8 Things to do in Amsterdam

8 Things to do in Amsterdam

The best thing about Europe is that once you’re there, you’re just a short train ride away from another bucket-list destination. We took a trip out to Paris and while we were there, we caught a two hour train ride to Amsterdam. We stayed for four nights. Here are the things we did.


#1) The Albert Cuyp Market

This market started trade in 1904, it is now one of the largest open air markets in Europe and is open Monday through Saturday. With over 300 stalls along the street, it sells everything from traditional herring fish, to cosmetics, to flowers. Rain or shine, this market is in business. As you can see in the photos below, it was a cloudy, sprinkling day, and there was a sizable crowd to wade through.

#2) Rent Bicycles

Amsterdam is the bicycle capital of the world. It’s no joke, you really have to watch where you step otherwise you will get hit by the zooming cyclists. As a bunch of tourists riding around, I will say, the people of Amsterdam were very polite and nice to us; even when we cut people off by accident or caused traffic jams… in any other city, I feel like we would have been cussed out.

There are so many places and options for renting a bike. We walked into a shop the day of, without any reservations and went through a quick introduction and we were off! I was so impressed by all the outfits the women of Amsterdam were sporting while riding on their bikes – dresses, heels, clogs… it inspired me to wear some of my more feminine articles of clothing on my commute to work in San Francisco when I got back home.

#3) Walk through the Rijksmuseum Bicycle Passage

Biking through this passage is of course what it was intended for, but then you would miss all the action. The Rijksmuseum Bicycle Passage is more like a tube that runs through a museum. Classical music is blasting and street buskers add to the mix. The architecture that surrounds you as you walk through is amazing, and it makes you feel that Amsterdam just knows what they’re doing, from combining the new with the old, that’s what makes Amsterdam such a trippy city – I kept describing it as Disneyland without the kids.

#4) Visit the Avocado Show

For all you avocado enthusiasts out there, you will want to check this place out. Everything on the menu has avocados in it. Just around the corner is The Avocado Show Boutique where you can find all sorts of Avocado souvenirs. They pride themselves on their transparent supply chain of avocados, supporting family owned businesses in Chile, Mexico, Peru and South America. The food was beyond picture worthy, but I was too hungry to snap a photo. Be aware, the wait is long, and there are no reservations.

#5) Venture into Amsterdam’s Famous Coffee Shops

As a California kid, I was eager to check out what Amsterdam had to offer in their marijuana scene. THIS is what we are missing out here on the west coast, a place to socialize while enjoying a spliff. Take some to go, sit down inside and order some delicious food, this coffee shop scene was a lot of fun to experience. It definitely leveled out the crowds as people in the Red Light District would come out of the bars smashed and mix with the super stoned crowd while walking down the tiny streets, Amsterdam, again, you have got it ALLπŸ‘FIGUREDπŸ‘ OUTπŸ‘.

#6) Hang out in Vondel Park

Vondelpark is the largest, and most famous park in Amsterdam. People can horseback ride along the paths, stroll, read, do yoga, picnic… they even have hidden play structures and mazes that made us question – is this for the adults or the children? …Given the amount of legal psychedelics in this town.

Long days of lazing on the grass is what this atmosphere is all about.

#7) Get on the Hop-on-hop-off Canal Boat

We booked tickets the morning of when we decided to get in the canal and experience it from a boat. We looked at a few private tour options but didn’t want to break the bank.

After poking around the web, we found Stromma Hop on Hop Off Boat. It only cost twenty five euro for a day pass and we were able to take it all over, all day long. It was great. You can even bring food and drinks onto the boat, we brought a bottle of champagne, why not.

#8) Visit the Anne Frank House

This was one of the more sobering moments of our trip. I don’t think I need to justify much of why you should go visit this museum. It was a very chilling experience to physically be in this space of which I heard and learned so much about as a student. You can actually look into the attic and annex of where her family was hiding all those years. It’s such a juxtaposition as well with the vibrant city life going on outside, which goes to say that, anything can happen — just like it did to Anne Frank and her family, and many other victims of the Nazis.


Amsterdam was such a great city to visit as it provided a modern contrast to ancient, romantic Paris. We were only there for a few days, so we couldn’t fit everything in. Below are some more places we visited, and others we didn’t have time for. The Heineken Museum requires reservations ahead of time, which we didn’t make so we had to skip that. At the Van Gough Museum, we were able to buy tickets the day of, but it was kind of hectic with the crowds so I recommend purchasing those ahead of time as well.

Other Honorable Mentions:

5 Hidden Gems in San Francisco’s Tenderloin

5 Hidden Gems in San Francisco’s Tenderloin

The Tenderloin is a great place. Some people may not agree; you have to really understand it’s troubles to appreciate the problems that are being shoved in your face. The Tenderloin is home to the LGBTQ movement, which is commonly mistaken as having it’s start in the Castro District; it has a “legacy of artists and activists” and is home to the most dense population of school aged children in San Francisco, among many other things.

