For nearly a century, the Zuiderpark (South Park) has been a special enclave in the middle of The Hague – and the first public park in Holland. The core of the park consists of a large pond and playing fields with educational and sporting facilities. Construction started in 1923 but it didn’t open officially until 1936. Since then, the many unique features of this sanctuary have been enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
The park has many special features which make it an all-day destination for visitors. These highlights include:
The miles of pathways have excellent asphalt for inline skating, skateboarding and roller-blading. There is a formal skating facility with a roller rink, a mini ramp and a quarter pipe next to the park for ‘rolschaatsers’ of all ages. During a deep winter freeze, the municipality floods this area for a free ice skating experience as well.
A Children’s Railway Since 1975, a narrow-gauge railway for children has been running on the grounds to the delight of local families. In 2007 a second rail line (Parkbaan) was added, which actually leaves the park and combines into the tram lines of the city.
Playing fields and playgrounds
There are 14 hectares playing fields, with three large lawns for group sports. There’s also a six-meter-high play castle, a Wild West themed playground and a large traditional playground (‘Ot & Sien’) with seesaws, slides, swings and sand.
The Zuiderpret Nature Playground
The ‘nature playground’ is where children can play with water, sand, mud, loose branches, and so on. Kids can play hide and seek, play in a tree house, or do some improv water management, rerouting the water features that flow across the sandbox. There is also a fast-flowing stream where children can play with and in the water, so take some towels!
Amazing Indoor Playgrounds On those rainy days that spoil the park for most, kids can still enjoy burning off a bunch of extra energy at Zuiderparadijs, a gigantic inside obstacle course with ball pits, giant Legos, trampolines, bouncy castles, video games and mini-cars for 4-8 euros a child, depending on age and length of stay.
Cozy Cafes You won’t find a better spot to take a break than Cafe Boom, a lovely mid-sized restaurant hidden in the trees. Great for a full lunch or just a snack until 4 pm. Nearby there is also LOSH restaurant, with their trademark Mediterranean dishes and Parkoers, aimed at casual outdoor dining.
The Landengebied Arboretum
Around 1935, The Hague planted nearly 3000 shrubs and plants from all over the world in the ‘country area’ The arboretum now has 695 different species of trees, of which 41 are very rare, such as the Japanese horse chestnut. There are also a variety of herbs, orchids, and vegetables in the greenhouse.
Artworks & Sculptures
There are many beautiful art objects to see on the pathways, including some 40 statues that have been collected over the last 100 years. The most famous, ‘Ot and Sien‘ is the first literary monument in the Netherlands and was unveiled in 1930. Other notable works include ‘Flute Player’ by Lidy van Mourik-Broekman and ‘Flora’ by Marian Gobius from Voorburg.
Picnics & BBQ Zuiderpark has special barbecue and picnic areas for visitors, including several covered areas for large groups or bad weather. Reserve these spaces through the main office. If you bring your own grill, be sure to clean up completely or risk a chat with the park warden!
A Swimming Pool
For year-round swimming, the Zuiderpark recreational pool complex has a 45-meter-long water slide, a paddling pool, a whitewater creek, a whirlpool, a solarium, and a Turkish steam bath. It’s located near Zuiderpark Sports Campus, a public complex for indoor sports located on the site of an old football stadium.
An Open-Air Theater There’s an outdoor covered stage run by the municipality, the Zuiderparktheater, which features all sorts of performances, especially in the summer. The Rolling Stones, among other famous acts performed here in 1976.