Europe

Section under construction. New trips added regularly. Check back for updated links to blogs with pictures for each item listed below. Europe 2019 will be added real-time.


Austria: Day 1: Lake Mondsee
Take A1 to Lake Mondsee and prepare to spend the day (or night) if you can. Unlike Area 47 which is all about high-thrills and requires kids to be 12 and over, the waterpark, slides and high platforms are fun yet easy going. It’s also 30 min outside Salzburg and primarily known and used only to locals. Wonderful waterside dining, free parking…perfect for a relaxing day. Read about our experience and plan your day trip.

Austria: Day 2: Salzburg
Start with the residence and birthplace of Mozart (2 hrs), Fortress Hozensalzburg (2-3 w/lunch) St. Peter’s Abbey (1), Salzburg Cathedral (1) Old City Hall area- (1+) = full day. Tip: Mozart areas less busy in the morning. The Fortress is on a hill. You can climb the 1,000+ stairs or take the tram for exercise (if my 9 yr old daughter can do it, so can you). Food options are plenty at the Fortress.

Austria: Day 3: Vienna
Start with downtown (2 hrs), Vienna amusement park (2-3 hrs), Imperial Palace (2) = 6 hrs. Tip: the amusement park is dead during the day (due to heat). It’s very crowded sunset and beyond. Best time for the family or lots of rides: late afternoon or on cloudy days.

Belgium: Brussels
Begin with the Grand Place (1.5-2 hrs), Royal Palace (1.5 hrs) Museum of Chocolate. Spend the afternoon at the Atomium (must do for kids)-( 2 hrs) and Mini Europe Museum Park (2 hrs)
Evening: Le Bourse de Bruxelle (18+) for trendy clubs and restaurants

Belgium: Trevuren
Park de Trevuren (1+), Autoworld (1.5 hrs) picture in front of Parc du Cinquantenaire (30 min), Train World (1.5 hrs) and Great Market Square. Tip: the Park is massive. The paved trails can be busy with training road bikers but the dirt/gravel paths are almost deserted. Bring money so you can stop by town and get a snack. (We walkes the paths every day for 10 straight. It was divine).

Belgium: Waterloo
This is a must do. Very fast from Brussels and worth it. Site of the Waterloo Battle, an erected mountain, display areas and café. (1.5 hrs).

Czech Republic: Day 1 Prague
Prague Zoo in the morning (4+ hrs- all day) Old Town by night (2 hrs)

Czech Republic: Day 2 Prague
St. Charles’ Bridge, (30 min), 15 min walk to Prague Castle (2 hrs) paddling in rental boats (1 hr) & gerbil balls on water (30min) Factoid: Starbucks is at the entry point for the castle (strange!) but the American’s were really happy. Evening: the Ice Bar (18+ over). You are given coats and sit on blocks of ice instead of stools while you listen to dance music and have local fair.

Czech Republic: Day 3 Czesky Krumlov
Wander the town, waterways (2 hrs) Czesky Krumlov Castle (2 hrs) have lunch in town. Tip: bring your windbreaker/hoodie or umbrella. Two of the three times we have visited, the day started beautiful, clouds rolled in and it poured.

Germany: Stuttgart
Porsche Museum (2.4 hrs), Mercedes Museum (2 hrs), Canstatter Folkfest (an evening), Stuttgart Christmas Market (all morning/day). Tip: Youth under 16 are NOT allowed at the Porsche Museum. It never occurred to us to check on this prior, and we had to take turns going.

Germany: Lichtenstein Castle
Day trip from Zurich. Located in the Swabian Jura area of Germany, Lichtenstein Castle and tour (2 hr) walking the small town and having a superbly authentic lunch (1 hr). Tip: go early (before 2 p.m.) the ancestral family owners still live on premises and you may be able to meet them as we did (very cool!). Also, no cameras or cell phones allowed inside the small castle, but outside pics are OK.

Italy: Lake Cuomo area
Day 1: Bellagio. Drive or take the ferry (20 min). Wander the streets, have lunch & shop! (2-4 hrs). Bellagio Gardens on the waterfront- Giardini di Villa Melzi (2 hrs). Tip. Parking for the ferries can be tough during mid-July through August. Take a cab or leave early if you are walking, otherwise you can take your car on the ferry.

