All parents of babies and toddlers are on the constant search for playgrounds. And the only thing better than a playground is finding a playground that is a uniquely local experience. And while we have a fabulous example of this below for those who are travelling to Amsterdam with kids – don’t forget, there are unique playgrounds everywhere, if you are willing to look.
For example, on a winding, lush, road at Omana Regional Park in Auckland, New Zealand, we recently found a playground inspired by the Maori culture (this one was great for all ages, including babies. Plus, it’s right next to a beach). In Canberra, Australia, there’s an excellent playground at the (also fabulous) National Arboretum inspired by the bush landscape (it’s called the pod playground and it’s better for 3-4 year olds and up).
Amsterdam with kids: don’t miss the ‘petting zoo’ playgrounds, known as Kinderboerderij. Great for babies and older kids.
If you are in Amsterdam with kids it’s worth knowing that one set of local playgrounds has a memorable twist: they are also a petting zoo. After a friend who grew up in the Netherlands mentioned the Kinderboerderij, we knew we had to try it, and took a 10 month old along for the roadtest.
We spoke to one parent while we were there saying, “Wow, this is fabulous”. He nodded, but said pragmatically: “It’s because we don’t have a lot of nature, we need something.” It’s true: the Netherlands is a tiny country packed with 16 million or so people (it’s about 40 people per square kilometre), so he has a point. Although, cycling in Amsterdam with kids is another outdoorsy activity that feels pretty special, despite the crowds.
We loved the concept before we even arrived. It seems like such a great way for the kids to have a play, but for the adults to peek into the world of Amsterdam’s local families.
Entry is usually free and all the Kinderboerderij are run by volunteers. Doubly lovely!
Here’s what happened when we road tested a Kinderboerderij (petting zoo playground) in Amsterdam with a baby:
First, we spent some time deciphering the locations of all Amsterdam’s Kinderboerderij here (you’ll need to fiddle around to translate each page into English or simply open google maps and plot them on a map to see how far each is from your accommodation).
Parking on one of the bike racks outside, we opened the child proof gate and 11 month old Ollie was immediately greeted by a mass of bikes. But there was something unusual here – there were pigs wandering amongst them.
At least the bikes outnumbered the pigs!
The animals do have cages but are free to wander around as they choose. Pretty exciting for us – although the local kids just went about their business.
There were plenty of other animals at Kinderboerderij De Werf – all just roaming around. We were crazy excited, but the local kids took it in their stride to see chickens hanging out under the chairs in the simple cafe.
After a while, we headed for the swings and the sandpit. It was a nice change of pace, but also a good chance to talk to some local families. (There were plenty of Dads on kid duty the day we went – buying into our preconceived notion that there’s a fairer gender split in parenting duties in the Netherlands than in countries like Australia or the US or UK. What do you think? Are we imagining that?)
The whole place was tucked away amongst trees in a leafy residential area, making the ride there and back a fabulous addition to exploring Amsterdam.