We had a great time in Amsterdam,
despite being unusual visitors at the Red Light district. Thanks to the kids, we discovered quite interesting things to do in Amsterdam like Fun Forest and OBA. We spend 3 days in the city with Leo, my mom, and kids: 2, 5, and 10 y.o. Our secret mission was “let’s find out how it would be if we’ll move here for a couple of years”.
All the mentioned places are on My Maps below. Enjoy! 🙂
Quick facts about the city
Amsterdam has a high quality of life and is known for its canals, historical attractions, and great art. Amsterdam is also known as “Venice of the North”, 745 y.o. and is located at -2 (-7 feet) below sea level. Among major capitals of the world, Amsterdam is the only one with a small city feel.
Things To Do In Amsterdam
1. Red Light District
Kids in Red Light District? Yes, during the day. Overall, it was pretty interesting and safe, but be careful about pickpocketing.
De Wallen (location of Red Light District), first of all, is a residential neighborhood, where locals live, go to school, and daycare. Smaller kids, 2 and 5 y.o. didn’t quite understand where they were but waved back to the ladies in the rooms. Most of rooms were empty in the afternoon:
Amsterdam Red Light District is famous around the world and is one of the most popular spots to visit in Amsterdam. But it won’t be for long: due to disruptive tourist behavior, city officials agreed to move it from the city center.
Besides rooms, there are strip clubs, sex shops, sex shows, etc. During the day, everything is quiet and ordinary:
We were surprised that prostitution is legal in most European countries. While visiting Munich (right before Amsterdam) we didn’t even know it is permitted there.
2. Jordaan Amsterdam, the most beautiful part of the city
Jordaan seemed like the most beautiful part of the city. It felt cozy, homelike, and lovely. With only one con: narrow streets aren’t suitable for a stroller, even compact ones. We had a hard time on sidewalks: they are too narrow and clogged with bikes:
Jordaan has a nice place to buy ice cream: Cons. Ijs Fabriek. It is tiny, with no space to sit inside and a couple of benches outside, but the gelato was great.
3. Things To Do In Amsterdam: Fun Forest
Fun Forest is a unique nature experience in Amsterdam. Huge as a football field, it has 10 courses and suitable for kids and adults. The minimum height is 110 cm or 3 feet 7 inches. Reservation isn’t required, but good to have. During our visit tickets were 20 Euro per person for the day.
4. Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Museumplein
Our kids were too tired to appreciate a visit to Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum, outstanding and top things to do in Amsterdam. We skipped both and had an amazing time at Museumplein: the area is enormous, fun, and kid-friendly. The first time we saw a skate park, basketball courts, and playground next to the world-class museums and manicured lawns:
5. Things To Do In Amsterdam: look for modern architecture
Amsterdam is famous for its historic architecture, decorative gable tops, and narrow buildings. But a little bit further from the center you’ll find unique modern architecture:
It is hard to find two new identical buildings in Amsterdam (and Holland in general). Usually, design is far from boring, light, and airy.
6. OBA: Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, “Amsterdam Public Library”
You can tell a lot about the place by visiting its public library. OBA surprised us a lot: spacious, kid-friendly, and full of cozy spaces:
On a rainy day, it would be an oasis of serenity to spend a couple of hours. The cafe on the library’s second floor serves good coffee and the panoramic view from the terrace is nice.
Pictured below: one of the installations at OBA inspired by Holland’s most beloved children’s author, Anne Schmidt:
7. Anne Frank house
Visiting Anne Frank’s house is a very popular activity in Amsterdam. During our visit the lane at the house with people who already bought tickets online was endless. We skipped it and felt sorry for not visiting Anne’s house in Frankfurt, where she was born and lived before going away to Amsterdam.
How Anne’s house in Amsterdam looks from outside:
8. Favorite local food. Restaurants, grocery stores
Potatoes are a staple of the Dutch diet (as well as sandwiches). In grocery stores a couple of rows are dedicated to potatoes: “washed and peeled”, “peeled and sliced”, “sliced and marinated”, etc. French fries with mayo is a popular dish at the cafes and restaurants:
The con about Amsterdam restaurants (in the center) during peak season: lines. Although we did try some, waiting was tedious and later we opted out for grocery stores. Fresh pastries, sweet and savory, crepes, amazing diary products, beer, – we had great picnics for very little money:
9. Forget Vondelpark! Go to Bos: best place to bring a kid during summer
Vondelpark is the most famous park in Amsterdam, welcoming nearly 10,000 000 visitors a year. Although it has a kiddie pool and playground, it is crowded during peak season. If you are looking for a quiet place with a few people, go to Amsterdam Bos (translated as “Amsterdam Forest”)
The Amsterdam Forest is roughly three times the size of Central Park in NYC and has everything a child can ask about, especially on a hot summer day:
If you are coming with little children and need shallow water, Groot Kinderbad Amsterdamse Bos is in 3 minutes walk from the beach. There are a playground and a huge outdoor kiddie pool:
10. Amsterdam canal cruise/boat tour
A canal tour is the best tour to explore Amsterdam. You’ll see the most tempting places from a unique angle while listening about the city from locals. (And moving pretty fast at the same time)
We skipped the tour, it was too hot: 30C (86F). The one we took in Den Haag was great and fun to do with kids.
11. Amsterdam Like a Local: IKEA
Probably the only place which isn’t packed with tourists during peak season is IKEA :D. Our hotel was close to it, we went to check it out and to have dinner. Unlike the IKEA stores in the States, Amsterdam’s IKEA parking was many times smaller as compared with the size of the store. And you can buy a beer at the cafe:
- Best time to go: May through September
- Time we enjoyed and recommend: July/August because of the warmest weather and summer activities (swimming, etc.). There are plenty of tourists, but they mostly are in the center of the city
- How long to stay in Amsterdam if coming with kids? 3+ days
- Book accommodation in advance, especially for June-August
- For the last minute booking, we use Priceline
- Pack jackets and rain gear even for the summer months. Nights could be chilly and rain occurs throughout the year
- Swimsuits, especially for kids. Lightweight blanket, quick-dry towel
- Snacks and water
- Best books about Holland we love and recommend: Two Kids from Holland and The Happiest Kids in the World
All favorite places in Amsterdam on My Maps
Thanks for reading, friends!
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