AMSTERDAM : SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Amsterdam with the kids? Why not? Here are some reasons to go: most people there speak English, public transportation is easy to use, playgrounds abound, and there is even a cruise on the canals with all-you-can-eat pancakes and ice cream.
Let’s start outdoors: The Artis Royal Zoo, with original buildings from 1838, has a petting zoo, a planetarium, an aquarium and a fabulous playground (picnics allowed). The Vondelpark is to Amsterdam what Central Park is to New York: open air theater, a huge wading pool, wooden tree huts with swinging ropes and a cafe for tired parents. Make sure you see the city from the water on one of the many canal cruises, including the “Pancake Boat”.
Move indoors: Over 75 museums and many with children’s programs will keep you busy on a rainy day. Nemo is the science museum (touch everything!) where in summer the roof is transformed into a beach, complete with sand and great views of the city. Or join a scavenger hunt at the Rijksmuseum for one euro. For older children, the Anne Frank House is a moving experience.
Try some traditional foods: French fries are called “Vlaamse Frites”, usually served with curry sauce or mayo. The “Stroopwafel” is like two thin cookies held together by a sweet syrup and found in every bakery and supermarket. “Poffertjes” are fluffy mini pancakes, covered in powdered sugar or whipped cream and strawberries.
Something different: Walk through the “Nine Streets”, an area filled with cute boutiques. Rent a waterbike and pedal around the canals. Catch a free concert of classical music on Wednesday afternoons at the Concertgebouw. “Our Dear Lord in the Attic” is a 17th century church hidden away from the Calvinists in an ordinary canal house. And don’t forget to try on wooden clogs at one of the shops in the city.
Get off the beaten path: Day trips are easy out of Amsterdam with train connections and organized tours everywhere. Take a ride out into the country to count windmills. Go to Gouda, Keukenhof Gardens, Volendam, Delft or The Hague.
Universal favorite for all ages: Zaanse Schans, a village on the river Zaan with windmills and barns. There is even a Bakery Museum and wonderful shops with authentic Dutch crafts. The village is a 30 minute trip from Amsterdam, and worth it!