When planning a trip to Anaheim, Disneyland has become the first spot for any tourist. It is, after all, the happiest place on earth! While that famed amusement park can easily take a day or 2 (or more!) to fully explore, there are other places in this area that can make your trip even more worthwhile and fun, even for families and kids of all ages. Anaheim has so much to offer, and there are a lot of options for not only amusement parks, but interesting, unique activities as well. Here are a couple of recommended things to do in Anaheim.
The Walt Disney World Resort spans over an area that is bigger than the island of Manhattan, as such, it serves as the main attraction for tourists to come to Anaheim, Orlando. While many visitors never venture beyond the six theme and water parks, there’s really a lot more that you can do in Anaheim.Things to Do in Anaheim – Besides Disneyland Enjoy The Orange County Beaches
Orange County comes with over 42 miles of beautiful coastline. During your stay in Anaheim, you can take a drive to any of the lively beach towns. Whether you’re on a family vacation or on a romantic getaway with that special someone, the warm California sun is an ideal place to relax. Take surf lessons during the day, and have a bonfire cookout at night, there’s always something to do.Hit the ballpark at Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Sometimes’ a good ol’ ball game is really what you need to make your weekend extra exciting. Catch the Major League Baseballs’ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as well as Rally Monkey, their famous mascot who is well loved by the kids. The stadium offers deals that can make it cheaper for you to bring the entire family on a game. Angel Stadium is one of the older stadiums, but it is well maintained and beautiful. It even has a waterfall in the centerfield, and fireworks displays on selected occasions. The stadium is also known for their extensive selection of meals and alcohol, which delights everyone. They sell several kinds of alcohol, from craft beer, to gluten-free beer and cider, and tastefully selected imported beers.Bring the little ones to Adventure City
If you didn’t get enough of Disneyland, or you would like to seek for alternatives for amusement parks for children, Adventure City is worth considering. It’s a wholesome, interactive children’s museum that has 12 attractions, an arcade hall, a petting zoo, and a pizza party hall. While this place is quite small (the whole area can be explored within 30 minutes or so), it’s a great place for younger children as the rides here are for the younger set. There are a lot of things to keep the kids occupied for a fun day out. The Thomas the Train play area and Rescue 911 are a must. Adventure City is affordable, and at around $17 only per person, it’s a great place to bring the whole family without spending more than a hundred dollars. Food and drinks are fairly priced, unlike a lot of the concessionaires in most amusement parks that have inflated prices.Savor Some Wine In Temecula
If you enjoy wine tasting, the Temecula Valley is the place to go. It is considered the heart of California’s South Coast wine region, and just an hour drive from Anaheim. Here, you can take in the beautiful landscape – rolling hills covered with vineyards, – and taste wine at over 30 world-class wineries. There’s special events related to wine and food held year-round, too.Spend some time with nature at Yorba Park
Located along the Santa Ana River, this park is a great place to spend a relaxing day in nature. There are beautiful walkways, picnic grounds and trees, and ponds to kick back and unwind in on a sunny day. This is also the perfect venue for having picnics and barbecues (they have barbecue pits in the park). Yorba Park has an expansive selection of play areas, too, which the whole family will surely enjoy, and perfect for active kids. Since the area has trails, you can rent a bike and ride over a mile long of paths. For sports and recreational activities, there are baseball fields, volleyball courts, playgrounds and horseshoe pits. You can also spend some time on the river, as they have paddleboat rentals and model sail boating. You can also bring your dogs as well!Get a dose of local culture at Muzeo
Anaheim is home to numerous museums, including the MUZEO, which regularly features eclectic art. It has had exhibits on topics such as “Rome” or “Chocolate.” Interactive programs always accompany each exhibit so that the art comes to life. Ideal for art lovers and families alike. On the other side of the fun-filled Anaheim is its cultural side that’s worth checking out if you’d like to balance out all the amusement park adrenaline with a quiet, introspective visit at Muzeo. This is an accessible place for tourists, that’s great to add to your itinerary and give your trip some variety. Muzeo showcases art and culture, and is a regular venue for such kinds of events that range from educational to artistic (travelling exhibitions). If you’d like to delve deeper into history, they have a Heritage Center. Admission fee is at $10 for adults, and $6 for children.Soak up on local sights and sounds at Art Crawl Experience
