Yep, the weather seems finally to be improving and maybe you have already enjoyed your first al fresco drink or bar snack (“terrasjesweer” is a phrase you might have heard: it means the weather is good enough to take an outside seat and enjoy a beer there, instead of inside the bar). However, if you are en famille you will probably be looking for a spot where it is possible to do this whilst simultaneously letting the kids play close by in a safe space.
Having three kids, this is a dilemma we have often solved by heading to one the following Antwerp sun traps at the first sign of an upturn in temperatures. They are slightly off the beaten track, enabling you to enjoy local life, but also ideal for when you have enjoyed a visit to an Antwerp attraction, the kids need a runabout, and the grown-ups need refreshment … possibly in the form of an excellent Belgian beer.
Dageraadplaats (20 minutes walk from central station) is in the pretty Zurenborg district. The square is very much used by local families but boasts a number of bars around the play area. At one end of the square are regular play facilities for kids to climb and swing; the rest of the square is for ball games, mainly (but not only) basketball. The area is mixed and friendly, meaning that your child is very likely to meet other children to play with (especially if they bring the ball with them). During summer the ball game area is sometimes used for local second-hand markets, but the play equipment is always left free.
Bar Noord at Park Spoor Noord (20 minutes walk from central station) is something of a go-to summer venue for us and many other Antwerp residents too. The bar is well stocked, and they also serve food. It can get pretty busy when the weather gets really warm, but if you don’t mind bringing a picnic blanket there is always a space. The bar has an attractive, spacious duck-board terrace with deck chairs and picnic style tables, and if the worst comes to the worst, there is plenty of indoor space in the hangar area should there be a shower.
The kids love to play in the fountains and water area; the water is very shallow (paddling depth) but, as always, it is essential to keep a close eye on little ones near water. It’s a good idea to bring waterproof shoes to protect feet as well. There is also a large sandy area, with rope climbing frames and a large slide. Bring a towel, spare clothes or swimwear for kids, and sand toys. There is also plenty of grassy space to kick a ball about.
This small neighbourhood square (25 minutes from central station) is ideal if you have been in the Old Town, being only about ten minutes walk from the cathedral. It’s better for older kids who want to play ball games (there are hoops for basketball) but there is also a rope climbing frame, and smaller kids can bike or take their scooters. Missverstand, on the corner, has outside tables and is the place to get drinks and bar food. Sint Andriesplaats is also located right near Kloosterstraat which has cute boutique shops, antique stores and more local bars and restaurants.
And don’t forget to keep an eye out for Zomer van Antwerpen (Antwerp Summer) which officially starts on June 15th, at which point summer bars -catering for both adults and children - will open up around the city, and the Antwerp summer events program will begin.
If you’d like to see a weekly overview like this one, take a look at my blog which presses each Thursday with a pick of Antwerp’s free and affordable events, explained in English.
I started Nessascityblog in 2016 to enable those of us who are not completely native to the city access useful and fun information; particularly if you don’t speak great Dutch (yet). You can also find me on social media: Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Feel free to get in touch with comments and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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