Amsterdam is world renowned for being a cosmopolitan city for adults and 20-somethings.  Certainly, its international appeal and ever-so-often transformation against a timeless landscape keeps mature visitors coming. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your family with you! This year, consider an unexpected destination by discovering everything a family-friendly Amsterdam can offer.

Take a Canal Tour

One of the best ways to tour Amsterdam by navigating the waters of its ancient canals…they are more than 400 year old! An ideal plan for your family, both on a sunny day or a charming night. The sailing route will take you through the best of Amsterdam, from the Central Station and Dam Square to Vondelpark.

Play at Science Center NEMO

What child doesn’t like a place where they can really get their hands on something? That’s why you have to take a trip to the NEMO Science Center…where education meets fun! There are large exhibits, performances, films and workshops that are extremely interactive and keeps kids of all ages busy for hours. Not only that, the building itself is very creative; it resembles a ship against the Docklands.

Go Eat at Kinderkookkafé

 

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Let’s get serious…how difficult is it to get kids to agree on something to eat? One child doesn’t want to try Dutch cheese while the other is set on trying McDonalds in Amsterdam. Typical! If your kids want to make decisions, why not bring them to a restaurant where they actually take control of the food? The Kinderkookkafe is a unique restaurant where kids ages 5 to 12 help run the place! That’s right: they cook, serve, “bartend” and run the place like adults. You can even make a reservation to let your children play chef for the day!

Visit the Anne Frank House

Think about it: can you even imagine how hard was to thousands of European Jews to hide from the Nazis during World War II? If you feel they’re ready, you can let your kids put themselves in 13-year-old Anne Frank’s shoes with a visit to the Secret Annex where Frank — along with other Jewish friends and family — went into hiding. For the many children and adults who read Anne Frank, the Diary of a Young Girl in school, the pages come alive in the rooms where Frank hid during the German occupation. This museum tells the story with videos, documents and photos. Quotes and pictures on the wall along with her original diary are reminders of what many, sadly, endured during this grim time.

Enjoy the Animals at the Artis Zoo

Love animals like this swanky lemur? Learn more about species from around the world at the Artis Zoo! Here you can admire fauna from the African savanna and creatures from a coral reef. Enormous golden eagles welcome visitors at the entrance of this zoo that has been around since 1838 and includes several historic buildings. Climb aboard a free trolley to take in the 6000 animals that call Artis home, and then head over to the botanical garden or planetarium. Have a look at animals that live in Amsterdam’s canals in the aquarium. Your mini zoologist or geologist will love the two museums featuring exhibits full of scientific collections from the early 19th century!

Get a Sugar Rush at Tony’s Chocolonely

Amsterdam happens to be the biggest cocoa port in Europe, and your young choco-phile will swoon at the vast array of concoctions at Tony’s Chocolonely. This chocolate megastore features a wall of chocolate bars, each one a different flavor. The wall even has a lever to pull for a taste and another lever to pull for a full bar. If chocolate on tap, crazy shakes, and s’mores weren’t enough, let your kids take a turn at the “make your own chocolate” vending machine. They can even design their own candy wrappers! You can leave with some sweet confections as well as cool souvenirs like Tony’s Tote and Tony’s Notebook.

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Take in the Tulips (and More) of Keukenhof

Of course, everyone immediately thinks of Tulips when considering a visit to Amsterdam. The Keukenhof Gardens and Tulip Fields offer more than just views of the colorful tulips and lovely landscaping. Here, your kiddos can immerse themselves in this idyllic setting with a scavenger hunt to learn more, and they’ll leave with a bag of tulip bulbs to plant in their garden at home! For a different perspective, view the tulips from a Whisper Boat ride or bikes you can rent right in the parking lot. After you admire the blooms, make time to climb the windmill and wander the hedge maze. Don’t leave without sampling the warm, freshly-baked stroopwafel, a classic Dutch treat!

Learn Something at the Scheepvaartmuseum

Maybe you weren’t aware of it when you looked for cheap flights in June to this European capital, but Amsterdam boasts a long maritime history… so it’d be a shame to let your family leave this harborside city without learning more about the ships and the people who are part of its past! The Scheepvaartmuseum’s Tale of the Whale and Life on Board exhibits bring life on the sea to children in a captivating fashion. Step outside to check out the full-size replica Dutch East Indiaman cargo ship moored beside the Scheepvaartmuseum. It even has cannons to be fired! Marvel at the models of luxurious yachts and learn more about the Royal Barge commissioned over 200 years ago by King William I. While you are exploring the museum, have the kids gaze up at the glass ceiling of the museum’s inner courtyard that was inspired by compass lines from nautical charts.

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