Held only four times a year, this quarterly gathering takes place at Anaheim Boulevard, Harbor Boulevard, and Center Street Promenade, and gathers the community of artists and foodies. If you are travelling to Anaheim, it’s best to schedule it during the dates of the Art Crawl if you’d like to do something different from amusement park hopping and baseball games. Artists showcase their work in public through pop up galleries, as well as crafters and indie makers who run pop up shops where you can purchase unique creations. It is also an event for foodies, as food trucks are aplenty, providing a variety tasty meals and drinks all throughout the event. There are also local performers to keep things alive and buzzing.Race Some Italian Carts
At K1 Speed, you can experience the thrill of wheel-to-wheel racing in high-performance Italian karts – it’s the largest indoor karting facility on the west coast, spanning over 100,000 square feet with over 3,000 feet of racing excitement – so get ready for an adrenaline kick.Step on the pedal at Speedzone
This 10-acre activity park is a large entertainment center that has a lot to offer in terms of excitement. First off, you get to race several types of cars across several racetracks—imagine an advanced bump cars game, where you can actually speed off and feel the wind in your hair whilst competing with your family and friends. There are Go Kart races suitable for small children as well. Aside from car racing, they also have mini golf for those who would like to relax a bit. They have 18-hole miniature golf courses, an activity suitable for groups. Lastly, they have a bowling alley for a classic, fun and competitive experience with no age restrictions. They don’t require special shoes, and the ball sizes are just one, so they’ve made the bowling experience less fussy. Lastly, they also have an arcade, perfect for killing some time in between races and mini golf.Fly a jet at Flightdeck Air Combat Center
If you are really looking for something quite extraordinary to do in Anaheim, where you’d find difficulty finding the same experience elsewhere, then Flightdeck Air Combat Center will be for you. Perfect not only for those who are enthusiasts of military combat and warfare, but also for the genuinely curious and adventurous enough to try an authentic military flight simulator. The graphics and simulation, as well as special effects, go hand in hand in providing a unique and unforgettable flying experience. You’ll learn how to fly a jet from start to finish, and even engage in air combat with other jets. You can also try the Boeing 737 simulator if you’d like to experience flying a commercial airliner. It is also said that real pilots also go here for practice when they’re assigned to fly other types of planes. While this might sound complicated, there’s no experience or skilled required. There will be short training sessions beforehand, so you are sure to get the thrilling experience you are hoping for. This place is highly recommended for the big boys, too!Take a wild ride at Knott’s Berry Farm
Located at Buena Park, Knott’s Berry Farm is one of the quintessential amusement parks in Anaheim, aside from Disneyland. This place has grown a long way, from what used to be a family berry plantation, to now a place that will guarantee an all-out amusement park experience. They have 10 roller coasters, and the most notable one is the Silver Bullet. They have a couple of thrill rides such as La Revolucion, Supreme Scream, and Rip Tide, to name the most popular ones. This is great for thrill seekers both young and old. This place also features high-class family rides. Step back in time and experience the Calico Gold Mines and the Calico Railroad, or you can also opt for water log rides, and even 4D interactive games. Lastly, they do have a water park, too! What’s great about Knott’s Berry is the variety of fun things you can do here.Stroll around Anaheim Garden Walk
For a leisurely time, Anaheim Garden Walk is a great place to unwind, catch up with friends, and a great destination for a romantic date. Restaurants are aplenty and nightlife is vibrant here. It is also a convenient place to do some shopping for travelers and tourists situated in the Anaheim Resort District. As for activities, there are cinemas, children’s playgrounds, and bowling alleys.Jump high at Sky Zone Trampoline Park
For highly active folks, this trampoline park is a must-see destination that’s sure to keep your energy high. It is actually the world’s first indoor trampoline park, and it’s equipped with quality trampolines. This park is guaranteed to give you that insatiable high from jumping and bouncing around high up in the air and then landing on foam cubes. And, did you know that jumping around in trampolines can actually be healthy? It improves circulation, and boosts your cardiovascular health!
