Auden turned 3 this year, and instead of planning a birthday party, I whisked the family off to the Netherlands. After Tristan’s fantastic Birthday Adventure weekend in Copenhagen, it was easy to get Auden excited for her very own celebration in Amsterdam. As we often do, the kids and I travelled in and Matt met us there.
We stayed at the Sir Adam Hotel to take advantage of our Starwood points, and it was completely amazing. The hotel has a hipster, retro vibe and a music theme, which is reflected in all the decor. Each room has a record player, and there’s a big library of records in the lobby for bringing upstairs. They’re so child-friendly and there is always bubbly in the lobby! Really, what more could you ask for? In fact, when they found out it was Auden’s third birthday, they decorated our room while we were out. It was the most touching and incredible surprise, and really set the tone for a special weekend.
Amsterdam wasn’t the first place I thought of for a family celebration, given that I associated it with the red light district and drug/cafe culture. After speaking with a few friends, I learned that those are simply options in Amsterdam, and not pillars of the experience. I’m so glad we spent the weekend in this beautiful city!
It’s very pedestrian-friendly and the bus/tram system is easy to use. We enjoyed excellent food, farmers markets, a boat ride in the canal, and the Rijksmuseum. I do wish the kids had given us a little more time in the Rijksmuseum, but we ended up in the children’s art room, watching the real master at work.
- Eat breakfast — specifically, the famous apple pie — at Winkel 43. It’s actually worth the hype, so a long line builds up. This is where travelling with kids comes in handy… they wake us up so early that we never have trouble arriving as soon as a restaurant opens!
- Wander through the Noordermarkt farmers market and pick up some fruit and goodies for the day’s snacking. We chose stroopwaffel and it was a BIG hit. That’s what the kids are eating in all the canal cruise photos!
- Go on a canal cruise. There are so many options, so you may just want to pick the timing, length and style that best suits your family. We didn’t want one of the huge ones with pre-recorded information played on speakers, so we chose a smaller boat with wine, beer and water included. The one-hour ride was perfect for us and our kiddos!
- Eat dinner at Salmuera, a really delicious Argentinian restaurant. It is edgy and cool, and would be perfect for a date night even though they’re super kid-friendly. I suggest making a reservation.
- Eat breakfast at Mook Pancakes
- Wear the kids out with a beautiful stroll and some playground time in Vondelpark
- Spend some time in the Rijksmuseum. If necessary, you can take a break in the children’s room, which has crayons, various crafts, and plenty of room.
- The NEMO Science Museum is apparently amazing for kids, but I felt mine were too young at the time of the trip
- We didn’t visit the Anne Frank house because we had seen it on previous trips. I do not think it’s a great activity with young kids, as the hallways are narrow and crowded. To them, it will just be a boring, crowded house.
- Indonesian food is BIG in Amsterdam! We went to Restaurant Blauw, which was pretty far out, but I definitely recommend eating a hot pot dinner somewhere during your visit.