Haarlem with kids: 8 fun activities in a row!
Visiting Haarlem with kids is a good idea. You have plenty of activities around the city to do with the family, and the beach is also within biking distance of the city. You can therefore book a weekend trip to Haarlem with the family just fine. Especially in the summer when the weather is hot and there are plenty of options in the region to have fun with your kids. Following the various visits we made to Haarlem and its surroundings, we list the best sights and activities in Haarlem with kids for you!
Table of contents
#1: National Park South-Kennemerland
One of the best things to do in Haarlem with kids is to rent a bike with the family. You drive from downtown Haarlem straight into the South-Kennemerland National Park. This is a beautiful natural area which actually connects the city of Haarlem with the beach. The area is also excellent for kids to play in the dunes.
We biked this fun 25.2-kilometer bicycle route through the beautiful nature reserve. You will also pass the beach of Bloemendaal and near that of Zandvoort during this route. We already loved the area in winter, but can imagine it being even more beautiful in the summer months when everything is in bloom.
There are plenty of places in the nature area for kids to have a good time in nature. Note that there are quite a few hills in the route, so the question is whether you want to let kids ride by themselves. We ourselves found it quite intense by bike at times!
#2: downtown Haarlem
It is definitely a must to take a tour of downtown Haarlem with your family. In the Grand Place (the central square of the city) you have beautiful historic buildings and you have a number of streets in the center that are very picturesque. Haarlem is known for its courtyards. There are some in the center that you can visit and they are very atmospheric.
Haarlem is located on the water and it is also possible to see Haarlem from the water with kids. Several tour companies offer a canal cruise, which usually takes about an hour. Of course, during the cruise you will receive information about the city.
If you want to see the city of Haarlem from the air, you can climb the Koepel Kathedraal. From the 60-meter-high tower you have a beautiful view of the city of Haarlem. It is possible to see Amsterdam even in clear weather. The church is even (according to its website) in the top five most important churches in the world.
#3: Nature play island Haarlem
Another fun place to visit during a city break to Haarlem with kids is the Nature Play Island Haarlem. This is a place for kids to enjoy playing in nature. Of course, there is a good chance here that your kids will get dirty, so bringing an extra set of clothes is not a luxury.
For example, they have several courses on the island, where kids have to climb and swing to complete this course. There is also a mud kitchen, where kids can make all kinds of cakes out of mud. There is also a construction village, where kids who like it can get to work with pallets and build their own hut.
Furthermore, you can play miniature golf with your family on the island’s 18-hole miniature golf course. You pay the entrance fee to the island only for the kids and parents can come along for free.
#4: Playground Linnaeushof
Less than 15 minutes from the center of Haarlem by car is the largest playground in Europe. In all, there are as many as 350 pieces of playground equipment and attractions in this mega playground. It is also a bit like an amusement park as there are attractions such as the bumper cars, a little train, a monorail and a go-kart track.
In the playground at Linnaeushof, you have different sections of the playground for different age groups. So you have a toddler and a preschool playground that is a separate section and also has only one entrance and exit. So nice and clear for parents. For the littlest kids, they also have Dreumesland, where they have mini play equipment.
In the summer, kids can also play in the park’s water playground. If you visit the park on a hot day, it’s helpful that you bring swimwear for your kids. This water playground has a fairy-tale theme. When we were there it was beautiful weather in the afternoon and very warm. Our daughter spent the rest of the afternoon in this water playground.
On the other hand, when the weather is less clement, the park also has an indoor playground for kids. Thus, you can actually visit this large playground with all types of weather. You can easily spend an entire day in this huge playground when the weather is good. Read our blog Linnaeushof with kids for more information about this playground.
#5: Amsterdam Water Supply Dunes
A 15-minute drive from the center of Haarlem is this nature reserve. You will find beautiful forests and dunes here and there is a very good chance of encountering several deer in this area. When we took a walk there on Sunday morning, we encountered several deer. We also made a game of it with our daughter who would spot a deer first.