While this destination is generally heaven for people who like to stay active, there is a wide range of things to do at Anaheim that will suit every tourist. It’s a great idea to mix up your activities with not only the many amusement parks here, but also add some culture, nightlife, and nature to your trip.
Camera NIKON D300S
Focal Length 90mm
Exposure Time 1/2500
Just up the Dalmatian Coast from the city of Dubrovnik is the town of Ston. Famous for its oysters (which I can vouch are very good), it is perhaps even more well known for the long stone walls which surround the city.
The Walls of Ston are the longest stone city walls in Europe and the second longest in the world behind that one wall in China.
I often recommend a day trip to Ston for people who are visiting Dubrovnik. It is only a 45 minute drive away. Come for the walls and stay for the oysters!
Last week was my sixth blogaversary, which means I have been running this blog for the better part of a decade now. To celebrate, I am spilling all of my best blogging advice to you guys in a three part series.
Before you read this, you should probably check out Part One: The Basics of Building a Travel Blog, and Part Two: Learning Your Craft. You pretty much have to master those things before you can move on to the subject of this article, which is managing your blog as a business.
It’s important to consider that not everyone wants their travel blog to be a business at all. You might be content as a hobby blogger, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Travel blogging can be a lot of work, sometimes for not much monetary reward, so it’s important to think about whether this is worth pursuing to you.
If you decide it is, here is the best advice I have to give:What Does Success Look Like to You?
Before we get started we should acknowledge something that a lot of people seem to forgot: success can mean many different things to different people. So before you dive head over heels into the blogging industry, take some time to think about what your definition of success is.
Travel blogging is such an amorphous industry, that the payoff here could be almost anything, within reason. For me, success as a travel blogger means making a full time living online. As long as I can pay my half of the rent, I feel like I’m doing okay. For others, success might mean seeing your name in print. Or earning a sponsored trip. Or building a portfolio for future employment opportunities. Or simply supplementing your current income.
Make sure that your vision for success is rooted in reality. It is highly unlikely that travel blogging is going to make you very rich or very famous, for example.Monetization: The Dirty Truth
One thing that I think a lot of new bloggers find frustrating is that there is no clear model for building a profitable travel blog. You can go to panels, buy ebooks, read articles and spend a lot of money on guidance and still come away with no real idea of how people make money online.
There is a reason for this: there is no clear cut way to make money as a travel blogger.
Which is not to say that nobody is making money online, a lot of people are. It’s just that there is no clear-cut, one-size-fits-all model for doing this. Every successful travel blogger you see is running on an entirely original business model that is basically unique to them.
Awhile back I wrote an article detailing pretty specifically the different ways I make money at my job. I also included about a dozen links to other bloggers who have written articles on how they make money. Spend some time browsing them and you will see that we all have different business models based on our own interests, audiences, skills and weaknesses.
What does that mean for you? While at first it may look discouraging, I would instead view this fact as a challenge. There are basically an infinite amount of ways to monetize your website, and it’s totally up to you to figure out the best way to do it. Along the way you will probably have to try a bunch of things, and some of them will definitely fail (anyone remember my Eat the World app? That one still stings a little).
A smaller number will succeed and you will capitalize on those successes and maybe even invent some new ways to make money. The most successful travel bloggers are innovators who work hard and are willing to take risks.Nothing is Free
Aside from making cold hard cash, many people are attracted to travel blogging because of the freebies. It can sometimes seem like travel bloggers are showered with free travel, free gear and other perks.
