Category

Travel Guides

See the Countryside with a Bike Tour of Amsterdam

Cycling through the city and countryside on a bike tour of Amsterdam was one of the highlights of my trip to the Netherlands. As we cycled along canals and windmills I simply absorbed all the things to see in Amsterdam.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy.

Taking recommendations from a few friends who had taken bike tours in Amsterdam, I decided to go with Mike’s Bike Tours. And I did not regret this decision! They had several different tour options for you to consider while you are in Amsterdam. As there are so many bikes in Amsterdam, biking is not for the faint of heart. So, I went with the Countryside tour because I just wasn’t sure I was ready to brave the chaos. The staff was incredibly helpful and our guide was excellent.

Netherlands travel, Europe travel destinations, visiting the Netherlands, visiting Holland, the Netherlands vacation, Netherlands tourist attractions, Netherlands tourist destinations, bike tour Amsterdam, Amsterdam countryside bike tour, bike ride Amsterdam, best bike tour Amsterdam, visit Amsterdam, things to do in Amsterdam, things to see in Amsterdam, Amsterdam sightseeing, places to visit in Amsterdam

Bike Tour of Amsterdam: The Tour

The tour begins at Mike’s Bike Tour shop, which is quite centrally located in Amsterdam. After a quick briefing on how to bike as a group we set off on our tour. There are important etiquette guidelines to follow as you bike so be sure to pay attention to the briefing. The first part of the tour is in the city but we fairly quickly reached more open paths.

Heading out to the countryside along the Amstel River provided excellent scenery as we biked! We saw people fishing, other bicyclists, and even a few windmills along the way. Our turnaround point was a cheese farm/clog factory where we stopped for a short tour. We were treated to a demonstration of how clogs (wooden shoes) are made, some tasty Gouda cheese samples and the opportunity to do some shopping. As a bonus, you’ll get to meet these guys! Then you’ll begin the return trip back to the city.

Netherlands travel, Europe travel destinations, visiting the Netherlands, visiting Holland, the Netherlands vacation, Netherlands tourist attractions, Netherlands tourist destinations, bike tour Amsterdam, Amsterdam countryside bike tour, bike ride Amsterdam, best bike tour Amsterdam, visit Amsterdam, things to do in Amsterdam, things to see in Amsterdam, Amsterdam sightseeing, places to visit in Amsterdam

Bike Tour of Amsterdam: The Details

Since the tour is about 40 km, or 25 miles, a decent level of fitness is recommended. I would also highly recommend bringing snacks and water along for your bike ride. I didn’t bring enough water and was a bit thirsty! While usually I like to book tours like this ahead of time, because of the weather in Amsterdam I would suggest booking once you can see a weather forecast. I had a gorgeous sunny day for my tour, but that is not always the case! As you are shopping remember that if you are traveling back to the United States you are permitted to bring back a wheel of cheese, provided it has not been opened!

If you’re looking for bike tours in other cities on your European adventure, I’d highly recommend this one in Salzburg. You’ll sing along as you discover the hills are alive with the sound of music.

Netherlands travel, Europe travel destinations, visiting the Netherlands, visiting Holland, the Netherlands vacation, Netherlands tourist attractions, Netherlands tourist destinations, bike tour Amsterdam, Amsterdam countryside bike tour, bike ride Amsterdam, best bike tour Amsterdam, visit Amsterdam, things to do in Amsterdam, things to see in Amsterdam, Amsterdam sightseeing, places to visit in Amsterdam

London Helicopter Tour: A Bird’s-Eye-View

There are countless tours you can take while you’re in London. Harry Potter tours, pub tours, walking tours, royal tours and just about every other kind of tour you can imagine. But the one that just might take the cake, is a London helicopter tour. Being able to see the iconic sights of London from a bird’s-eye-view is difficult to beat.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy.

After doing extensive research for a London helicopter tour I decided to go with Heli Air, and I was not disappointed! I first took a 35-minute train from London Marylebone out to High Wycombe. Then I would recommend calling an Uber or cab to get from the train station to the airfield. I decided I would walk to save a bit of money and while it’s doable, I don’t recommend it! It would have been really inexpensive to grab an Uber or cab so I will definitely do that next time.