There is even a small chance that you may also encounter a fox in this area. So be sure to bring a camera (with a decent zoom lens). There are several entrances at the park, but from Haarlem, the entrance de Oase near Vogelenzang is the easiest way to enter the park. This is also where the park’s visitor center is located. Do keep in mind that you have to pay for parking and to enter the park, despite it being only a few euros.
In the park you can walk several trails. We did not find these clearly displayed in the park. Since the visitor center was also closed on Sunday morning, we took a quick look at the nature reserve’s website and we did come across several trails there. You can find these online here for the entrance Oasis.
We walked the 3.7-kilometer yellow route with our daughter. That was also quite enough since there are still quite a few hills in the area so it is not completely flat.
#6: The haarlemmer nursery garden
There is plenty to do for kids in the Haarlemmer Kweektuin! In this beautiful walking park you have an animal pasture, gnome trail and nature playground Paddenpoel located. First we visit the gnome trail here. This trail is mainly for young kids, and our six-year-old daughter is actually a little too old for it. With the different gnomes there are also texts and some assignments such as looking for something or singing a song. We can imagine that for young kids, it is a lot of fun.
Then we walk on to nature playground Paddenpoel and there you have different playground equipment over different bodies of water. Our daughter likes that, and despite it not being super big she entertained herself here for half an hour. There were plenty of kids playing in this section and there was even a kid’s party going on. However, with young kids you do have to be careful not to fall into the water.
There is also a café in the park (The Growing Café) where you can have a great lunch. you can sit here both inside and outside. Inside we thought it looked very cozy with all kinds of old furniture. It really gives a living room feel and for kids there are some toys inside like a dollhouse.
Also near the café is a small playground for the kids and a few cages that were supposed to contain animals, but almost all of them are gone. Don’t expect too much from that. We found it a great place to grab a drink. Unfortunately, we had already had lunch, otherwise we would have definitely wanted to do it here. Most of the food here, by the way, is organic.
Within walking distance of the Haarlemmer Kweektuin you also have another fun playground. Playground Burcht ter Cleeff is located in a residential area and from the park you can walk to it in a few minutes. They have various playground equipment here for young and old as well as a water playground. Just outside this playground is also a small nature playground. There is also a small tent at this playground where you can buy something to drink. You pay 0.50 euros entrance fee for this fun playground.
Other children’s activities Haarlem:
In addition to the previously mentioned children’s activities in Haarlem, there are several fun activities for kids around the city. We list the best ones.
#7 Beaches Bloemendaal and Zandvoort: in less than half an hour by bike from the center of Haarlem you are on the beach of Bloemendaal aan Zee. The beach at Zandvoort is also great to do by bike from the center. In doing so, you cycle through a beautiful natural area as well (National Park South-Kennemerland). You have plenty of family-friendly beach bars in both beach towns to enjoy some food and drinks.
#8 Mini zoo Artis class: this is the smallest zoo in the Netherlands. In four houses you have different animals, where families can come by on Saturdays and Sundays to see the animals. From the center of Haarlem, this zoo is a few minutes away by car.
Where to stay in Haarlem with kids?
Ibis Styles Haarlem City hotel
This hotel is located in the north of the city near the Haarlemmer Kweektuin. This modern hotel has family rooms, free parking in front of the door and a delicious breakfast in the morning. For more information and our experiences with this hotel, read our extensive blog Ibis Styles Haarlem City hotel with kids.
CARLTON SQUARE HAARLEM
In the middle of the lovely city of Haarlem is the hotel Carlton Square Haarlem. Besides getting a luxurious room here, it includes a good restaurant and the possibility of renting bicycles. We had the family room at our disposal and wrote an extensive review about it as well.
HOTEL LION D’OR
Another hotel that sits right in the center of Haarlem is Hotel Lion D’Or. This cozy hotel opposite the train station has a café lounge area, where you can have a drink and play a game with your kids. We also wrote a comprehensive review about our overnight stay at this hotel.