When you visit San Diego, it’s highly likely the weather will be gorgeous. However, the winter months can be notorious for rainy days, so here are a few activities to keep you busy and dry in the event that it does rain during your trip.
Ice Skate. This is a fun and family-oriented activity which will keep everyone out of the rain. There’s an ice skating rink located inside the UTC shopping mall food court. Visit the Ice Town website for public skating hours and prices. Admission starts at $13 for adults and $5 for young children. Perfect for families or those who want a little exercise on a rainy day.
Enjoy a drink at the Top of the Hyatt. While the Top of the Hyatt (a bar located at the top of the Hyatt Hotel tower in downtown) is typically reserved for drop-dead gorgeous sunsets, it can also be a great location to watch the clouds roll in and the rain fall on San Diego. Ideal for couples, small groups of friends, 21+.
Balboa Park Museums. Grab your umbrella, find a close parking spot, and make a dash for the nearest Balboa Park Museum. Forget walking through the park on a rainy day, so be sure to enjoy the many museums located in the park. There’s something for everyone: Natural History Museum, Air & Space Museum, Hall of Champions Sports Museum, and the Museum of Photographic Arts among many others. Visit the Balboa Park website for a full listing, operating hours, and admission prices. Ideal for people of all ages and those seeking inspiration or an educational activity.
Birch Aquarium. Although this aquarium does have a few open areas, there is enough indoor undersea life to keep the little ones out of the rain and occupied for a couple of hours. Visit the website for more information. Perfect for families with small children.
Independent Films. A couple of movie theaters in San Diego offer a great selection of foreign films. La Paloma in Encinitas, Ken Cinemas in Kensington, Hillcrest Cinemas close to downtown, and La Jolla Village Cinemas. Great for people who don’t want to see another ‘ordinary’ Hollywood flick.
For more ideas on money-saving family activities in San Diego as well as a list of the latest bargains and events, visit San Diego Bargain Mama online when planning your trip.
Do you love visiting gorgeous, exotic cities but strongly dislike intense crowds of tourists?
Being shuffled along with hoards of other sightseers isn’t much fun. Luckily, there is both a way out of the crowds and a better way to experience the real city you’ve been longing to visit.
Here are 3 tips to escape the crowds in any city:
1. Step away from the main streets.
You’d be surprised at just how few tourists would dare venture a few blocks off the beaten path.
Let’s face it: they’re scared (OMG, what language are they speaking?), have limited time (specifically the cruise ship crowd), or simply don’t really care about seeing the real deal (Hello Señor Frogs!).
When heading off the beaten path, however, it’s important to exercise caution and know your surroundings.
2. Read the local paper and avoid out-of-date guidebooks.
The locals typically don’t venture where the tourists roam. Trust me, I’ve lived in both Florida and California. No, we don’t hang out at theme parks all the time. And yes, I have met people who ask.
Whenever you’re in a city and want to avoid the tourist circuit, open up a local paper and see what events are happening. Many foreign cities with a large ex-pat population have English-language newspapers.
These newspapers will give you up-to-date information, unlike many guidebooks, which become quickly outdated.
3. Ask a local & think beyond the city.
If you want to escape the crowds, enlist the help of locals. Make friends with a local (waiter, salesperson, hotel receptionist, or random person) who can tell you where they go.
Each city I’ve been to has any number of activities to do within easy reach: Nairobi, Kenya has Nairobi National Park; Queenstown, New Zealand has picture- perfect Glenorchy; New York City has vineyards on Long Island; Bangkok, Thailand has the floating market in Damnoen Saduak. So, be sure to check what your destination city has to offer.
It’s important to keep an open mind when traveling, otherwise you could be missing out on some amazing places!
Before I begin, let me tell you the name of this Dutch town, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, does begin with an apostrophe.
But good news: it is commonly known as Den Bosch. What a relief!
And like Dutch people say, it’s also a very gezellig (cozy) town.
Its origin goes back to the 12 Century, when Henry I, Duke of Brabant founded the town.
And today it has a population of about 150,000 people, making it very easy to walk around and explore.
So what to do when visiting Den Bosch?
Den Bosch offers its visitors a great wealth of history and culture.
To begin, you can admire one of the most beautiful cathedrals in all of Holland. The majestic Saint Jan Cathedral was built 800 years ago in a Gothic-Brabantine style.
Inside the cathedral you can admire a huge pipe organ, beautiful detailed sculptures all over the building, and colorful stained glass.
For most visitors, the main attraction in Den Bosch is the river boat tour on the serene waters of the Binnendieze, the historic river that goes through the city.
