Visiting Keukenhof Flower Gardens with Kids

Thrifty Travel Mama Keukenhof with KidsSpending Easter Sunday dilly dallying among the tulips at the famous Keukenhof gardens in Holland… sounds like a dream, right?  And it was, except my dreams didn’t include icy wind and late winter weather, but my reality did.  Nevertheless, don’t let my unfortunate timing dismay you – visiting Keukenhof is an amazing experience even under less than stellar circumstances.

Thrifty Travel Mama Keukenhof with KidsA few notes on visiting Keukenhof with kids… Of all the places we visited on our trip to BeNeLux, our time at Keukenhof was the least stressful (full disclosure: it was also the most expensive!).  The gardens are well-planned with wide, flat, paved walkways and several sets of (clean – and free) restrooms with changing tables located throughout the park.

Thrifty Travel Mama Keukenhof with KidsThe gardens at Keukenhof are extensive, offering enough to keep young, old, and even tired eyes interested for hours.  If tulips aren’t your thing (wait, is that even possible?!), you can find orchids, hydrangeas, crocuses, hyacinth, and a zillion other flower varieties in the pavilions.  And, might I add that even though I visited Keukenhof with my very manly husband and three rambunctious boys, I received no comments or complaints about it being “too girly.”

More than just tulips!

More than just tulips!

My boys loved the playground with its zip line, swings, slides, and structures for climbing.  I was impressed by the variety of play equipment, suitable for a wide range of ages.  We brought our own lunch and munched away at the picnic tables located right on the playground.

View from the Keukenhof windmill.

View from the Keukenhof windmill – no tulips peeking up from the ground.

Perhaps even more than the awesome playground, T-Rex and Screech really enjoyed going inside the old Dutch windmill on the property.  It provides an excellent view of the fields at Keukenhof and beyond.

Giant, fresh stroopwaffels!

Giant, fresh stroopwaffels!

At the base of the windmill, two ladies were serving up giant, hot-off-the-press stroopwaffels.  More about stroopwaffels here, but in case you are craving the experience of tasting a fresh stroopwaffel like we were, I might as well tell you that the packaged ones are just as good as the fresh kind if you warm them up.  Oh, right, and the packages are much cheaper if you buy them at the grocery store rather than at Keukenhof.

The bald eagle, waiting for his big entrance.

The bald eagle, waiting for his big entrance.

We were pleasantly surprised by two things at Keukenhof: the Birds of Prey show and the petting zoo.  The Birds of Prey show featured a Red-tailed Hawk and a Bald Eagle as well as a large owl (sorry, I didn’t catch the exact species).  Several members of the audience were allowed to don a heavy leather glove while the handler invited the owl to fly from arm to arm.  My boys had never seen such large birds up close before.

Easter lamb!

Easter lamb!

Doc Sci and I were delighted to discover a spotless Easter lamb in the petting zoo.  He hovered close to his mama, but graciously let little fingers and palms caress his soft wool while goats, cows, and chickens milled in the background.  Getting to touch the animals was thrilling for the little boys, but the symbolism of the lamb was a highlight of our Easter Sunday visit.

The Easter Bunny!

The Easter Bunny!

And, speaking of Easter, T-Rex had been asking me for weeks when we were going to see the Easter Bunny and get some Easter eggs.  I kept saying we’d have to look for him on Easter, all the while knowing that the rabbit himself was scheduled to make an appearance at Keukenhof that day.  The look on T-Rex’s face when he almost ran smack dab into the Easter Bunny was priceless, and I think he almost went into shock when the rabbit offered him an actual Easter egg!

Easter eggs - European style.  No plastic or candy here.

Easter eggs – European style. No plastic or candy here.

While I truly was disappointed by the lack of tulips in the fields outside (darn you late winter!), I still enjoyed my visit to Keukenhof.  Weather is always a gamble, but a memorable visit can be guaranteed with the right attitude (and season-appropriate clothing!).

This year's flower scene - Big Ben - had barely even sprouted.  So sad.

This year’s flower scene – Big Ben – had barely even sprouted. So sad.

p.s. – Keukenhof is only open two months of the year.  Because of that, the crowds are insane.  My advice?  Get there early – like, 8am early.  Head straight for the pavilions (don’t miss the Willem-Alexander Pavilion!) before the hordes of tour buses loaded with people show up.

For more advice on when to go, a bit of history, and why tulips are so important to the Netherlands, click here.

And now, a smattering of photos from our time at Keukenhof…

A visit to Keukenhof starts at this organ, playing silly tunes.  CDs for sale!

A visit to Keukenhof starts at this organ, playing silly tunes. CDs for sale!

The Willem-Alexander Pavilion was awash with color.

The Willem-Alexander Pavilion awash with color.

I loved discovering varieties of tulips I had never seen before.  These GIGANTIC red ones were my favorite.

I loved discovering varieties of tulips I had never seen before. These GIGANTIC red ones were my favorite (three year-old hands shown for scale).

Can you believe these are tulips?

Can you believe these are tulips?

Thrifty Travel Mama Keukenhof with Kids

And these are, too!

Check out the frizz..

Check out the frizz..

The fringe..

The fringe..

The spikes!

The spikes!

Splendid!

Splendid!

Not quite as big as my favorite red ones..

Not quite as big as my favorite red ones..

Just to compare, let's have another look..

Just to compare, let’s have another look..

"Regular" red ones.

More red!

Whoa..

Whoa..

So many shades of pink.

So many shades of pink.

Can you choose a favorite?

Can you choose a favorite?

Radiant hydrangeas..

Radiant hydrangeas..

Prom and proper daffodils.

Prim and proper daffodils.

These little teensy things were Doc Sci's favorite.

These little teensy things were Doc Sci’s favorite (thanks to Screech for hand modeling).

Only two flowers had bloomed.  These purple beauties..

Only two flowers had bloomed outside. These blue-purple beauties..

.. and these yellow ones.

.. and these yellow ones.

Maybe as a concession for the flowers not peeking out yet, the walkways were lined with tulips in crates.  Not exactly the same as having the fields full...

Maybe as a concession for the flowers not peeking out yet, the walkways were lined with tulips in crates. Not exactly the same as having the fields full…

If you want to bring some wooden tulips home with you, buy them elsewhere!  We saw these at a store in Brugge (you can also buy them at the Zaanse Schans for this price).  At Keukenhof, EACH wooden tulip was 3,50!

If you want to bring some wooden tulips home with you, buy them elsewhere! We saw these at a store in Brugge (you can also buy them at the Zaanse Schans for this price). At Keukenhof, EACH wooden tulip was 3,50!

Thanks for looking!  Have you been to Keukenhof?  I’d love to hear about your adventure!

Love tulips?  Here’s another post with a visual tour of our visit to the Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival in Lehi, Utah!

Signature-Marigold

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6 thoughts on “Visiting Keukenhof Flower Gardens with Kids

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