The Zaan region with kids: 11x things to do with the family!
Visiting the Zaan region with kids is fun! It is a beautiful area, with enough to do to have a good time for at least a few days! The area lies just north of Amsterdam, and from our capital city you can get to several places in the Zaan region within 15 minutes. Consequently, the region receives many tourists every year. We visited the area several times and based on our visits we list all the fun activities you can do with kids in the Zaan region.
Table of contents
#1 the Zaanse Schans
The most famous sight to visit in the Zaan region with kids is the Zaanse Schans. The area is known for its many mills that are beautifully located on the water. The Zaanse Schans area is free to enter, only you pay to see the inside of the mills and museums in the area.
We have visited the Zaanse Schans several times and we always enjoy taking a tour of the area and taking some pictures with our daughter and the windmills. If you visit the area with kids, it’s fun to visit the Zaanse Museum. Kids can visit the Verkade Experience here and play all kinds of interactive games and also make their own wrapper that goes around a chocolate bar.
In addition, you can see several mills inside and it is also possible to take a boat tour of the area. We already wrote the blog the Zaanse Schans with kids about this area, in which we give all the information you need to visit this sight with the family!
#2: the Zaantheater
You can also go in the Zaan region with kids to the Zaantheater in Zaandam. The Zaantheater hosts various performances every period, including performances for kids. The Zaantheater is located in the center of Zaandam and you can park your car (paid) near the theater.
We ourselves attended the show Family Wolf Comes to Live Here. This theater performance was for kids as young as six and there was a lot of fun interaction with the kids. The performance lasted a total of an hour, so it wasn’t too long for kids either. Our daughter really enjoyed this performance.
If you are in the Zaan region for an entire weekend and are looking for a fun activity (indoors), check the Zaantheater website to see if there is a fun performance. You can order tickets for any of these children’s performances through the theater’s website.
Another fun activity to do with kids in the Zaan region is an introductory bouldering course. You can do this at BAZ Bouldergym in Zaandam. Our daughter enjoyed climbing here on Saturday afternoon against the various walls BAZ Bouldergym has. The walls here are about 4.5 meters high and, of course, there are thick mats under the various climbing walls.
On the walls are all kinds of colored grips and all those different colors indicate a difficulty level of climbing. This also makes it fun for adults to climb here, as everyone can climb at their own level. Our daughter spent about an hour climbing here. Of course, this is also a great activity when the weather is not so good.
You can park your car for free at BAZ Bouldergym and climbing shoes they have here for kids and adults as well. Bouldering is for kids as young as five years old. For more information on opening hours, entrance fees and location, check out BAZ Bouldergym‘s website.
#4: tour of Zaandam
Zaandam is a nice city and has very special architecture in terms of the variety of houses. We were given a one-and-a-half-hour tour of Zaandam by guide Marene Kok. Marene has been a guide in this region for a very long time and knows a lot about the different places in this area.
With Marene, we started at the city’s town hall and took a nice walk through the downtown area. We had beautiful weather so that was extra nice too! We walked through the Russian neighborhood of the city and also along the Zaan River. Along the way, we stopped at various sights in the city.
The tour lasted a total of an hour and a half, but you can decide the time in consultation with the guide. For more information on hiking and biking tours you can do with kids in the Zaan region, take a look at Gids aan de Zaan ‘s website.
If your kids love doing experiments then the Hemlab in Zaandam is a really fun activity! Hemlab is a science lab for children, and here a variety of workshops are given to kids centered around chemistry and physics.
This is an activity for kids ages seven through 13, and we did the Trials with Candies workshop here. This was on Saturday afternoon from 3:00-17:00 pm. Hemlab works with several volunteers and with small groups of kids, so there is plenty of help with the various experiments.
In total, we do about eight experiments and with each experiment there is a clear sheet explaining the experiment. Our daughter found this super fun and, of course, it is very exciting to see what happens to sugar, for example, when you hold it over a gas burner. So we blow up chocolate kisses, make our own lollipops with sugar, mix different colored skittles and make a kind of lamp out of acid mats. Check out Hemlab ‘s website for more information on the various workshops being held!
#6: POel Farm
A fun activity you can do in the Zaan region with kids is to take a canal cruise through the Wormer and Jisperveld. At the Pool Farm, this is possible. You can park your car for free in a parking lot near the Poel Farm and from there it is a short walk to the farm.
At this farm, they have a really fun water playground lying around for kids. This one is quite large and contains several play elements for kids. There are also all kinds of boats, with which they can sail, and there are also several buckets with which kids can play in the water. Especially in the summer months, this is very fun and cooling for kids.
The cruise from the Poel Farm through the nature reserve takes two hours and is led by a boatman and guide. Kids (and adults, too) can use binoculars to look for all kinds of animals (mainly birds and geese) along the way, and you also have different sheets on the boat, depicting the different animals, so you can see exactly what you saw.
Just keep in mind that it can be chilly on the boat. We were the only ones dressed quite sober, as the weather was quite good, but then on the boat itself you notice that it is quite chilly. However, they did have blankets on the boat itself, so that was nice. Afterwards, we had drinks at the Poel Farm. For more information, visit the Poel Farm website.
#7: Bike ride with the miller
A fairly new children’s activity in the Zaan region is a bicycle tour organized by the Zaanstore in Zaandam, where you will go on a scenic ride through the surroundings of the Zaan region under the guidance of a miller. The tour starts in Zaandam at the Zaanstore and in three hours you will then drive toward the Zaanse Schans.
