Breakfast a day makes the kids ready to explore and play. Breakfast at Meneer Peer (Mister Pear) is fun and affordable. This cute cozy cafe feels homey and has a relaxed vibe. This place is super child-friendly: there’s a wonderful play corner and the menu is filled with things kids love. No funny-looking fancy dishes with crazy flavours, just simple, yummy sandwiches. Summertime tip: have your order to go, cross the street and sit down on one of the benches overlooking the rippling water of the Vecht.
The Weerdsluis (Weerdsluis Lock) is more than just a pretty picture; it prevents the citizens of Utrecht from getting wet feet. The lock was built in the 12th century to regulate the water level in the city. It connects the Rijn, Vecht and canals.
During the summer, the old brick stairs are packed with people. No wonder, since it’s the perfect place to enjoy an ice cream from the shop just around the corner. At Il Mulino (the Mill in Italian), all the ice cream is homemade. Besides the traditional flavours like vanilla and chocolate, the Il Mulino team also makes ice cream without gluten, lactose and sugar. Just cross the street diagonally and join the queue.
The name of the Italian ice cream shop isn’t just a coincidence; a few steps down the road, you’ll find grain mill Rijn en Zon. It’s one of the last two original mills in Utrecht and dates back to 1745. De Molen, as it is referred to by locals, is a household name by community members, but might be a little confusing for outsiders. In contrast to what one might expect given the name, this old mill isn’t a place to buy flour, but an organic butchery.
De Molen, however, is just one of the places in this neighbourhood with a slightly misleading name. At ‘t Koffieboontje (the coffee bean), they don’t just serve coffee, but also smoothies and fresh herbal tea. Their carrot cake is to die for, as is the Oreo pie. Kids will love the hanging swing chair and the small play corner.
Take a little stroll along the Adelaarstraat and shop at Rio de Bio. This tiny local supermarket sells freshly baked bread, vegetables, fruits, dairy and even candy. Not in the mood for whining and pouting kids? No problem! There is a narrow path to the left of the store that leads to a well-hidden playground. Enclosed by houses and a fence, the Adelaarhof is a place where you can safely let your children slide down the squirrel’s tail.
Done running errands? Walk to the Nieuwe Keizersgracht. Look at the triptych on the walls and let the optical illusions blow your mind. This triptych was made in the late 1970s and is one of the first murals in Utrecht.
Next, turn left onto the Havikstraat and walk until you hit the T-junction. Then cross the road, push open the green door and let your kids play in this ‘secret’ garden. This cute playground is implanted in a block of houses enclosed by Willem van Noortstraat, Johannes de Bekastraat and Floris Heermalestraat, which makes it barely visible from outside. Since the kids will love the tumble bar and go nuts for the climbing frames, you’ll finally get a chance to put up your feet and relax.
When in desperate need for some coffee, the Rocking Chair is the place to be. They make a perfect latte macchiato and a great ‘babyccino’ for the kids. Bonus: a lovely little play corner.
“Ma-aam, I’m hungry!” Playing is fun, but it sure makes you hungry. Luckily, Bij Guusjes is just around the corner. They have a special menu for kids and more than enough board games to play. Bonus: highchairs and changing table for the little ones. Bij Guusjes has a real neighbourhood feel and is only a short walk from the Torteltuin, which happens to be the next stop. If you walk through the Jan van Heijdenstraat, you’ll run into a small black playground in a car free zone.
The Torteltuin was opened in 1993 thanks to an initiative of local residents who felt that there wasn’t enough green space for kids to play. Since then, the playground has been run entirely by volunteers. For babies, toddlers and preschoolers it’s a fantastic place, especially because of its clear layout. The Torteltuin is surrounded by a beautiful (and safe) fence, so mom and dad are never far away. A nostalgic recommendation is the gingerbread man and a glass of orangeade.
Older kids will love the Griftpark around the corner. There you’ll find monkey bars, a zip line, super cool swings, different kinds of seesaws, vegetable gardens and even fuzzy farm animals.
Take the narrow sandy path behind the Torteltuin to get to the Weerdsingel Oostzijde. The former prison on the other side of the water was built around 1850 as a military stronghold. Nowadays, it’s operated by various companies.
Turn right, walk down the canal and when arriving at the roundabout, take the third exit onto the Koekoekstraat. The best place to eat Surinamese food is at Rosita. Their chefs prepare the tastiest dishes at fair prices. Place your order and walk to the Koekoeksplein. Surrounded by beautiful old chestnut trees, this playground is the perfect place for hide and seek.
Craving some fast food? Then make a stop at Sjors, whose fries are widely loved. This snackbar burnt down and was closed for almost ten months, but recently reopened its doors.