London helicopter tour, London tours, helicopter tour of London, helicopter ride London, helicopter ride over London, London by air, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, 3 days in London, 2 days in London, tour of London, places to visit in London, things to do in London, London bucket lists, best places to visit in London, best places to visit in London with kids, London tourist attractions, day trips from London, best day trips from London, places to visit in England, England bucket lists, best places to visit in England with kids, England tourist attractions, places to visit in England, things to do in England, best places to visit in England

A Bird’s Eye View of London

In contrast to the city, the beginning of the flight gives you a look at the English countryside. And I secretly got to imagine what it would be like to be the Duchess of Cambridge and travel to Kensington Palace via helicopter. As you pass by the Palace you can see Round Pond and Hyde Park with the London skyline off in the distance.

After passing by Kensington Palace we headed towards the city along the River Thames. And if I felt like the Duchess by the Palace, I felt just like Mary Poppins as we traveled above the river. Passing by Battersea Power Station, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and Tower Bridge from up in the air was a tour like no other!

London helicopter tour, London tours, helicopter tour of London, helicopter ride London, helicopter ride over London, London by air, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, 3 days in London, 2 days in London, tour of London, places to visit in London, things to do in London, London bucket lists, best places to visit in London, best places to visit in London with kids, London tourist attractions, day trips from London, best day trips from London, places to visit in England, England bucket lists, best places to visit in England with kids, England tourist attractions, places to visit in England, things to do in England, best places to visit in England

My travel advice to people when they visit a new city is to take a walking tour and then climb to the highest point. This gives you an overview of the city and helps you really get the lay of the land. After my London helicopter tour I decided there’s an even better way to see the whole city than climbing to the highest point. Jump in a helicopter and fly over the city!

If you want to see my video of the tour, head over to Instagram!

If you want to explore London on foot I’d recommend visiting a few of my favorite London bookshops. If you’re visiting London at Christmas, be sure to visit my London at Christmas Bucket List. Or you can narrow down the list with my Top Five Things to do in London at Christmas.

Enjoy a Day at the Piers in Orange County

I think the first two things most people think of when they imagine visiting Orange County are the beaches and Disneyland. Orange County has 40 miles of coastline passing through seven cities. Any trip to these beaches should include stops at the piers in Orange County. With a total of five piers a trip to all of them gives you a pretty good look at the Orange County coastline.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy through the links.

San Clemente

I’d recommend visiting the piers of Orange County from south to north because you’ll first want to have breakfast at La Galette. Located right across the street from the pier, this is delicious casual dining with a view. After enjoying a crepe walk across the street for a stroll down the San Clemente Pier. After you finishing your trip down the pier, I’d suggest a walk down the coastal path for views of the pier jutting out into the water.

Newport Beach

Newport Beach is home to not one, but two piers! The Balboa Pier was constructed in 1906 and is home to the original Ruby’s Diner. The Newport Pier is 1,032 feet long and is registered as California Historical Landmark number 794. While there is not a restaurant at the end, on a clear day you can see the Balboa Pier to the south and Huntington Beach to the north.

things to do in California, things to do in California bucket lists, California travel, things to do in Orange County, things to do in California beautiful places, things to do in California with kids, things to do in Orange County, piers in Orange County, Newport Beach pier, Huntington Beach pier, San Clemente pier, Seal Beach pier

Huntington Beach

In my opinion, this is probably the most iconic pier in Orange County. It is arguably the most photographed spot in Huntington Beach and at 1,850 feet in length, is one of the longest public piers on the West Coast. On a clear day the views from the end of the pier are simply breathtaking as you can see miles of coastline with snow capped mountains in the background. Stroll down the pier and watch the surfers below, browse the shops or grab a milkshake from Ruby’s Diner.

Seal Beach

Admittedly, the Seal Beach pier is not what it once was, but it’s still worth a visit! I remember walking out on the pier to the restaurant at the end as a kid. Unfortunately a fire in 2016 burned down the restaurant and damaged the end of the pier. While you’re no longer able to eat at the Seal Beach pier, the view of the coastline makes it a worthwhile stop.

