Taking in the Tulips at Keukenhof with Kids – Round 2

Thrifty Travel Mama | More Tips for Taking Kids to Keukenhof Flower GardensTravelers (and especially travel bloggers) often talk about a bucket list, that sacred scribbling of places, formal or informal, to see and things to do before they kick the proverbial bucket.

But, what happens when you plan, scheme, and save in order to make one of those dream trips true… and then it wasn’t what you expected?

Well, that’s exactly what happened to me when we showed up at Keukenhof Gardens last year and didn’t see a single tulip poking up from the ground. The only blooms to behold thrived inside pavilions or shivered outside in the chilly late winter breeze.

And those gorgeous photos featuring miles of flower fields we all see floating around the internet every spring? Nothing but mounds of dirt with a reluctant fingers of green to mark where vibrant blooms should be.

These things should not be so.Thrifty Travel Mama | More Tips for Taking Kids to Keukenhof Flower Gardens

Flowers are fickle, though, and one cannot control the weather nor their time of arrival. So, I had to make a choice: live with the disappointment and be satisfied with Pinterest pictures, or visit Keukenhof again.

While the decision was obvious, how to get there and when to go certainly wasn’t. You see, the single most important tip when visiting Keukenhof with or without children is to time your visit correctly. Too early and the bulbs will still be sulking underground. Too late and they’ll be dying like it’s 1347.

Plus, I had the distance to consider. To drive from my house to Keukenhof takes about 7 hours. With the three amigos in the backseat, it’s impossible to do that all in one go, which means we’d have to make a weekend out of it. It seemed excessive to drag the entire family along just to indulge my flowery whim.

Solution – take the overnight train and bring one child along to lighten the load of the parent left behind.

To read more about taking the overnight train with kids, check back tomorrow!

Alpha and I arrived a bit groggy at the Schipol Airport train station after our night on the rails. We were both looking forward to this adventure together, but our hearts sank when we saw the line for the Keukenhof Express bus.

People from all over the world stood in a queue that snaked around the building. Luckily, we meet an American couple waiting just in front of us. They chattered away while the minutes ticked by. Before we knew it, we were zooming along the Dutch highway on our way to the flower fields.

Since we had been to Keukenhof before, we knew were the bathrooms were and which direction we wanted to head first. While the layout and the feel of the place was the same, something had definitely changed…

The park was alive with TULIPS!Thrifty Travel Mama | More Tips for Taking Kids to Keukenhof Flower Gardens

Everywhere we looked, our eyes feasted on the electric oranges, intense reds, lovely violets, bashful pinks, fierce yellows. Alpha and I bounced from one plot to another. “Look at these, Mama!” he said over and over until we just could.not.look.any.more.Thrifty Travel Mama | More Tips for Taking Kids to Keukenhof Flower GardensThrifty Travel Mama | More Tips for Taking Kids to Keukenhof Flower GardensThrifty Travel Mama | More Tips for Taking Kids to Keukenhof Flower GardensThis year, we didn’t buy any fresh stroopwaffels at the big Keukenhof windmill, but we did go up inside to have a look. To our delight, many of the flower fields were still in bloom! Swaths of color planted neatly next to each other created a rainbow ribbon that stretched across the horizon.Thrifty Travel Mama | More Tips for Taking Kids to Keukenhof Flower Gardens

When tulip overload set in, we exited the park and headed for the bike rental shack. A few too many euros and two rickety bikes later, we set out to make our own tour of the flower fields.Thrifty Travel Mama | More Tips for Taking Kids to Keukenhof Flower Gardens

Thrifty Travel Mama | More Tips for Taking Kids to Keukenhof Flower GardensWe rode on country roads, swerving away from semis and loaded tour buses, pausing every few minutes to snap photos of the breathtaking beauty. The wind whipped our faces and gnarled our hair, but we didn’t care. We were sailing through the Dutch countryside on two wheels, together.Thrifty Travel Mama | More Tips for Taking Kids to Keukenhof Flower Gardens

With my bucket list wish successfully fulfilled, we headed back to Amsterdam to kill four hours before our return train. I treated the boy to American-style frozen yogurt and a Dutch pancake dinner. We stopped off at the grocery store to stock up on some supermarket souvenirs: peanut butter, speckaloos cookies, hagleslag, and Haribo licorice.