Italy- Day 2: Menaggio, Lugano. Walk the waterfront of Menaggio, shops & food (2 hrs) drive to Lugano, visiting the waterfront mansions and leather stores, having dinner (2-4 hrs). Tip: be sure to check your location: depending on where you are staying, the ferry ride to Bellagio is only 20 minutes but to drive from either Menaggio or Lugano to Bellagio can be up to 4 hours.

Italy-Day 3: Milan day trip. @2 hrs south is Milano. The Duomo Cathedral is a must (2 hrs). Local shops and lunch in the square (2 hrs). Tip: the Duomo charges extra for your own camera, but it’s worth the $5.00! Parking has always been easy- two streets away if before noon.

Italy- Day 4: Verona
Piazza Brà, the Square of the Arena (2 hrs) afternoon touring the streets and waterfront.

Italy-Day 5: Venice
St. Mark’s Basilica & Doge’s Palace in the a.m. (both @1.5-2 hrs), waterways by boat or gondola to first island, Murano to see glass blowing.

Italy-Day 6: Venice
Burano Island (2 hrs), quaint Torcello island (2 hrs) exploring streets.

Italy-Day 7: Pisa & Bologna
Arrive early at Pisa (1 hr) have an early lunch then drive to Bologna; less crowded, amazing food and architecture. Via dell Independenza is the main shopping street (2 hrs). Basilica di San Petronio (1.5 hrs) gorgeous inside & out. Tip: you can take car to the Basilica, but the 3.5 km walk is worth it for the pictures alone (but my kids much preferred Pisa and downtown.

Lichtenstein
This was short trip from Zurich, and the main town is Vaduz. It’s the 4th smallest country in Europe, boasting a single McDonalds. Walk the town (30 min) but drive the close hillsides, but don’t leave down without seeing Gutenburg Castle which is open to the public (2 hrs). When walking the town, you can take pictures in front of Vaduz Castle, but it’s not open tot he public, as it’s still home to the residing Prince.

Netherlands: Amsterdam
City center (2 hrs), Van Gogh Museum (2 hrs), waterways by walking or cruise (2). Roaming the countryside (2+)*

Slovakia: Bratislava
Devin Castle. Pre-dating Christ by @700 years, this castle (ruins mostly) is considered holy, as it is believed Christ ministered here, one of his only (if only) site in Europe. (2 hrs). Tip: bring water, as it’s a paved road up but can be very hot. Demonstrations (in costume) & feeding sheep culminate in incredible views of the Danube. An amazing café is located at the base just off the property.

Switzerland: Zurich
Ritzy shopping made famous in Robert Ludlum’s first Bourne novel, the Bahnhoffstrasse (2+) lakeside waterpark, famous Chinese food & boat tour (4 hrs). Zurich Zoo (2 hrs)- it’s small.

Switzerland: St. Moritz
Day trip in to the Alps. Spend the day eating chocolate, drooling over the shops and taking the tram up the mountain (2 hrs).

Switzerland: Lugano
Day trip. Bordering next to Italy, this warm town is more Italian than Swiss, and is so worth it. Tip: stop on the Alpine road and touch the softest, tamest cows ever. So soft they made it into my Danielle Grant series as Danielle drives through the Alps.

Switzerland: Verzasca Dam and the Locarno Dam
This is an arch dam on the Verzasca River in the Val Verzasca of Ticino, Switzerland. It’s on the way to Italy so you can slow down and take pictures. Tip: the smaller the car the zippier the switchback roads, and watch for motorcyclists. This is an incredibly popular route.

North America

Alaska: Ketchikan, surrounding islands
3 or 4 day fishing trip. Fly into Ketchikan, take a float plane (at the airport), 45 min flight to Sportsman’s Cove, and fish for everything the ocean has to offer. Return, spend an extra day in Ketchikan to walk the town. Tip: take the tram to and from the town up the hill for lunch at Cape Fox Lodge.

Alaska: Anchorage, Prince William Sound, State Fair, Denali
Book a 4-day, 3-night for the weekend of the State Fair in Alaska. Day 1, drive to Prince William Sound via the longest tunnel in North America (Whittier to Portage). Day 2 will be at the Fair, eating authentic Alaskan meats and trying on hand-made clothing. Day 3, Denali Park (133 miles).

