Remember the 2-week school break my kids had in February? Well, they have another one happening right now. (Sidenote: I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I love the French school schedule. It’s something like six weeks on, 2 weeks off, which is ideal for fitting in roadtrips without missing school. We’ll miss this schedule when we’re gone!)

This is the last break we have before we move back to the U.S., so you can bet that we have big plans to make the most of it. Yesterday, we said goodbye to our house guests at the train station, then hopped in the van and drove to Amsterdam. We’re here to see the tulips — and we’re filming an Olive Us episode too!

Amsterdam was one of the first places we visited when we moved here over 2 years ago. It’s such a cool city! (You can see my posts about that trip here and here and here and here.) On that visit, we caught the very tail end of the tulips, but we’re hoping we’ve timed it better this year and will get to see them in all their glory this time around.

Also, I want to eat a dozen servings of poffertjes too!

Tell me, friends: is Amsterdam on your travel wishlist? Or have you already been?

P.S. — With astroralph, mimiblair, oliveblair, blairben and designmomblog (that’s me) all snapping away, I’m pretty sure every inch of this trip will be covered on Instagram. : ) Feel free to join us.

P.P.S. — Ben Blair found our hotel (pictured at top) on Hotwire, and I’m really digging it. It’s called Lloyd Hotel and has rooms that range from 1 star to 5 stars — something for everyone!

35 thoughts on “Amsterdam”

  1. I loooooove Holland! We went a lot when I was a child and I visited again last year. If you get bored of Amsterdam, head up the coast a little bit to Edam and Monnickendam – I loved both of them so so much. They’re tiny little seaside towns with gorgeous houses and lovely light.

    There’s some pictures of Edam here: and Edam, Amsterdam and Monnickendam here:

  2. Definitely on my travel list! In fact, if we ever manage to live overseas for a year, we’d consider it as a home base (though would probably want something more central). So much of what I’ve read about Amsterdam over the years appeals to me. My husband was there as a youngster, remembers it fondly, and would love to return. Enjoy!

  3. gabrielle,

    when you’re back in the States and missing Europe, you should take a little trip to my hometown one may. it’s holland, mi and has significant ties to the netherlands. we have tons of tulips and a week-long festival called tulip time commemorating Dutch heritage. there are hundreds dressed in Dutch costumes (including wooden shoes!) plus, lake michigan is amazing!

    i live in philly now, but am going back for it this year:

    thanks for your blog…i love it here!

  4. When I was 17 I was a Rotary exchange student to the Netherlands and lived just outside of Utrecht for a year. Needless to say the Netherlands has a soft spot in my heart. I loved the tulip farms in the south, the canals in Amsterdam, and all the art museums. I would love to take my family there – maybe one day! I’m looking forward to seeing your photos and hearing all about it.

  5. My dad is from the Netherlands and I have many aunts/uncles/cousins there. It’s one of our favorite places to vacation! Last time we went my daughter was 8. We really enjoyed the bike tour. Don’t miss it. I also recommend renting bikes. The Anne Frank house was meaningful for us bc our daughter had just been learning about her in Hebrew School.

    Best part of our trip is my aunt and uncle live directly across the street from one of the only windmills in Amsterdam!


  6. I have not been to Amsterdam, but it’s on my “someday-Europe” list. I love to hear about your travels there, though. What have you and Ben enjoyed the most? What about the kids?

  7. When we start the countdown for getting ready to leave a place – usually at the three month mark – we always make a bit of time to go back to the places we saw when we first arrived. It’s a nice way to close the loop and you also realize how familiar and unfamiliar you are with the places at the same time, since you have the perspective of all of your experiences in between.

  8. I went to Amsterdam on a day trip with my class when I was in high school (or Gymnasium.. I was an exchange student in Germany), and it is such a beautiful city! We didn’t get to see much, so I would love to go again! As with many places I’ve traveled to in Europe, though, I wish pornography weren’t so rampant. As a young religious teenage, that did kill some of the fun for me.

  9. Amsterdam is wonderful… and difficult to visit if you’d like to protect your children from inappropriate sights (not sites, but sights). Can’t count how many times we diverted attention away from a sex shop as we walked past by saying something like, “Oh, look, there’s the 124th tandem bike we’ve seen today!” Love the canals, love the bikes, love the friendly people… hate the sex shops.

    Hope you’re enjoying all the stroopwafels — they’re my favorite!

  10. Happy road trip! How fun.

    Somewhat unrelated, but I’m wondering if you’d share your perspective on kids and social media. I already knew your older two were online and Olive is obviously on Instagram. How did you decide when it was ok for them to dip their toes in the social media waters? Do you limit them to certain platforms? Other thoughts or tips?

    My daughter is almost exactly Olive’s age so I appreciate hearing from a social-media savvy mom about how she reached her decisions.

