Choosing a Hotel | How to Find the Perfect Place to Stay when you Travel | Photo of the Mother Goose Hotel in Utrecht

When I am planning a trip, I spend the majority of my time looking for the perfect place to stay. I truly believe that where you stay can make or break your trip.

A lot of you have asked about how I go about choosing a hotel when we travel. And since I am currently planning our next trip, I thought I’d share my process.

Just to warn you, I probably spend way more time than most on choosing a hotel. (I will often go back and forth for weeks before making a final decision.) But it is very important to us. And often, it is the thing that determines how much we enjoy our trip. When we stay in a unique, beautiful place, our overall impression of the trip is a lot more positive than if we had settled for something less than stellar.

So this is the process I use to find a place to stay when we travel. Whether you are looking for a hotel, apartment, villa, bed & breakfast, inn or other accommodation, these steps will help you find the best place for you.


Choosing the best play kitchen can be hard! This is a guide to the very best play kitchens for 2016 - for toddlers, preschoolers and kids. Plus pros and cons of each ones. This will be a lifesaver come Christmas!

This post was originally written a few years ago, when I was going through the process of choosing the best play kitchen for our toddler. And to date, this is the most popular post on my site!

So I have given this post a complete makeover for 2016, to add in a few new play kitchens that have come out in the last year. I have also updated my opinions on a few of the play kitchens, after getting more personal hands-on experience with them.

A play kitchen is one of the best toy investments you can make. They encourage creativity, role play, language development and more. And it will be played with daily for years and years.

But choosing the best play kitchen can be quite complicated. I know, because I went through the same process for my own child a few years ago.

There were a few important requirements I was looking for in a play kitchen:

  • High quality and made of wood. Play kitchens get a lot of use, and I knew we would want it around for the long haul.
  • Eco-friendly and non-toxic. This is super important with all kids toys, but especially those that will be played with on a daily basis.
  • Have a small footprint since we move a lot and never know how large our living space will be.
  • Look nice enough to have it out in the living room or kitchen. (i.e. no large plastic eye sores!)

There are so many amazing play kitchens out there, for every budget and style! Below are the best of the best play kitchens, along with some pros and cons of each.


A Quick Weekend Travel Guide to Graz, Austria - don't miss this cute city just a few hours from Vienna

Graz may be the second largest city in Austria, but it is often overlooked for smaller Austrian towns such as Salzburg, Innsbruck, or Hallstatt.

But what Graz lacks in popularity, it makes up for in charm. The historic center of Graz (which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site) is filled with winding cobblestone streets, tall pastel-colored buildings, and cute squares. It has an undeniably hip vibe, with tons of art shops, design stores and trendy restaurants. Plus, in 2003, Graz was awarded the European Capital of Culture and in 2011, it was designated the UNESCO City of Design.

If you are looking for a fun and easy weekend trip from Vienna, don’t overlook Graz! There is plenty to do to fill an entire weekend, and you will be pleasantly surprised by how family friendly it is.


Sievering - 19th District of Vienna

{photo via Instagram}

Happy Friday!

I hope you are all having a wonderful start to fall. We are enjoying a bit of an Indian summer here in Vienna. Crisp mornings leading to warm afternoons make the perfect weather for fall explorations.

This weekend is the Wien Weinwandertag, one of my favorite weekends in Vienna and #11 on my Vienna Bucket List. I can’t wait to hike through the vineyards in this beautiful sunshine with good friends! And end at our favorite heuriger of course.

But before we start our wine hike, I will be sending out the first ever weekly digest. Don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list below!

And now for a few of my favorite things lately…


The Ultimate Vienna Bucket List - 50 unique, off the beaten path things to do in Vienna, Austria

It is no secret that I absolutely adore Vienna. I love pretty much everything about living here, and would stay forever if I could.

Unfortunately, our days in this magical city are numbered. To make the most of our last year here, I put together the Ultimate Vienna Bucket List. Filled with everything I want to do before we leave. Many of these things I have done before, but want to do again before we leave. And some have been on my bucket list for years and I still haven’t done them. But the clock is ticking now, so I’m starting to pencil things in to the calendar!

Inspired by my friend Carly from Austrian Adaptation, who shared her own Vienna List last week, I decided to share my list with you. Hopefully it will help keep me accountable. Or give you some new ideas of what to do in this beautiful city. And maybe even inspire you to make a bucket list for your own city.

Whether you are a Vienna native, an expat like me, or just visiting Vienna for a few days, you are sure to find plenty to do in Vienna on this list!

