Amsterdam is more than just pot and prostitution, I promise.
I knew I was going to love Amsterdam as soon as we booked our flight and I started researching like a lunatic. The first question people ask us when we say we’re going on a trip is
“are you bringing the kids?”
The answer is 99% of the time, YES. Jerek and I take weekend getaways alone but long adventures we always prefer to be together as a family. So when people heard we were going to Amsterdam (and Brussels) they usually followed up with the first question then the following,
“So what is there to do with kids?”
Newsflash, there are kids that live in Amsterdam incase you forgot and a lot of them! They are also known as some of the happiest kids in the world! Every city has tons of things for kids and families to do, but it’s up to you to make a plan and figure out what you’ll do while there.
Prior to leaving I made a Google doc of all the recommendations I had found on the internet into groups:
- How to get around
- Where to eat
- Where to explore/see/visit
Once we got there we looked at the weather and loosely planned our days out, giving wiggle room for
exploring Chelsea reading the map entirely wrong and stumbling down beautiful roads and into cafes! Amsterdam has great museums, awesome food and beautiful classic European streets you could get lost in for days. Here is a collection of all my recommendations as well as tips I gathered from others (but didn’t have time to do…)
HOW TO GET AROUND:
Amsterdam has Uber but honestly, I think the only time we used that was to and from the airport! Every big city we go to I use Citymapper and I swear by it. It’s an app that works in most big cities that will show you all the different ways to get to your destination (Uber, Lyft, buses, trams, bikes, walking or by car. It gives prices and ETA’s as well as how many stops/changes you will have to make.) The Amsterdam tram system is dreamy! We got a 2 day pass for $7/person and you can ride all the trams, buses and ferries you want for 3 days, the best money we spent! The kids L-O-V-E-D the tram system and couldn’t wait to get on every single one. Taking public transit is cheaper and allows you to see so much more without being exhausted at the end of the day.
Amsterdam is KNOWN for their bikes. I think I read somewhere that there are more bikes than cars registered to people there. The bike lanes though, DAMN they are no joke! We rented bikes and rode around Vondelpark because I was hella scared to ride anywhere else but a huge park. Even then people were annoyed by my lack of signaling and slow riding. There are a ton of bike rentals everywhere you go. Our airbnb said you shouldn’t pay more than $10/day otherwise it’s a rip off. We paid a little more because we got a bike with a kids seat for me and Sky and a tandam bike for Tracen and Jerek. Everywhere we looked there were mamas with 3 kids loaded up on their bikes, hauling ass up hill, carrying 100 lbs of groceries on their back, while talking on their phone riding with no hands. Okay, maybe not that last part but you get it, they ride everywhere and anywhere! Walking is a given, everyone in Europe walks. Between walking and biking everywhere you could eat all the croquettes, stroopwafel and herring that you want and still not gain weight here!
WHERE TO EAT:
I want to start this off by saying it was very easy to eat vegan/plant based in Amsterdam. Everywhere I turned there was fresh fruit and veggies, gluten free and vegan options, dairy free items, the list goes on.
(vegan nachos at the food hall were to die for at the food hallen!)
The first night we were there we thought about staying in and just getting Uber eats. Jerek reminded me that when we were in Paris the first night we forced ourselves out and had an amazing night at the Eiffel tower eating crepes. So we ventured out to a recommendation called Food Hallen, the first indoor food market with over 20 food stalls, 3 bars, live music on Tuesdays (the day we were there), DJ’s Fridays and Saturdays. SO.MUCH.AMAZING.FOOD! I would have gone back every day but I was attempting to not be a basic betch.
Dignita– a perfect brunch place. We scooped up a little couch which was perfect for us to sprall out around, play games and relax while we ate brunch before heading out for the day.
Stromma Boat tour– (pizza & unlimited beer and wine): a beautiful 2 hour boat cruise through the canals with personal pizza’s, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and unlimited beer and wine!
Ultimately we strolled the streets and popped in and out of so many different cafes, shops and eateries I couldn’t keep track of everything, so I just noted the big played in my book!
There are some other locations on my list to visit that we didn’t get a chance to:
The Kinderkookkafé located near the Vondelpark. The kids take over the small restaurant by cooking their own pancakes and they can even sign up to play chef for a day (8 years and up). And for another pancake adventure try cruising around the former Amsterdam harbor where you can enjoy all pancakes you can eat on the infamous Pancake boat. You can cruise around for an hour or a longer 2.5 hour cruise. Just keep in mind Wednesday afternoons are reserved for parties. (I chose the nighttime pizza boat tour over this one because we like pizza more than pancakes, also, hello unlimited wine and beer!)
WHERE TO EXPLORE:
The Jordaan neighborhood is an area that many recommended to me to visit. While I couldn’t tell the difference from this area and the area we stayed in (both were beautiful) there is so much to see here just walking around, popping into shops and popping into playgrounds.
Vondel Park is next up and it is known as the central park of Amsterdam. There are about 6 different playgrounds but the best one is at the blue teahouse. They serve snacks, lunch and most importantly COCKTAILS! Plus they have great playground for all ages. You can see the boys zip-lining down the playground in my video here.
Albert Cyup Market- The market is closed on Sundays open every other day 9-5. We wondered through the market and it was full of fresh food, flowers and goodies. We grabbed fruit, croissants and some coffee and headed to a playground near by before continuing on to sight see.
Nemo Science Center is a perfect indoor activity when that weather is really effing with your vibe. We specifically kept this in our back pocket for a day that wasn’t ideal to be outside. It was a 4 story hands on science center for Kids. We’ve been to a few here in Michigan but this one was awesome, not to mention the cafe they have upstairs was dreamy!
Some other places we didn’t go to but worth mentioning to visit is the IAMSTERDAM sign, hello Instagram photo opp! Amstelpark, on the outskirt of city, is great for both kids and adults. It has beautiful gardens and a gigantic playground and petting zoo. The Amsterdam Forest is uber family friendly and there is so much to do for kids there. Just down the street is the Pancake Restaurant, Boerderij Meerzicht, that has a great playground beside the terrace and deer you can feed (so I’ve read!)
Everything I mentioned was great to do with kids! In fact 95% of the things we do when we travel we have the kids in mind, you have to! We’ve learned over the years that if you do something for them like go to a park for an hour then you can drag them to see something you want to do. Buy them a little sweet treat so that they will wander around the streets of Europe, stopping to pose for photos. Try and make everything fun and when they are tired recognize that and take a break. There’s no sense in trying to do it all and then getting upset when the kids are over it and having a breakdown.
BUT! If you’re going to do one thing with the kids it needs to be the pizza canal boat tour! Seeing Amsterdam at night from a boat drifting through the canals was BEAUTIFUL! Not to mention you get unlimited beer and wine, a personal pizza (for every person!) and Ben & Jerrys ice cream at the end.