Trust me and my many years of experience when I say this: there is no such thing as a free trip.
First, you have to build up your blog to a level where you actually have something of worth to offer to a company. Getting something comped is an exchange of value. A hotel doesn’t just host you out of the kindness of their hearts, they do it because they believe you will promote them to your audience. If you don’t have an audience, you don’t have much to offer.
Second, you have to provide that value and earn your keep. If you’re on a hosted trip you’ll most likely spend most of your time being whisked from point to point, taking pictures, taking notes and collecting information to share with your readers. You’ll be posting on social media, writing posts and basically well, working for it.
Remember, you are (probably) not getting explicitly paid for this work, and while it can be fun, it is still taking time away from other things you could be doing that might actually make you some money. So not only are you paying for your free trip with elbow grease, you’re taking time off from actual paid work. You’ll also be paying in real estate on your blog depending on what you’ve promised in return for your free trip.
Third, you have to constantly strike a balance between taking freebies and remaining authentic and trustworthy to your audience. This can be a hard line to draw and it’s up to you to figure out where it is.
Now that being said, sponsored travel is definitely one of the major perks of travel blogging. You get to go places and do things that you might otherwise never have the opportunity for. Plus they usually feed you really well.
The point is, it’s important to be selective in the opportunities that you accept. You have to balance the value of what you’re getting with the cost you’ll pay in time and effort. I’m actually at the point where I turn down something like 75-90% of the offers that come my way because I either don’t have time to do them justice or I don’t want to deal with the strings attached.Readers Come First
Have you ever loved a blog only to see it become totally overrun with sponsored posts and branded content? This can be a real danger for travel blogs because of the many opportunities and subsequent obligations that I discussed above.
Some bloggers can’t draw a line when it comes to saying no to free stuff. Some bloggers are so poor they can’t figure out how to travel if it’s not being paid for by someone else. Both of these bloggers are looking at trouble in the long run, because I have found without a doubt that your readers are the most important resource your blog has.
I mean that in two ways. Of course you should value your readers as people and appreciate them for even taking the time to read your words. But also, without readers, particularly loyal readers, your blog is basically meaningless in a business sense. No matter what kind of monetization model you come up with, it will hinge on the fact that you have a level of influence within your community.
This means you have to be very judicious about what kind of content you put in front of you readers. You have to strike a balance between authenticity and monetization, which can be very difficult to do.
Again, this line is different for everyone, but I think it’s about knowing you readers and what they will like and what they will tolerate. It’s about honesty, full disclosure and developing a trustworthy personality.
The way I personally deal with this is simple: For each piece of sponsored content I publish, I try to publish at least one totally independent, unsponsored piece of content. I try to be upfront about who is paying for what, and I try to keep my opinions independent and un influenced. I also trust my readers to understand that I am trying to simultaneously provide them with the best information AND make a living.Playing the Long Game
It can feel like a lot of take on, and in a sense it is. You are running your own business now, and all of the minutiae that entails.
So how do you stay motivated and keep from burning out? I’ve seen a lot of people rise and fall over the past 5 or 6 years, and here is the best advice for staying in the game:Keep your eyes on your own paper
Have you heard the expression “comparison is the thief of joy?” This is definitely true in travel blogging. Comparing yourself to other, more successful bloggers is pretty unproductive and sure to make you feel like crap.
Blogging can sometimes feel like a competition but I assure you it is not. It’s actually more like an amazingly vast teamwork project. Make connections and help other bloggers whenever you can, and they in turn will do the same for you.
Incidentally, this is another reason why I love Travel Blog Success- community building.Keep your expectations in check
This might seem like a smarmy thing to say, coming from someone who makes a living as a travel blogger, but I swear it’s not.
