Day Trip to Haarlem
Haarlem is an adorable, approachable town northwest of Amsterdam. It is easily reachable by train, particularly if your visit is centered in Amsterdam. We drove from Delft to provide some additional flexibility. (As in most Dutch towns there are several well marked paid parking garages.)
We arrived in Haarlem before most things had opened. The Dutch love to relax on weekends so do not expect much to be open before 10am. Luckily there are a handful of cafes open for the morning crowd. We beelined for Bij Babette, an English tea house that is worth a stop. I read about their hot chocolate, or ‘boyfriend substitute’ as they call it.
The boys, all three of them, partook in the chocolate goodness while I enjoyed a latte. We split a scone platter and with full stomachs passed up the amazing looking cakes. We also picked up some ginger beer syrup to take home.
We proceeded to the Teylers Museum. You’ll feel as if you stepped back into time exploring the oldest museum in the Netherlands.
The exhibits consist mostly of natural history and art, but also include an impressive array of scientific equipment used throughout history. The original display cases are used and give this museum a historic feel.
The Teylers Museum is part of the Museumkaart program. If you have your kids with you, stop by the front desk and ask for a kids packet.
They have a few different activities depending on the age of your child. Complete the activity and you’ll go home with a small prize (a shark’s tooth.) They also have small folding stools you can carry around with you so children can easily see the exhibits. The stool and the activity were enough to keep the kids engaged as we explored the museum.
The museum is small and manageable.
Our next stop was St. Bavo Church. This formerly Catholic church was overtaken by the Protestants during the reformation. The outside of the building was fascinating, over the years small buildings, including the old fish market, were built into the side of the church. Many of them now are artist residences and galleries.
Venturing into the church is worth it. There is a self-guided tour packet available in English. We kept the kids in the stroller and they stayed entertained and warm as we walked around.
Most notable is the organ which was played by Mozart when he was 10. It was also played by Handel. I mean, what history!
Lunch was at Jetties. I was craving a burger from all the walking and this place got great reviews. Jeff had a salad, which looked amazing, smothered with goat cheese. The boys loved the smoothies. They have a kids play table, which always helps the meal move along. The big windows provided lots of great people watching as well.
The city center is full of cute shops and the outdoor markets have lots to offer. We stopped by a bakery to grab some bread and treats and filled up our stroller with fresh fruits.
The town is also full of these great little garden squares. Think Notting Hill. Some of the gardens are available to tour. Find a list of the gardens here.
Our day was pretty much over, but there are a few more things in Haarlem that you might want to check out if you are in town. Most notably the Corrie Ten Boomhuis provided a safe house during Nazi occupation of Haarlem until someone betrayed them in February of 1944. The Haarlem visitors page has a list of other attractions.