Apr 21, 2023 - Things to Do

Take a trip: Visiting Pella before Tulip Time

Yes, I'm a size 35. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

🌷 Linh here. I am 0% Dutch but 100% intrigued by Pella.

Driving the news: The city's Tulip Time festival from May 4-6 can attract more than 150,000 people.

  • I stopped for a day trip this week to see the blooms before the crowds.

State of play: Pella was founded by Dutch immigrants fleeing religious persecution in the 1800s. Today, it's known for maintaining its Dutch heritage and aesthetic.

  • The Wal-Mart is painted green.
  • There are at least 27 churches for 10,000 people.
  • And it has probably the only old-timey Anytime Fitness and H&R Block in the world.
H& R Block and Anytime Fitness in Dutch building
Retailers around town, including Casey's and Culver's, also sport a Dutch look. Photos: Linh Ta/Axios

Yes, but: It's also known for more modern amenities, especially as the home of major employers like Vermeer and Pella Corp.

My goal: I wanted to see the rare "nightmare" black tulip, which is so special that even the employee at the visitor center didn't know where it was planted to help thwart thieves.

  • While "nightmare" wasn't blooming yet, I was still happy with how many tulips were already in full color.
tulips in pella
Tulips in downtown Pella. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

What I ate: Even on a Wednesday, I waited for about 15 minutes to get baked goods from Jaarsma Bakery. (The wait during Tulip Time after 10am is an hour.)

  • I got a dutch letter, cream puff, cookie and a dozen almond sticks for under $10.

For lunch, I stopped by Liberty Street Kitchen, operated by the same people who own Centro and Django in Des Moines.

  • I ate a stellar cheesesteak sandwich and fries made in beef fat ($15).
Roast beef, red pepper, yellow onions and beer cheese sauce on a hoagie roll ($15). Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

The best part of the trip: Every excursion was walkable and relaxed.

  • If you're busy during Tulip Time but want to see the flowers, consider making a trip this weekend or next.

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