It’s important to challenging but achievable goals, and to be realistic about the results. Are you going to be making a full time living off of blogging after 6 months? Almost definitely not, but if you build your business sustainably, you can put yourself well on your way.Just don’t stop!
The number one difference between people who have given up on blogging and those that are successful? The ones that are successful never stopped working. If you can consistently keep putting out good content that your readers will enjoy, and you don’t give up, you are already ahead of 90% of the people who have ever started a travel blog. And that’s a low estimate.
IMPORTANT: Travel Blog Success is on SALE this week (July 27, 2015- July 31, 2015). During these dates the course is 35% off (that’s $120 off).
This week: $225
That’s a really good deal. After this week they will be raising the price again, so this is probably your last chance to get it for so cheap.
Note: This post contains a handful of affiliate links, which means that if you buy something via the link, it helps support this website.
Camera NIKON D300S
Focal Length 38mm
Exposure Time 1/25
Rome is one of those places where you could spend an entire career photographing the city and never run out of subjects.
I took this photo during my 2013 travel photography tour with G Adventures. As we were walking back to our hotel from dinner, we walked over a bridge where we saw this scene. I took my camera and steadied it on the railing of the bridge to take this nighttime shot.
The Castel is the location of the former tomb of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It was also connected to the Vatican and was where Pope Clement VII hid out during the sack of Rome in 1527.
This week’s guest is Sherry Ott who talks about her Niece Project, where she is taking her six nieces on trips around the world.
This Week’s News:
- United Airlines Pays Man a Million Miles for Reporting Bug | WIRED
- Too GINGER to fly: Teenager’s dream holiday turns into a ‘disaster’ as stopped from getting on plane – Mirror Online
- Rewind’s James McElvar passes out on EasyJet flight after wearing 12 layers of clothes to avoid fees | Metro News
- Is This the Newest, Most Ridiculous Air Travel Fee Ever? (yahoo.com)
- Virgin America signs up for super fast in-flight Wi-Fi (travelmole.com)
- TSA Worker Slammed for Tweeting Passenger’s $75K in Carry-on Cash (yahoo.com)
Picks of the week:
- Chris – DreamItReel.com – Visiting Alaska with Un-Cruise Adventures – Video #81
- Gary – Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder
- Sherry – SavvyAuntie.com
- Sherry – heritage-expeditions.com
London is huge! Even Londoners can feel they’ve barely scratched the surface of the city, so what’s the poor visitor with limited time and budget to do?
Fear not, you can tackle most of the big sights – and some interesting extras – over the course of just a few days. We’ve created three suggested itineraries, based on 1, 2 or 3 days in London, which will give you a proper flavor of the city.
They’ll be busy days however, and require a lot of walking – the best and cheapest way to get around London – so bring some comfy shoes! Ready? Let’s go!One Day In London
Just one day in the big smoke? Phew! There’s a lot to pack in. You may think you need to spend lots of cash to manage to go from Tate Modern to the London Eye, and a squeeze in Big Ben and Buckingham all in one day, but our one-day itinerary proves that it’s possible without that.
We even fit in a visit to the theater, and some budget eating options! It’s a great basis for beginning to explore the city, even if you have longer in London – although you might want to take it at a slightly more leisured pace!Two Days In London
You’ll have ticked off many of the “must-dos” on your first day. Our suggested itinerary for a second day in London helps you get a flavor of how London changes from neighborhood to neighborhood. Fortify yourself with a hearty hotel breakfast (like a free one from Celtic Hotel), and get ready to start strolling.
Spend some time meandering through the leafy streets and squares of Bloomsbury. The area is known historically as the intellectual heart of London – it’s certainly got some good bookshops! Your destination, however, is the British Museum, a treasure trove of artifacts from all over the world, which is completely free to enter. It’s also more enjoyable if you can get around it before the hoards of other tourists descend – we’ve pulled together tips to get the most from your visit to the British Museum.