If you’re looking for more things to do in Orange County, be sure to browse my Orange County Bucket List. The list has more than 150 things to do including a trip to the Redwoods and mining for gold.

Literary Connections

If you want to explore more of the Piers of the California Coast, I’d recommend the book by Ed Grant. If you are interested in the 840 miles of coastal California this is the book for you. The book will look gorgeous on your coffee table and is filled with historical anecdotes.

things to do in California, things to do in California bucket lists, California travel, things to do in Orange County, things to do in California beautiful places, things to do in California with kids, things to do in Orange County, piers in Orange County, Newport Beach pier, Huntington Beach pier, San Clemente pier, Seal Beach pier

Spending One Day in Ventura California

I believe that any trip to Southern California should extend beyond Venice Beach and Disneyland. As iconic as these places are, Southern California has so much more to offer. I’d recommend setting aside one day of your trip to venture just north of LA to visit Ventura. With so many wonderful things to do in Ventura, you won’t regret your visit.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy through the links.

Things to do in Ventura: The Food

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day so kick off your day with a yummy breakfast. Not only does Marie Shannon Confections have a fun vibe, you’ll get a yummy breakfast to fuel you for your day.

I would argue that you can’t go to a beach town in Southern California and not get fish tacos. Specifically, the fish tacos from Spencer Makenzie’s. Voted the best fish taco in Ventura and ranked in the top 50 Tacos in America, you don’t want to miss these!

things to do in Ventura ca, things to do in Ventura, Ventura California, things to do in California, things to do in California bucket lists, California travel, things to do in California beautiful places, things to do in California with kids, Ventura bucket list, what to do in Ventura, things to do in Ventura County, Ventura things to do, fun things to do in Ventura, Ventura ca things to do, fun things to do in Ventura county, places to visit in Ventura

Be sure to stop by Beach House Fish located on the Ventura Pier for a happy hour drink and appetizer. Grab a table along the windows and enjoy the coastline views.

Why not wrap up your day with a Fish Waffle Cone from Coastal Cone?!? Located in Ventura Harbor Village this is the perfect spot for strolling by the boats and enjoying your ice cream.

things to do in Ventura ca, things to do in Ventura, Ventura California, things to do in California, things to do in California bucket lists, California travel, things to do in California beautiful places, things to do in California with kids, Ventura bucket list, what to do in Ventura, things to do in Ventura County, Ventura things to do, fun things to do in Ventura, Ventura ca things to do, fun things to do in Ventura county, places to visit in Ventura

Things to do in Ventura: The Sights

To learn a bit about the history of Ventura I’d recommend beginning your exploration of the city with a stop at the San Buenaventura Mission. The missions are an integral part of the history of California. Continue your journey through the history of the city with a stop at City Hall. The architecture of City Hall makes me feel like I’ve stepped on the set of a movie. In 1971 the building was declared a county, state and federal historical landmark so it’s definitely worth setting aside time in your day to visit.

If you’re looking for an unrivaled view of Ventura I’d recommend a visit to the Ventura Botanical Gardens. Not only will you get to see a carefully curated selection of plant life but with an easy hike up to Grant Park you will be treated to stunning views of the city and beach below.

things to do in Ventura ca, things to do in Ventura, Ventura California, things to do in California, things to do in California bucket lists, California travel, things to do in California beautiful places, things to do in California with kids, Ventura bucket list, what to do in Ventura, things to do in Ventura County, Ventura things to do, fun things to do in Ventura, Ventura ca things to do, fun things to do in Ventura county, places to visit in Ventura

You’ll also want to make sure you set aside time for a stroll down Main Street. I always enjoy popping into bookshops when I travel and Main Street has several great options. Calico Cat Bookshop and Bank of Books. While usually I don’t recommend a stop at the post office, you won’t want to miss the post office just off Main Street. Inside you’ll find Gordon Grant Murals painted in 1936-1937. The murals are listed on the Federal Register of Fine Arts and you don’t even have to pay to see them…just pop in the post office!

A trip to Ventura is definitely not complete unless you’ve stopped by Surfer’s Point. With a south facing point right hand waves roll in consistently throughout the day. Not only will you be able to watch surfing, but on days where the wind picks up you’ll also be able to enjoy watching kiteboarders and windsurfers.