The rain began as the sun disappeared, a slight drizzle that had us running for Centraal station. Just when we stepped inside, the drops became larger until the full fury of a Dutch downpour released.

As the train pulled away from Amsterdam, Alpha waved goodbye to an amazing day and snuggled into his berth for the long ride home.

Would you revisit one of your bucket list destinations if it wasn’t what you expected?

Practical info:

  • Keukenhof is only open March through May. For 2015 dates and ticket prices, click here.
  • In 2013, we visited at the end of March – too early. In 2014, we visited the week of Easter – perfect. Try to time your visit a few days before the Flower Parade, or go during the Flower Parade if you don’t mind the masses.
  • To read about our visit with the Easter Bunny and encounter with an Easter lamb, click here for my previous post.

More bloggers with Keukenhof + kids posts:

Signature Thrifty Travel Mama

 

Ketchup: The Past Four Months + the Future in 1000 Words (or More)

Practicing our Spiderman skills in Croatia

Practicing our Spiderman skills in Croatia

So now that I’m back in the saddle, I thought I’d try to close the distance between where I left you and where we are now.

I’d like (you) to think I’ve been nothing but a good student for the past four months, but I’m a terrible liar. While it’s true I always did my best to complete my homework, it’s equally as true that I played hookey a good bit during my studies. In between the worksheets and flashcards, our little family has had plenty of adventures near and far, both exceptional and everyday.

Ready for the recap?

In no particular order..

Multicoolty, a blog that compiles stories about expats living in Germany, featured me in May, though I wrote my thoughts way back in January. Check out what I had to say and a silly old picture I dug up from our first trip to Berlin here.

Cologne

Köln (Cologne)

My husband gave me a fantastic birthday gift this year – two days alone (ALONE!!) in Köln (Cologne). This was before language lessons had started, so it was a blissful quiet time to do whatever I fancied whenever I pleased.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Keukenhof Gardens with Kids

The biggest boy exploring the tulips with me at Keukenhof in the Netherlands.

To ease my disappointment over last year’s pathetic lack of tulips at Keukenhof in the Netherlands, I took my oldest son on a quick trip for a better look. We took the overnight train up to Amsterdam, bussed over to Keukenhof to gawk at the fields of tulips, made our way back to Amsterdam, scarfed down a pancake dinner, and caught the night train back home. Whew! And yes, it was actually fun, and yes, he was a champ on the overnight trains. I would definitely do it again!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro

Flying away in Zadar, Croatia.

Several days after our up-and-back Netherlands trip, the five of us flew to Croatia for ten days. During our trip, we stayed in Zadar, Dubrovnik, and Split. We also drove through a bit of Bosnia and took a day trip to Montenegro. One of the most fun moments of the trip was meeting SJ of Chasing the Donkey and her family!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Mexican Food in Germany

The taco truck!

While we didn’t find any Mexican food in Croatia (and opted out of another fantastic dinner at Los Pilones in Amsterdam in favor of a pancake feast), we have been going gangbusters at the Holy Taco Shack taco truck. We took our American-expat-in-Luxembourg friends there a few weeks ago. They’re just as salsa-crazed as we are, and they gave the burritos two thumbs up. Now, if I could just get the taco truck to deliver…

Thrifty Travel Mama | potty trainingThis little champ has kicked daytime diapers and now only uses a nappy at night and during his nap. We did the same thing with all three boys – an awful, torturous, bodily-fluid-soaked potty training boot camp for a weekend followed by the shock and awe of daytime dryness.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Picking Strawberries in Germany with KidsStrawberry season came earlier this year, and we hit the fields several times. We made many of our favorite recipes from last year including strawberry fruit leather, strawberry syrup, and strawberry shortcakes.

Those strawberry shortcakes were made with coconut cream for me as I went dairy-free at the beginning of the year and have kept it up except for a four-week break while we traveled to Croatia. P.s. – I miss cheese and there is NO substitute that even comes close..

Thrifty Travel Mama | Losing TeethOur oldest little adventurer has lost enough teeth to officially apply for Jack-o-Lantern status, and the tooth fairy is flat broke. This photo is a few months old. He’s now missing three teeth on top, and two on the bottom!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Riding a LaufradThe youngest learned to ride a bike without pedals (Laufrad). And now we are losing sleep over his daredevil ways that now are ON WHEELS. Yikes.