My Ultimate Vienna Bucket List

  1. Spend a summer afternoon at the Prater. Ride the Riesenrad and the Praterturm, then eat Stelze (pork knuckle) at the Schweizerhaus.
  2. Take the 71 tram to Zentralfriedhof in the fall. After visiting the graves of the famous musicians, walk through the funeral museum.
  3. Find the best Würstelstand in Vienna.
  4. Visit the Kunst Haus Wien, then walk a few blocks to take photos of the Hundertwasserhaus and the Hundertwasser Village.
  5. Take a cooking class to learn how to make schnitzel and apple strudel.
  6. Run the Vienna City Marathon in April, the Austrian Frauenlauf in May, and the Vienna Night Run in September.
  7. Bike the entire length of the Donauinsel, then stop and have a picnic along the Danube (and a swim if it is warm enough).
  8. Go out to a fancy dinner, then watch an opera or a ballet at the Wiener Staatsoper.
  9. Learn about the famous Viennese composers at The House of Music, and visit some of their former apartments.
  10. Spend a Saturday Morning at Naschmarkt, then hunt for treasures at the adjacent fleamarket.
  11. Hike through the vineyards on the Wien Weinwandertag, ending with a traditional Austrian meal at a heuriger.
  12. Walk through the Albertina, then have a picnic in the Burggarten.
  13. Spend a rainy afternoon in a traditional Viennese Coffeehouse, reading a good book.
  14. Relax in the sunshine in the courtyard of the Museumsquartier.
  15. Learn about the father of psychoanalysis at the Sigmund Freud Museum, and hike to the Freud monument at Bellevuehöhe in the 19th district.
  16. Spend the day with the kids at Schönbrunn, visiting the KindermuseumTiergarten Schönbrunn and the Maze and Labyrinth.
  17. Watch the sunrise (or sunset) from the roof of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
  18. Visit as many Christmas Markets as possible, testing the glühwein (or kinderpunsch) at each one. (Read more in my guide to the Christmas Markets in Vienna)
  19. Waltz along the Graben on New Years Eve, and watch the fireworks over the city.
  20. Watch the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Day Concert on a large screen in front of City Hall.
  21. Ice Skate at the Wiener Eistraum in front of the Rathaus.
  22. Escape the cold, dreary winter days with brunch at the Palmenhaus Cafe.
  23. Walk through Stadtpark in the snow.
  24. Attend a traditional Viennese Ball, and waltz the night away.
  25. Go sledding in the Vienna Woods, then warm up with hearty Austrian food at the cozy Wirtshaus Steirerstöckl.
  26. Walk through the 1st district, finding all of the hidden courtyards.
  27. Discover Spittelberg, the charming little hidden gem in the middle of the city.
  28. Rent a paddleboat for an afternoon on the Altedonau.
  29. Learn everything there is to know about Empress Sisi, then hike to the Sisi Chapel in the 19th district.
  30. View the exhibits at the Westlicht Gallery & shop the Leica Flea Market.
  31. Act like a tourist and take a ride on a Fiaker in the 1st district.
  32. Pay homage to Gustav Klimt with a Klimt Walk through Vienna.
  33. Walk around the Ringstrasse and admire some of Vienna’s most beautiful buildings.
  34. Have dinner in the vineyards with a big group of friends.
  35. Dance, drink beer at eat pretzels in Dirndls and Liederhosen at Wiener Wiesn.
  36. Experience The Spanish Riding School and the Vienna Boys’ Choir performance, A Tribute to Vienna.
  37. Sit in the sand and have cocktails at a strandbar along the Donaukanal.
  38. Swim at the most beautiful pools in Vienna: Krapfenwaldbad (outdoor) and Amalienbad (indoor).
  39. Take a self guided tour around Vienna with the book Only in Vienna.
  40. Watch a film at the Vienna Film Festival.
  41. Hike through the Wienerwald to Leopoldsberg, via Kahlenberg, and enjoy the views over Vienna from both locations.
  42. Watch The Third Man film at the Burg Kino and go on the Third Man walking tour. (Or the tour of the sewers if you can handle enclosed spaces!)
  43. Take a ride on the sommerrodeln at Hohe Wand Wiese.
  44. Rent a Citybike and use a Bike Citizens Map to explore Vienna on two wheels.
  45. Act like a hipster and hang out at the trendy shops and cafes in the 6th and 7th districts.
  46. Hike through the Lanzier Tiergarten and look for wild animals. Stop to check out Sisi’s “Castle of Dreams”, Hermes Villa
  47. Discover all of the hidden heurigen in the 19th district, and have a glass of Grüner Vetliner at each one. (For research, of course.)
  48. Hang out, shop, and eat in the colorful and diverse Yppenplatz.
  49. Enjoy drinks at the best rooftop bars in town, including the Ritz Carlton, Dachboden, Sky Bar, Onyx Bar and even the aquarium.
  50. Take a photowalk through each of Vienna’s 23 districts.

Want to follow along as I check things off of my list? I am sharing real-time on Instagram Stories (I posted some pictures of the Vienna Night Run last night, go check them out before they disappear!) and will likely have blog posts about some of these activities over the coming months.

What is on your Vienna bucket list? Is there anything else I should add to mine?

Don’t miss these other posts on Vienna:

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