Science Center Nemo, Amsterdam: A Grand Family Day Out

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We recently spent a grand family day out at the Science Center Nemo in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This place is truly epic! The building itself is located in Amsterdams Eastern dockland just a short walk for Amsterdam Central (Central Station, this is where all the trains come into Amsterdam) and very close to the National Maritime Museum. The building itself is really spectacular. It was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and opened in 1997. The building houses 12 different exhibitions on 5 different floors. The museum is changing all the time as well. There are new activities, demonstrations, and exhibits all the time so it’s always a new and fun experience.

on it’s website, Science Center Nemo describes itself as:

a science center: an interactive, informal learning environment in which the general public comes into contact with science and technology

This sums it up pretty well but for my kids it was more a massive playground.

Nemo attracts an impressive 500,000 people per year. No wonder why, honestly.

At the end of the article I will give specifics about parking and transportation options as well some other things that I feel would have been nice to know before we got there.

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My husband has been working allot of hours for the last few weeks so he decided to take a day off midweek to spend with us. We thought we would use this “extra” family day to do something fun and different. I had just gotten the Dutch Museum Pass so we thought that Nemo was the perfect place to spend the day.

We had a blast. It’s like a giant playground. It’s full of so many fun things to do. It’s all science based, but really fun and experimental.

There is a water play area where you learn about water purification by transferring buckets of water from one pump to the next.

There is a whole area dedicated to bubbles

 

I don’t know what this is but it took a picture of shadows and it was really fun

There was other water play

All kinds of fun stuff to do there!

Seriously. I had as much fun as the kids!

The really nice this about Nemo is that all age groups will have a great time there. My 1 1/2 year old really enjoyed running around and climbing on things. She loved that fact that she could touch everything and there wasn’t anything she could break. I also felt comfortable giving her a bit of space there. She is a very strong willed independent child and really wants to explore but she doesn’t often get to go all “free range” in such an interesting place. I was able to stay a few feet away and really let her explore. It was really fun watching her interact. My 3 1/2 year old is just starting to learn about science and he is just now becoming very curious about the world around him. It was a constant “what is this”,  “what does that do”, “what is that noise” from him. He loved it and is still talking about it a week later but in another year or so he will love it so much more. He will be able to figure things out on his own and he will really be able to explore the science behind the play. It will be very fun!

Added bonus: all the descriptions and instructions through the entire museum were in Dutch and English!

Also: There is staff everywhere! They are all so friendly and speak English. They will help the kids if they are having trouble and make sure everyone is safe. I felt really sure that my kids were safe there.

Transportation:

This is a link to the transportation section of the Nemo website. Honestly, I didn’t read this before we left. I just set the GPS to the address of the museum and expected there to be parking. I was very wrong, the building is surrounded by water and directly on top of a highway tunnel.

We ended up parking at the Oosterdok (Eastern Dock) Parking garage (This page is in Dutch), it’s the recommended parking garage on the museum info page. It’s a really short walk from the museum. My son could walk from the museum to the car in less time than it took for him to finish his “it’s the only way we could bribe him out of the door” ice cream. ( I know, bribes are bad but I have made my peace with it) The trick is to give the person at the front desk your parking ticket and you will get 30% off your parking. You can still pay at the machine as well. On the parking ticket there is a bar code that “stamps” the date and time. Nemo has a machine that adds another little section to the bar code that will automatically register the discount. It’s actually really cool. We were parked for around 4 hours and we payed 11 Euros and some change. For over 5 hours and, I think under 24, it is 12 Euros plus the 30% discount.

There are cheaper parking options depending on how far away you are willing to be. You can park at the Transferium  (sorry, this is also in Dutch). This is a parking garage located at Ajax Stadium just outside Amsterdam. You have to take a train into Central Station, bank on around 30 minutes from your car to central station. Under 10 hours will cost you 1 Euro to park and then you have to pay for the train. Prices for the train will depend on if you have an OV Chipcard or not, I think last time I parked there I payed a total of 5 Euros for parking and the train.

You can also get to Central Station by train from anywhere in The Netherlands. From Eindhoven it takes about 1 1/2 hours to get to Amsterdam Central by train. You can visit the Dutch Train Website to find information about times and prices from your area.

Walking:

When you leave Central Station (and have your back to the building) turn left and walk down the road. It’s really that easy. Follow the water until you see the big green building.

Food:

At the time of our visit there were 2 options. There is a coffee bar on the 1st floor that sells coffee and muffins and such. There is also a small cafeteria on the 2nd floor that sells actual food. They have drinks and a small selection of sandwiches or wraps and things that can be cooked in an oven. Sausage rolls, hot dogs, mini pizza things….. It says on the website that you can bring in your own food but you have to eat it in designated areas so I opted to just buy lunch there. I saw so many people unwrap their own food at the tables that I was a little annoyed. Honestly I don’t mind getting my kids that kind of food. It’s “special” to them because they don’t get it often but I would have brought myself a salad.

We were told that there is a permanent restaurant on the 5th floor that is currently under construction and that the 2nd floor place is only temporary. I don’t have a date that it’s expected to be done but I’m very excite. I’ll bet the view will be spectacular.

Update:

The 5th floor restaurant is now open and it is really lovely. They offer all kinds of food from hamburgers to salads and even have a fresh juice section. There is plenty of seating inside and it is a really good option for an easy lunch.

The New Outdoor Space!!

Even more exciting than the restaurant is the new outdoor patio and play space. There is plenty of seating and spectacular views.

You can bring a picnic and eat here while the kids play (that’s what we did). I love places that I can bring in my own food. Even if you aren’t trying to save a bit of money wherever possible (like me) I often find it easier bring a lunch. The only downside is that it’s basically one big staircase. The only reason that I mention it is that, while very cool, it could be a problem for younger kids.

The views are really great.

You can access the patio and restaurant from outside the museum via a staircase and an elevator.

Lockers:

There are lockers that you can rent for your coats and such. They require a 50 cent coin but you get it back at the end of the day.

Location:

If you are facing the entrance and walk to the right you will find a dock full of old a beautiful boats. Seriously, it’s like 10 steps. We didn’t explore much because it was raining but I think the kids would really enjoy walking up and down looking at the pretty boats. There is also a dock to the left that you have to pass as you walk back to the parking garage. This one is full of little hotel boats. Very cool place to stay if you find yourself wanting a small room for a very reasonable price in Amsterdam.

I’m so glad we went and I look forward to going back!

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