One of the first things that springs to mind when I think about the Netherlands are beautiful “old-fashioned” windmills. And if you’re planning a visit to Kinderdijk with kids, then this is the post for you.
The Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the best places to see some genuine, still-working windmills in Holland. Add this to your bucket list today!
We were there over the summer, with three kiddos (7, 5, and 3), so here’s what you need to know (and then some) for when you get to check out these majestic workhorses in person.
Quick Facts About the Kinderdijk Windmills
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know a single thing about windmills, so I totally learned a thing or two (or three) when we visited Kinderdijk.
So how about some fun facts:
- Kinderdijk literally translates to childrens’ dyke. And in case you’re wondering…A dyke (not to be confused with the American spelling) is a device used to regulate or hold back water from a river, lake, or ocean.
- There are about a half dozen theories for why it’s called a “child’s dyke,” but one of them suggests that it started because of a great flood in the 1400s. When survivors ventured outside they heard and saw a baby crying in the water. There was a cat on the basket, and it kept jumping from side to side to keep balance; they saved the baby, and the surivors then named it, the Kinderdijk.
- The Netherlands is actually below sea level, so it’s imperative that these windmills do their part to keep pumping the water out so the land above water.
- There are 19 windmills at Kinderdijk and people still live and work in 14 of them.
- You can visit and go inside two of the windmills, Nederwaard and Blokker
- The giant sails on the windmills were how the millers would communicate. Certain configurations would mean anything from a new birth to someone’s death.
What to do at Kinderdijk with Kids
Kinderdijk is basically a kid-friendly outdoor natural history site.
You can ride boats, walk along pretty paths, and check out magnificent windmills up close and personal.
Kids can see how the windmills work, what it looks like by walking inside, and in the Wisboom pumping station, kids can (sometimes) get hands on turning a mill (coronavirus depending).
Helpful Tips for Visiting Kinderdijk with Kids
Traveling with little ones is….different; I get it.
Here are some quick tips to help make your trip to Kinderdijk run a little smoother when you have your little ones in tow.
We all know kids don’t understand the word “patience,” so skip the lines, avoid the crowds, and get there early.
Parking near the actual site is sparse (and there is a fee), so claim your spot before you have to park across the busy street.
If you Have to go Potty…
…Stop and go right away. Daniel Tiger knows a thing or two about finding a toilet right away. There are zero public facilities out near the windmills, so encourage the kiddos to go before you hop on the boat.
The toilet is across the bridge. Just keep walking and go up the path towards the building. There is no charge for the toilets.
Watch the Movie
There’s a info movie you can watch before seeing the windmills, and they have an English version. It was a little fast and went into a lot of detail, but my seven and five year old seemed to comprehend bits and pieces of it.
We liked watching it so we could help explain more to the kids once we actually saw the windmills.
Talk to the Guides
All the guides we encountered spoke great English and were eager to fill us in on fun tidbits about the area…and then some.
If you—or your kids have questions, I encourage you to ask; they seemed to really enjoy sharing information.
Obviously this is probably a no-brainer for any trip with kids, but for the sake of being transparent: I forgot to pack snacks for this outing, and fully regretted it. We ended up missing a boat back to the visitor’s center and had to wait longer than expected.
There is a very small snack shop at the visitor’s center, but if you’re out looking at windmills and your kids are hungry, you’ll have endure some very whiney kids.
Pro tip: Trash cans were very limited (if there were any at all), so pack fruit or food with no waste, or make sure you clean up and save any packaging. Don’t be a litter bug.
Getting Around Kinderdijk with Kids
Take the Boat Tour(s)
Take advantage of the hop-on-hop off boat is included in your ticket. Cross the bridge after the visitor’s center, and then sail around to see the windmills up close!
There is another boat just next to the visitor’s center that does a round trip journey. So if do not want to get off, and just see it all from the boat, go on that one.
The hop-on-hop off boat is included in your ticket. We didn’t go on the other one, so I’m not certain if that one is also included.
Plan Enough Time
We were there for a few hours, and easily could’ve spent a couple more hours looking around.
I loved that you could go inside some of the windmills, but only one out of our three were as excited as we were.
The kids started getting board after looking at the third windmill, though. So keep your little ones in mind for how long you’ll stay.
If we had a do-over, I’d give them a snack to reboot them and then continue exploring.
Bring Sturdy Shoes
Now is not the time for fancy sandals or your kids’ brand new princess shoes. Since the water levels fluctuate, and it could rain any time, make sure the whole family has good, sturdy shoes.
The paths are all paved, and I read that the boats are wheelchair accessible, so if you have kids that you want to contain for this outing, bring a stroller along.
Basic Info for Visiting Kinderdijk
Rotterdam: thirty minutes
Amsterdam: about one hour
Brunssum: two hours
Geilenkirchen: about two hours
Spangdahlem: about three and a half hours
Ramstein: four and a half hours
When you Visit…
Have you been there? What did you like the most about Kinderdijk? I’d love to hear if this helped you plan your next visit.