As far as family city trips go, Rotterdam can’t be beat. Bring the kids along when visiting our vibrant city as there are plenty of family-friendly adventures that will keep you all entertained. We’ve listed some of the best spots and activities for you to enjoy with your young companions.
Words: Chantal Lindsen
Whether it’s the free skate park on the Westblaak, a thrilling water-taxi ride from Hotel New York, or simply playing in the toy store, De Kleine Kapitein, or a fun trip in the 50-metre-high ferris wheel at the Markthal; Rotterdammers with children in tow know better than anyone of the endless options to entertain the kids in the city.
I’m one of them. A mother of a one-year-old girl, with no intention whatsoever of ever leaving this awesome city. In my free time, I love exploring it with my daughter. Bustling city life or tranquil nature – Rotterdam offers both. Perfect for planning outings with kids.
When the weather is pleasant, we like to stroll around the Kralingse Plas, making a pitstop at the Kinderboerderij de Kraal (a kid’s petting zoo). When my daughter is a little older, I’d like to spend an afternoon with her at the Klimbos Fun Forest, a forest decked out for climbing adventures, including a fun climbing course high up in the trees.
Also in the Kralingse Bos, is NatuurSportief where ten euros will buy you just over an hour of playing, running, climbing, frolicking, getting dirty and other cool adventures. Suitable for all ages as long as a parent or supervisor present.
It’s only a five minute bike ride from NatuurSportief to a hip breakfast and lunch eatery Croos, located in Rotterdam’s Crooswijk district. With a sandpit on the terrace and a spacious play area inside, it’s a perfect place to visit with kids. While the little ones are having a great time building sandcastles or playing with toys, you can take a break and enjoy a cool glass of iced coffee in the sun.
Another popular lunch spot to take children is the Vroesen Paviljoen in the Vroesenpark. After a coffee break, you can continue on your urban adventure, heading off in the direction of Diergaarde Blijdorp (Blijdorp Zoo), which is only a five minute walk away. Children particularly like visiting the zoo’s Oceanium, where sharks literally swim above your head.
It’s no fun dragging the kids outdoors when the weather is cold and wet, only to wander through a forest or walk around the zoo like a clowder of drowning cats. Instead, head to Miniworld Rotterdam, a miniature version of Rotterdam with day and night simulation. One “day” in Miniworld Rotterdam only lasts 24 minutes and when night falls, all the city’s lamps light up. A truly magical sight, believe me! The treasure hunt here is a must do as well.
Diagonal to Miniworld (which can be found right next to Rotterdam Central Station), is Playground Weena, a large play area that’s been a part of the city centre for 65 years. Torteltuin is another great play area to take children. For yet more fun and adventures, head to Plaswijckpark, an in and outdoor playground, park and zoo in one. It’s a popular spot and can get quite busy with warm weather.
Schouwburgplein, where colourful turf has been laid out for kids to play on, is another spot to take the little ones and let them run loose. It can get pretty busy on nice days here as well, but your kids will make new friends in next to no time. Afterwards, treat them to an ice cream at Venezia, an ice cream parlour on the Nieuwe Binnenweg and a household name for over 50 years. Your kids will love you for it!
Looking for something a little less hectic perhaps? How about a visit to the theatre or the cinema? For movies, try Kino or Cinerama – two very cosy, small, authentic cinemas. The best place to head for fantastic theatre created especially for young audiences is Theater Walhalla, located in the trendy Katendrecht district. Check out their website for upcoming performances.