This Spring, when we were planning our Summer Trip away, we were determined to avoid a package holiday. Never say never, but so far, it’s not been for us. We’ve been to Amsterdam many times as adults, but never with children, and we’d heard great things, so decided to give it a try with our very active 5 year old.
We found this family friendly AirBnB in a quiet area in the North of the city. The apartment came with a swing and slide set, a trampoline and lots of Little Dutch Wooden Toys to play with. The decor was beautiful, and the peaceful garden was perfect for a Heineken or two in the evenings. A win, win for adults and children!
We learnt that there are playgrounds all over the city, so when planning our walking routes, we made sure to look for as many playgrounds (or speeltuin) as possible - we called it “slide spotting”. Our first point of call was one of the city's many urban petting zoos (complete with playground and windmill) before we headed along on a canal walk to the NSDM Wharf - a former shipyard, turned cultural hotspot area filled with street art. We visited STRAAT - the museum for street art and graffiti, which also has a children's treasure hunt, the IJ Hallen art hall, which holds Europe's largest flea market, a Barbie Peep Show and lots of artist’s studios. We stopped at IJver Amsterdam for lunch - they have great vegan options and were happy to give our child his signature “plain burger in a bun” too.
Our five year old loves transport, so we took him on the free ferry across the river to Amsterdam Centraal to WONDR Experience - an immersive playground, featuring a series of rooms filled with fantasy, creativity and joy for the senses. Favourite spaces included the marshmallow filled swimming pool and slide, confetti shower room and the mirrored projection installation. We visited during the designated kids time, though I’m not sure who was having more fun - the children or parents. It was a little saccharin and over the top for me personally, so I’m not sure I would have visited without kids - but the smile on his face meant I had a great time.
It was raining - classic - and our son really wanted to visit Amsterdam Zoo. So we bit the bullet and paid the entrance fee (and I swallowed my morals a little bit). He absolutely loved it and is still talking about the baboons three weeks later.
From there, we took him on a tram ride (more transport) to FoodHallen - a converted Tram Depot turned food hall, featuring over 20 of the city’s best food stands. We ate way too much while there - tacos, korean chicken wings, bahn mi, noodles and hot dogs between us.
The Foodhallen is inside the bigger DeHallen, which houses a cinema and many independent shops, including lifestyle store Gather Shop. I’ve followed Gather for many years, so it was lovely to finally visit, and also see our fellow brands Hobo and Co and Narloa looking pretty in there too. We loved walking around Westerpark and down to DePjip while the weather was good - it rained on and off - and would love to stay in an AirBnb there on our next visit.
We spent our evenings back at the house to enjoy the garden, rest and cook our own delicious food from the nearby market. If we’d had an extra day, and it hadn’t been raining, we would have definitely visited NEMO Science Museum, Vondelpark and Blast Galaxy Arcade Bar, but we had a flight booked to Copenhagen (lucky us). Next time ..