Traveling to the Netherlands with kids? Here are some of my personal recommendations:
The Netherlands is one of my favorite places to travel with my kids. Why? Ease of transportation. Everyone speaks English. And pancakes are a staple. There are so many things I would love to recommend about visiting the Netherlands. I’m going to try to keep it straight and to the point. And some of these are affiliate links.
Hot Tip: If you’re going to be in the Netherlands for a while, you may want to consider the Dutch Museum Card. This card is good for a year and at so many museums. Plus, it’s super affordable. I don’t read Dutch, but I believe we ordered our cards at a museum and used them frequently.
One of my favorite experiences in the Netherlands
In an event my friends and I like to call #themostAmericanThanksgivingEver, if you’re in the Netherlands in November and you’re American, you may want to do this too.
An American Thanksgiving in Leiden Itinerary
If you know anything about the history of the pilgrims, you’ll know that they came to live in the Netherlands before setting sail to the New World. Specifically, Leiden. On Thanksgiving Day you can go to an English-language service at the Pilgrims old church, Pieterskerk. I loved it because we saw expats from all over Europe come together. They also provided cookies and coffee afterward.
Next you can take your time visiting Leiden. There are several fun things to do including just walking around. If you want to stick to the idea of the Pilgrims, though, you’ll want to check out the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum. They’ll give you even more insight into the life of the pilgrims back in the day.
Alternatively, you can have some kid-friendly fun at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center. The most memorable part of our visit was the several-story high dinosaur in the entry. What an impression that leaves.
Whatever you end up doing, you’ll want to plan to have Thanksgiving dinner at the Holiday Inn. If it’s as it’s been in the past, dinner will start at 6:00. If you’re like me and have experienced Thanksgiving at a restaurant in America that was rushed and stressful, THIS IS NOT THE SAME. The Holiday Inn event is perfection. So much so that I attempted to replicate it once we moved back to the US at a local hotel. Basically, from 6:00 – 9:30 pm you have access to a table and a buffet filled and re-filled with traditional Thanksgiving delights. For an additional price, you can also order a drink package. The space is next to a child’s play area so kids can take a break from eating, play, and then come back for more. It’s relaxing and delicious. And, if you’re really smart, you’ll spend the night at the hotel and enjoy the indoor pool as well.
Visiting Amsterdam with kids
Take a canal cruise. I don’t care which company you go with, just do it. You can rent your own boat, take a pizza cruise, a glass top boat (perfect on cold days), an open top boat (for warmer days), and so many other options. I’ve done one almost every time I’ve visited Amsterdam and I still feel like I learn something new.
Check out one of the many museums. If there’s something Amsterdam’s not short of, it’s museums.
I’m always drawn to the Rijksmuseum especially. Its location near the “iamsterdam” sign means photo op after photo op. It’s also conveniently located near the Van Gogh Museum and a small playground. The inside is cool, too. I’ve picked up the kid’s guide even though it’s not in English and I don’t know Dutch. It’s just a cool little book to look at both inside and outside of the museum. There’s also kid’s room with space for snacks, hanging out, and using high-quality art supplies for kids (and adults) to create their own little masterpieces.
You can purchase a skip-the-line ticket for the Rijksmuseum. It may be worth purchasing because I’ve only ever seen ridiculously long lines to get into this museum. Well, except for New Year’s Day. You can pretty much walk right in on New Years. Oh, and if you have a stroller you may be able to skip the line by using the elevator. Anyway, find out about buying tickets in advance here.
Another place worth visiting to help get your Amsterdam bearings it the Amsterdam Museum. It’s dedicated to the vast history of the city. A family-friendly tour is available for the Amsterdam DNA exhibit which examines the entrepreneurship, free-thinking, citizenship, and creativity during seven periods of Amsterdam history. (You can purchase the ticket in advance here.)
The NEMO Science Center is a unique science center. It’s a hands-on, activity-filled, fun place to spend half a day or more. While most of the many floors of exhibits are suitable for kids of all ages, please remember this is Amsterdam. That means there’s a whole floor dedicated to teen hormones, with a small section of that floor cornered off for a more explicit look into sex. What you won’t want to miss is the rooftop. It’s home to more exhibits, but even better – open air views over the city of Amsterdam. It is free and open to the public, so you don’t need a NEMO ticket to visit. You should, however, plan for an extra outfit during nice weather because there are water features.
There are two book places I recommend as well. The American Book Center which is conveniently located near the Amsterdam Museum and many sites. It’s not, to the best of my recollection, a stroller-friendly bookstore, but it is a fun place for adults to pick up some reading. Another fun break from the day is the Amsterdam Library. This is located between the Centraal Station and NEMO Science Center. The kid’s area is very popular and well designed.
Hotel recommendations for Amsterdam… family friendly & not-so family-friendly
One of my favorite Amsterdam hotels is the DoubleTree. It’s right next to Centraal Station which makes it easy to get to whether by train or car. And yes, it is even easy by automobile. Because it’s on the edge of the busy area of Amsterdam so you can take a back way and go straight to the parking garage. Obviously, the DoubleTree is always a treat because of their warm cookies at check-in. However, this one also has a small kid’s play area in the lobby. The breakfast buffet features international favorites. The rooms have Apple products, and floor to ceiling windows with views of the city. And the suites are spacious, a rare find in Amsterdam.
I’ve also stayed at the Citizen M in Amsterdam. This is definitely easier if you aren’t traveling with kids. However, the large beds, air-conditioned rooms, awesome smelling bath soap, cool interiors, and prime location on a major tram line, make it a nice and affordable option for an Amsterdam getaway.
The Netherlands for Kids, Links around the web
Hatch Adventures shares many Amsterdam Awesome adventures from a recent trip.
Emiel, from the Act of Traveling, rounded up his 5 favorite places to visit in the Netherlands with kids. And since he lives there, he knows what he’s talking about!
More recommendations are on their way! Bookmark this page for future reference.
Don’t forget to check out children’s books set in the Netherlands.