The river has its origins in Belgium, where it is called Dommel, a stream of water that forms part of the short Dieze River. It changes names as soon as it crosses the walls of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
During this relaxing ride, Den Bosch reveals its medieval beauty.
Its versatile channels also show how important they were for the trade of many goods such as beer, wool, and other products.
At points, you will even go through low tunnels, right below the main buildings of the town! And if you think this is claustrophobic, I won’t even tell you about the bat nests you can see inside. Oops!
Don’t forget to explore the colorful open markets in the main square and check all the action.
You can find clothes, flowers, shoes, produce, and all types of food. I love the fresh herring sandwiches with lots of onions, Dutch style of course. Yum!
At nights, there are many great bars and restaurants for all tastes. Some even offer live music.
You’ll see Dutch people love to go out a lot and have fun.
Interesting Facts About Den Bosch:
Perhaps the most famous person in Den Bosch is renaissance artist Hieronymus Bosch.
Contrary to other Flemish styles, his paintings were dark and frequently used evil figures to incite fear and to symbolize the sins of men (see photo).
King Philip II of Spain acquired many of Bosch’s paintings and therefore, many of his works are in display the Prado Museum in Madrid.
The town’s professional soccer team is FC Den Bosch, the first club of Dutch international player Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
Den Bosch also had a sad chapter in its recent history. During World War II the Nazis operated Kamp Vught, a concentration camp near Den Bosch were 30,000 prisoners (12,000 of them Jewish) were placed.
Many are surprised to learn that it can actually be cheaper to rent a fully furnished apartment or house rather than stay in a hotel when you’re on vacation.
This is especially true when you’re abroad in a place like Europe.
Why vacation rentals are cheaper
When we traveled to Italy for nearly a month last year, we spent only one night in a hotel room (early morning flight).
We found renting a house to be more cost effective for several reasons:
- In general, for the cost of 3-4 nights in a hotel we could rent an apartment in cities like Florence and Venice for an entire week.
- The apartments came with fully equipped kitchens, meaning we could shop at the local markets and eat our meals at home, saving lots of money.
- Check before you book, but sometimes the houses come with washing machines. This saves a trip to the laundromat… because we’d rather be sightseeing.
Why vacation rentals are more pleasant
- Being woken up by an eager maid knocking on your door at 7:30am isn’t my idea of an ideal trip. I prefer to keep my own schedule. Sometimes, I just want to cook and eat breakfast in my pajamas, even on vacation.
- Renting apartments or houses offers a feeling of space. There’s typically a couch, dining room table, and sometimes a small deck or backyard. Unless you book a suite, many hotels don’t offer these luxuries.
- When we bring home that bottle of wine from an amazing winery, rest assured there’s a corkscrew and wine glasses in the kitchen!
- It’s living like a local.
Here are a few things to consider before booking a vacation rental
Apartment location: Is it centrally located, easily accessible (are there stairs, is it on a hill)?
- Guest reviews: What do people have to say about their experience?
- Understand what’s included and excluded: Is there Internet? Does it cost extra? Are there cleaning fees? Do you pay for the electricity you use? Is there a place to park your car if necessary?
- Payment: There’s usually a credit card payment due in order to reserve the house. The remainder is typically due upon arrival in cash.
- Do your research: We have found that most apartment rentals require anywhere from a 3-7 night minimum, but this changes from city to city, owner to owner.
Want to know more? Do a Google search for vacation apartment rentals within the city or region you’ll be visiting. Within seconds, you’ll discover a number of websites with listings. Start looking at prices, location, and the amount of time you’ll be there.
You can then research hotels and compare the cost and lifestyle options.
Reader Question: Have you ever booked a vacation rental? How did it compare to a hotel?
Are you looking for a dry white wine that offers great value, easily pairs with just about anything, and satisfies a multitude of palates?
Fabulous tropical fruit aromas with a honeysuckle teaser.
This 2009 Chenin Blanc is a tropical paradise… Citrus, pineapple, and an entire tropical island jam-packed into a pleasant bottle of wine.
Just kidding about the tropical island part… but these flavors do resonate throughout the palate along with reminders of freshly picked apricots and even a slightly nutty trace. There’s an interesting zip at the end, a bit of spice perhaps.
If you despise oaked and sweet wines, you’ll enjoy this wine, the antithesis of everything you find wrong in the wine world.
A fabulous Thai curry, spices, and dare I suggest… some types of Mexican food (¡fish tacos!).
But the perfect pairing with this 2009 Dry Chenin Blanc from Dry Creek Vineyard? Fresh oysters.
$12. Do you love me yet?
Wait, there’s more! It comes with a screw cap.
A votre santé.