The visitor center De Hoep is located on the edge of the North Holland dunes. And let those dunes be indispensable for our drinking water. In visitor center De Hoep, it is playfully explained how it is that we have such delicious drinking water flowing from the tap. You will also come face to face with foxes and rabbits on the fake dune. What animals live in the dunes that are so important for our drinking water? And what does the ranger actually do to protect the animals? Children learn all these kinds of facts through all kinds of games.
And if it stops raining, you’re in the right place too. You can go straight out into the dunes and enjoy fun (child) friendly routes. Once you’ve completed the game, head to Johanna’s Hof across the street for a delicious pancake.
De Hoep Visitor Centre, Johannisweg 2, 1901 NX Castricum. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00. There is free entry. For more information, see: www.pwn.nl/natuur/bezoekerscentra
Exploring the past
In the middle of Monnickendam you will find the Waterlandsmuseum de Speeltoren. The building itself is impressive from the outside, but once you’re inside, you don’t know where to look. The marshy wetland with its animals from the past and present is central. In the so-called ‘discovery house’ (access only for children!) the imagination is stimulated about what life was like years ago. It’s like rummaging through old things in grandpa’s or grandma’s attic that takes you to another time. The excavations that the children can make in the play loft make the past even more tangible. Small children can also cross the museum with an adult and solve the tasks from the ‘do-it-yourself booklet’. Older children go out on their own in search of answers. And when all solutions have been found, the ‘Museum sleuth’ diploma is ready for them. A great place to learn more about the water park of the past.
Waterland Museum de Speeltoren, Noordeinde 2, 1141 AM Monnickendam. Opening hours: October: Tuesday to Sunday at 11-17, November – March: Saturday and Sunday at 11-17. Price: 4 to 11 years 2.50 euros / 12 to 17 years 3 euros / 18 years and older 5 euros. For more information, see: www.despeeltoren.nl
On an uninhabited island
Reaching Fort Pampus is an excursion in itself. You can only get there by boat. You can reach the island by ferry from Muiden, Amsterdam-IJburg or Almere, but you can also moor there with your own boat, canoe, sup, raft, etc. (free of charge). Once at Pampus, the adventure begins in earnest. Children can discover for themselves how 200 soldiers lived here in the 80 rooms. Where did they sleep? And how did they scoop gunpowder? The good thing is that the children can do a lot themselves. So roll up your sleeves! Especially if the big wheel in the engine room has to be turned…
Fort Island Pampus, 1398 PX Muiden.Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:30 to 17:00. Pampus is closed from November 28, 2022 to April 6, 2023. Entrance: admission + boat tickets from 13 years 18 euros / children 4 to 12 years 14 euros. Entrance (own transport) from 13 years 12.50 euros / children 4 to 12 years 9.50 euros. For more information, see: www.Pampus.nl
At night, the forest is of the animals. A barn owl screeching fearfully, a lion taking bold steps in a hushed meadow. A bat flying right past your head. When we sleep, the animals are awake. Children will discover all these animals during the children’s exhibition ‘Over Nachten’. Fun games challenge children to use their senses and experience the hidden lives of animals.
Pieter Vermeulen Museum, Driehuizerkerkweg 34d, 1985 EL Driehuis. Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday and Sunday from 13:00 to 17:00. Entrance: adults 4.50 euros, children 3 to 12 years 4 euros. For more information, see: www.pietervermeulenmuseum.nl/
At the organic farm ‘t Geertje, children can pet animals all year round. The children can hand feed the goats and see the world from the back of a pony. There is also an experience trail where children from 2 years old can climb over tree trunks. Also cozy: In the yard there are trees and bushes that you can eat from, such as pears and apples, but also mulberries and medlar. Delights are made from it, for sale in the general store, but birds also enjoy it with thanks. Both the courtyard and the restaurant are fully equipped for children. Also nice when it rains!
Farm ‘t Geertje, Geerweg 7, 2381 LT, Zoeterwoude. Farm and restaurant opening hours Monday to Saturday: 10.00 to 17.00, Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is free entry. Pony riding 1.50 euros. Bicycles for children 1 euro. Klompenpad 0.50 euros. For more information, see: www.hetgeertje.nl
looking at plants
A hortus botanicus (loosely translated, a botanical garden) sounds particularly appealing to mothers and grandmothers (and perhaps fathers and grandfathers), but nothing could be further from the truth. There is a special children’s program at the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden. While searching through all the plants, children learn and in winter there is even a special ‘winter adventure’ program for the little ones. One thing is certain, after a visit to Hortus, plants are never boring again.
Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Rapenburg 73, 2311 GJ Leiden. Opening hours: every day until and including October from 10.00-18.00 November to March, Tuesday to Sunday at 10.00-16.00. Entrance: adults 8 euros, children 4 to 12 years 3.50 euros. For more information, see:Hortusleiden.nl
Sharks in a fortress
An odd duck is Fort Kijkduin. As in other fortresses, it is a bit exciting inside because of the small dark rooms where history has been written. But what’s different about this fortress is that fish swim here too! Stingrays and other North Sea fish swim around and above your head in a glass tunnel. In other areas you can see eels and even sharks. And they can be fed. Also the sharks. Who dares?
Fort Kijkduin, Admiraal Verhuellplein 1, 1789 AX Huisduinen. Opening hours: every day from 10.00 to 17.00. Entrance: adults 10 euros, children 4 to 12 years 8.50 euros. For more information, see: Fortkijkduin.nl