Refreshments: Depending on the amount of time spent in the museum, you may want to take a small detour back towards Holborn to check out the gorgeous, traditional Victorian interior of the Princess Louise pub. The pub is known for its good value too. And, if it’s not quite time for alcohol yet, you can always have a refreshing lemonade instead!
From Bloomsbury, it’s just a short walk up to King’s Cross. There’s more free culture to be found around here too, in the fascinating medical and anthropological exhibits of the Wellcome Collection and the imposing British Library, home to around 14 million books. However, King’s Cross Station has another very important literary claim to fame, as home to Harry Potter’s Platform 9 3/4. You’ll need to queue to get your picture snapped, but it’s free if you take it yourself – and then you’ll be able to show your friends how your trip to London also included a day trip to Hogwart’s, right?
Refreshments: King’s Cross Station has a wide selection of fairly well priced chains, but head out to Granary Square behind the station for more. Kerb Street Food market is well worth seeking out, for adventurous and quality cheap eats from local traders. You’ll find them here every weekday.
The Regent’s Canal
The area around King’s Cross once had a bit of dodgy reputation, but it’s really cleaned up its act in recent years. Walking along the Regent’s Canal is a great way to experience this changing area and its peace and quiet makes a change from from the busy main streets. Created in the 19th century, the canal once carried heavy goods and food in and out of the city, although it’s a lot quieter today! Keep a look out for the charming Word on the Water, a bookshop barge.
A mile west along the towpath and you’ll find yourself at Camden Lock, right next to the legendary Camden Market. Camden still attracts punks and rockers and there’s plenty to see here, from colorful shops to colorful characters! Bargain hunters are sure to unearth something in the market itself, which sells everything from cheap noodles to vintage clothing. It’s just one of many great markets in London.
Depending on your feet, you could walk or get the bus northwards towards Primrose Hill. Once there, you’ll have to gather your energy to climb Primrose Hill itself – it’s worth it, honest, for one of the best free views of London. Energy recovered, and head back down the hill for the evening’s entertainment.
Refreshments: The Parkway road in Camden has a good choice of budget dinner options. Try Hook – fish and chips but not as you know it, served in Panko crusted breadcrumbs – or Masala Zone – a stylish and authentic Indian.
A Camden night out
It’s always worth checking out what gigs are going on in Camden’s bars and pubs – there are always bands playing, and fun nights out to be had. Our tip is to catch and up and coming comics in the intimate surrounds of the Camden Comedy Club. Lots of shows are free, and you’ll rarely pay more than £5 for entrance, a real bargain for London.Three Days In London
Still here? Well, you’re lucky as you can spend a day really getting the measure of London, from old to new, from classic to up-to-the-minute fashionable.
Street art and street style central, a walk down Brick Lane shows contemporary, multi-cultural London at its buzziest. There are tons of independent shops to browse, events and markets to check out, and always people to watch. We love it so much, it’s one of our top 10 free things to see in London. If you happen to visiting on a Sunday, make the short walk to Columbia Road Flower Market. It’s a blooming scene where you can browse colorful flowers and enjoy a tasty bite to eat as hawkers call out as you walk by.
Refreshments: You’ll be spoiled for choice for street food but a local institution and still something of a bargain is the Brick Lane Beigel Bake. Open 24 hours a day, the queue can wind out the door for their salt beef bagels.
From there, it’s hard to believe you’re just a short walk away from “the Square Mile”, more commonly – and slightly confusingly – known as “the City”, which is the financial hub of London, and the UK. On weekdays it’s packed with suited workers; on the weekend it’s almost deserted. An area with centuries of history, older building such as the Bank of England and St. Paul’s Cathedral are now overshadowed by the idiosyncratic new breed of tall buildings that dominate the skyline. Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying these buildings will provide spectacular views. See for yourself at the Sky Garden – a public garden at the very top of 20 Fenchurch Street (otherwise known as the “Walkie Talkie”), it’s free to visit but you’ll need to book in advance.
