Prague

Prague is a fairy tale. The City of a Hundred Spires is home to an ancient castle on a hill, a magical clock tower, absinthe and a storied history of famous astronomers.

From the airport, one option is to take the Airport Express bus to the Prague Main Station and then walk 10-15 minutes into the Old Town. The bus takes about 35 minutes and runs from 6:30am to 10:00pm every 30 minutes. Alternatively, a cab or Uber will take 20-25 minutes.

The euro is not widely used in the Czech Republic. Upon arrival take out Czech crowns (also known as krones).

EAT

Ferdinanda Traditional Czech cuisine and beer in a cozy setting in Mala Strana. Recommended by a friend

Mansson’s Bakery Delicious Danish bakery just north of Old Town.

Piknik Park An Italian enoteca located on a quiet side street in Mala Strana. Outdoor seating, live music, great pizza and wine!

DRINK

The Czechs invented the Pilsner in 1842 and there is no better spot to try this light, golden-colored beer than straight from the source. Ask for a Pilsner Urquell, the original Bohemian beer. If you needed any more convincing, beer is literally cheaper than water here.

Double Trouble This cassic “cave-bar” and underground nightclub is a great spot to start the night.

Fat Cat Brewery & Pub Hip, contemporary bar and restaurant serving local brews in Old Town.

Hemingway Bar Cocktails.

Mecca Dance club for deep-house and techno lovers.

Strahov Monastery Brewery Beer has been brewed on this site near the Prague Castle since the medieval ages, but the current building dates back to the 17th century. Recommended by a friend.

PLAY

Charles Bridge This 15th century bridge connects the heart of the city and is lined with statutes of saints, artists, performers and musicians.

John Lennon Wall This colorful memorial pays homage to John Lennon and his ideals of peace and free speech.

Karlstejn Castle This beautiful, gothic castle was founded in 1348 by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV. It is an easy half day trip by train from Prague, and one of the most admired castles in Bohemia.

Mala Strana Prague’s Lesser Town is slightly less touristy than Old Town but just as magical. This neighborhood lines the left river bank and is just south of the Castle. Several good pubs and restaurants are located here.

Old Town Square A must visit.

The Powder Tower One of the original city gates to the Old Town, this gothic tower’s construction began in the fifteenth century.

Prague Castle largest castle (area) in the world dating back to the 9th century.

Prague Astronomical Clock This 600 year old clock face is the heart and soul of the Old Town and puts on a show every hour.

Day trips

Terezín Take a day trip one hour outside the city to this former ghetto, concentration camp and Gestapo prison. A sobering but education experience to learn about the Czech-Jewish history, World War II, and the Holocaust.

STAY

Stay near the Old Town or Mala Strana to be within walking distance of the main sites and nightlife. Mala Strana is perhaps a bit less touristy and quieter in the evening. We, however, enjoyed the four star Hotel Caruso, just north of the Old Town Square.

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Asheville

Ashvillle is a bohemian town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Known for its artist enclaves, live music venues, craft beer breweries and delicious food, Asheville is just sparkling with southern charm!

Asheville’s airport is small and flights in and out can be pricey. Another option is to fly to Charlotte and drive two hours through the mountains.

Given the loveliness of the surrounding area, we recommend renting a car. If you’d rather not drive, Uber is available and an easy option for getting from the downtown area to the River Arts District, Biltmore Estate, and Biltmore Village.

EAT

Green Sage Cafe Healthy, organic cafe in downtown.

Tupelo Honey Perhaps Asheville’s most famous restaurant, serving up Southern food from scratch. Try the South Asheville location, likely to be less crowded.

Twisted Laurel Mediterranean food in an industrial-style setting.

Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe Tasty bakery in Biltmore Village with outdoor seating.

DRINK

Wicked Weed Brewing Pub Friendly brewery in downtown Asheville with outdoor seating.

New Belgium Brewing Company Industrial brewery and taproom near the River Arts District. Grab a seat on the deck for lovely views of the French Broad River.

Village Wayside Bar & Grille Local dive open late night in Biltmore Village.

PLAY

Biltmore Estate A historic, Chateau-style home built by George Vanderbilt with gardens and sprawling grounds at the seat of the Blue Mountains.

Blue Ridge Parkway A 496 mile drive through North Carolina and Virginia offering stunning vistas of the Appalachians. There are lots of hiking trails near the Parkway.

North Lexington Avenue A street in downtown with antique and eclectic shopping.

River Arts District Just west of downtown, this industrial area along the river is home to artist studios and galleries.


STAY

For a weekend stay, base yourself within walking distance of the downtown area.

If you have a car and intend to hike or visit surrounding areas, parking could be tricky downtown. We stayed in the very affordable Hampton Inn & Suites Asheville, just south of and within walking distance of Biltmore Village.

The Biltmore Estate offers luxury accommodation, a lovely option for a romantic weekend.

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Vancouver

If traveling through the Pacific Northwest, be sure to include a stop in Vancouver! The city is wedged between the Pacific and coastal mountains which makes for a beautifully unique skyline. The city and its residents have seemed to master the balance between big city life and the mountains while charming its visitors with a laid back, friendly vibe.

