Instagram Travel Thursday: Leiden, Netherlands A City With A US Connection

by farrah on December 5, 2013 · 24 comments

For the past few weeks I’ve talked quite a bit about our plans to go to Leiden, Netherlands for Thanksgiving. We went there because I learned that Leiden is a city where some Pilgrims stopped and stayed for 12 years before making their way to the United States. We went to experience a non-denominational church service where one of the Pilgrim descendants spoke- and spent the entire day in this city taking in the history and camaraderie of our friends to celebrate a very American Thanksgiving (outside of America).

Amazingly, the boys did really well for an almost two hour service. We did sit in the back, but the cavern of the church still held the echoes of all the children and no one seemed to mind too much. We felt welcome, and the day was dry and fairly warm- so with that it was a great start to a long (and exhausting!) yet completely exhilarating day trip.

Notice the ‘Mayflower Hotel’

After the service we went to find some place to eat lunch. Leiden reminded me a little bit of Delft, but larger. I loved the narrow streets, canals and shop windows at every turn. Absolute bonus that the stores were already decorated in their holiday finery (there’s no waiting around for Thanksgiving here!) and shoppers packed the streets. It really is a beautiful place to lose yourself for an afternoon.

Leiden, NLThis area is around Pieterskerk in Leiden. 

We kept moving and walked to the Naturalis Biodiversity Center. This was a bit of a hike on foot from the church- but I think we were turned around a little and because the natural museum was so cool and the weather was nice, none of us seemed to mind. Additionally- having the ‘museumkaart‘ meant that our admission was free and (bonus) there was hardly anyone there that day but us. The kids (and parents!) loved it! —>TIP:  if you hit up museums in the NL you need this card.

Naturalis MuseumAnimals, hands on learning exhibits (in English too) and more.

We easily could have spent hours here, and we left feeling like there was more to see but it was starting to get dark. We did experience the dinosaurs, animals, many interactive learning areas, lights and other fun exhibits. This is a wonderful museum to see with your kids and worth the trip.

Leiden, NL cafeLook at this cafe! The Pettersson Grand Cafe right along the water.

After the museum, we made our way back to the car in order to drive to dinner. It was a long, but beautiful walk. I’m so glad that we had the chance to visit this city.

Leiden, NLWest gate entry (Morspoortto) pedestrian walking area in Leiden, beautiful lights (see the windmill?) and I stopped in front of a chocolate shop window. 

With so much beauty and history, Leiden is yet another one of those cities in the Netherlands that might not jump out at you to visit unless someone tells you about it. Be sure to add it to your ‘day trip’ list.

Overall, and absolutely perfect way to spend Thanksgiving (or any day) outside of ‘home’ wherever that might be. Special thanks to our friends at Travel Turtle and Jessica from American Dutchess for being such great company!

Also, check out my friend Ann’s post today at Travel Turtle as she gives more detail into the church itself and what it was like having a ‘traditional’ American dinner at a nearby hotel!

Hop over to check out the rest of these great IG travel posts linked up from Skimbaco Lifestyle with co-hosts @HouseOfAnais, @ToDestinationUnknown and many more!


All photos taken by me with my iPhone.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ann December 5, 2013 at 9:40 am

You forgot to mention how charming your boys are! But, yes, when you mentioned that Leiden reminds you of Delft it made me want to go there. It was such a nice day and I think it made my kids exhausted on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.


2 farrah December 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Me too! You really need to see Delft- beautiful buildings, history- you know, the usual 🙂


3 Ace December 5, 2013 at 10:26 am

Gorgeous pictures – it sounds like a great way to spend Thanksgiving. =) And the natural history museum looks fantastic.


4 farrah December 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Yes! You gotta go! It’s similar to ours in Tilburg, but much bigger. I think it was 5 floors.


5 Leighann December 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm

What a wonderful way to spend your Thanksgiving! Beautiful


6 farrah December 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm

It was! We are very lucky indeed.


7 Katja of Skimbaco December 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I loved that you both wrote about this – SO COOL!!!


8 farrah December 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Thanks! And I have to mention that it was complete coincidence that she was focusing on the two aspects I didn’t. How perfect was that?


9 Alison Chino December 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Ok, I think I need to go here for Thanksgiving next year! Much closer than the US and very fun. Also, all your pictures make it seem like the sun is shining there. (Sigh) 🙂


10 farrah December 6, 2013 at 6:50 am

Alison, it was pretty great and you and your family is absolutely welcome. How much fun would that be??!


11 Leigh Powell Hines @Hinessightblog December 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm

This is so interesting. And I found it fascinating that Pilgrims stayed there 12 years before going to to America. That’s a long time,. Very informative post, and interesting. I’m so glad you had a wonderful holiday.


12 farrah December 6, 2013 at 6:51 am

Thanks! We did. Many of them died here and are buried in that church. Such an interesting lesson indeed.


13 Reeta @houseofanais December 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm

What a lovely place Farrah- I love those little cobbled streets and the pretty buildings – and like Katja said, what a coincidence that you were both there for thanksgiving and wrote about it!


14 farrah December 6, 2013 at 6:52 am

We went together! It was funny how easy it worked out that she wrote about those aspects 🙂 Just goes to show how good of friends we are and on the same page 🙂


15 Mrs. Chasing the Donkey December 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Looks like an awesome trip. Your boys are super adorable. And side note: how can those workers at those factory shops resist eating them all?


16 farrah December 6, 2013 at 6:52 am

I think they’re immune somehow?


17 Chamisa December 5, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Beautiful church, and such a cute town! It’s on our list for next Thanksgiving 😉


18 farrah December 6, 2013 at 6:52 am

Great! You gotta go- really it is a fantastic city.


19 Jess December 6, 2013 at 7:06 am

That’s such a cool part of Thanksgiving history! And the city looks completely charming, too.


20 farrah December 8, 2013 at 6:28 am

It is- worth a trip and something to see for sure!


21 Satu VW December 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Looks like a great way to spend Thanksgiving! Even though I have to admit, that’s something we don’t celebrate. I’d love to experience American thanksgiving one day though


22 farrah December 8, 2013 at 6:29 am

That’s the beauty of Thanksgiving! You’re gladly welcomed in to celebrate, no matter where you are. It’s a holiday we have that we like to share 🙂


23 Gayla December 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I’ve been meaning to read through this for a while now. It’s been open on my screen since you posted it. LOL! I like Leiden. It’s got an amazing history – besides the Siege of Leiden it’s known for being the birthplace of Rembrandt! I find the pilgrim connection also interesting and would love to know why they felt the need to leave after 12 years. Note to self: research 😉
I’m so glad you guys enjoyed your Thanksgiving there. What a great experience for you all.


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