As you’re planning your time in Southern California I would also suggest a day trip to Solvang or a trip out to the San Jacinto Valley. And if you want to explore what Orange County has to offer beyond Disneyland, be sure to check out my Ultimate Orange County Bucket List.

things to do in Ventura ca, things to do in Ventura, Ventura California, things to do in California, things to do in California bucket lists, California travel, things to do in California beautiful places, things to do in California with kids, Ventura bucket list, what to do in Ventura, things to do in Ventura County, Ventura things to do, fun things to do in Ventura, Ventura ca things to do, fun things to do in Ventura county, places to visit in Ventura

Best Bookstores in London

One of my favorite hobbies is reading, so when I was planning my first trip to London I knew I needed to set off in search of the best bookstores in London. But since it was a bit daunting to research London book shops I decided to bring to life the London Bookstore Tour from Cierra of londonblockbyblock. This gorgeous map doesn’t include specific directions, so I sat down with Google Maps and worked out a plan to visit twelve of the best bookstores in London. If you want to explore the best bookstores in London on your own, download my Google Map for easy exploring.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy through the links.

John Sandoe Books

Founded in 1957, John Sandoe Books is in one of my favorite areas of London, Chelsea. Set just off Kings Road you can stop by to browse the books after a bit of shopping.

places to visit in England, England bucket lists, best places to visit in England with kids, England tourist attractions, places to visit in England, things to do in England, best places to visit in England, bookstore London, best bookstores in London, best bookshops in London, London book shops, bookstores in London England, best book shops London, bookstore in London, places to visit in London, things to do in London, London bucket lists, best places to visit in London, best places to visit in London with kids, London tourist attractions, day trips from London, best day trips from London

Hatchards

Founded in 1797, Hatchards is London’s oldest bookshop. The bookshop is located on one of the most famous streets in the world, Piccadilly. Additionally, Hatchards holds not one, not two, but three royal warrants, which you can see displayed above the entrance.

places to visit in England, England bucket lists, best places to visit in England with kids, England tourist attractions, places to visit in England, things to do in England, best places to visit in England, bookstore London, best bookstores in London, best bookshops in London, London book shops, bookstores in London England, best book shops London, bookstore in London, places to visit in London, things to do in London, London bucket lists, best places to visit in London, best places to visit in London with kids, London tourist attractions, day trips from London, best day trips from London

National Theatre Bookshop

Located on London’s South Bank, the National Theatre Bookshop offers an unrivaled selection of playtexts. There are also books and gifts related to the theatre.

Stanfords

Another one of my favorite areas of London is Covent Garden. Add in a bookshop filled with maps and travel inspiration and I’m in literary heaven. The bookshop might look like a typical shop when you enter, but when you descend the stairs into the basement you are greeted by maps upon maps upon maps.

Persephone Books

A quite unique bookshop that actually does more business online than in the store. Founded in the 1990’s, Persephone Books only publishes reprints of books, and each book sold has a gray cover.

Daunt Books

There are several Daunt locations throughout London with the Marylebone location being the original. The store originally opened in 1912 and claims to be the world’s first custom-built bookshop. And the design has paid off because you’ve likely seen images of Daunt Books on Instagram.

Blackwells

Blackwells began in a single room with the trade of rare and secondhand books. Now they have been trading books for more than a century and there are Blackwells located all over the UK. With an even greater selection available online for worldwide delivery, including thousands of rare books.

Word on the Water

Floating in the Regent’s Canal Towpath this is definitely one of the most unique bookshops I’ve ever visited. Step onboard this 1920’s Dutch barge near Granary Square in King’s Cross and explore the books of Word on the Water.

places to visit in England, England bucket lists, best places to visit in England with kids, England tourist attractions, places to visit in England, things to do in England, best places to visit in England, bookstore London, best bookstores in London, best bookshops in London, London book shops, bookstores in London England, best book shops London, bookstore in London, places to visit in London, things to do in London, London bucket lists, best places to visit in London, best places to visit in London with kids, London tourist attractions, day trips from London, best day trips from London

Owl Bookshop

Although Owl Bookshop is now owned by Daunt Books, the store retained its original name. Owl Bookshop has a truly terrific children’s section and regular author talks. Walking into Owl Bookshop gives you all the warm feelings you want when you walk into a bookshop and encourages you to stay a while.

