How to Spend a Great Day at Nelis’ Dutch Village
When we start thinking about things to do in Holland in the summertime, the first place my kids ask to go to is Nelis’ Dutch Village.
That’s good with me – I like visiting Nelis’ just about as much as the kids do!
What to Expect at Nelis’ Dutch Village
Dutch Village is a fun place for everyone, not just families with young kids.
There are so many things to love about Dutch Village, from an immersive Dutch experience to fun on the Ferris wheel and carousel. Almost everything is included with the cost of admission.
When we want a more laid-back and unscheduled day, we do our own thing and play on the playground and slide, enjoy the rides, and race on the plasma cars and pedal pumper cars.
For a full Dutch experience, we watch the dancers, see how wooden shoes are made, learn about Delftware pottery, and listen to the presentations at the schoolhouse, weighhouse and family home.
Everyone who works at Dutch Village dresses in the traditional clothing of the Netherlands – right down to the wooden shoes – and they all wear something different.
Read on to learn about my family’s nine favorite things about Nelis’ Dutch Village!
FAQs – Nelis’ Dutch Village
Is Nelis’ Dutch Village open?
The park offers a mid-April “preview day” – this year, it’s on April 16, 2022.
The park officially opens for the season on April 23, 2022.
Closing day is September 25, 2022.
In general, the park is open daily between 10 am – 5 pm, with longer hours during Tulip Time and on certain weekends or during special events. Park Schedule
How long does it take to go through Nelis’ Dutch Village?
Plan to spend 3-4 hours at Dutch village.
Is Dutch Village dog-friendly?
Well-behaved, leashed dogs are allowed inside most parts of Dutch Village (not the food shops or near the petting farm.)
Is Dutch Village just for kids?
Dutch Village has something for all ages, kids and adults included. Visit and learn what life was like in the Netherlands over 150 years ago through demonstrations, dances, hands-on experiences, food, and more.
11 Things to Love at Nelis’ Dutch Village
My family has visited Dutch Village every summer for years, starting from the time my oldest was one year old.
This year, my kids are ten, seven, and four and they all love Dutch Village and have their own favorite things.
But it’s not just for young kids! My sister’s family visits from Rhode Island some summers. This year, her kids are 16, 15 and 13. Where’s the one place they want for sure want to visit? Dutch Village!
1 – I Love the Dutch Dancing
Watching Dutch dancing is my personal favorite thing to do. Some of the dancers wear up to 10 pairs of socks inside their wooden shoes! They also warn you to watch for flying shoes – and I have witnessed more than one sail off the foot of a high-kicking dancer.
The Dutch dancers – usually local high school and college students – typically perform at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 3:00pm and 5:00 PM. (Check your schedule for that day’s times.)
Bonus: If you’re watching, you’re invited to learn some easy Dutch folk dances. Do it – it’s fun!
When we visit Dutch Village with my extended family, my sisters and I like to have our kids dress up in Dutch costumes and watch them dance in front of the organ with each other.
2 – Their Demonstrations Bring the Netherlands to Life
In addition to dancers, there are several Dutch Heritage presentations on the schedule at Nelis’ Dutch Village.
The wooden shoe carving presentation is fascinating. It’s cool to see the process and hear about the history of wooden shoes in the Netherlands.
You can also see demonstrations related to:
· Delftware making
· Frisian Farmhouse & Barn
· The Kolean Museum
· Waaggebouw – where you can be weighed to see if you might be a witch!
· De Oude School – learn a few Dutch words in the one-room schoolhouse
· Cheese-making & discovering Dutch cocoa
Demonstration times are noted in the schedule of events and there are signs outside of each building with the next presentation time.
Each presentation is usually about 20 minutes long and runs at least three times during the day.
All presentations and demonstrations are included with your admission. (Cookie making and some extra activities may require a purchase.)
Nearly all of the demonstrations throughout Dutch Village are indoors.
3 – The Rides are Fantastic Fun
My kids’ favorite part of Dutch Village is the five rides. They try to get me on the Ferris Wheel Windmill Ride every year (I’m scared!) but I do enjoy riding the Carousel with them.
The Dutch Chair Swing Ride is my daughter’s favorite.
“I love to fly through the air and sometimes they spray you with water!”
4 – Racing on the Plasma Track is a Low-Tech Blast
A plasma car “race track” is a recent addition to the park.
Kids can choose from about eight different plasma cars to ride around a small track.
