Are you babywearing, tugging a buggy, or lugging tiny tots? Need a wee break and keen to explore a new city? In Den Haag (The Hague), there is a bit of everything...even for the tiniest of the global nomads.
There are lots of green spaces, activities by and on the water, kinderateliers, speeltuins, and kinderboerderijs. Libraries and children-oriented museums are not to be forgotten either. I even discovered a new place that offers a ‘shopping nanny’ on Saturdays!
To help get you started, I have prepared a few child-friendly itineraries that can be good any day of the year. Please do keep an eye out for festivals and events that take place at different times of the year, so you can plan around the traffic diversions that come with some of them.
Here are a few adventures that I recommend for a trip out to Den Haag:
Monuments and Museums
For first-time guests, a walk may include passing through the Binnenhof (Dutch parliament), the Queen’s office (Paleis Noordeinde) and the Peace Palace (which houses the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration). If it’s a rainy day, take cover and enjoy the geometric feast to the eyes in the Escher Museum, play on the top floor of the Museum voor Telecommunicatie, and/or pay a visit to the Passage.
In just one area you can find the Museon/Gemeentemuseum/Fotografie Museum and Omniversum complex. The Gemeentemuseum often exhibits world-renown masterpieces. Our annual pass has been very handy for rainy days. Omniversum features short films in a 360-degree cinema experience.
If you take tram 9 towards Scheveningen from Den Haag Centraal Station, the tram passes by the miniature ‘Holland’, Madurodam. Popular miniatures include Schiphol Airport, Paleis Het Loo, the Dom, the Rijksmuseum, the North Sea oil platform, and the trains whizzing around the displays. It’s very easy to spend 1-3 hours just admiring all the miniatures.
Nature and Green Areas
Then you can take your trip further to Scheveningen Beach. When my family moved to Den Haag, little did I realize how much my family would enjoy Scheveningen for sunny days out. Whether you sit on the sandy beach or relaxing in one of the beach bars that line Scheveningen from the end of March to the beginning of October, you are guaranteed a gezellig time (when the sun is out!). For eating, Sol Beach offers do-it-yourself BBQ or an a la carte menu. A few other perks are the climbing frame and slide and beach toys for their smallest customers.
Den Haag has many parks and is one of the greenest cities in the Netherlands. Zuiderpark and Haagse Bos are worth mentioning. If an all-day children’s fun day is what you have in mind, Zuiderpark has a variety of fun things on offer. It includes a children’s farm (kinderboerderij), a kids’ adventure trail, a huge indoor play area, a swimming pool, a bowling centre and, last but not least, a really neat children’s size steam train run by amateur train enthusiasts during the summer.
Haagse Bos, on the other hand, is the nearest city forest from Den Haag Centraal. My family often goes to the adventure trail where there is a zip-line, which my daughter loves riding while I happily walk around with my baby in a sling. There is also the Huttenbos, which is a child-made settlement of forest huts made of fallen branches and logs.
Family-friendly International City
With half of Den Haag's 500,000 inhabitants being non-Dutch, the array of nationalities adds different hues to the city. Check out Zeeheldenkwartier and the nearby streets of Reinkenstraat and Elandstraat for instance. There are Portuguese, Polish, Baltic and Russian delis, Kelly’s Expat Shopping, Chef India Express, Sushi Tokyo, and the English-speaking childcare centre, Big Ben Kids – indicative of the multicultural presence in the area. For nearby ‘refuelling’ stations, Crunch, and Appeltje Eitje are all tried and tested breastfeeding and child-friendly cafes.
My family has grown accustomed to the lifestyle in this city. We have discovered how lucky we are to be car-less, bike-riding, babywearing adventurers in this urban oasis. One thing is for sure, the Haagenaars know how to plan fun activities for children – rain or shine.
There is a good bus-tram network passing through Den Haag Centraal. Buses and the Randstad Rail trams 2, 3 and 4, are the most buggy-friendly options. The red-cream trams have elevated steps at the tram doors. If you do fancy renting bicycles, the easiest option is just getting the rental bikes from Den Haag Centraal Station. For canal boat rides visit Willemsvaart.
For a quick meal upon arrival at Centraal Station, I recommend De Ooievaar at the ground floor of the City Hall and main Library. De Ooievaar serves typical dutch fare and the service is pretty good. Café de Bok just off the shopping street, Noordeinde, or the Sherlock Holmes on Sumatrastraat are both great for proper pub grub. On Papestraat, one can’t miss the Vlaamse Friets – a hole-in-the-wall snack bar, but the best!
For reasonably-priced international flavours, try Sumo or Genki Tei (Japanese), Long Ting or Wang Wang (Chinese), Y Mucho Mas (Spanish), VIP (Italian) and Amier (Lebanese). Other than that, I have relied on V&D, Dudok and De Bijenkorf for reliable food choices and nappy-changing facilities.
North of the Centrum, the Fred boasts locally-run shops and restaurants that offer the best produce and a variety of goods.
Check out the Grote Pyr for once-a-month activities like FunSwing or the Van Kinderen Museum.
For art related activities, see the Haags Kinderatelier.
Also interesting is the Children’s Book Museum.
Most of all....just join in all the fun!
About the author: Rosanele is Mama to Margaux Amihan and Émilie Iraya. Originally from the Philippines, she has also lived in the U.S., Canada, England, and Scotland before moving to The Netherlands with her husband François-Xavier in 2009.
Having gone through a few difficult situations without a support group close by, she has started the Parenting and The Hague (PaTH) Facebook Group to encourage families to share parenting ideas and information about living in Den Haag. PaTH is for internationals and locals interested in being part of a community of parents helping each other in Den Haag. Rosanele thanks the trailblazing Amsterdam Mamas for the spark that brought about PaTH.