A few miles south of the city, beyond Oud-Zuid and near the suburb of Amstelveen, the largest of Amsterdam's parks covers almost a thousand acres and incorporates 137 km (85 miles) of footpaths and 51 km (32 miles) of bicycle paths traversed by 50 bridges—many designed in the early-20th-century Amsterdam School style with characteristic red brick and sculpted-stone detailing. The area was planted and constructed from 1934 onward, as a job creation scheme under the motto "five years' work for a thousand men" and it ended up providing jobs for 20,000 people during the Depression. There are wide recreational fields, a boating lake, the impressive Olympic Bosbaan rowing course (overlooked by the terraces of grand café De Bosbaan), and numerous playgrounds and water play areas for toddlers. A popular family attraction is a Geitenboerderij "De Ridammerhoeve" goat farm (follow the blue signs past Boerderij Meerzicht, Nieuwe Meerlaan 4, Amstelveen, 020/645–5034.http://www.geitenboerderij.nl)
with a playground and lunchroom, a sunny terrace, and lots of chickens hopping about between the goats. The kids can feed the four-legged kind of kids milk from a bottle, and cuddle bleating babies in the barn. The soft ice cream is made entirely of goat's milk, and homemade goat cheese is on sale. It takes about 30 minutes by bike from the Vondelpark: exit through the southern exit of the Vondelparkpark, take a left onto the Amstelveenseweg and follow this busy road under the highway on the bicycle path until you reach the visitor center for the park (De Boswinkel) on the right. For public transport to the Amsterdamse Bos, Buses 170 and 172 run from Leidseplein to Van Nijenrodeweg, opposite the visitor center. The museum tram passes through on Sundays from Easter through October between 11 and 5:30; get on at Haarlemmermeer Station. You can also rent bikes at the entrance of the Amsterdamse Bos opposite the De Boswinkel (visitor center), all year round (020/644–5473). Maps, suggested routes, and signposting are plentiful throughout the park. For example, follow the signs to the Grote Vijver (Big Lake) to hire kayaks, pedal boats, and electric boats from April through October (020/645–7831, http://www.amsterdamsebos.nl).
If you didn't pack your own lunch, Boerderij Meerzicht is a traditional Dutch pancake house, with a small deer zoo and playground for kids (Koenenkade 56, Amstelveen. 020/679–2744.http://www.boerderijmeerzicht.nl).