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Amsterdam with Kids
For each racy adult attraction Amsterdam offers, there's another dozen that deserve a PG (Pure Goodness) mark to entice the entire family. It's not for nothing that UNICEF identified Dutch children as the most fortunate in the world. Alongside exceptional infant care and happy dairy cows, the peaceful, open-minded society produces chill parents who tend to raise remarkably well-adjusted little ones. Here are tips on what to do with your own.
Um, Museums? Yes!
Some cultural catchalls are exceptionally child-friendly: the Rijksmuseum offers special audio tours for 6- to 12-year-olds, and the Amsterdam Museum recently opened Het Kleine Weeshuis, a wing recreating life in a 17th-century orphanage, geared toward 4- to 10-year-olds. But if the olden days bore them, go find NEMO. The Netherlands' biggest science center is sure to entertain and educate multiple generations with five floors of clever exhibits and live demos, plus, from the pitched roof deck, a spectacular view of city and shore. If that view stirs the nascent mariner within, visit the newly renovated Scheepvartmuseum, 500 years of Dutch naval history, with everything from sea-battle paintings and old-fashioned sailing compasses to a walk-in whale and a replica of the Amsterdam, a Dutch East India Company 18th-century cargo ship.
Where the Wild Things Are
Compared with other metropolitan zoos, Artis is small, but the animal-sensitive surroundings represent the sensibilities of the first country to elect an animal-rights party to Parliament. From apes to zebras, all the major species are present, plus there are regular sea lion shows, butterfly expos, and spectacular (read: slightly gruesome) feeding sessions. Your ticket will also grant you entrance next door to the planetarium and the not-to-be-missed aquarium.
For those with shorter attention spans, various neighborhoods have free public petting zoos. At the local kinderboerderij, kids not only rub elbows with farm animals but are often allowed to bottle-feed them. If your fellow travelers wish to find their own bottle, Kinderboerderij de Pijp (www.kinderboerderijdepijp.nl), open weekdays 11-5 and weekends 1-5, is a stone's throw from the champagne bar atop the Okura Hotel.
To Tucker Them Out
If little ones want to swim, public pools are open year-round and don't require a membership. The Zuiderbad on Museumplein is a local favorite, while the Brediusbad in Westerpark has an outdoor pool in summer. Rather stay dry? Tun Fun (www.tunfun.nl) is a giant indoor playground with mega-slides, ball pools, inflatable bouncers, and laser games.
Meanwhile, the restaurant quiets adults with espresso and Wi-Fi. With no mountains to speak of, the Netherlands has some avid climbing clubs. Klimmuur Amsterdam (www.deklimmuur.nl), which caters to first-timers, boasts its own kids' climbing club. Prefer to stay grounded? Monday through Saturday before 5, those 15 or younger are welcome to strike out at Knijn Bowling (www.knijnbowling.nl).
Last but not least, soccer lovers won't want to miss a World of Ajax tour (www.amsterdamarena.nl) through the city's famous voetbol stadium.
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