If you are looking where to go for a day trip, I recommend Zaanse Schans which is less than an hour’s drive from Den Haag. It’s a lovely place to go to as you get to experience what it feels like living in Holland in the 17th & 18th century. All the shops, house and windmills are located close to one another, like a village. I love the authentic houses, windmills and shops. Even Albert Heijn’s first grocery shop is in Zaanse Schans!
There is no entrance fee but if you want to visit the museums such as the Verkade chocolate or windmills, you have to pay an entrance fee. You can buy a Zaanse Schans card which gives you free entry into the museums and entry to one of the windmills. The card gives you a 10% discount in restaurants, souvenirs and bike rental.
My favourite workshop is the clog workshop as it explains the history of clogs and you get to see both original & ornate clogs on display. There is a demonstration of how modern clogs are made and a huge variety of clogs & souvenirs to choose from. I think this shop has the largest range of clog related gifts that I have personally seen.
There’s a lovely cheese farm there too where you can listen to a short talk on how cheese is made and you can sample a range of their cow and sheep cheese and buy some home. I am not keen on Dutch stroopwaffles as I find them too sweet but I liked the ones sold here that were freshly made.
You can visit a number of original working windmills such as the spice mill, oil mill, paint mill & saw mill. It is a shame that you have to pay to enter them but I guess it’s because they need to maintain them.
You can explore the area by ferry or boat. The ferry ride to the other side costs €1 as it is run by volunteers who will give you an explanation of the village and the houses. You catch the ferry at the end of the row of windmills. There is another company that runs an open boat trip along the windmills that charges €5 per adult and €2.50 per child.
In my opinion, although Zaanse Schans may come across a bit touristy, I still feel that it is a more authentic option to explore or even take your guests to.