Monkey Forest Playground, Meijendel, Den Haag
Dunea, our water company, manages three areas of dunes in Meijendel that are part of the Dutch National Dunes National Park. Unique in the world, they use the sand dunes to clean the water we drink. The land surrounding the dunes, and above the aquifer has been converted into recreational use. Expat friends of ours recommended we take the kids out to explore this area before the weather turns for the winter.
There are a variety of activities to enjoy here. The Dunea visitors center even runs kids programming (ages 6-12) on Wednesday afternoons for a small fee. The Dunea recreational area is packed with activities so you could easily spend the better part of a day here or just tackle a few things for a shorter trip.
Our kids were most interested in the Monkey Bos (Monkey Forest) play area. This short hiking trail is full of obstacles your little monkey will love. It is also fully stroller friendly if you don’t mind a few spots with deep-ish sand (it’s in the dunes, after all).
We were some of the first on the trail, so as usual, had the place to ourselves. Later in the afternoon on a weekend it was crowded, but there are plenty of little play areas so the kids always seem to find a place to play. The swinging ropes were our Big Little’s favorite. We found a few hanging from the trees, a swing and a proper zip line. These were a bit too much for the Middle Little.
The setup is pretty simple but that’s really the genius of the trail. This concrete tubing was perfect for going over and through. Had it been dryer we may have even let our new little walker try it out.
Our two little monkeys enjoyed using the tubes in separate parts of the trail to talk to each other. They yelled and made monkey noises. My Middle Little was so surprised he could hear his brother, it was just adorable!
Most of the obstacles came in multiple sizes. The Big Little easily navigated these two ropes, but the distance between the next set was much too long for him to reach. They had so many varieties of ropes and nets to climb, your littles are sure to find something they like.
Another favorite was this lookout tower. Inside the fort you can see much of the monkey bos and all the little ones running around having a great time.
The trees in the Monkey Bos have been curated for climbing and fort building. The Big Little has just gotten into tree climbing so this was the perfect place for him to experiment. Many of the trees twist and turn making them easy to climb. Plus there were plenty of lower branches for him to play around on.
As is common here plenty of felled branches are available for the kids to play with. The Dutch gather them up and build little houses. The Monkey Bos is the perfect place for this. The aforementioned low tree climbing branches are also perfect for fort building.
Once their house was built my kids collected smaller sticks to make a (pretend) fire and plenty of acorns to be used as both food and currency.
The Monkey Bos also has plenty of larger tree trunks around that are perfect as adult benches. While the kids played and took over the forest we enjoyed the beautiful weather sitting on a log and the Little Little napped happily in the stroller.
At the end of the Monkey Bos trail, we turned and walked back to the Visitors Center using one of the running paths. Along the path we found a whole collection of different types of beautiful mushrooms.
We also found a variety of bugs and some frogs. This would have been a great place to have our collection jars with us.
We did have a bag with us and let the kids fill it to the brim with acorns. They were just falling off the tree and in perfect condition. I always find fun acorn crafts on Pinterest so we took some home for future play and crafting.
We popped into the visitors center, which is really of more interest to adults than to children. Here you can learn all about how the water is filtered using the sand dunes and turned into drinking water. They were also happy to answer all of our questions.
Just outside the visitors center is this fun water play area. I was glad to have the boys in Wellies for this part. They joined a whole group of other children in moving the water around using the faucets and buckets.
The park has an on-site pancake house, Boerderij Meerzicht. There were plenty of kids playing at the water playground while their parents enjoyed a drink and some food. We rolled the whole group inside so that we could wash hands and use the bathroom with plans to sit outside so the kids could enjoy more time at the water playground or at the neighboring regular playground, also in sight of the restaurant’s outdoor seating.
While we were figuring out food for everyone the boys made themselves comfortable at the indoor play area. They were happy, so we found a seat nearby where we could supervise all three, but also enjoy our coffee.
Even if you don’t have kids, you should stop here. We saw plenty of couples who were grabbing coffee and cake after a hike or bike on one of the many paths. The place is Gezellig.
The Middle and Big Little both ordered pancakes, as you should at a pancake house. They chose their toppings and packed those suckers away. There are so many options for toppings I had to have the Big Little translate a few that I didn’t remember!
Jeff and I ordered some Dutch favorites. He ordered a croquet, which is like a fried log that comes on a piece of bread. I never quite feel satisfied by them, but he is a big fan. I ordered the Uitsmijter and man was it good. Uitsmijter, when made properly is delicious. What’s not to love about brown bread, cheese, ham, bacon and an over easy egg? Yummy.
After a bit more playground time, the Little Little got a bit fussy somewhere in here so we decided to head back home. We could have spent more time hiking out to the dunes and seeing the water, but felt very satisfied with our visit.