5 – It’s Kids-Only at the Petal Pumper Cars
Petal Pumper Cars are a self-propelled train car ride.
The pump cars ride on rails, just like trains. Kids have to be strong enough to pump their own cars.
Most kids can usually take their first ride on the petal pumper cars when they are about three years old.
Note: Parents watch from outside of the fence. Nelis’ Dutch Village staff will give kids a push if they get stuck. (You can also have an older sibling take a car behind your younger kids in case they need to be nudged along the track.)
6 – Pirate Balloon Battles Happen Here
“The Water Balloon Pirate Ship is My Favorite!”
In 2019, Dutch Village added two life-sized pirate ship fronts to their attraction list.
They are facing each other, poised for epic water balloon battles.
How battles work:
· Players receive a pail containing five balloons and then board one of the ships.
· Each ship is equipped with a huge slingshot.
· Players use their slingshots to launch balloons out of the hole in their ship, trying to make a splash landing in the hole of the other ship.
· If the balloons hit the target on top of the other side’s launcher, a depth charge tank in front will get them extra wet
· It takes skill to get the balloons to land precisely enough to drench your opponent, but even if you miss, it’s still seriously fun. No matter what, you will get wet!
7 – Kids Can Slide Out of a Giant Wooden Shoe
The wooden shoe slide is a long-time favorite and an awesome picture opportunity.
Climb up, play in the shoe house, slide down, repeat.
7 – The Petting Zoo is Top-Notch
We always spend quite a while in the petting zoo area inside the barn at Dutch Village.
Purchase a feed cone if you’d like to have the animals come right up to you. My kids are thrilled by how much the animals all love it and come right up to the fence for a nibble.
We also pet the pigs, goats, and chickens through their enclosures. Kids can go inside some of the pens with an adult.
Admission to the petting farm is included with your ticket.
8 – You Can Make a Stroopwafel Cookie
My kids love this part so much!
Every paid child admission comes with a coupon to make a stroopwafel cookie. (If you don’t have a coupon, it’s only 75 cents to make one.)
Kids get to drop a roll of dough onto the waffle iron and hold it closed. After it’s cooked, cut, and separated, kids add syrup to the middle and then enjoy their delicious, warm, sticky treat.
9 – There are Even More Places to Play!
Hard to believe, but there are even more fun play spots at Dutch Village to discover.
· Windmill Water Pumping Race
· Climbing Castle Play Structure
· Dutch Shuffleboard (located in the Children’s Corner)
9 – Picnics are Welcome
Another thing I appreciate about Dutch Village is that you can bring in your own food.
We usually pack a picnic lunch and eat at one of the many tables available. We usually eat at the stone tables near the shoe slide.
As long as the space isn’t rented, you can also eat at one of the dozens of picnic tables underneath the covered pavilion.
10 – You Can Dine on Dutch Food
Hungry visitors will want to check out the Hungry Dutchman Cafe, the onsite restaurant.
Kid-friendly meal and snack options, as well as a nice selection for adults, round out the menu.
Enjoy traditional Dutch foods like Metworst (pork sausage) or Kroketten (Fried pork & beef roll).
Adults will also like stopping at the Thirsty Dutchman Pub to sample some of the region’s best beers, wines, and ciders.
Or, opt for the Dutch Village wine, made from Michigan grapes and bottled locally.
11 – Camera-Ready Backdrops
Of the many options throughout the park, the stork is my favorite photo opp. I love having my kids sit inside his sling and document their growth through the years.
You’ll also want to snap pics on the bridges, by the windmill, near the dancers, and in front of the colorful buildings.
My kids enjoy posing with the many statues throughout the park, including a horse-drawn carriage.
Make sure to stop by the shoe carving demonstration area and get a picture of your family in wooden shoes.
|Daily Rate||Season Pass|
|2 & under||Free||Free|
*Purchase your tickets in advance online and save $1 per ticket. (Your tickets will be sent to you electronically. There is no need to print them out if you bring a smartphone with the bar code (QR code) when you visit.)
*All presentations, demonstrations, petting farm, and rides are included with your admission.
*Season passes are a terrific bargain and provide unlimited park entries during the entire 2022 season.
Money-Saving Tips for Your Visit to Nelis’ Dutch Village
There may be ways you can save on admission to Dutch Village.
- Free child’s admission is often a prize at area summer reading programs.
- A special rate is available for active-duty military families and veterans.
- Purchase your tickets in advance online and save $1 per ticket
- Memberships are also available and offer the biggest savings.