There’s a slight chill in the air, the leaves are turning vivid shades of red and yellow, and the autumn holiday is right around the corner. Wondering how to spend a fun day in the city with the family? In Rotterdam, there’s more than enough to keep everyone entertained – rain or shine!
Words: Paola Westbeek
It seems as though it was only yesterday that we were soaking up some sun and filling our lungs with saline air, yet there’s certainly no denying that the dark, cold days of winter are fast approaching. Weather permitting, this may be the last time to enjoy the outdoors. But what if the forecast doesn’t look too promising? We’ve rounded up some awesome tips to help you get the most out of the upcoming break, no matter what the weather.
No need for grey clouds and drizzle to spoil the autumn holiday. Get your morning off to a good start by gathering the family for breakfast at places where you can sip a proper cup of coffee while the kids read or play. Ver van Hier on Kleiwegkwartier just happens to carry the largest collection of English-language books for children of all ages and serves everything from delicious cakes to simple sandwiches. Another excellent place for young book fans and their caffeine-loving parents is De Kleine Kapitein, located on Botersloot, not far from the main library. You’ll find more than 5,000 titles with everything from picture books to comics and teen novels. Juffrouw van Zanten is no exception when it comes to combining good food and coffee with good fun. The two locations (Kralingen and West) serve up wholesome breakfasts, brunch and lunch made with mostly seasonal and local ingredients, but you can also drop by later in the day for a glass of wine and tasty finger foods.
Come the afternoon, you may want to opt for more educational pursuits. It’s never too early for children to develop an appreciation for art, but taking them to museums from a very young age can often be overwhelming, especially since most have a ‘look-but-don’t-touch’ policy. Not the case at Villa Zebra. This interactive art paradise invites children to look, think and get involved by exploring art installations and expositions designed specifically for different age groups (2-6 and 7-12). Before heading home, stop at the Zebracafé and have a drink while taking in the view over the Maas.
Equally engaging is a trip to the Maritime Museum, located on Leuvehaven, in the heart of the Maritime District. Admire the permanent exhibitions such as Masterpieces (which features Europe’s largest model ship), or let the little ones (4-10) help Professor Splash before he sails off on his next adventure. You can even head to the harbour – provided it’s not raining too hard – and experience what it’s like to actually be on a ship.
When the weather cooperates, it’s time to savour the last rays of warm sunshine at our city’s lush parks and forests. Catch the seasonal colour spectacle in its full glory by taking a long stroll through The Park, conveniently located at the foot of the Euromast and boasting many pleasant paths lined with more than 400 varieties of trees. Hungry after all that walking? Pause for a well-deserved bite at Parqiet’s attractive terrace and feast on crisp prawn croquettes with lemon mayonnaise or nachos with salsa and guacamole.
At Midgetgolf Parkhaven, located on the edge of The Park, the entire family can partake in a round of mini-golf in combination with interesting package deals. Highly recommended is the panoramic cruise and all-you-can-eat buffet aboard the Pancake Boat, or the Splashtour, a unique city excursion on a bus operating on both land and water.
Real nature lovers who aren’t afraid to get a little mud on their clothes will love De Speeldernis in North. There’s no need for much playground equipment here. Simply use twigs, stones and water to build rafts and dams, or climb hills and trees before enjoying a cosy, autumnal picnic next to a roaring fire.
Another great idea is exploring the three different ‘wijken’ (areas) at Plaswijckpark on Bergse Achterplas. Burn off some energy at ‘Speelwijck’s’ various playgrounds, watch the monkeys and other animals frolicking about at ‘Dierenwijck’, or marvel at the peacefulness of the English gardens in ‘Wandelwijck’. Especially interesting is this year’s Halloween celebration. Not only will the park be decked out in spooky decor from 21 to 27 October, but two special evenings are scheduled for children. The first (for children up to the age of 7) takes place on 23 October and the second (ages 7 and up) takes place on 25 October.
And to think that this is but a small selection of all that Rotterdam has to offer this coming autumn!