No BeNeLux itinerary would be complete without a stop in Amsterdam. Doc Sci and I have been to the city before, so I thought it would be fun to incorporate some kid-friendly activities this time.
I’ll outline our day in this post, but several of the activities deserve their own separate space. Look for more complete reviews of specific attractions in the coming days.9:30am – Hop on a bus headed to Amsterdam from our home base in Haarlem. Since we planned to walk everywhere that day, we decided the boys should have something to keep them interested and minimize “are we there yet” complaining. T-Rex rode his scooter and Screech toured Amsterdam on his laufrad (balance bike).
We opted for the pram instead of the backpack carrier for Big Foot. Was this the right choice? It’s hard to say. There are sidewalks in Amsterdam, but most of them are narrow and made of stone. The hardest part was keeping the whole circus (pram, scooter, balance bike + two adults) somewhat together on the sidewalks. But 10 hours is a long time to carry a baby and Big Foot sleeps better on the go when he’s in the pram.
Solution: If you can, do as the Dutch and rent a bakfiets for the day!
10:15am – Arrive in southwest Amsterdam and plot a walking course to our first stop. Upon arriving at the bus station, we noticed one of Amsterdam’s public urinals. Did we try it? To quote the oft-sold saying, “What happens in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam.”
11:00am – Pop in to the most anticipated stop of the day, the Kinderkookkafe! This place is (obviously) designed just for kids, and it’s awesome. All the food is made by the kids themselves! The boys put together pizzas while Doc Sci and I downed some delicious Dutch cheese sandwiches we had brought and drank tea to warm up (did I mention it was blowing snow when we left Haarlem that morning?).
12:30pm – Take a walk through Vondelpark, the most beautiful park in Amsterdam. The place was hopping with tourists and locals alike. Our favorite feature of the park was the multilingual lost and found.
1:00pm – Shop at HEMA, the discounter (think Target) known for its Dutch design and reasonable prices. We drank hot chocolate at the cafe which has an IKEA restaurant feel. HEMA is a great place for budget travelers to stock up on unique souvenirs (we found a fun Netherlands puzzle for 4 euros) or any travel necessities you might have run out of or forgotten. If you don’t love HEMA, it’s because you just don’t know it yet!
2:30pm – Hit up Kitsch Kitchen Supermercado for whimsical gifts and home items. As luck would have it, the store was having an Easter egg decorating contest. My boys were thrilled to be able to sit down and paint hard boiled eggs while I browsed the shelves. I big fat puffy heart LOVE serendipitous events!
3:30pm – Get lost in a parade of clothing from past eras at Episode Vintage. Doc Sci is always looking for quality denim in his size, and I can go for a fun peasant top any day.. as long as it fits me. Alas, we didn’t find anything that day. If you’re looking for cheap clothing, this is not the place. Shopping at Episode Vintage is for those seeking one-of-a-kind or nostalgic pieces.
5:00pm – Order savory enchiladas and tasty tacos at Los Pilones. If you’ve hung around Thrifty Travel Mama for long, you know that I’m always on the hunt for authentic Mexican food in Europe. When I discovered that Los Pilones sells its own bottled chipotle sauce, I knew this was THE place to go for Mexican food in Amsterdam. Yeah, buddy!
6:30pm – Catch the bus back to Haarlem. We munched on stroopkoeken (Dutch syrup cookies) all the way home. What an exhausting but enjoyable day!
Have more than one day in Amsterdam? Here’s what I would’ve added:
- NEMO Science Center – Admission is expensive, but the place looks bonkers cool. Plan to spend at least a half day to get your money’s worth.
- The Dutch Riding School – It’s free to poke your head in and take a look at the riding classes.
- Albert Cuyp Market – The largest street market in the Netherlands. I also stumbled upon a tip that there’s a vendor selling fresh stroopwaffels on Saturdays!
- De Kaaskamer – A store dedicated to Dutch cheese.
- Pancakes! – Serving up every kind of pancake imaginable from blini to crepes to American-style flapjacks.
- The Pancake Boat – For a two-in-one experience, the pancake boat offers all you can eat pancakes while cruising around the Amsterdam harbor area.
- De Taart van m’n Tante – A super funky cake shop.
- Bierfabrik – A restaurant specializing in organic, charcoal-grilled Cornish game hens. Eat with your hands, and get to know your neighbor!
- Le Pain Quotidien – Excellent choice for breakfast or lunch. Think Panera gone all French.
- Bagels & Beans – Perhaps not as exciting to US travelers, but expats craving bagels (Einstein Bros or otherwise) will love this place. In addition to coffee (hence the beans), this chain brews loose leaf tea.