Primrose Hill Books

I highly recommend a visit to Primrose Hill when you’re visiting London for the stunning views of the London skyline. Then stop by the family owned and operated Primrose Hill Books located in a Victorian terrace. After visiting this lovely shop, be sure to also browse their online selection.

West End Lane Books

An independent bookshop which prides itself on making excellent literary recommendations. In their own words, “We’ve been selling books, recommending books and drooling over books since 1994,” and that is exactly the kind of literary haven I enjoy exploring. Add in the delightful children’s section and this has everything you want in an indie bookshop.

places to visit in England, England bucket lists, best places to visit in England with kids, England tourist attractions, places to visit in England, things to do in England, best places to visit in England, bookstore London, best bookstores in London, best bookshops in London, London book shops, bookstores in London England, best book shops London, bookstore in London, places to visit in London, things to do in London, London bucket lists, best places to visit in London, best places to visit in London with kids, London tourist attractions, day trips from London, best day trips from London

Books for Cooks

Notting Hill’s famous cookbook shop not only sells cookbooks but tests out the recipes in the in-store cafe. There are countless titles stored in every available space in the store plus mouthwatering aromas tempting you to taste the food and then buy the cookbook.

Literary Connections

Here are a few of my favorite books about bookshops, one of my favorite settings for a book.

Nina is a literary matchmaker in Jenny Colgan’s Bookshop on the Corner and she sets out from London to build a new life.

Another Jenny Colgan suggestion, because you really can’t go wrong with one of her books, is Bookshop on the Shore.

Although it is set in Iowa, US and not in London, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is an excellent book about a bookshop.

If you’re planning to visit London during the holidays, here’s a look at my five favorite things to do in London at Christmas.

places to visit in England, England bucket lists, best places to visit in England with kids, England tourist attractions, places to visit in England, things to do in England, best places to visit in England, bookstore London, best bookstores in London, best bookshops in London, London book shops, bookstores in London England, best book shops London, bookstore in London, places to visit in London, things to do in London, London bucket lists, best places to visit in London, best places to visit in London with kids, London tourist attractions, day trips from London, best day trips from London

Experience the California Blossom Trail

I’m sure if you polled most California tourists, they’ve never heard of the California Blossom Trail. When most people think of California they think of Disneyland or the Golden Gate Bridge. As popular tourist destinations, many California trips are to Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, there are also some great options between these two cities. When I stumbled across an Instagram post with these blossoms, I knew I had to check it out for myself!

things to do in California, things to do in California bucket lists, California travel, things to do in California beautiful places, things to do in California with kids, California blossom trail, Fresno County blossom trail, things to do in Fresno County, cherry blossom California

The Fresno County Blossom Trail is a 62-mile loop just southeast of Fresno. You can download a trail map and get information about the timing of the blooms from their website. Usually, the blossoms are out from mid-February to early-March but depending on the year they can arrive earlier or later. If you’re not able to visit the California Blossom Trail in February or March, don’t worry! You can visit from May to September when it becomes a Fruit Stand Trail.

things to do in California, things to do in California bucket lists, California travel, things to do in California beautiful places, things to do in California with kids, California blossom trail, Fresno County blossom trail, things to do in Fresno County, cherry blossom California

Did you know that two-thirds of the fruits and nuts in the United States are grown in California? The farms of the Central Valley produce peaches, nectarines, apricots, almonds, plums, and apples who get their yearly start with these gorgeous blossoms. Over the course of the 62-mile trail you’ll be treated to blossoms in a dazzling array of whites and pinks.

If you want to see more between the Central Valley and Los Angeles, I’d also recommend a visit to Solvang where you can take a step into Danish culture.

things to do in California, things to do in California bucket lists, California travel, things to do in California beautiful places, things to do in California with kids, California blossom trail, Fresno County blossom trail, things to do in Fresno County, cherry blossom California