Almost every municipality in the Netherlands will have a few ‘fun things’ for kids to do. This can come as a blessing to some parents, since most Dutch schools do not have extra curricular programs for their pupils. Luckily, your child will not have to twiddle his or her thumbs during the school holidays. This page contains tons of fun ideas and resources for keeping your offspring occupied and engaged, outside of the classroom.
Find out what’s on offer
The best way to seek out fun kids activities is to:
- Just ask around. Fellow parents and colleagues are bound to have recommendations
- Check your local online ‘gemeentegids‘
- Give your municipality a call, and ask about your options
Here are just a few examples of what you might find:
Playing in your Dutch neighborhood
If your kids are getting bored and restless, why not simply take them out to play in your local neighborhood? The Netherlands is generally a very safe country, and this is still a common and popular practice.
Dutch sports organizations
The Netherlands is a very sporting nation. Encouraging your kids to join one of the many sports organizations can be a great way for them to get regular exercise, meet friends and experience being part of a tight team. The most popular organizations are:
If these do not interest your kids, there are many less main stream options for them to try, such as:
CAMPS IN THE NETHERLANDS
Scouting clubs, for both girls ad boys, are very popular in the Netherlands. Here’s how they work:
- The scouts get together almost every Saturday afternoon
- Fun and educational activities will have been arranged for them to participate in
- Occasionally, the groups will go camping for an entire weekend
- Week-long summer camps are often organized during summer vacations too
Other camps in NL
If you do not have a scouting camp nearby, there may be another kind of out-of-school camp for you kids to get involved with, such as:
- Horseback-riding camp
- Sailing camp
- International schools sometimes arrange camp-like activities for their pupils during the summer months. Even if your kids attend a Dutch school, you can ask whether they could come along
- Some municipalities arrange a ‘day-camp‘ during summer vacations. These typically consist of a full program of activities for the children. Drop-off time is usually early in the morning and pick-up time is late in the afternoon
- Once again, we recommend that you check your gemeentegids or ask someone at the municipal offices about what’s on offer in your locality
Activities for kids in NL
Dutch Petting Farms
Petting farms are a very popular form of entertainment for little kids in the Netherlands
- Farms can be found in almost every town and city in Holland
- They usually have: goats, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, ducks, pigs, a pony, some cats and the occasional donkey
- Not only do kids tend to love it, but they often get educated about about the animals while they are there
- Are you looking for a pet rabbit? The petting farm is a good place to buy one from. They often have a few extra bunnies hopping around
- If you do not happen to have an actual petting farm in your municipality, you may well be able to find something called a ‘hertenkamp’
- These an enclosed areas where herds of deer graze peacefully. They are very gentle animals, and kids are often allowed to feed them
Other children’s activities
If your little ones are not animal lovers, there are plenty of other things to do with them:
- Playgrounds can often be found in Dutch towns and cities. At the very least they tend to have: swings, slides, seesaws, sand boxes. Most zoos in the Netherlands also have great children’s playgrounds. You can find more on zoos a little later on this page
- Traveling circuses are another quintessential part of Dutch summer time
- Fairs can be another fun place to take your offspring. They are called ‘kermis‘ in Dutch. Their arrival is announced well in advance, so you can set aside time for a fun day out with the kids
- Rainy days: they are fairly frequent in the Netherlands! Luckily, there are plenty of covered playgrounds. Some examples are: Ballorig, Playcity, or Kidzcity. At these playgrounds, your kids can play on: humongous slides, intricate rope-climbing structures, merry-go-rounds, trains, you name it
- In some bigger Dutch cities you will find activity centers. Here, children learn to build tree houses, floats and other complicated contraptions
AMUSEMENT PARKS AND MUSEUMS IN NL
The Netherlands is home to some fantastic amusement parks and museums. Here is a comprehensive list:
Amusement parks in NL
A huge park offering several days’ worth of entertainment. It is a fantasyland, full of fairytale woods, wild rides on rollercoasters, castles, fairytale figures and more.
