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Pella, IA

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by Lana Van Cleave (subscribe)
I am a freelance travel writer living in Oklahoma. I am a retired CPA now pursuing my passion for travel of all kinds. Visit my website at
Published June 7th 2022
America's Dutch Treasure
Information Center in Pella, IA
Information Center in Pella, IA

"America's Dutch Treasure" lies 40 miles southeast of Des Moines, IA on Highway 163. My husband's family is originally from Iowa, so I had heard of the small Dutch community of Pella, IA for years, but never had the opportunity to visit.

Finally, in August of last year, while visiting my husband's cousins in Iowa, I had my chance. What a surprising treat this "Netherlands of the Midwest" truly is.

Driving into Pella, the fields of Iowa farmland began to disappear and I felt as if I had been transported to The Netherlands. Even the Information Booth in the Central Park is housed in a small windmill replica.

Pella, IA Historic Downtown
Historic Downtown - Pella, IA

The historic downtown is simply charming with its red brick buildings and walkways, arched detail, and planter boxes filled with bright flowers.

Molengracht Plaza
Molengracht Plaza - Pella, IA

Most striking is the Molengracht Plaza, built to mirror an authentic Dutch canal. The plaza includes a waterway with a working drawbridge and brick walkway. It is home to retail shops, dining, and office space. It also provides a quiet place to sit on one of the benches and sip a cup of coffee—along with a delicate Dutch pastry, of course.

We toured the fascinating Vermeer Windmill—the tallest working grain mill in the United States. The top part of the windmill was constructed in The Netherlands and shipped to Pella where it was reassembled.

Inside Vermeer Windmill
Inside the Vermeer Windmill - Pella, IA

The mill operates totally on wind power and is run by volunteers. The tour leads you through each phase of the milling process and ends on the upper deck. At 12 stories high, the deck provides a panoramic view of the city below.

Miniature Village in Pella, IA
Miniature Village in Pella, IA

The tour also includes a trip to the museum next door to view the Miniature Village—a diorama portraying a Netherlands village in dramatic tiny detail with each season represented.

Pella, IA Historic Village
Historic Village, Pella, IA

After touring the Vermeer Windmill, don't miss a stroll through the Historic Village—21 buildings bringing the history of the city to life. Enjoy the blacksmith shop, church, bakery, and even a wooden shoe shop.

Sunken Garden Park - Pella, IA
Sunken Garden Park in Pella, IA

The Sunken Garden, two blocks from the Main Street square, is home to another windmill replica and a pond in the shape of a wooden shoe. It is surrounded by beds of colorful flowers and, in the spring, over 13,000 tulips add even more radiant color.

Pella, IA is a charming way to visit The Netherlands right here in the US.

Pro tips: A favorite time to visit is during the Tulip Time Festival. Every May when the tulips are in glorious full-colour, the town goes all out to celebrate their Dutch heritage. Parades, dancing, Dutch attire, and food are all present, but the over 300,000 tulips around town take center stage. The brilliant reds, yellows, pinks, purples, and whites create a stunning backdrop to the festivities.

In July, hot air balloon enthusiasts converge on Lake Red Rock near Pella to participate in Balloonfest.
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Why? America's Dutch Treasure
When: Any Time
Phone: 614 204-0885
Where: Pella, IA
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