While I was quickly trying to plan this trip, I remember seeing a friend post on facebook page about Zaanse Schans and how she and her family loved it! I wasn’t really sure what it was so I looked it up. Its basically like an open air museum where you get an idea of the Dutch way of life. This was the first industrial site in the world with over 600 windmills where they made paint, mustard, oil and paper among other things. You can go inside several of the windmills and see how they work. At the main building near the parking area you can purchase the Zaanse Schans Card. There are two options, the ZS Card for 10 euro which gives you free entrance to the Zaans Museum & Verkade Pavilion, Coopery, and one of the windmills. The ZS Plus card also gives you admission to the Clock Museum FOR 15 euro. Let me just say right here and now, unless you are a major fan of clocks, DON’T WASTE THE 5 EURO!! We did not know any better and paid for the ZS Plus, but the clock museum was not worth it at all. Also note if you have a child under 4 they are free, so don’t buy them a card.
So we started at the in door Zaans Museum and it was neat and interesting. There is a lot of history in the small museum, from paintings, the paintings, photos, movies, Zaans painted furniture and more on culture of the industry. Our little sightseers moved quickly through this area.
The next part was the Verkade Pavilion where we were sent behind the scene of a chocolate and biscuit factory. They had old advertising and photos posted all around, and the moving assembly line was actually going! You could see how the chocolates were made step by step. What my kids enjoyed most were the interactive games along the way, where you were to sort the chocolates or biscuits quickly as they came down the assembly line.
They had a table set up near the back window where the kids could design their own chocolate label! (Color on paper) And they got to taste a biscuit (cookie).
After this we wondered down toward the working windmills. Along the way they do have a cheese display, but no one actually tells you about it, you just see it through the glass. You can of course buy lots of cheese here too. But if you read my last post on Clara Maria Cheese Farm, you know the first thing we did was look at the labels. Yep factory made. Plus we had already stocked up at Clara Maria’s.
As you make your way down you can choose one of the windmills to go into. I’m not sure which one we picked, maybe they were making oil? We climbed up and went out to see the view from the top and took a few pictures.
As we made our way back up the dyke and towards the shops, about across from the cheese building is a little building I think it was label Chocolate Lab? Be sure to stop here if you go to Zaanse Schans, the nicest ladies in there will show you all about cocoa and how its processed. Did you know most of the cocoa beans come from Africa to Holland? Then the Dutch turn the beans into powder and sent it all to Switzerland to make the chocolate.
I thought it was so interesting! She let us taste the fresh, raw cocoa powered, then explained the processing done. The kids got to help her turn the wheel to crush the beans. She went outside to show how the separate the powder from the beans by tossing the bowl up in the air. We tasted the end product and its much better!
After this we kept wondering down the cute shops and buildings till we found the clock museum, but we already said, that’s not really worth it. We ended up back toward the dock and decided to take the cruise down the dyke. I can’t really tell you much about this little 1 hour boat ride, as I feel asleep!! I laid my head on the table in front of me and I was out. My hubby said I didn’t really miss anything, we had already seen most of it. The driver was also the narrator, and he was too hard to understand as he repeated everything in different languages. Save your boat ride for the city if your going, there wasn’t enough to see here.
We stopped on the way out and got a few souvenirs. Side note, bring your parking ticket with you, and pay as your leaving the main area before you move your car. How do I always get this parking business wrong? Over all this was a nice little trip, but if your time is limited, I would recommend seeing the Kinderdijk and Clara Maria Cheese Farm over Zannse Schans as its just a bit touristy. But if you have a few hours to kill, its a nice spot to check out.