Dagje uit Plaswijckpark, Rotterdam

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otterdam has this not-so-little secret spot for families, hidden in one of its swanky neighbourhood, Hillegersberg. While I have frequented this area to dine out, I only discovered Plaswicjkpark of late. Because why else would one go here if one doesn’t have an offspring?

Plaswijckpark is bigger than you average Dutch family park, 15 hectares to be exact. It has a lake where you could sail across on a swan boat, a big picknick park with fountains, rose garden and an English garden, a water playground with slides and no less than a real steamboat, a small, man-made creek, little zoo’s for different animals, a barn with cows, ponies, pigs, chickens, ducks, bunnies and meerkats (odd combination), four different playgrounds and many more. It also charges everyone €12 entrance fee (except babies) and €8,70 for your dog, but for everything you get in return (including a train ride if you’re too tired to carry your child walk , you’ll get your money’s worth.

On a summery Saturday, while half of the Dutch population went to the beach en masse, my little family and I trooped down to Plaswijckpark. Having lived in the Rotterdam area for about 10 years and a parent for more than two, I’m really surprised that this place escaped my radar. I can only assume that the Rotterdamers don’t want to share this spot to the rest of the country. If I’ll be completely honest, I could probably count with my two hands and feet, the coloured people in the park. They stood out among all the Aryans.

I can understand why you would keep such a secret place hidden. Smartly-constructed with cafe’s, lounge benches and grass-carpeted lawns dotted with shady trees, you could easily leave your precious child playing in age-appropriate playgrounds (even at the water park) while sipping your (alcohol-free) wine, beer or coffee and still keep an eye on them. Many family parks could take a cue from Plaswicjkpark on how to keep children and parents happy all at the same time.

We spent half of our 5-hour stay at the Speelwijck with its four different playgrounds (including the waterpark, which we missed entirely, bummer!). And half at the Avonturenbeek, a really narrow creek where children can play with sand, rocks and branches of trees, climb a rope bridge, build a dam, join a Mad Masters competition or just simply frolic in the clear, smelly water that streams down a man-made spring near a toilet, behind the cage where the apes live.

But it wasn’t all paradise for me. The pancakes at Boshut are terrible (for Dutch standard), the drinks are pricey (for a pauper’s standard perhaps) and when you don’t arrive early at the nearest parking area, you’d have to walk at least 5 minutes from the next parking lot to the entrance. Not ideal if you have five rowdy toddlers. But maybe I am nitpicking. If not, I won’t be planning my next visit already as I do while typing this blog post.

So for moms around the greater Rotterdam area, gather your girlfriends quickly, set a high tea date, and spend a whole afternoon (they’re open till 7PM) at Plaswicjkpark. The cakes and coffee are good and you could let the husbands do the babysitting.

Plaswick Park, Ringdijk 20, Rotterdam. www.plaswijkpark.nl. Not sponsored.

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