Can you guess why we called it the poo hike?

Can you guess why we called it the poo hike?

As soon as the thermometer sailed over the 12C mark, we flexed our hiking muscles. In between our travels, we’ve been able to do a handful of hikes, including one we affectionately call the poo hike and one insane 15km trek with four kids and nearly no complaining. Kilimanjaro, here we come!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Hiking in the Alps with kids

Back in the Alps!

And, speaking of hiking, we (okay, mainly me) became obsessed with the Alps after our excursion to Schilthorn last summer. Last weekend, we took our first summer hike near Engelberg, and we’ve got more ideas for Swiss outings than there are Saturdays before the snow falls again.

Due to an insane amount of planning and the wonderful generosity of friends, I managed a week of solo parenting (single parents, I know this is wimpy – hats off to you!) while my husband went off to Milan for a conference.. and to look for a new job.

 

The last point brings me to a big change coming for our family…

We have decided that Doc Sci won’t be renewing his employment contract here in Germany when it ends later this year. Professionally, he needs to move on; unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an opportunity to do that where we currently live.

Where will we end up? Only God knows, but most likely, we’ll move back in the US, though we may consider something in Europe if the circumstances are right. This is a decision we have wrestled with for months. We love so many things about living in Europe; it will not be easy to leave our life here behind. But, ultimately, we both know our days in this city are numbered. Sigh.

And, if you will forgive me for throwing one.more.thing your way, I’ve decided to change the boys’ nicknames here. When I started this blog, I never dreamed that anyone would read it, let alone the hundreds that do. I also never thought I’d be writing for nearly four years. In that time, the boys have painfully outgrown their silly pseudonyms.

This also may be a good time to explain why I use nicknames. Yes, there’s the usual safety concerns, but really, it’s a matter of respect for me. My kids aren’t old enough to know that I write about our life on the internet (heck, they don’t even know what the internet is). As such, they have no say in the things I post.

When they are older, they may not wish to have their faces and names plastered all over this space for public viewing. So, until the day when we can have a conversation about their wishes, I’ll respect the option of anonymity by using nicknames.

But then, there’s the matter of what to call them. I thought Small, Medium, and Large was good enough for me, basic… but boring. I tried it in German, but I just can’t call my kid Gross (large).

I’m still keeping it simple, but I’m steering in the ABC direction. The boys will now go by the first three letters of the Pilot’s Alphabet that is commonly used in the travel industry – Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Plus, these names are actually spot on when it comes to their personalities, Creepy!

I’m seriously over my 1,000 word target, and that’s about all the changes and updates I can handle. If you have a blog, post a link (or three) below with exciting news, fantastic trips, handy DIYs, or winning lotto numbers. I’ve love to catch up with you, too!

Now, tell me, which of our adventures above would you like to read about first?Signature Thrifty Travel Mama

 

Mainau – The Flower Island

Thrifty Travel Mama | Mainau - The Flower IslandAt the urging of several friends, we finally (FINALLY!) visited the beautiful island of Mainau.  It’s an amazing place full of flowers, gardens, butterflies, and more.  But, be warned: you won’t want to leave!

Mainau is located close to Konstanz on the Bodensee in southern Germany.  For some reason, my GPS couldn’t find Mainau.  I just set it to Konstanz and followed the well-posted signs once we got close.  Of course, I found the coordinates after I returned home here – ha!  The island is accessible either by parking in the lot on the mainland and walking over a bridge or by ferry from a port closer to Konstanz.

Here we go!

Here we go!

Though the island does have a few hills here and there, it’s relatively flat and pram-friendly.  Bikes are prohibited, but children can bring balance bikes or scooters.  In the summer, wagons (handcars) are available free of charge from the main entrance.

The "handcars" are complimentary during the summer season.

The “handcars” are complimentary during the summer season.

For the little ones, the best part of Mainau is the gigantic water playground.  I knew this in advance, so we saved it for last.  I never would have been able to convince boys to look at the lilies when they knew barges and bathing suits were waiting for them!

Don't miss the butterfly house!

Don’t miss the butterfly house!

Instead, we hit up the Butterfly House first.  The building is shaped like a – wait for it – butterfly, and visitors enter through a gigantic caterpillar.  The inside is jungle-like with high humidity, tropical fruits, and densely packed greenery.  If you’re gentle and patient, you might even be able to get a butterfly to rest on your hand!