You’ll definitely be getting tired now, after almost three days of full-on sightseeing, so it’s time to head to one of London’s many green spaces to restore your spirits. You’re actually spoilt for choice – Hyde Park, Green Park, Regent’ Park – would all do the job nicely, and that’s just for starters. For greenery coupled with history, we’d recommend taking a journey to Greenwich.
Hop on the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) at Bank station and for £2.30 (off-peak), you’ll be whisked over to Greenwich in around 20 minutes. There are loads of historical attractions to be explored here – it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site after all – and whether the imposing Cutty Sark ship or the grand promenades of the Royal Naval College, it really is stunning. The large park is also the perfect spot for weary travelers to rest awhile. If you can summon the energy to climb to the Royal Observatory, perched on top of the hill in the park, you’ll be rewarded with another amazing view (but, if you can’t, we really won’t mind at this stage!)
Refreshments: What better way to finish off a London trip than in a traditional pub? The Cutty Sark pub is slightly off the main tourist drag, but well worth a visit for its Georgian exterior and riverside views. Although definitely on the treat yourself end of the budget scale, it’s hard to think of a better way to end your visit than feasting on traditional pub food and toasting your London experience with a local ale. Cheers!
Camera NIKON D300S
Focal Length 31mm
Exposure Time 1/125
I visited Isle Royale National Park as part of my 12,000 mile 2014 summer road trip. It is an island in Lake Superior and it technically part of Michigan, even though it is far closer to Minnesota.
There are several things about Isle Royale which make it unique, most of which stem from the fact it is an island:
- It is the only park in the continental United States that closes in the winter.
- It is the least visited park in the continental United States, due to the winter closing and the fact that it is an island.
- It has the longest average visit time of any national park, because so many of the people who do visit, camp for several days.
- The park is 98% wilderness and has moose and wolves whose populations have been tracked for close to a century.
It is a really underappreciated national park and one which more people should try to visit. It pairs well with a visit to Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota.
Amsterdam is a no brainer when visiting The Netherlands. It has tons of old world charm and plenty of excellent budget hotels. After a few days in this vibrant city, usually next on the list would be a day trip to Rotterdam, the Keukenhof flower garden or The Hague.
But staying in Amsterdam offers a variety of other day trips for Cheapos. Escape the crowds and mainstream sites by trying one of these five other options just a bike or train ride away.Haarlem
The original town where New York City’s Harlem gets its name from is a quaint and cute Dutch city. A day can easily be spent wandering the old streets and canals of Haarlem that date back to the 1600s.
Admiring Grote Kerk square with a coffee on a terrace is a must. Corrie Ten Boomhouse is where a family hid hundreds of Jews during World War II. Today the house is a free museum with a 1940s feel that captures an important moment in Haarlem history. It also rarely has a wait (unlike the Anne Frank House). The Jopenkerk is a popular microbrewery inside an old church. Out-of-towners also come for live music at the Patronaat concert hall. Shopaholics love Haarlem for the endless dress boutiques and department stores, while foodies can appreciate the casual dining from organic vegetarian to Indian and Japanese.
Getting there: Trains from Amsterdam Centraal Station leave a few times an hour. The trip is about 20 minutes one way and a roundtrip ticket costs €8.20Bicycle Trip to Volendam
Vollendam is a tiny place off the coast of the Islomeer lake with an adorable sailboat harbor. You can get there by an hour bike ride through the Dutch countryside with a couple of cheese farms and clog shops open to visit along the way. The small-town strip is dotted with souvenir shops, fried fish stands, ice cream parlors and authentic brown cafes.
Artists like Picasso and Renoir liked hanging out here, and nowadays it feels like a lazy Dutch seaside town. Traditional garb of bonnets and striped vests are usually spotted on a few locals, with a couple dress up photo shops in business as well. There is also a ferry here that goes to the Marken peninsula – a somewhat forgotten fishing village with traditional wooden houses and adorable lighthouse.
