*The Keukenhof: world’s largest flower garden

2The Keukenhof is located in Lisse, The Netherlands. Lisse is in the center of the bulb field region of Holland – where all the tulips grow. The Keukenhof  is open at the height of spring for about eight weeks every year (from about mid March to mid May) and houses more than 7 million flowers. We visited this year – the first week of May – with our two kids (ages 2 years and 6 months). What an amazing tourist destination. If you have plans to be anywhere in Western Europe in the spring time, the Keukenhof is a MUST see. 22

Because Lisse is a small town with very few hotels or travel accommodations, the best way to get there is to stay in a neighboring city and take a day trip by bus into the festival. We 20recommend staying in Leiden because it’s a bit closer and a lot cheaper than Amsterdam. You can buy a combo bus (round trip) and entrance ticket at the Leiden Central Station for about 22 Euro. (Children under age 4 are free). 28Buses come and go from the gardens about every 25 min. There is food available for purchase inside the park but the prices are high and the lines are long. So, it’s a good idea to pack your own snacks and lunches before you go. While you can leave and re-enter the park, the Keukenhof isn’t close to anything but flowers so don’t plan on finding a grocery store or a restaurant outside the gates.

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It is a very family friendly experience. Once you are inside the gardens, in addition to the flowers, you will find a small petting zoo, a couple of play grounds (with teeter-totters, slides, and swings) and a maze. For older children the front desk offers a scavenger hunt around the park and educational information about the flowers.

26Just outside the gates you can rent bicycles for about 10 Euro per person. They offer single and tandem bikes as well as attachable baby seats and bike trailers. Mid-day, our little family took a four-hour bike ride around Lisse to see the 23windmills and the bulb fields. There is no time limit of the bikes (as long as you have them back by closing time). You’ll ride past millions of flowers planted in straight lines like Iowa Corn. You can even stop and walk through the flowers and take some pictures.

If you live too far away to get your family all the way to Holland, there are lots of regional spring time flower festivals all around the globe. Places like The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Aurora, OR; The Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa; or The Flower Bulb Jubilee in Belle Plain, KS.  So get 31outside this spring time and behold the beauty of the earth.

If you have a flower festival in your area let us know about it in the comments section below.

* Invest in a child carrier or backpack

This is one of our most important pieces of advice. First off , big crowds make it tough to maneuver a stroller. Having a backpack allows you to take your kids as part of your person. You’re not worried about their safety because they are attached to you. Also, you can better weave in and out of large groups of people. If you have 2 small kids, get two backpacks: one for Mom and one for Dad. Second, popular travel destinations are often not very push chair friendly. There are usually lots of stairs (down to the subway or metro, perhaps). This increases the appeal of being able to take your kids on your back. The same principles are also true for outdoor destinations like hiking. It’s a simple but practical way to optimise the ease of transportation.

Our Top Pick: The Kid Comfort II by Deuter.

deuterThis backpack goes for about $240 and is well worth it. You can pick it up in-store at someplace like R.E.I. or you can order on-line from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. This bag beats out the competition for reasons of  both design and comfort. The pack is adjustable  according to your height and size. With both chest and hip straps, the weight of the child is better distributed  on your body making it easier to cover more ground. The straps are well padded making the backpack quite comfortable. The kickstand makes it possible to take off the backpack and set in down without taking out your child  every time you want to stop (a very convenient feature). There are also several pockets and pouches that can store items essential for traveling with kids. Things like diapers, wipes, snacks, toys, sunscreen, water bottles, etc. We would recommend picking up the sunshade for an extra $30. There are also kid comfort’s I and III but we’ve found that the II has more storage space than the small and is not as bulky as the large. Thus, it is our star pick in child carriers.