Pella is a charming small town in Iowa famous for its Dutch heritage and stunning architecture.
It is quaint yet bustling. Pella has that small town feel with an abundance of bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants, and specialty shops to indulge in and check out.
Here are some of the best things to do in Pella.
Explore Historic Downtown Pella
Downtown Pella is charming and thriving. It has so much to offer visitors.
It is a must to stroll into one of Pella’s family owned Dutch bakeries. Try the infamous Dutch letter or another sweet pastry.
Additionally, check out all of Pella’s cute specialty and gift shops.
Finally, soak in all of the amazing architecture that historic downtown Pella has to offer!
There are benches scattered throughout downtown that are perfect for enjoying a coffee or ice cream while you relax and take in the stunning historical buildings around you.
Walk through Central Park
Central Park is a picturesque spot to go for a stroll or sit and enjoy your surroundings.
Check out the historical fountain. Take a picture of the Pella Sundial. See the Tulip Time Monument.
Plus enjoy the gorgeous landscaping throughout this park.
Central Park is adjacent to downtown Pella. There is free parking surrounding the park and the downtown.
Visit the Vermeer Windmill
While in Pella, you can take a tour of an actual windmill!
The Vermeer Windmill was designed and built in Holland but still had to meet American standards.
Fun Fact: The windmill had to be disassembled in Holland, transported to Pella, and then rebuilt again. It is the tallest working windmill in North America.
The Windmill Tour is about 40 minutes. As part of the tour, visitors also get to see the Miniature Village showing what life was like in the Netherlands in the 1840s.
My kids LOVED all of the little details of this miniature village.
The Windmill Tour includes five levels.
Visitors get to see everything from the base to where the grain is brought in plus the living quarters for the miller on the second floor, a small windmill museum on the third floor, storage and tools on the fourth floor, and finally the fifth floor where you can see the grindstones, hoppers, and gears that turn the mill.
Outside on the fifth floor, you also can see views of downtown Pella plus the humongous windmill blades.
The tour actually starts at the top, and you work your way down to the first floor.
I highly recommend taking this tour. It is super cool to see a working windmill.
Tickets for the tour can be purchased inside of the Pella Historical Village Museum gift shop.
Once you purchase your tickets, you will be assigned an open time to go on the Vermeer Windmill tour.
Note: There are A LOT of steps on the tour as you will be walking down five different floors. You will have to leave your stroller in the gift shop during this tour.
Experience the Klokkenspel
The Klokkenspel is a musical clock with dancing figures. It keeps time and puts on a show with figures and music at certain times throughout the day.
You can find the Klokkenspel on Franklin Street after the Iris Coffee Company and before the Pella Opera House.
The Klokkenspel starts on the Franklin Street side. You look up at the windows below the clock.
Then the second half of the show is in the courtyard behind the small breezeway.
Kids and adults alike will love seeing all of the dancing figures showcased.
Expert Recommendation: There is a sign posted on the wall underneath the breezeway that shows the performance times. Make sure to take note of this and plan what time you are going to see the performance as it does not play every hour.
Walk through Molengracht Plaza
Usually after watching the Klokkenspel performance in the courtyard, we continue through the alley way to Molengracht Plaza.
The Molengracht Plaza is located behind the Klokkenspel courtyard. It goes between Main Street and 1st Street.
This area is absolutely stunning. It resembles an original Dutch square with a canal and a working drawbridge.
The Molengracht Plaza makes you feel like you have been transported to a whole different world. It is so gorgeous and a magical place to spend some time.
The Pella Cinemas are located here as well as the Royal Amsterdam Hotel and Liberty Street Kitchen.
Make sure to take some pictures and to take a few moments to stop and soak in the scenery.
Explore the Pella Historical Village
The Pella Historical Village is a living museum that offers visitors a glimpse into what it was like living in Pella starting in the 1840s.
There are 22 different buildings to walk inside and view exhibits and artifacts that portray life for the Dutch settlers in historical Pella.
We loved the 1850s working bakery and imagining what it would be like to work or be a customer there.
Visiting the general store and pharmacy was also entertaining as there was a shopping list activity for the kids.
The kids also got to put on a puppet show in one of the buildings.
They also enjoyed feeding the koi fish in the pond near the mill and blacksmith shop.
The Dutch Heritage Hall is also super cool with so many unique artifacts and costumes to see.
Expert Recommendation: When you purchase tickets to the historical village they stamp your arm so you can come and go throughout the day as you please.
I highly recommend taking advantage of this.
There is just so much to see at the Historical Village so take a break and grab lunch, and then come back and enjoy more of this attraction.
See a Show at the Pella Opera House
The Pella Opera House was built in 1900 and is a gorgeous building both inside and out.
You can take a self guided tour of the opera house Mondays through Saturdays.
Additionally, check out the Pella Opera House website for its schedule of shows and other special events.
Take a Picture Standing in a Pair of Dutch Wooden Shoes
Outside of the Vermeer Windmill you can find a humongous pair of Dutch Wooden Shoes.
This is the perfect photo memory for your visit to Pella.
Take your turn standing in the Dutch wooden shoes and pose for a picture with the Vermeer Windmill in the background.
There is another smaller pair of these wooden shoes near the Visitor Center windmill located at the edge of Central Park on the corner of Franklin and Main Street.
Take the Kids to Play at Wonder Spelen Inclusive Playground
If you are looking for a fun park for the kids to play. Check out the Wonder Spelen Inclusive Playground.
It is less than a mile from downtown Pella off of Main Street.
This playground is so cute and perfect for kids of all ages.
Our kids LOVED the tiny house, restaurant, and fire station.
Another unique activity at this park is that it has an interactive game area. One of the challenges is you are given a math problem and you quickly have to stand on the correct answer.
There is a musical game as well!
The Wonder Spelen City Park’s theme matches that of the Pella Community.
It has a windmill on the playground as well!
The playground has a rubber floor which is super nice. It is also fenced in.
There are also restrooms and drinking fountains available.
If you have time, I strongly recommend taking 30 minutes to check out this amazing inclusive playground.
There are so many unique and amazing things to do in Pella for visitors.
If you haven’t been or it has been a while. I highly recommend taking a road trip to Pella.
You will NOT be disappointed!
Here are some more day trip ideas from the Des Moines area.
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May you LOVE your adventure. KW