Amsterdam with KidsAmsterdam – Rated G
You may have kids now, but it doesn’t mean that Amsterdam is off limits. A city with culture, quite beauty and beautiful parks, Amsterdam can indeed be Rated G. Unlike what your college visit would have been rated, this time around it’s a family vacation filled with all sorts of wholesome fun. With the active clean up of the Red Light District – they’re actually trying to save some of the smut but it’s quickly disappearing –Amsterdam is becoming a far family-friendlier place.
For the Little Masters
Hotels in Amsterdam have come a long way, baby. With the gut renovation of the De L’Europe, there’s now a place where your kids can be catered to in the style that well-traveled tykes deserve. In fact, while it’s not a pre-requisite, the hotel had families in mind when they created the Dutch Masters Wing, the all-suite and super deluxe area of the hotel. At De L’Europe, here’s plenty of room and amenities for smooth sailing, including children’s menus in all of the exceptional hotel restaurants and a swimming pool that is on-limits, all the time, to your kids.
It’s All About Logistics
Like the city destinations you’re accustomed to traveling to, you know how important it is to make nice with the concierge prior to your trip. At De L’Europe, the concierge will happily acquire your tickets to the museums so you skip the queue, call ahead to restaurants to arrange child-friendly items and arrange transport around town. Amsterdam isn’t a large city, but for children and adults alike it’s a lot of walking. From De L’Europe you can walk to the Blumen Markets and to the Prinsengracht area where you’ll pick up your boat ride. But unless your kids are mountain people, the other sites are a long walk. Amsterdam is not a city where you want to schlep through public transportation either. If your kids aren’t old enough to bike, take a cab or better yet splurge on a driver when you head to the museums or to the park.
A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That
What may be appropriate for your kids will also depend upon their age. For example, children under 5 are probably too young for the Anne Frank House, but by the time they are 7 and older, many will have read the Diary of Anne Frank, and have a greater appreciation of the visit. The museums do an excellent job of catering to children under the age of 12 with appropriate tours and art programs, which are educational, fun, as well as in English. At the Rijksmuseum you can sign up for the princely sum of 75 Euro to get a tour of the highlights of the museum, or sign up for the special art workshop which changes by season. More gently priced is the self-guided audio tour, which runs about 3.5 Euro but without the social engagement and the benefit of someone who knows how to break it down for your kids. There’s no food on-site at the Rijksmuseum, so make sure to have the appropriate provisions. The Van Gogh Museum has the most robust programs, with multiple art workshops, treasure hunts, coloring activities and tours. The programs are more economical than the Rijksmuseum and they have a high-end café you’d expect from such an elegant place. The key is of course to skip those long lines by getting your tickets beforehand.
Other family activities are a boat tour of the city, which you can arrange through www.rentaboutamsterdam.com, or you can join the public boats at your own risk of Heineken toting tourists on board. To pair with the canal tour, stop by the Houseboat Museum, which is always a hit with the kids.
With any city, there’s a lot of engagement and it can be tiring for children. Our advice is to hit the cultural activities first thing in the morning, when they’re still feeling shiny brand-new. At the end of the day, kids seem to enjoy the simpler things in life. No matter what a destinations offers, they’ve probably frequented the playgrounds in the most exotic of locales and spent some good old quality time in the hotel swimming pool. The best family playground is the Vondel Park, which in the warmer weather has a wading pool but otherwise is quite the kiddie social scene. They have a simple café with wholesome food called Het Groot Melkhuis which translates to “The Milk House”. The Dutch are known for their dairy products, so take advantage of the fresh milk and cheese which couldn’t be any more delicious and nutritious for your kids.
It Amsterdam is part of a larger trip, explore the countryside and quintessential Dutch towns like Delft. It’s also an easy drive into Belgium where you can continue onto Bruges and Brussels on your European family adventure.
What’s for Dinner?
Speaking of delicious and nutritious, Amsterdam offers a chance for your kids to expand their horizons. Dutch food is influenced by Northern France, and even for selective eaters, most wouldn’t object to a cheese sandwich. There are many different types of Gouda, you can introduce your children to the world of cheese with an excursion to the Kaaskaamer, the cheese Mecca. For afternoon treats – it is vacation after all – stop by Pompadour, for beautifully made cookies and pastries. It’s a great place for Mom and Dad to get their caffeine fix.
Your safest bet is to hit the hotels that will have children’s menus. Whether or not you stay there, De L’Europe has the highest quality offerings for your kids. In fact, if you ate every one of your meals at the hotel for convenience, even adults would enjoy delicious high-end cuisine. Do try to get out though to one of our recommendations under the Amsterdam main feature. At De L’Europe, Children are welcome to every restaurant on the property from the casual café Hoofdstad Brasserie to the high-end Bord’Eau. While Mom and Dad feast on their skate wing with grenobloise sauce, kids can get as simple or adventurous as they choose. If you want to venture off-site, head to the Prinsengracht neighborhood. For your children with sophisticated palates, you can take them to Envy. Envy specializes in small plates of gourmet food where they can learn fast-hand about the finer things in life. To accommodate children with less adventurous taste, have your concierge at the hotel call ahead with suggestions of plain veggies and pasta that will suit. Otherwise, Ranking Thai is a local Asian restaurant where on the earlier side, families enjoy its international cuisine. While you may not have made it to the Grasshopper this trip, the Rated G Version is one that your children will fondly remember when they’re making their own memories as young adults.