Colorado: Ouray
Spend 3-4 days visting Ouray/ Telluride. Walk up one side main street and down the other of “America’s Little Switzerland” (1 hr), visit the hot springs (2 hrs+) that offer discounts to locals and seniors. 4th of July is a huge affair with a parade, fireman shootout (with water cannons) fireworks and bands (all free). Ice climbing (in town) in the winter months is a huge draw. Ouray also boasts the most aggressive four-wheeling terrain in North America. Tip: have been visiting annually for 20 yrs. and rooms are gone by January. Book early.

Colorado: Telluride
Over the hill from Ouray, drive right by Ralph Lauren’s ranch to head in to town. Walk up and down mainstreet for ice cream and all things leather and cowboy (2 hrs).

Colorado: Anastazi Ruins
Day trip. The Mesa Verde National Park is a bit remote, hot and worth it. Multiple routes and tours exist to see the cliffside dwellings from different angles. Tip: If you want the good photos, don’t bother with the tours! You must stay on the path and the angles are awful. Incredible pics are to be had edge side, thereby saving the $ unless you want to get up close and person.

Idaho: (northern/panhandle) Sandpoint, Lake Pend’orielle (pronounced Pond-er-ray), Coeur d’Alene, Kellogg, Deary, Hell’s Canyon (Riggins)

Idaho: Coeur d’Alene
Golfers must hit the famous “floating course” on the CDA Resort Golf as well as the Circling Raven Golf Club (in the top 20 public courses in America. Walk downtown on Sherman (2 hrs), dine one night at The Wolf Lodge (2 hrs) take a winter Eagle’s Cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene to photograph dozens of eagles (3 hrs). Winter holiday festivals for lighting of the trees. On Halloween, mainstreet is closed for trick-or-treating; shop owners close, dress up and give away candy.

Inland Northwest tour: Idaho, up to Glacier National Park (Canada), cross to Montana through Kalispell, through the badlands of North Dakota, South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse), through Wyoming return to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Northwest city tour: I-5 inland highway from Seattle, Mt. St. Helen’s, Portland, Salem, Medford, Klamath Falls, Tule Lake (end with California)

Northwest coastal tour: Portland to the coastal town of Astoria, Depot Bay, Newport Bay, Cape Kiwanis, Coos Bay

Oregon, Portland:
Day 1: Start with the Rose Garden (90 min), when the Rose Festival is on, visit the waterfront (2 hrs). Pearl District for shopping and Papa Haydn
Day 2: OMSI and the Portland Zoo. Tip: These destinations are on opposite sides of Portland, OMSI on the waterfront and the Zoo on the westide (through the mountain tunnel). Allow 45 min travel time.

Oregon, Salem: downtown, waterfront (car shows), local strawberry picking, Gerry’s Konditerei

Washington: Seattle
Morning: Fish Market (1 hr), more if you go Saturday am for the flower market), Space Needle (2), the Ballard Locks (2) = @5 hours
Afternoon: The Sound waterfront- Aquarium on the bay (1.5 hrs), IMAX, (60 min), Ivars,= @ 3.5 hrs

Washington: Issaquah
45 min outside Seattle, this quaint town has two sides: the developed and original town. On the south side of I-90, walk the short mainstreet (30 min), attend Salmon Days in September to watch the fish run at the hatchery off main street (it overlooks the creek/river). Tip: forget the diet. You must go to an authentic, 50’s style diner, Triple XXX burgers (they make their own rootbeer) and walk around the corner to Boehm’s Chocolates (tour/food) founded by Swiss mountaineer Julius Boehm (my fav!).

Washington: Snoqualmie
10-15 minutes east on I-90 is Snoqualmie Falls. Self-guided path/walking to the largest falls west of the Mississippi (2 hrs) and stay at the Salish Lodge if you can. If not, spend the money for a massage because the portions of the Japanese-inspired spa hangs over the falls. Tip: the hotel has special anniversary packages that include the treatments. Continue 10 minutes east and stop at the Outlet stores, including Nike and Coach.


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