As I crossed the mile-long bridge over Lake Red Rock on my way to Pella, I couldn’t help but get excited about my first trip to the well-known Iowa destination. As I pulled into town, I took notice of how well-kept the buildings are. It was clear this community takes great pride in their heritage and strives to keep the culture alive with Dutch architecture.
My first stop was the town square and park surrounded by local boutiques, bakeries, and restaurants. The park hosts many events throughout the year, including the Tulip Time Festival in May. I could easily see why. The park looked beautiful with flowers and impressive landscaping. You could easily make a morning strolling around the shops with your friends and stopping by one of the coffee shops for what the locals call “Coffee Time.” You’d better grab a Dutch Letter while you’re at it to tide you over until lunch time.
After my stroll around the town square area, I headed off to the Vermeer Mill. This Mill is an authentic Dutch windmill used to grind grain into flour and sold at their gift shop below. I took a great tour of the Mill, learned how it worked and about the history of the mill itself. I was even able to walk around the top for great views of the surrounding buildings and downtown area.
One of the best-kept secrets of Pella is their Miniature Village in the same complex as the mill. A few master artisans have replicated the communities back in the Netherlands to depict what life would’ve looked like for them years ago. I found it fascinating to see the craftsmanship and detail that was put into creating this village.
Next, I took a tour around the Historical Village that helps visitors understand the Dutch way of life in Iowa. Along with historical buildings relating to the heritage, they also had the childhood home of Wyatt Earp on display.
A few blocks away, I stopped at the Pella Opera House. This space is known to be a great venue for weddings and other events. While they were doing some upgrading to their main ballroom while I was there, I could tell by the rest of the building it would be absolutely gorgeous for a special event. The curator took me into the actual theatre where they house a theatre organ. I’m a music lover and was overjoyed when she started it up to play a song. I was blown away by the quality of the sound and how it made me feel like I was part of a crowd many years ago attending a show.
All the history was making me hungry so I went for lunch at In’t Veld Meat Market. If you’re looking for a quick, local place to grab a sandwich, this place is the place to go. After lunch, it was time to tour the Scholte Museum. This is a must see to learn about the history of how Pella began and the family that started it. I had a wonderful tour guide that was knowledgeable and very passionate about the house and family history, making my experience one I won't forget.
My guide suggested we go out to see the bed and breakfast called the Cheesemaker’s Inn. I’m so glad she did! This B&B has quaint, clean rooms. The hostess made me feel right at home - and I wasn’t even an overnight guest! It would be perfect for a couple’s cozy getaway, or even a weekend away with your girlfriends for a shopping extravaganza.
My day was coming to a close, but not before stopping at Jaarsma Bakery. Walking in the door, I was immediately overwhelmed with the many different pastries available for purchase along with breads and baked goods. It was packed with people wanting to get their treats for the afternoon so it was a little hard to get a full view of everything they had available. However, I was able to take home a good variety of different pastries to try and put myself into a sugar coma with. I was pretty successful in that, too.
I’m really excited to go back with my family or even some girlfriends to spend the day in Pella for a true Dutch experience.
Want to know more about what you can do in Pella? Check out the website.