We really thought this was a wonderful bike ride, where we saw another great part of this beautiful area. Of course, you will stop at several mills, where you will receive explanations, including the saw mill at Zaanse Schans. Along the way, we will also stop for a tasty cake. We had beautiful weather, so it was great biking anyway, but the scenery made it just that much more fun!
Our daughter biked the entire stretch, occasionally getting a push from us. The pace of the bike tour was fine for kids. We did not have our own bikes with us and we rented them near the Zaanse Schans central station. From there, we biked to Zaandam first before starting the tour. Because the bike tour ended at the Zaanse Schans, we could thus return the bikes right afterward.
other children’s activities zaanstreek
There are more things to do in the Zaan region with kids. We briefly list them below!
#8 HEMbrug terrein: On the HEMbrug terrain in Zaandam there is also a nice little joint for families with kids: BIND. BIND’s living room is located in an old transformer house on the HEM Bridge site and a variety of workshops are held here regularly. You can also have a great bite to eat and drink here, and there is also plenty of room for kids to play outside.
#9 Zwembad Zaangolf: You can also enjoy swimming in the Zaan region with kids. At swimming pool Zaangolf which is located in Koog aan de Zaan you can park your car for free in front of the door and the pool has a fast slide with lights and sound in the slide, two whirlpools, a steam bath, all kinds of play materials, a paddling pool and a large recreational pool with a rapids and also a competition pool. This is a pool where you can spend some great hours if the weather is a little cooler, for example, and you still want to do something with the kids.
#10 Twiske Adventure Playground: this area in Oostzaan has all kinds of things for kids to do. Kids can play in the adventure playground here. For example, Kids here can play in climbing towers, in tubes, they can go down the cable car and take different ferries to the other side of the water. There is also a large pirate ship where kids can play. You also have a climbing park here, where you can go climbing with your kids. In total, this climbing park has seven different courses all with different heights.
#11 City Farm Darwinpark: in 1967 Albert Heijn donated the largest petting zoo in the Netherlands to the youth of Zaandam and still this city farm is a popular place for families with kids to go. You have a wide variety of (small) companion animals and (large) farm animals here. On this farm there is a nice playground. In addition, you can eat ice cream and buy a candy and some drinks here. Of course there are real farm products for sale such as eggs, wool, honey, hay, straw and sometimes animals. On a walking tour, you will find -in addition to the farm animals- an apiary and a nature museum.
Zaanstreek with kids: food and drink
Of course, there are plenty of places to eat and drink well in the Zaan region with kids. We list the three restaurants where we all ate in Zaandam. We briefly name them below.
#1 BAZ Bouldergym: The first restaurant may be a surprising place, but at this sports center you can eat very good food in addition to climbing. The restaurant is adjacent to the Bouldergym and has a relaxed vibe! There are various games on the tables and also a large train track for the kids to play with. The menu is quite extensive and they have several options for kids too!
#2 JP 1886: We had lunch at this hip restaurant in Zaandam on Sunday afternoon. This restaurant also looks beautiful inside and you can eat really delicious food here as well. The dishes you get here look really super beautifully made and are also really delicious. We really enjoyed lunch here. You can also sample some Zaanse Favorites here
#3 Novels Zaandam: Right in the center of Zaandam is this cozy restaurant. It is located near the Zaantheater. You sit here with the terrace on a cozy square with a whole bunch of other restaurants. We sat outside under the warming stove and this is another great place to have lunch with your kids.
#4 The Factory: This restaurant is located near Filmptheater the Factory and you can sit by the water at this restaurant. They have plenty of tasty options here (including for kids) and we had a great dinner here in the evening. From the center of Zaandam, you can walk to this restaurant in a few minutes.
Where to stay in the ZAan region with kids?
Inntel Hotel Amsterdam Zaandam
If you are looking for a nice hotel in the Zaan region with kids to stay overnight, the Inntel Hotel Amsterdam Zaandam is a nice option. The hotel looks really beautiful on the outside with all the Zaanse houses stacked on top of each other, and the hotel is right in the center of Zaandam along the train station.
We park the car in the parking garage near the hotel and thus are in the lobby of the reception in a few minutes. This is not only a great base to explore the Zaan region with kids, but also the city of Amsterdam. In fact, you can be in the center of Amsterdam by train within 15 minutes.
We had booked a craft Deluxe Twin room at the hotel and the room had an extra bed added for our room. This room was quite large and had a bathroom with both a tub and a shower. In addition, the room had a desk with chair and a seat. The room also had all the amenities you want in a room such as a refrigerator, a safe, a flat-screen TV and a working WIFI connection.
In addition, the hotel has a gym and also a spa. In particular, we used the wellness both in the evening and in the morning. In the spa, they have a sauna and a steam room as well as a pool to cool off and take a swim in afterwards. We think that is also a big plus of the hotel. It is always nice to be able to relax in the hotel’s spa after a whole day on the road. And a spa is also wonderful to start the day with!
At the hotel you can also have a good meal. For example, the hotel has a restaurant (restaurant Puur Saen), where you can eat three times a day with your kids. We ourselves took advantage of the hotel’s breakfast. This breakfast buffet was very extensive with lots of different types of breads, spreads, sweets, egg dishes, fruits, yogurt with cereals, juices and then we probably forget a whole bunch of things.
In addition, it is possible to have a bubbly at breakfast! On that note, we really liked the breakfast and left the hotel with a well-filled belly. If you want more information about this hotel, check out the Inntel Hotel Amsterdam Zaandam website.
This blog was created in part through a collaboration with the Zaanstreek marketing department.