Since lists seem to be my obsession right now; here is my top 10 things to do with a tot ‘n tow in Amsterdam. The Dutch have a saying, “You don’t melt if you get wet,” so rain or shine, your family will love exploring this city.
I love being in Amsterdam! It is one of Jeff’s and my favorite cities. Good people, great parks, family friendly, picturesque canals, bikes galore and yummy food. Nestled in the heart of the city and directly on the Amstel River, we love our home away from home, the luxurious Amstel Hotel. With its heated indoor swimming pool, perfect views of the river, spectacular showers, wonderful staff, and the kid-friendly chocolate fountain, the Amstel never disappoints.
10. Go Shopping - Hit up the Hema (Target of the Netherlands) and stock up on crafts, cool kid games, jip and janneke products, and basic kid clothing. The Frozen Fountain is my favorite home design store (love the wallpaper selection). I can wander around Keet in Huis choosing things for the little ones in my life for hours. Tinkerbell is a toy shop not to be missed! For chic Dutch baby design, head to Bambam. And finally, don’t leave Amsterdam without checking out the Nine Streets shopping area with its fabulous boutiques, galleries and shops.
9. Noordermarkt – I always love a good organic farmers market. This lively but small market only happens on Saturday mornings, but the smells, sights and ready-to-eat food is a treat to visit. If they aren’t too busy, ask the farmers and merchants questions about growing their food and organic products.
8. TunFun - To be honest, this place is not my favorite, but it is one of Charles’, so I thought it only fair to include this playspace. If it raining and your little one needs to burn off some energy, TunFun can be a lifesaver! It is a HUGE underground playground with everything a kid could want. Kids can crawl, climb, slide, and bounce to their heart’s content. My suggestion is to avoid the food and bring a snack instead or eat lunch before you arrive.
7. The Artis Zoo - Artis has animals and plants, a Planetarium, a Geological Museum and Zoological Museum. The Artis Zoo is both indoors and outdoors, so if the weather isn’t great, it can still be a great excursion. Charles likes the dinosaur bones in the Geological Museum and I could spend hours in the butterfly pavilion.
6. Museums! Our favorites are the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Tropenmuseum, and Hermitage Museum, but there are many more to visit depending upon your interests.
5. NEMO (the Science and Technology Museum) – Yes, this is a museum, but it is Charles’ favorite, so it deserves a separated number. The impressive exterior is matched by the great hands-on-activities inside. I even learn a thing or two every time we come. Do check out the special exhibitions–they are worth it!
4. Vondelpark – This is my favorite park in the city. From the food to the unique playgrounds, this lovely park (with 6 play areas) is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon.
3. Explore the canals! Dubbed the ‘Venice of the North,’ part of Amsterdam’s charm is its canals. Whether you choose to walk along the canals, people-watch from the bridges, eat overlooking a canal, cruise the canal on a boat, or get some exercise by renting a canal bike (pedal boat), exploring the canals is a must! My favorite way to experience the canals is to go on a dinner cruise at dusk. The Amstel Hotel can arrange for an evening cruise that departs from the hotel (stopping by 2 other hotels for entree and dessert). Seeing the city light up at night is simply magical and what better way to do it with some fine dining!
2. Eat! I have a major sweet tooth, so let’s start there, especially since Amsterdam does not disappoint! Don’t miss out on the pancakes (pankoeken), apple pie, or poffertjes (miniature fried dough dusted in powdered sugar). I can’t get enough of Holland’s hard cheese (kaas). Charles favorite is the aged Amsterdam or Gouda and I prefer my gouda with cumin. Lekker! (Yummy!) Finally, I have done a good deal of eating through this city, so check out my top 10 kid friendly restaurants.
1. Amsterdamse Bos – This forest just outside of the city is my favorite place to spend an afternoon with its rolling meadows, picturesque bridges, and dense forests. Our favorite spots in the forest are the goat farm, the outdoor swimming pool and Boerderij Meerzicht, the infamous pancake house! Amsterdamse Bos has so much more to offer families and you can easy hang out the entire day exploring the trails, biking paths and playgrounds throughout the woods.