Beautiful butterflies.

Beautiful butterflies.

We then trudged on past some ginormous trees to the castle on the far end of the island.  A cafe and small chapel are accessible to the public, but the rest of the palace is still the private residence of the Bernadotte family.

A real redwood!

A real redwood!

Here's the inside of the small chapel.  A music festival was taking place during our visit; these children were about to sing in this lovely space.

Here’s the inside of the small chapel. A music festival was taking place during our visit; these children were about to sing in this lovely space.

A lovely rose garden sprawls out next to the castle.  I asked the boys if they wanted to explore the roses or not – I was surprised to hear an enthusiastic, “yes!”

The Italian rose garden.

The Italian rose garden.

Some serious QC going on.

Some serious QC going on.

After a satisfactory amount of sniffing, we moved on to the Italian and Mediterranean gardens.  I was lost in dreamy anticipation of our upcoming Italy trip, wondering if the landscape looked at all similar to Tuscany.  Their interest waning, the boys just wanted to watch people jumping off their boats for a swim in the Bodensee.

The Italian step water garden.

The Italian step water garden.

As I was reassuring them that lunch would come “soon,” we happened upon the petting zoo and pony rides.  T-Rex and Screech went in with Doc Sci to pet the goats, shrieking with delight when they found a baby one.

Side note: I noticed lots of children playing inside the goat pen without shoes.  Um, seriously!?  I get that Europeans want to be all earthy in the summer, but poop pellets between your toes?  G-ROSS!!

Pony rides!  The cost is 2 euros for 3 times around the paddock.

Pony rides! The cost is 2 euros for 3 times around the paddock.

Unfortunately, both boys chickened out when it came time to ride the ponies.  I knew they would like it, but neither would.. pony up.Thrifty Travel Mama | Mainau - The Flower IslandJust as a major hunger meltdown threatened to bring down the house, we made it to the playground.  This area of the island is THE point of Mainau’s existence according to little boys, the entire reason they will put up with flowers, butterflies and other girly things.

The kids can maneuver this raft back and forth by pulling on the thick rope.

The kids can maneuver this raft by pulling on the thick rope.

Back and forth.

Back and forth and back again.

Though the playground is quite extensive and features many fun playthings for children of all ages, the main draw is the water area, complete with wooden rafts that children can pilot around the murky green water (let’s not think about where those children’s feet have been…).

More barges!

More barges!

More of the playground - without water.  An area for toddlers is just on the other side of these climbing structures.

More of the playground – without water. An area for toddlers is just on the other side of these climbing structures.

Screech's favorite thing about the island (even over the water features) was this train.  Put a euro in and the ICE train goes 'round and 'round.

Screech’s favorite thing about the island (even over the water features) was this train. Put a euro in and the ICE train goes ’round and ’round.

I highly recommend bringing a bathing suit, towels, a sack lunch, and a large picnic blanket.  Spread out, and relax!  If not for the two hour drive home, we would’ve lounged ’til sundown.

I had high hopes for relaxing after lunch.  But keeping track of 3 kids near water is a two-parent job.  Maybe next year?

I had high hopes for relaxing after lunch. But keeping track of 3 kids near water is a two-parent job. Maybe next year?

Speaking of sunset, admission is half off starting at 5pm.  Prices are not cheap for adults, but children 12 and under are free!  Along with the privilege of enjoying the beautiful gardens, I was pleased to see that ticket sales went toward maintaining plentiful, clean bathrooms throughout island. I saw several baby changing rooms stocked with complimentary diapers and wipes. Though we didn’t use them, clothes dryers are provided free of charge for those families who forgot to bring swimsuits.Thrifty Travel Mama | Mainau - The Flower IslandAfter I got over the initial sticker shock, I thought the price was fair, considering the amount of upkeep that is required for the extensive grounds.  Of course, it’s best to stay the entire day to get your money’s worth!

If forced to find something negative about our experience at Mainau, I’d have to admit that since the island is so beautiful it’s naturally very crowded.  Expect to share your day with hordes of other eager visitors.

