Amsterdam is such a popular destination for short city breaks and though it has been on our bucket list for a while, we were sort of saving it for a grown-ups only trip. However, I’ve recently been hearing that it’s actually quite a family friendly place and since there are two long weekend holidays in May, we decided it would be a perfect time to go and visit Amsterdam and also check another long time travel goal off our bucket list-the tulip fields! Even better was the fact that our dear friends who are moving back to the U.S. wound up booking a trip there at the same time! Fun place for a last hurrah!
We arrived on the evening of May 5th and since both the 4th and 5th were holidays in the Netherlands and since the weather was gloriously warm, it seemed like we arrived to one giant party in the city. After a long afternoon of travel, we headed to our AirBnB apartment on the edge of the Jordaan neighborhood and were happy to see a burrito place right next to “our place.” Since it was Cinco de Mayo after all, we grabbed some burritos and ate along the canals and then strolled around the neighborhood before calling it a day.
On Friday, we were so excited to visit Keukenhof tulip gardens and the weather was again gorgeous. What made the day even better was exploring the gardens with our friends who had just arrived that morning. We bought the combi-ticket online that covered the entrance to the gardens and public transport. It was quite easy to get there, and the only downside to the day was that apparently everyone else had the same idea. The gardens were packed (understandably with the weather, the holidays, and being the end of the season) but the place really is big so we were still able to enjoy it.
There were a couple of small playgrounds for kids and a little petting zoo and some food and ice cream stands. The kids had a great time just running through the tulips and exploring. I’m so glad that we were able to check this off our travel bucket list-despite the crowds, it really was amazing!
So very beautiful! I was surprised at just how easy it was to get there-the public transport was extremely organized and couldn’t have been easier. Definitely a must-do if you are in Amsterdam in the spring!
After the tulips the boys were eager to tour the canals by boat, so we went on the first of two boat rides. We had heard that all of the cruise companies are basically the same and I think that was probably true. The pre-recorded commentary on ours was good, but the only problem was that it was HOT! The weather was surprisingly warm and the boat went slow so you didn’t get a lot of air flow. Nonetheless, we enjoyed it and it was a quick 45 minutes around the canals. We took our second cruise on Saturday evening and it was a smaller, open boat so the breeze felt great-but unfortunately, the tour guide wasn’t the best and we could barely hear the little that he said about the sights. Still a can’t miss experience with kids, but I’d recommend checking the Tripadvisor reviews for the different companies.
On Saturday, we strolled through the hip Jordaan neighborhood and we enjoyed experiencing the quieter (less touristy!) side of the city.
Then we headed over to the famous Vondelpark for a picnic with our friends! This park is huge and was also packed on such a gorgeous day. Although it was worth seeing, I think next time we would head to the quieter Westerpark, which a few locals raved about. The playgrounds at Vondelpark left a bit to be desired, but the kids had fun anyway and we had a relaxing afternoon sipping some drinks while they burned off some energy! Our friends had rented bikes for the day and our boys were thrilled to hitch a ride around the park.
After the park, we walked by the “I Amsterdam” letters in front of the Rijksmuseum. It was so hot that the wading pond in front of the letters was too tempting to pass up!
We ended the day with our second, breezier boat ride and some tasty take-away pizzas that we enjoyed canal side. A super fun and jam-packed day!
On our last full day in Amsterdam, we decided that bikes seemed like a good idea so we rented some right by our apartment. It was Mother’s Day, so we enjoyed a nice outdoor breakfast and then biked over to the Nemo Science Museum where we again met up with our friends.
We had read about the great views from the terrace of the museum, so we headed up there first and the kids were delighted with all the water features for them to splash around in.
The museum itself was aimed at kids, but we adults had as much fun as the kids with all the different experiments and hands-on exhibits. It was really well done and I would highly recommend this place if you visit Amsterdam with kids.
After the museum we biked over to Brouwerij’t IJ, a local brewery in the bottom of an old windmill. It had been recommended to us over the touristy Heineken experience so we were excited to check it out. We sampled some beers while the kids played-the great thing about meeting up with friends on vacation…entertainment for the kiddos! Lukasz took the tour of the brewery and enjoyed it. Definitely a fun local place with good beers…but go early, tables fill up fast!
Sadly after that it was time to return our bikes (we loved biking around the city and feeling like locals!). We planned for a nicer dinner that evening since it was our last night and we found a great little restaurant near our apartment on the edge of the Jordaan.
Such a fun trip made even more fun with friends! We loved Amsterdam and definitely agreed that it’s a good place for a city break with kids. There was tons to do and it didn’t hurt that we lucked out with amazing weather. And I will never look at tulips again without thinking of those beautiful tulip fields!