Hollandsche Manege Riding School
Strolling down the busy Overtoom, you might come across the faint farmyard whiff usually associated with horses. That’s because tucked away behind this busy shopping street is Amsterdam’s most unusual architectural gem: The Hollandsche Manege, an 18th-century riding school with opulent Baroque interiors. Children, teens and adults can enjoy riding classes here, designed for ages 8 and up. Visitors can look down on the trotting ponies from the balcony of the stunning café.
Why does food always taste better when somebody else has cooked it for you? At the Kinderkook Cafe, you can really put your feet up as the kids learn how to cook and serve meals to their own lucky guests. Since the cafe opened its doors in 1981, this unique initiative has been teaching children the responsibilities involved in running their own restaurant as well as some essential hospitality skills. Classes are organised depending on age groups and, of course, adult supervision and help is always on hand.
Check out the chickens in their comfy coops and watch the pigs wallowing in the mud at the Zimmerhoeve city farm. This much-loved community-oriented project has been teaching younger visitors about the environment, farming and the food chain since the 1990s. Kids can learn about the different animals found on a traditional Dutch farm, from those rambunctious goats to the special composting power of worms. Hopefully you’ll have the chance to say goedemorgen to Mus (Sparrow), the farm dog who hasn’t yet learnt to herd sheep but does enjoy being petted by the farm volunteers.
Flanked by Vondelpark and intersected by peaceful residential streets with quiet squares, visitors to Oud-West have easy access to a treasure trove of public play areas. At the southernmost tip of Vondelpark is the idyllic Vondeltuin, a family-friendly garden with a nearby play structure for kids to burn off steam whilst parents sit back on the terrace. Elsewhere in the park, you’ll find a fantastic playground next to Groot Melkhuis and an outdoor paddling pool which transforms into a hive of splashy activity on warm summer days. For some further monkeying around, the Vondelpark Canopywalk is a challenging adventure course concealed by the foliage that consists of climbing platforms, rope bridges, and tree trunks.
Vondelpark Open Air Theatre
Every summer, the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre brings the community of Oud-West together for its varied range of open-air performances and live music The youth programme includes special workshops on Saturday afternoons and theatre courses that run through the summer holidays. Budding actors will even have the chance to make their debut on the big stage.
Not far from Vondelpark, OCCII is a community-focused creative arts centre mostly run by volunteers and with its roots in the squatting movement. Kinderpret, the special theatre programme for children encompasses a range of accessible performances, musical spectacles and hands-on workshops that will appeal to a range of ages. Young visitors might find themself immersed in shadow puppets, building giant foam structures in the courtyard garden, or all settling down for an afternoon of tall tales and storytelling.