Tour Of The Dutch Masters In Iowa

Dutch tradition runs deep in Pella and Orange City. Put the cities on your to-visit list for next year—especially for Christmas gifts.

Writer: Beth Eslinger

While overseas getaways are still out of the question, two Iowa towns offer a taste of the Netherlands from the safety of a short drive. They’re especially engaging at Christmas when decked in Old World fashion.

The Dutch emigrated to Pella and Orange City through chain migration from the mid-19th to early 20th centuries, bringing with them their religion and culture. That legacy lives large today, with both downtowns decked in architecture you’d see in Amsterdam, windmills for photo ops, and of course tasty food.

In Pella, Jaarsma Bakery and Vonder Ploeg Bakery sell all sorts of sweet treats, while Ulrich Meat Market is famous for its genuine Pella bologna (all three businesses sell online). Lunch at the Windmill Cafe includes hot meat sandwiches topped with mashed potatoes and gravy as well as a Pella burger complete with bologna, Swiss cheese and horseradish sauce.

And in Orange City, you can watch a butcher carving meat behind the counter at Woundstra Meat Market. The shop sells artisanal meats and Dutch candies and coffees. For a taste of Snert (green pea soup), head to Nederlander’s Grill.

And for a good winter read to learn more about the culture, check out Brian Beltman’s “Dutch Transplanters on the Grasslands and the Fruits of Chain Migration” ($9.99 on Kindle; $25 hard copy through Amazon). It won a best history book award this year from the State Historical Society of Iowa.


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