Ethnic Adventures - Little Amsterdam - Lynden, Washington
Activity:My wife Mary has a Dutch heritage. About once a year (usually around Sinterklaas, the Dutch Christmas) she wishes aloud how nice it would be for the family to take a trip to Holland. My solution is a day trip to Lynden, Washington. She loves it there, and now she's got her mom and sisters going as well.
Mary always says, "Lynden is more Dutch than Holland itself." It has several shops selling Dutch lace, Delft Blue pottery, wooden shoes and other knick-knacks. Her mother's only disappointment is that they don't have a decent deli selling Dutch cheese and woorst (sausage rings). They have a bakery, which Mary's Mom warns me is not "echte Hollandse;" but, to tell you the truth, I'd never know the difference. Our kids get a kick out of the windmill and the fish swimming inside one of the buildings. My pleasure is in putting off an expensive trip to Europe.
What I should also mention is that Lynden is immaculate. You'll never see a piece of garbage tossed on the roadside there. Even the residents' lawns and gardens are meticulously kept. As Mary pointed out, "We could never live here!" I have to admit, Lynden is so clean, it's almost eerie. I feel like I'm walking on the set of the Twilight Zone when I'm there.
Age group:I can't say Lynden has strong kid appeal--no big parks or attractions. Our kids, however, still have fun pretending they're in Holland. If you have an elderly person in your family, take them along too. My aunt enjoyed the scenic drive and browsing in the small shops.
Expense rating:Free, if you only window shop and don't buy any food. (Good Luck)!
:My favourite part of the trip is the drive in. Lynden is mostly a farming community. It has acres and acres of crop lands and grass fields feeding mostly cows and some sheep. A funny thing happened on one of our trips. We hit a brick wall of what we all agreed was the worst smell we'd ever smelled in our entire lives. I thought it was a skunk, but Nathan spied the real source--an irrigation sprinkler spewing out "chicken poop," as Jen put it. The smell radiated out for miles and miles. We had to laugh picturing the family eating their dinner with the sprinkler going outside.
What I also enjoyed about Lynden is their country fair which comes around in August. Jen liked looking at the animals--especially the floppy-eared rabbits. Nathe got hung up on the games. He loves to win, even if it's only a two-bit prize that cost him two bucks to get. Mary was drooling over her beef sandwich from the outdoor barbecue, and I had a laugh watching the magician hypnotize people into doing funny things. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the chuck wagon races, but I bet they were good.
:One year we made the mistake of visiting Lynden on a Sunday. The town was "Closed." Even the streets were empty. We finally figured out all 8,500 inhabitants were at church. Believe it or not Lynden has 29 churches. For a small town I'd say that was more than enough to go around.
Details:Lynden, Washington is just across the U.S. border at Aldergrove (about an hour from Vancouver).
Take the Trans Canada highway east, about 27 kilometres from the Port Mann bridge. Exit at Aldergrove/US border/264 St. (exit 73) and go south (past the Greater Vancouver Zoo - Aldergrove) on Highway 13 for about 17 kilometres and you'll be at Lynden.
For more information call (360) 354-5995. Website: www.lynden.org
Season:All seasons, but we especially enjoy going in the spring and autumn. There's tulips in the spring and pumpkins in the fall.
Educational highlights:As soon as we cross the border, our kids know we're someplace different. About 50% of Lynden's population are of Dutch heritage. The residents have made a point of continuing their Dutch lifestyle. Mary pointed out that the Post Office even reminds her of Holland. Nathe and Jen like making a game out of figuring out what makes Lynden unique. To be honest with you, it's about as close to Holland as they'll get for some time.
Did you know Lynden has the world's largest powdered milk plant?
Fun for the adult?:Like I said, if you have a Dutch wife you can't lose with Lynden. It makes a nice day trip. I wouldn't write home about the restaurants or the coffee, but the town itself is very pretty. At the end of our day, we always arrive home feeling like we've done something neat.