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KeeKee's Corner
Amsterdam Must-Sees for Family Vacation


In the Netherlands, the land of tulips, windmills, clogs, cheese, and bikes, you’ll find the picturesque city of Amsterdam with its charming streets and canals, historic buildings, fantastic culture, and laid-back atmosphere create a unique backdrop for family adventures.

Amsterdam feels less like a big city and has more of a town or village feel. Its compact size and excellent public transportation system make it easy to get around with kids. Many of the city's attractions are within walking distance or a short tram ride away. And there is a lot of green space all over the city, including Vondelpark, the city’s biggest and most popular park.

While they speak Dutch in the Netherlands, you’ll find most people in Amsterdam speak excellent English.

When KeeKee, AAA’s Family Travel Mascot and star of the award-winning children’s book series KeeKee’s Big Adventures, visits Amsterdam, these are her favorite things to do and see.

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Amsterdam was founded on the banks of the Amstel River as a fishing village. It was dammed in 1222, leading to the city’s name, Amstelledamme, and turned the city’s industry from fishing to trade. Dam Square in the heart of Amsterdam is the site of the original 13th-century dam. All of this led to the city of canals.

There are over 165 canals, more than Venice, Italy, or any other city in the world!

The Grachtengordel, which translates to "canal belt" or "girdle of canals" in Dutch, is known for its crescent-shaped manmade canals, small bridges, and 17th-century canal houses that form. The canals were built between the 16th and 17th centuries to manage the city's growing population and transport people and goods.

There are 1,281 bridges throughout Amsterdam. One of the most famous is Magere Bruge, the Skinny Bridge, which lights up every night with 1,200 light bulbs.

Boating is one of the best ways to enjoy the city, with great views of the canal houses and houseboats. There are over 2,500 houseboats that are homes in Amsterdam. It became popular after WWII when there was a housing shortage.

There are many canal cruise options for your family, including private tours, evening tours, and Hop-On Hop-Off Day-Pass boats.

If you like bike riding, Amsterdam is the city for you!

Amsterdam is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. Renting bikes allows families to explore the city at a leisurely pace and experience it like the locals.

The Dutch love biking. They use fietsen (bicycles), the way people use cars in other cities. They bike everywhere and don’t need a car.

Bike riders have dedicated lanes with bike stoplights. There’s even a huge parking garage for bikes called Stationsplein next to Amsterdam’s Central Station with space for 2,500 bicycles.

It’s a unique and exciting way to explore Amsterdam.

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Tulips make Spring a fantastic time to visit Amsterdam. More than 1.7 billion tulips bloom across Holland from mid-April to early May. There are several ways to enjoy the season.

The famous Bollenstreek, the bulb-growing region with rows and rows of colorful tulips that span as far as your eyes can see, is located just outside the city.

The Bloemenmarkt (flower market) on the Singel Canal in Amsterdam is the world’s only floating flower market. It first opened in 1862. Flowers would arrive daily from the countryside by boat and be sold right from the boat. Today, it’s full of stands selling tulips, flowers, and bulbs to take home. 75% of the world’s flower bulbs come from the Netherlands.

Keukenhof Gardens is one of the world's largest flower gardens. Located in Lisse, Netherlands, it’s open each Spring from mid-March to mid-May and features over 7 million flower bulbs across 80 acres. The park is a fantastic way for families to enjoy the blooming flowers.

Amsterdam is full of museums as the Netherlands has been home to some of the world’s most famous artists, including Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

You’ll find two of the most popular museums around Museumplein. The Rijksmuseum is the Netherlands’ National Museum, home to 80 galleries with 8,000 objects telling the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, including The Milkmaid by Vermeer and the impressive The Night Watch by Rembrandt. The Van Gogh Museum has the most comprehensive collection of his art in the world. Both museums offer interactive tours that are great for engaging the kids.

Amsterdam is also home to the famous Anne Frank House. This canal house on the Prinsengracht Canal is where Anne Frank and her family lived in hiding for 25 months in 1941 when the Germans invaded Amsterdam. It is a fascinating and emotional museum where you can be in the same space where the family hid. Be sure to order tickets online as far in advance as possible, as it’s a popular site.

You can’t miss spotting NEMO Science Museum as the giant green structure resembles a ship docked in Amsterdam’s harbor. This interactive science museum is designed to engage and educate kids with hands-on exhibits, experiments, and workshops.

Windmill with tulips in front of it

While we think of windmills as quaint, they were originally factories for industry. They converted wind into power to pump water, saw wood for making ships, turned grain into flour, and made paper.

There used to be more than 10,000 operational windmills, or molen, across the country, but only 1,200 windmills remain today.

You can visit a working windmill in Amsterdam, Molen van Sloten. One of our favorite places to see windmills is the town of Zaanse Schans, which is easily accessible by train about 30 minutes from Amsterdam. This open-air museum village gives you a picture of the Zaan district in the 17th and 18th centuries through the beautiful wooden houses, museums, mills, shops, and crafts. The kids will love seeing wooden clogs (clompen) and cheese (kaas) made.

You’ll find lots of yummy and different foods to try in Amsterdam.

There’s young and old Gouda cheese, which comes from the town of Gouda in the Netherlands. Try bitterballen, a fried pub snack served with mustard for dipping. Try kroketten, which are fun to get at an automat-style take-away restaurant called FEBO. Frietjes are yummy Dutch French fries served in a paper cone with delicious toppings like peanut satay. And if you’re daring, try haring (herring). A true Dutch tradition, you’ll find herring fish carts on many canal bridges serving herring with pickles and onions.

Pannekoeken are large, thin Dutch pancakes that come in both sweet and savory. There are plenty of pancake houses in Amsterdam that families can enjoy. You must try poffertjes, soft pillowy Dutch beignets, for a sweet dessert treat.

Fresh-made stroopwafels are a must, the delicious thin waffles with syrup in between. You’ll find several shops serving them around town. The Albert Cuypmarkt in the De Pijp neighborhood is the Netherlands’ largest and most popular outdoor market and a great place to get freshly made stroopwafels.

Overall, Amsterdam offers a mix of cultural experiences, outdoor activities, and family-friendly amenities within a beautiful, almost magical atmosphere, making it a wonderful destination for families with kids of all ages. Whether you're interested in art, history, science, or simply exploring the city's charming streets, there's something for everyone to enjoy in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Adventure Awaits!

AAA Travel Advisors are available to help you navigate and plan all the details of your Amsterdam vacation with special Member benefits and savings. Find An Advisor

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