Europalaan 1, Kaatsheuvel (near Tilburg)
Take your kids on a ‘journey through the human body’! On their way, they will see, feel and hear how the human body works. They will also find out about the importance of a healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise. Corpus offers education and entertainment, as well as a vast number of permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Willem Einthovenstraat 1, Oegstgeest
Safari Park Beekse Bergen
A place where you can take a drive or a walk amongst more than 100 wild animals. Your trip could take more than a day!
Beekse Bergen 1, Hilvarenbeek (near Tilburg)
A fantastic water festival, with attractions, a ski valley, a wild pool and lots of entertainment.
Duinrell 1, Wassenaar
Pony Park Slagharen
A place where you can experience life in the Wild West! You will find an amusement park, a shopping street, ‘Wigwam World’, Colorado City and much more.
Zwarte Dijk 37, Slagharen
Where, more than 200 years ago, Eise Eisinga made a scale model of the solar system in his living room. It has a mechanism that keeps planets and pointers in motion, and still works to this day.
Eise Eisingastraat 3, Franeker
A huge outdoor swimming and water paradise in the Netherlands. This world has more than 50 attractions and shows, providing entertainment and adventure.
Spijkweg 30, Biddinghuizen
Museums in NL
NEMO Science Museum
A scientifically oriented play / educational center. NEMO offers kids a trip of discovery, through fantasy and reality.
Oosterdok 2, Amsterdam
Children’s Museum at The Tropical Institute
This is called the ‘Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen‘ in Dutch. Contemporary, non-Western cultures are brought to life for children between the ages of 6 and 12 at this museum. It can also be booked for children’s parties.
Linnaeusstraat 2, Amsterdam
The national automobile museum of the Netherlands. The Louwman is great for anyone who is car crazy! You will learn about the history of automobiles, from the first horseless carriages to motorized, steam and electric vehicles.
Leidsestraatweg 57, The Hague
Open Air Museums in NL
Open air museums are called ‘Openluchtmuseum’ in Dutch. The Netherlands is host to a lot of these establishments. Here are a few of the most popular:
1. ‘Nederlands Openluchtmuseum‘
Daily life in the Netherlands between 1600 and 1970
Schelmseweg 89, Arnhem
Life in a fishing village around 1900.
Wierdijk 12-22, Enkhuizen
ZOOS IN THE NETHERLANDS
Animals are always a big hit with kids! Luckily, the Netherlands is full of zoos. As we mentioned earlier, Dutch zoos have extensive playgrounds. So your kids can blow off some steam in-between the big cats and the reptiles. Usually, there will also be indoor facilities for rainy days, and child-friendly cafeterias.
- This large zoo near Amersfoort has provided its animals with increasingly spacious and comfortable habitats over the last two decades
- This puts it on a par with all the other large zoos in the Netherlands
- It is encircled by a ‘Savannah’, from where you can watch the animals as they graze and drink peacefully
- A Japanese Garden and a lot of daytime activities are also part of the package
DierenPark Amersfoort, Barchman Wuytierslaan 224, Amersfoort
- Apenhaul is home to 30 species of apes, monkeys and prosimians – some of whom are allowed to roam free!
- Their group areas are extensive and imaginative, providing them with familiar surroundings and all manner of activities to keep them occupied
- Monkeys and apes are not, however, the only animals you will meet at Apenheul
- Macaws, pudus, anteaters, gundis, tortoises, and many other creatures live there too
- Please note that Apenheul closes for the winter
Apenheul, J.C. Wilslaan 21, Apeldoorn
- Artis was founded more than 175 years ago
- Its winding paths, majestic trees and monumental historical buildings still give it a special, 19th-century atmosphere
- There are more than 8,000 animals in the zoo
- Artis also houses a Geological Museum, a very sophisticated Planetarium, a magnificent and recently renovated Aquarium, and a ‘Micropia’: the only microbe-museum in the world!