Getting there: Take the Amsterdam Central ferry across the Ij River to Amsterdam Noord. From there, follow bike path signs to Broek in Waterland (the original town Brooklyn in named after) and continue north to Monnickendam and then Northeast to Volendam. The green bike signs means scenic, the red means quickest. It takes about an hour each way. Want to bus it? Take number 316 from the north side of Amsterdam Centraal and get off at Katwoude, Hotel Volendam. The trip takes about 25 minutes, and a roundtrip ticket costs €6.Zandaam and Zaanse Schans
The town of Zandaam is famous for its scenic collection of six historic windmills, clusters houses and water landscapses. The windmills at Zaanse Schans here are leftover from its 17th Century heydays as a major milling area for oil, saw, dye and mustard. Most windmills are still open to look at, and some still sell what they make.
The village looks like it never left the 1600s. There is an old Albert Hein market (the major grocer of Amsterdam), a clog factory and cheese maker. Tourist buses love to drag visitors on board a day trip, but just go on your own to absorb the historic feel of Zandaam and its surroundings. It’s easier to dodge the crowds that way. Try to catch the boat across the Zaan river, it’s a €3 ride running May to September and a great sightseeing perk.
Getting there: The trip is an hour bike ride each way, but it’s best to have a map for the loopy turns. Otherwise, local trains (aka Sprinter) going to Alkmaar from Amsterdam Centraal Station stop at Koog-Zaandijk are about a 35-minute ride. Hop off there and walk along the dijk towards the windmills (about 10 minutes). The cost of the train is €14.80 roundtrip. You can also get there if you purchase an Amsterdam & Region Day Ticket.Dutch Castle: Den Haar
One of the best perks about visiting Europe are all of the castles, and the Benelux region is full of them. Just outside of Utrecht is Castle De Haar, a beautiful place open for viewing and hanging around the lush gardens. The oldest parts of the foundation are from the early 1500s, but most of the castle you see today was built in the 1890s by the same architect who designed Amsterdam Centraal Station and the Rijksmuseum. The exterior is a beautiful garden of flowers and trees between a moat and small canal ways. Guided one-hour tours are the only way to see the inside. The Dutch family who own this property have wined and dined celebrities such as Brigitte Bardot and Roger Moore during their heyday.
Castle details: English tours are twice a day at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends, otherwise English audio guides are available. The gardens are open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the castle is open Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. An adult ticket is €14, but if you just want to admire the castle from the outside and wander the gardens it’s only €4. More info at www.kasteeldehaar.nl
Getting there: Take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Utrecht Central Station, and change trains to catch the Sprinter to Vleuten on platform 18 (train destination: Den Haag Centraal, not the intercity, but the sprinter). At Vleuten take bus 127 to Kockengen and get off at the ‘Brink’ bus stop in Haarzuilens. From Monday to Saturday the bus departs every hour, on Sundays every two hours (from 12 noon on). It is a 15-minute walk to the castle from the bus stop. About an hour trip in total and the travel costs are about €19 roundtrip.Utrecht
A student town with a healthy dose of canals, cafes and character, Utrecht offers a look into life in Holland that’s laidback and breezy. One of the most unique sights in Utrecht are the old wharfs along the main Oudegracht canal that have been transformed into cafes wither waterside terraces. People come here to wander around the old city center and take a look at the big Dom Church that was destroyed by a storm in the 1600s. It also has budget hotel options if you want to stay outside of Amsterdam.
At night the cafes bring out the dinner menus with Dutch classics like fish and steak tartar. Check the music listings at Tivoli too, a five-room concert venue that pulls in impressive and popular acts of all genres.
Getting There: Take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Utrecht Central Station. It’s about a 20-minute train ride and the cost is €14.80 roundtrip.