To be honest, going to the tulip festival in Holland was not on my bucket list. I’ve seen a variety of flowers and plants in large gardens before and did not see how going to Keukenhof would be all that different. However, the dark and rainy season got the best of me and I booked our trip. The flower garden website http://www.keukenhof.nl/ was very informative and I booked a package stay for us. I loved the calendar on their website that listed which flowers were scheduled to bloom when and what other events were going on at the park throughout the season (March-May) As the trip started getting nearer, I began intentionally pointing out every tree, bush, and flower to our daughter (almost 2 at the time).
We made sure to book our trip for mid-season (late April), in case the flowers bloomed late, so that we could see as many as possible. This was a great choice, since all the flowers ended up blooming late! The drive through the Netherlands (aka Holland, in case you didn’t realize it was the same country) was amazing! The roads were smooth and easy and the architecture was modern and very unique, which steeply contrasted the wonderful green country fields dotted with livestock and lined with irrigation canals. There were so many fields of flowers!
On our way, we chose to stop at a friendly cheese and wooden shoe factory. We let our daughter pick out a pair of wooden shoes and a block of freshly made cheese. The owners let us walk around their farm and into the barn to see the animals as well (her favorite part).
We arrived at our (NH Hotels Conference Centre Leeuwenhorst) hotel early, but they allowed us to check-in right away and had a welcome snack and drink waiting. There was a large bounce house and children’s play area on the main level and wonderful food. We had some time that afternoon to explore, so we drove into the (seaside!) city to discover there was a small carnival going on and a car show parade just beginning. Of course, this meant a carousel ride for my sweetie pie and a big ole stick of cotton candy for myself!
Deciding against the rental bikes, we drove to Keukenhof the next morning. It is a lovely place to bike, so do that if you can! Although the entry fee is high, if you are really able to spend a few hours there (especially early in the morning before the tourist busses drop off), you will get your money’s worth. We took my daughter’s stroller, but allowed her to walk. They are very strict about not walking on the grass, so we had to keep an eye on her, but we also gave her space to explore. She loved picking up the gravel, bending down to look at bugs, and trying to smell every single flower. Each flower bed has a plaque stating the name of the flower. She loved some of the silly names, while I found the ones named after famous people amusing. I made sure to take a lot of snacks for us, since prices for food there were high. Some things that stood out to us were the odd sculptures and little river (pond), as well as the various patterns made by the flowers. If you take kids, a scavenger hunt would be the perfect activity to keep them occupied! (But at 1, my daughter was just enjoying all the colors.)
There is a large pond with café by it and gift shops. Music from the organ grinder is a great backdrop to the whole setting. You can purchase bulbs or flowers at Keukenhof-and you can hand pick them in a certain area of the park.
If you go to Keukenhof, much of it will look like this:
In order to truly enjoy it for more than just a walk in the park, you have to stop and admire the flowers and the landscape architecture that goes into making each pattern and design, which must be carefully planned based on not only color and variety but by bloom time. These were among my favorites (although I came out with about a thousand photos just of flowers):
Keukenhof is open March-May so if you haven’t already, start planning your trip!