Zuid-Kennemerland National Park
If you're looking for more peace and quiet, Zandvoort offers access to two large nature parks, Zuid-Kennemerland National Park and the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen which guarantee the chance to spot Konik horses, fallow deer, Scottish Highland cattle and the impressive bison all year round. Every October, the famous sand dunes fill with the calls of male deer, noisily hunting for a mate. The park also offers many opportunities for children to climb, swim, and build huts. You can book treasure hunts to keep the kids entertained on a long walk, and there are multiple playgrounds across the park. Keep an eye on the website for activities throughout the year.
If you're in Zandvoort with kids you really should stop by the Juttersmu-ZEE-um. Admission is free and there is plenty to see. It's fun to fantasise about the stories behind the objects washed up on the beach: buoys, bones, shark teeth, letters in bottles and even part of a rocket. The Juttersmuseum has an educational side as well. Find the answers to all sorts of fascinating questions, like 'how long do things last before they perish?' There is also a pirate ship (with real treasure!) for children to play in.
Forteiland IJmuiden and theBunker Museum
The fascinating Bunker Museum is housed in a German bunker from WWII and consists of six largely underground bunkers and a trench. A walk around the grounds is a true adventure and kids and adults alike will be amazed by the unique artefacts, varying from a German soldier’s bottle to a submarine for two. At the mouth of the North Sea Canal you'll also find Forteiland IJmuiden, an impressive fortress dating back to 1880. This former military defense offers plenty of history, adventure and relaxation, and is part of the Defense Line of Amsterdam, a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An enjoyable cycle ride will bring you to the impressive Ruïne van Brederode in Santpoort-Zuid, a ruined medieval castle complete with a moat, dungeon and far-reaching views from its highest turret. Kids can dress up as a knight or damsel to explore the ruin’s many rooms and towers, and play a range of traditional wooden games at the ye very olde outdoor café. If you’re lucky enough to visit in June, you’ll have the chance to watch the Knight's Tournament whilst other events and concerts are held at the ruin throughout the year.
IJmuider Sea and Harbour Museum and SHIP
As one of the biggest fishing harbours in Western Europe, IJmuiden has a strong connection to the sea. Learn more about the North Sea Canal at SHIP - an interactive display that provides prime views of the ships passing through Europe’s largest lock complex. The permanent collection at the IJmuider Sea and Harbour Museum also offers a distinct overview of maritime activities past and present in the region with various activities for kids to take part in.
Kraantje Lek is a historic and special place in the dunes between Zandvoort and Haarlem. Located at the foot of a high dune near a hollow tree, children can play here for hours on end. Centuries ago, fisherwomen stopped here for a break on their walk to Haarlem to sell their catches at the market. This is also a nostalgic place for many locals who used to visit as a child.
Restaurant Gestrand in Bloemendaal is the perfect spot to hang out with your kids. Pick up food and drinks inside and settle on the large terrace, where you have a view of the adventure playground. Kids can play with water, climb in the observation tower or whizz along the zip line. An extra plus: there's a cosy fireplace to warm you up on colder days.
Clean up the beach
Beachcombing a fun activity? Absolutely! During a walk on the beach you will find all kinds of things that do not belong on a beach: fishing nets, plastic bottles, cigarette butts and lost toys. Join in with the kids to help clean the beaches and see who can find the weirdest things. Bloemendaal beach offers dedicated trays to hand in all the items you find during your walk. Juttersgeluk collects, recycles and turns them into beautiful objects. Juttersgeluk also organises paid group tours to clean up the beach.
Spaarnwoude recreational area
The Spaarnwoude recreational area is located between Amsterdam, Haarlem and Velsen. At Spaarnwoude, you can walk, bike or skate while enjoying the characteristically Dutch landscape. There’s plenty of space to play and relax, as well as tons of activities like paintball, a climbing wall, a putting green, canoeing, swimming and more. The recreational area also hosts several large events every summer.
Pieter Vermeulen Museum
The Pieter Vermeulen Museum in Driehuis is a popular spot for enquiring minds. In this museum, which is a centre for environmental education, you can playfully discover everything about the nature in Kennemerland. Get up close with animal exhibits, have fun with the ever-changing interactive exhibitions and get creative at the craft table. If you prefer an outdoor adventure, the museum offers assignments about trees, shrubs and birds in the park. Older children will enjoy the GPS tree route.
Kickboxing with a sea view. What started out as a joke between a bunch of friends turned into Buddha Gym, where old and young, sports enthusiasts and beginners train together on the beach at Zandvoort. The kickboxing lessons for kids are alternated with Krav Maga self-defense lessons. During the winter months classes continue at a warmer location.