People come to Zaanse Schans for an hour but find they stay for several. On the banks of the Zaan river, this open-air museum is a picturesque place to see windmills in action. While it has a touristy element, the six operating mills are completely authentic and run with enthusiasm and love. Visitors can explore the windmills at their leisure, seeing firsthand the vast moving parts that make these devices a combination of sailing ship and Rube Goldberg contraption (an intricate, deliberately overcomplicated machine designed to perform a simple task).
Other buildings on the site, including an early Albert Heijn market, a cheese maker and a clog factory that turns out wooden shoes as if grinding keys, have been brought here from all over the country to re-create a 17th-century community.