What makes a family road trip so enjoyable is the freedom to explore small towns along the way. Pella, Iowa was one of the small towns our family visited last month while making our way towards Chicago. Are we glad we did!
Pella was settled in 1847 by a group of Dutch colonists led by a young minister, the Reverend H.P. Scholte whose home still stands in the center of “Old Town”.
The Dutch heritage of this community is very much evident the moment one drives into “Old Town” with its charming Dutch styled buildings, canals, and a working windmill that towers over the village.
We quickly discovered that Pella is not a town that you can just “drive through”. Our family spent nearly four hours in Pella and could have easily spent a weekend here in sightseeing, shopping for Delft and sampling Dutch food.
Here are just a few of the highlights of Pella that we managed to see in an afternoon.
The Vermeer windmill & Historical village
At the center of “Old Town” is the 124 foot Vermeer windmill which was installed in 2002 and constructed in the style of 1850 era Dutch windmills. We were surprised to discover that the windmill is fully functional and is used to mill flour for a local business.
The Vermeer mill sits on the corner of the Historical Village which contains over 20 buildings (some which are over 150 years old) including a grist mill, blacksmith shop, 19th century house, bakery, and more. There is a fee to enter the village and tour the mill. Plan on spending at least 2-3 hours here. (You’ll also find an awesome Delft gift shop in the village as well).
Architectural walking tour
Pella was platted on a grid which makes it very walkable for people who enjoy arch walks. We picked up a self guide walking tour of Old Tour and were able to view over 30 of the more historical homes in under 90 minutes.
Self guide tour guides can be picked up at the information kiosk on the SE corner of Central Park for a mere $1. You can’t miss the kiosk – it’s in the shape of a mini windmill.
Half a block east from the Central Park windmill is a Glockenspiel, a charming old world style musical clock which features characters from Pella’s history. We caught the 3 pm performance; other show times are 11 am, 5 pm, and 9 pm. Be sure to wander through the courtyard behind the Glockenspiel.
It was here that we found ourselves stepping into old-time Netherlands with its bricked paths, meandering canals, and old Dutch styled lift bridge.
Pella is located 300 miles west of Chicago and is accessed by I-35 and I-80. For more information about Pella, a calendar of events and other traveler information, visit Pella Tulip Time.com and Pella.com .
Now take a look: