Our next day in Holland involved a walking tour. We discovered more tulips, more flowering trees and more of everything, and we knew that this weekend trip was timed perfectly. Everywhere we looked, something was flowering. Nature was at its best.

Also, at its best, was the art scattered throughout Holland. The Wizard of Oz statues were cute and drew Charlene (a serious fan of the movie) from across two roads to see them better. There are numerous murals, all within a comfortable walk. Holland is very flat, so the journey was easy. One section has recycled art in front of a metal recycling plant. I love how people can envision something that is discarded. We would also tour many shops and seriously considered buying a cuckoo clock at Holland Clock Company. 

After thoroughly exploring this Dutch heritage town, we headed to another town close to our hearts—Orangeville. Charlene has lived here her whole life, and I have spent most of my years here, too. When I discovered another Orangeville, I had to go and see it.

Orangeville, Michigan, is nothing like Orangeville, Ontario. It has a cottage-country feel and is much more sparsely populated than where we live. The Michigan version of Orangeville also has a lake and a teenie tiny waterfall. Other than that, these two places with the same name cannot compare.   

Fantasy Forest was en route to our next campground. Like Orangeville, Ontario, it has several sculptures carved from trees.  These forest sculptures, of various themes, were also appreciated by a number of other tourists when we arrived.  Fantasy Forest is a small section in a larger arboretum, which we drove through to see if there were any other flowering treasures to behold.

We would end our day at a campground, setting up everything before the rains came. The weather was a significant factor in our weekend trip. At times, winds were intense, and rain was threatening during the day. At night, it did rain a lot. This unstable weather would affect our final day as we drove home.

We arrived at another botanical area, Hidden Lakes Garden. We stayed all but a brief time because it started to pour when we were in the conservatory. We did not stay for any further exploration but did notice that it would be a nice place to visit again in the height of summer and for the fall colours. 

Our plan included several other stops, and we headed to those when Charlene saw an Emagine Theater. A couple of weeks before this Holland vacation, we had extra time on our hands to explore Detroit. A movie theatre was beside our hotel, so we popped in to watch a flick. We were immediately impressed. Emagine had reasonable prices, and we could have caramel, buttered, or cheddar popcorn—OR ALL THREE MIXED! We loved the location more than the movie. So when Charlene saw that we had passed an Emagine Theater, I pulled over and saw what was playing.

Yes, I spend a lot of time planning, routing and stressing over my travel itineraries. Yes, it sucks when we go somewhere, and it is either closed or just wasn’t all that good. But when you are passing a movie theatre that has huge seats, endless buckets of popcorn, all-you-can-eat candy and hot food items (yes, all-you-can-eat!), it is hard to say no. We can always use our missed stops for our next trip.  

After the movie, we only had time to visit my favourite restaurant, Harvey’s. Overall, we had a fantastic weekend, and all came together because of perfect timing.  

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