Spending 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.
A 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.
The 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!).
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…
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!