There is no better place to start a European adventure than Amsterdam. With its easy-to-manage size and bike-friendly streets, this international city is buzzing with unique kid-friendly activities everyone will love—all with a side of pancakes.Less
Designed and built in 1850, this is Amsterdam’s most famous public green space. Expect to see lots of bikers, walkers and dogs enjoying the park (and in the summer, lots of picnics and lounging in the much-appreciated sunlight). Parents: head to De Vondeltuin in the southwest corner for an epic playground with a cafe where you can sip on cappuccinos while the kids climb their hearts out.
No visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a boat ride on the canals. There are various ways to do this—you can join a larger guided tour boat (found all over the inner ring), rent your own boat and drive through the canals like a local through a company called Boaty, or book a more intimate guided tour boat—we recommend Those Dam Boat Guys (for the older, less-impressionable crowd).
Originally established in 1800, this is Amsterdam’s most popular destination so be prepared for crowds and lines to see the more famous exhibits, i.e. “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt van Rijn, (commissioned and painted in 1642). This gorgeous building houses over one million pieces of art, including the breathtaking Rembrandt but kids will probably be equally impressed with the giant “historical” Playmobil figures, which make the perfect vacation photo op.
This warm and cozy restaurant has been serving the veritable staple for breakfast, lunch, and dinner since 1973 and it will not disappoint. The kid’s menu is hilarious—they can choose between the fire department, princess, a surprise pancake, pirate and is delivered with a prop to boot, like the police version above that includes a police helmet (not to keep), a side of chocolate to spread on the pancake along with some gummy candies and a lollipop.
This wild play area, located in the northwest corner of Amsterdam, is full of funky bridges, zip lines and wood rafts to climb onto and push your way through the canals. Getting wet is most likely guaranteed but it's super fun. After, head to the shop to buy a s'mores kit to roast on the open fire.
As impressive architecturally as the contents it holds, this is a mecca for science, technology, experiments, and interactive play. The Renzo Piano-designed building sits on the waterfront and as you approach, you may notice people walking on the sloping roof, also known as Amsterdam’s highest square. This elevated square has an art installation called Energetica, as well as a cafe and a bar, available to museum patrons and the public alike.
The oldest zoo in continental Europe, here you can visit with 900 specials of animals, run around some glorious playgrounds and get up close and personal with kangaroos.
Want to know how and why Amsterdam came to be? Head to the Amsterdam Museum where a guided audio tour will have everyone mesmerized by the development of a simple fishing village to Golden-Age powerhouse to the melting pot it is today. The tour is fascinating, engaging and since it’s self-guided—you can go as fast or slow as you like. Do plan on spending a couple hours here, though—it’s that interesting for both kids and adults. It’s also a great spot when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
This museum houses the world’s largest collection of paintings by the troubled artist, Vincent Van Gogh. It’s big, with three main floors plus an exhibition hall and is perpetually crowded. So much so, you’ll need to reserve a time-slot for entry. Repeat: You cannot walk into the museum without a confirmed reservation. Understandably, the museum is taking great pains to make the experience enjoyable for everyone.
The largest and most popular outdoor food and flea market (it's been on-going since 1905)—hit up this pedestrian-only street and find treasures to wear and eat. Also one of the best spots for people-watching.