Vancouver International Airport is about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city center. It typically takes about 30 minutes by car to arrive into downtown from the airport.

Vancouver is a bike friendly city and has the infrastructure for comfortable, self-guided tours. There are several rental shops located throughout the city. We rented near Davie Village to spend the day biking around Stanley Park.

EAT

Burgoo Kitsilano Their slogan states food is for comfort. Throw on your finest sweatpants and order the mac’n’ cheese with no regrets!

Catch 122 Cafe Bistro Cute, rustic lunch spot serving a modern take on traditional Canadian dishes.

Granville Island Public Market Located on a tiny peninsula south of the city, this is a must do in summer. The market hosts a variety of food stalls, locally sourced products and art vendors.

Wildebeest This restaurant is known for its meat-heavy farm to table menu.

DRINK

For serious beer drinkers, head to East Vancouver to experience the city’s top breweries. A few of our favorites are listed below.

Alibi Room Modern bar in Gastown with a trendy, bustling vibe. The avid IPA drinker will not be disappointed as the pub offers 50 taps of local and imported craft beers.

Granville Island Brewing Canada’s first microbrewery with tours and formal tastings. Stop here while visiting the Public Market.

Vancouver Urban Winery A stroll away from the Alibi Room, this winery offers local, Canadian wines sourced from grapes in Railtown, Vancouver. The winery also has a wide selection of ciders and beers alike.

PLAY

Gastown Head to this historic neighbourhood to explore local shops and restaurants.

Granville Island A great place to bike through and grab lunch.

Kits Beach Historically known for its hippie culture, this is a perfect spot to enjoy a day soaking in the sun and taking in the mountain views.

Stanley Park Bike through Vancouver’s “backyard”, a massive outdoor park with swimming, beaches, an aquarium, zoo, and more. Check out the Brockton Point Totem Poles which pay homage to the indigenous Salish people and their culture.

STAY

Gastown Stay here for unlimited dining options. Known for its food and young professional scene, this historic part of the city will not disappoint.

Kitsilano Kits is the place to be for hipsters and bohemians. The neighborhood offers easy access to the beach, pools and a cute Main Street (West 4th Avenue) with boutique shops and restaurants. Lululemon fans will find the city’s flagship store here.

West End A 10 minute walk from downtown, this neighborhood provides more of a relaxed, residential feel but is close to Coal Harbour, Stanley Park and the city’s beaches. Most hotels are near Robson Street.

Brooklyn

While Brooklyn and Manhattan are separated only by the East River, Brooklyn’s vibe is a world away from the big City. It’s immigrant enclaves have inspired vibrancy and diversity, while millennials and families who call it home have found solace in its open green spaces, farmer’s markets and welcoming spirit. Come play with the cool kids.

EAT

Celestine Mediterranean restaurant on the water in Dumbo.

Doughnut Plant Tasty donuts in Prospect Heights.

Emily Beloved restaurant serving amazing wood-fired pizzas and burgers in Clinton Hill.

Grimaldi’s This landmark serves some of the best pizza in the Five Boroughs. Stand in line at the Brooklyn Bridge location for a slice or two.

Smorgasburg One of the largest, open-air food markets in the country.

Vinegar Hill House Rustic, cozy restaurant in Dumbo with a back garden. Great for weekend brunch.

Westville Locally sourced ingredients. Locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but we like the Dumbo spot.

DRINK

Brooklyn Brewery Book a Saturday or Sunday tour the morning of.

Brooklyn Roasting Company This roastery has a few locations with great ambiance.

Donna Chic cocktail bar in Williamsburg with romantic candle-lit tables and DJs.

Insa Korean barbecue and karaoke bar with private rooms in Gowanus.

Radegast Hall & Biergarten Large, indoor beer hall in Williamsburg with live music and an Oktoberfest vibe.

Spritzenhaus33 Relaxed beer hall in Greenpoint with communal tables, outdoor seating and good food.

PLAY

Brighton Beach Nicknamed Little Odessa and Little Russia for its enclave of Russian speaking immigrants. Eastern Europe Jews began immigrating here in the 1930’s, followed by a wave of Soviet Union immigrants in the 1970’s. Today Brighton is one of our favorite areas in Brooklyn and much less crowded in the summer than its northern cousin Rockaway Beach, and southern sister Coney Island. Head here for a relaxing day at the beach followed by Russian beers, perogies and borscht soup.

Brooklyn Flea A sprawling market known for its myriad of treasures. Open on Saturdays and Sundays in varying indoor and outdoor locations.

Brooklyn Bridge While touristy, the walk across this 19th century landmark should not to be missed.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Excellent views of Manhattan’s FiDi. In the summer movies are shown against the city backdrop on the lawn. Book in advance.

Norbu Contemporary jewellery boutique on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg,

Prospect Park Peaceful haven with a zoo, botanical garden, and winding paths.

STAY

Our favorite neighborhoods to stay in are Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope. If you want to be close to the City with nightlife and restaurants, choose Williamsburg, though you will pay a pretty penny. If money isn’t an issue, check out The Hoxton, which was recommended by a friend.

Otherwise, Brooklyn Heights and Prospect Park might give you more bang for your AirBnb buck.

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