I Went to Holland for the Weekend!
If you're not from the Midwest, I'm referring to Holland, Michigan, which is only a 2.5 hour drive from Chicago and home to lots of Dutch culture and lots of tulips. I rented a Zipcar, picked it up in the Ratner parking garage, grabbed some friends, and made myself a day in Holland!
Despite the temperamental Spring we have in this region, Holland does everything it can to make sure the tulips are primed for showtime. Rumor has it they have workers keeping the tulips warm with hairdryers (!!!) when it's especially cold.
I visited the Tulip Time fair/festival (which is rated as the best small town fair in the U.S.), where I bought some locally-made jewelry, looked at a variety of tulips, and ate a traditional Dutch fatball! A fatball is fried dough filled with basically anything sweet, though ours was filled with stewed apple and vanilla custard.
Afterwards, we went to the Windmill Island Gardens to look at more flowers and meet many Dutch leather-crafters and clog makers. I talked to a kind woman dressed in traditional Dutch clothing and clogs. Turns out, when she's not living and working on the farm, she's a nurse who attended Loyola University nearby!
It was refreshing to get away from campus for the day and at very little cost. Aside from food (which you can pack yourself) and car rental, the only thing we paid for on the trip was entry to the Windmill Gardens ($10 and well worth it).
Do yourself a favor next Spring and see what else the fly-over states have to offer!
Feature image via.