  11. I went to Keukenhoff back in 2011. It just happened to be Good Friday and it was incredibly busy, but most everything was in full bloom and it was so so lovely. I was expecting it to look amazing but the heavenly scent took me completely by surprise. I would love to go back someday. My youngest was born in Heerlen, NL so I’m sure that someday when she’s a bit bigger (she’s only 2.5 now!) we’ll take her back to see all that the Netherlands has to offer. We also went two years in a row to Amsterdam for New Years eve. It’s unbelievable how many fireworks go off and for how long they last. After gazing, slack-jawed for literally hours after midnight we finally went to sleep still hearing the fireworks in the background. Incredible!

  12. I loved Holland when I visited back in 2004. Amsterdam was definitely a highlight but I also loved the little villages of Volendam in Edam and the island of Marken was a very interesting place.

  13. love that photo. those yellow pots make those boxwoods look particularly chic, much better than the ones outside my front door. have a great time in amsterdam!

  14. I love amsterdam! Along with Edinburgh, it was one of my favorite places we went to during our year abroad and I can’t wait to go back! Have you tried Stroopwaffeln? I don’t care for them, but my husband can’t get enough.

  15. Love love love Amsterdam. Husband and I went in 2002 and happened to be ther during Floriade, a huge flower show that happens every 10 years. I hope you go to the rijksmuseum which is very recent reopened after 10 yrs of renovations.

  16. This year is really special Amsterdam and no, I’m not biased because I live here, but we’re celebrating 400 years of the famed canals and a lot of new cultural openings, plus the Queen gives way to a new King at the end of the month! Enjoy your time in Holland hopefully the sunshines when you’re visiting Keukenhof!

  17. I live in Amsterdam! If your schedule is not too full yet, you should visit the newly opened Rijksmuseum. It has been closed for 10 years and opened just two weeks ago! It is huge! And untill when are you here? Next Tuesday is our last Queensday which will also be the day our Queen retires and our King is crowned!

  18. I love Holland and Amsterdam. I have had the pleasure of riding my bicycle many times around the country even over the large dike in the northern part of the country. Love the tulips, love the people, love the food. Good times, but you know that:)

  19. You’re in luck, the tulips are just starting to come up…we’re about 2 weeks behind this year due to our long winter. And as Maria said, if you can stay till the 30th you’ll be in for a real treat with our last Queen’s day..the country will be filled with orange. :-) My advice is to also check out the other great cities of the Netherlands, like Den Haag (ofcourse I’m partial – I live outside of it ;-) ) Utrecht, Gouda or Rotterdam for that matter, Amsterdam isn’t the only place to visit in the Netherlands!

  20. Our Canadian family of four is actually in the midst of planning a July holiday to Amsterdam & Switzerland (with a quick visit to Paris and London as well) and I’ve been very inspired by your posts. In fact it was one of your earlier Amsterdam posts that got me thinking of it as a family destination. We are so excited to go and I guess I’ve mentioned your posts to my husband apparently quite often because the other day he remarked something like “….of course Design-Mom has done that.” :-) Enjoy the tulips and save some poffertjes for us.

  21. I’ve been lucky to visit Holland and Amsterdam several times the past few years. I love it! Last year at this time we visited the Keukenhoff Gardens and the area around it. Absolutely beautiful!! We were there for the Queen’s day celebration as well. I’m jealous!!

  22. must rent bikes!
    several yrs ago my hubs & i lived in Holland for 3 months. We really loved our time there, so much so that we’ve named one of our children Holland after all of our happy memories. A few loves?
    BIKES, fresh flowers, indonesian food (spiciest EVER! Indo used to be a Dutch colony & the food is said to be quite authentic), hot fruit tea with all the yummy little grocery store cookies (both make great gifts & souvenirs), seeing how many adults drink milk! Totally random but look & you’ll see business men out to lunch with a tall glass of milk!, Anne Frank museum, of course.
    Happy Travels

  23. Amsterdam is the first European City I visited and the one I fell in love with. The people are so friendly. You’ll be there just in time to see the Rijksmuseum in all its refurbished glory with all the galleries open. I also loved Hema, which I know you blogged about before but that store is worth revisiting.

  24. We are going to Amsterdam for the month of June to visit my husband’s family. (Dutch husband) We visit quite frequently. Some family live 10 minutes outside of Amsterdam, in the super cute town of Broek in Waterland. It’s a great place to bike to and eat at the Witte Swaen Pannenkoeken (White Swan Pancakes) house there. Then bike back to Amsterdam and go to the zoo!

  25. We have been to Holland and Amsterdam a couple of times! Though I haven’t been there during tulip season. I am sure it is amazing. Have a fun trip!

  26. Thanks so much for all of your interesting info and stories. We are about to leave (in less than 2 weeks) for a 5 week adventure to the Netherlands. We will be traveling around as well and after reading and seeing your pictures of Venice, I think that you have helped to make that trip a reality for us. Thank you! Keep up the good work and thanks again!

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