Artis, Plantage Kerklaan 38, Amsterdam
- Avifauna is one of the largest bird parks in the world
- The birds come from all over the world, from the tropics to the cold Northern Hemisphere
- Over 450 species of birds are kept in beautiful settings, which are expertly and lovingly taken care of
- Avifauna is not only a bird ‘zoo’. It is also actively involved in the breeding programs and bird protection activities for endangered species
- Children can be educated on nature protection programs too
Vogelpark Hotel Rederij Avifauna, Hoorn 65, Alphen aan den Rijn
- Walk from continent to continent, meeting fascinating animals that feel perfectly at home in their surroundings, that emulate their natural habitat
- There are plenty of covered facilities, in case of rain
- These include Taman Indah and Oceanium
- Oceanium contains: sharks, king penguins, sea lions and and jellyfish
- You can also visit Gorilla Island, travel up Crocodile River and visit the African Vulture Rock.
Rotterdam Zoo / Blijdorp, Blijdorplaan 8, Rotterdam
- Come to a modern, but genuine jungle in the Netherlands!
- This zoo, located near Arnhem, covers more than 45 hectares and houses more than 3,000 animals
- It has a spectacular tropical rain forest, a living desert and a large animal population
- Bighorns, red lynxes, and many more creatures can be admired in their natural surroundings
- A large number of hoofed animals and birds live with the lions in the ‘Safari Park’
- There is a wonderful indoor water world too
Burgers’ Zoo, Antoon van Hooffplein 1, Arnhem
- At Dolfinarium, you can visit the Lagoon. Here, dolphins, fish, seals and sea lions all live together
- The Lagoon is a 15 million-liter closed saltwater ecosystem
- Aqua Bella, the dolphin show, should not be missed either
- The modern rescue and research center for sick or injured dolphins is worth a visit too, as are the walrus and seal shows
- Weather permitting, you can sunbathe, swim or ride in a paddle boat near the Park Beach
- Dolfinarium’s program is continually changing. So, before your visit, be sure to check the website to see what’s going on
Dolfinarium Harderwijk, the World of the Sea, Strandboulevard Oost 1, Harderwijk
- This park’s habitats represent the continents of the world
- Animals reside in the part of the world that they originally came from
- The zoo has a very spacious feel about it and all the animals enjoy a great amount of freedom in their enclosures
- You can spend hours enjoying the Jungola jungle, the Serenga Savannah, or the cold rocks of Nortica
Noorder Dierenpark Emmen, Hoofdstraat 18, Emmen
At Naruralis, nature is exhibited in all its colors and diversity. The museum is a combination of natural history and high-tech multi-media in a modern, artistic and technologically advanced setting, representing but a selection of two centuries’ worth of collecting animal and plant specimens, fossils, stones and minerals. Exhibition rooms have seven permanent displays (including a walk through the Ice Age, with dinosaurs), while Naturalis hosts many fascinating temporary displays as well. There is also a Nature Information Center where amateur researchers can search through a wide range of books, magazines, slides, photographs, videotapes, computer files and reference collections.
Naturalis, Darwinweg 2, Leiden.
Museum entrance: Pesthuislaan 7, Leiden
This is a wonderful family zoo, close to Arnhem, but off the beaten track. It was established more than 75 years ago and has retained that early-20th century cozy feel. It has a huge bear habitat with rescued circus bears, and a gorgeous polar bear pool, where kids can press their noses up against the glass and be inches away from these huge white animals, a seal show, and much more. Extra-special is its huge, indoor, all-wood-mulch-and-sand playground for children (RavotAapia), with rope-bridges, sand games, waterplay, huts, caves and slides – at no extra charge. Even if the weather doesn’t clear up all day, making it impossible to see the animals, you can still spend a full day in this indoor children’s habitat and have the children begging you to go back soon!
Ouwehands Dierenpark, Grebbeweg 111, Rhenen
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