Our whole family loved Mainau, and we hope to return again some day with friends.  Who’s in??Signature-Marigold

Thanksgiving Point Gardens Tulip Festival with Kids

Thrifty Travel Mama - Thanksgiving Point Gardens with KidsI’m taking a break from BeNeLux posts today to recap a recent outing to the Thanksgiving Point Gardens Tulip Festival in Lehi, Utah.  We’ve just returned from three weeks in the US, and Salt Lake City was our first stop.

Thanksgiving Point Gardens.

Thanksgiving Point Gardens.

Thanksgiving Point is a attraction complex located just 30 minutes outside Utah’s capital that includes the gardens, a golf course, museums, a farm, shops, and restaurants.  Since my boys are still a little young to be interested in museums, I aimed to visit the gardens and add the farm if we had time (we didn’t).

Perfect!

Perfect!

Parking is free, but admission is rather steep ($10 adults / $8 children weekdays and $12 adults / $10 children weekends).  However, we mostly did free things in Salt Lake City, and I really wanted to see some dang tulips since we missed them at Keukenhof.  We coughed up the $36 and determined to enjoy ourselves.

Pretty, pretty.

Pretty, pretty.

After visiting THE best place for tulips in the whole wide world, Thanksgiving Point’s Tulip Festival rather underwhelmed us.  The bulbs were planted in narrow swaths along the paths throughout the park.  I had hoped for a field full of ’em, but sadly, my expectations were too high.

Most of the tulips were along the paths, like this.

Most of the tulips were along the paths and mixed in with other kinds of flowers.

What I had hoped for was a big fat field.  This was the best swath of blooms.

What I had hoped for was a big fat field. This was the best bunch of blooms.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to see some unique varieties: pointy petals, frilly edges, gigantic blooms, creative coloring.

Spikes!

Danger – formidable flowers ahead!

Besides the tulips, our favorite areas were the Creek Garden, the Italian Garden, and the waterfall with adjoining Mountain Garden.

The Creek Garden with lovely flowering trees.

The Creek Garden with lovely flowering trees.

The Italian Garden.

The Italian Garden – up, up, up!  Wheelchairs and strollers can access the top via a “back door” path.

View from the Vista Mound Garden.

View from the Vista Mound Garden.

We had hoped to see the Secret Garden (a replica of the garden in the novel of the same name), but Screech and T-Rex had had enough.  We needed to find the Children’s Discovery Garden right quick, or we were going to have a massive meltdown on our hands.

T-Rex entertained himself by taking pictures.

T-Rex is growing up, entertaining himself by taking pictures instead of making mischief.

His photo of a birdhouse, one of many in the Gardens.

His photo of a birdhouse, one of many in the Gardens.

Entrance to the Children’s Discovery Garden is included in the regular admission to Thanksgiving Point Gardens.  However, parents who would like to just visit the children’s area can purchase a separate ticket at a reduced rate ($6 adult / $4 child).

I’m always eager to reward my boys for good behavior at an adult attraction (such as the Gardens) with a trip to something more their style.  Even though I wasn’t completely mesmerized by the tulips, I thought surely the Children’s Garden would be a hit.

Wrong.

Noah's Ark on dry land.

Noah’s Ark on dry land.

The Children’s Discovery Garden must be a fantastic place in summer.  Since the main feature of the kids area is a large Noah’s Ark splash pad, the place can be rather dull in chilly weather.  Sure, there are a few educational things for kids, one very small rope jungle gym, and a modest sand pit (no playground!).

But mama to mama?  This place ain’t worth its salt in winter.

The sand pit, paltry by German standards, but the best cold weather kid entertainment in the Children's Garden.

The sand pit… paltry by German standards, but the best cold weather kid entertainment in the Children’s Garden.

On a brighter note, the gardens are definitely stroller and wheelchair friendly.  Should you want to upgrade your ride, golf carts and Segways are available to rent.  Restrooms are located throughout the park as are water fountains.  We brought a picnic lunch, but a cafe serving sandwiches and salads is located at the main entrance.

Stand out.

Stand out.

Would I visit Thanksgiving Point Gardens with kids again?  Probably not… unless it was free.  It wasn’t amazing enough to earn the steep admission.  However, I would be up for giving the farm a try.  Maybe the horses, cows, chickens and such would tickle our fancy enough to open our wallet.

Have you visited Thanksgiving Point Gardens?  The farm?  What was your experience?Signature-Marigold

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