Zandvoort aan Zee is a seaside resort town with something for everyone: miles of beaches for swimmers and sunbathers, cute stores where your mom can shop, casinos where your dad can lose some souvenir money and a national park for the whole family to explore. At only 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal, it is the perfect day (or even half-day) trip.
The beaches are the big draw here, but the summer is short (even shorter than Wisconsin’s), so if you are not here during their 6 weeks of warm weather, you will have to find something else to do. (And if you are here during the summer, the North Sea is not the Mediterranean-it is cold. Lake Superior cold.) The Zuid-Kennemerland National Park is a 15-square mile park famous for its sand dunes. The area can be explored on foot, but since you are in the Netherlands, you might as well bike. Head over to the tourist office (called VVV in the Netherlands) located at Bakkerstraat 2/B in the center of town. There you will find very helpful staff who will reserve a bicycle for you and sell you a very nice map for a few euros. Tell them what you would like to see and how much time you have and they will provide you with the perfect route.
Armed with your map and some good local advice from the VVV, it is time to grab your bike and see the dunes. Even though you are close to the city, the park feels miles away. It is not quiet, though. Wind blowing through the grasses in the dunes, the nearby sea and lots of local wildlife make for a pleasant soundtrack for you bike ride.
Depending on your planned activities, dress appropriately; it is cooler by the sea. The VVV has all the maps and lists of things to do, so if you can’t find Zandvoort in your guidebook, don’t sweat it.
The park has plenty of paved paths and much of it can be covered in an afternoon. Consider coming over with a picnic lunch to eat on the dunes and heading back to Amsterdam for supper.