Photo by Me

The Tenderloin has fought it’s way during the sweeping age of gentrification as the nonprofits and unions that have built up this part of town fight for their space and rights in the richest city. In this part of town, you have some of the richest people walking next to and stepping over some of the poorest, and most distressed individuals. The Tenderloin is also covered in some of the coolest murals next to those in the Mission district, and is the forefront of political marches as crowds of passionate people march from Civic Center to the Embarcaderro; in the Tenderloin, you see it all.

Photo my Me πŸ™‚

Having lived in the Tenderloin for two years, I loved that I was in the hub of all the weekend festivities: it was just a short walk or bike ride away from meeting up with my friends. On a Friday night, my place was always the pre-game or after party spot as we stumbled from the bars to keep the party going. Not only did living in the Tenderloin allow me to have a more vibrant nightlife, but it’s also introduced me to some of the best cuisines. Here are 5 of my favorite places to eat and spend a Friday (or Saturday) night in the Tenderloin.

#1. Yemen Kitchen

Photo Source: Yelp.com/Yemen Kitchen

This is the ultimate hole-in-the-wall you will ever find. When people ask what it’s all about, I say that it’s a mix of Indian and Mexican food. Their fava beans hit the spot like refried beans with flavors as bold as Indian food, but without the commitment. What I mean by that is, you’re either in the mood for Indian food, or you’re not… there is no in between, it’s a commitment to the flavor of curry or masala.

Their bread is a cross between a freshly made flour tortilla and a nice hot doughy naan. According to Yelp, they have some of the best-roasted lamb in town. I love that the owner has old and new soccer team photos of himself and what looks like family members. From what I’ve gathered by the news articles posted on the wall, they started out in Brooklyn, then came out to SF, which is why they keep the Brooklyn soccer sign out front, so look out for that, otherwise, you would totally miss this gem.

#2. The Beer Basement

Photo Source: Hoodline.com
Photo Source: Goldstar Events

This is the best kind of spot to have around the corner from your house. Great beer on tap, and a speak-easy- like- basement that hosts comedy nights Thursday through Saturday every week. When I lived around the corner, this made it easy on nights where I wanted to be social but didn’t want to go far. I would just plop down in the Beer Basement, drink one of their delicious ciders, and laugh to some of San Francisco’s up and coming comedians.

Tickets run about 15$ but you can get a discount code on funcheapsf.com.

#3. The Black Cat

Photo Source: SF Chronicle, Carlos Avila Gonzalez

Speaking of speak-easies, this is a legit one. The signage out front is super discreet and only ones in the know, know. When you walk in, it’s super classy, and trails of live jazz linger up to the front door from the downstairs basement, making it all the more intriguing. There is a cover to dine and sit downstairs so check out their calendar and ticket prices online before you go in, sometimes it fills up fast. This would be the ultimate date night if you need any tricks up your sleeve. I’ll just go ahead and say this now… you’re welcome.

#4. The Tenderloin Museum

Photo Source: Brand New

If you absolutely detest walking through the Tenderloin, please do me a favor and just visit the museum one time. Take a Lyft if you really must, I get it, wading through people loitering and getting slapped in the face with the sensory overload isn’t for the faint of heart… This museum puts in perspective the shine behind the grime. It will help you see San Francisco and the Tenderloin in a new light, and you will learn a lot! You will learn about the famous people who stayed and worked in the tenderloin – Mohammed Ali, The Grateful Dead, to name a few; and the famous movements and riots that took place here such as the Compton Cafeteria Riot that was a pivotal moment in time for the LGBTQ community.

#5) The Phoenix Hotel

Photo Source: MakemyTrip
Photo Source: Chambers SF

Last, but not the least, is the Phoenix Hotel and Chambers Restaurant. The outside is super sketchy, which makes the contrast of walking into this rock and roll-themed restaurant all the more surprising. Once inside, you feel like your in LA with views of the hotel pool lined with palm trees and brightly colored decor. The inside of the restaurant is dark and mysterious with erotic photos and nostalgic records covering the walls.

The Phoenix hosts summer parties with DJ’s, drinks and the whole bit definitely worth checking out as the Tenderloin is probably the only place in San Francisco that actually has a “summer”.

You can check out their pool party schedule here.


Photo by Me πŸ™‚

The Tenderloin is a special place. It’s not too far off from Union Square, allowing visitors an experience that has more grit, and quite frankly, more interesting options. Don’t let San Francisco’s problems scare you away, most people just want to be acknowledged, a gesture to remind them that they aren’t invisible.

If you live in San Francisco, I hope this gave you some good recommendations, and if you visit the city, I hope you stop by at one of these places. Other honorable mentions include:

A Place to Hang When It's Nice Out | Embarcadero, SF

A Place to Hang When It's Nice Out | Embarcadero, SF

Not a lot of people know about the bocce ball courts at the Embarcaderro! This is a favorite spot of ours when we want to enjoy the nice weather and don’t necessarily want to spend too much money to be a part of the city buzz. We picked up a set at a garage sale and it has served to be one of the best purchases we ever made. It’s located right across the Ferry Building @ 10 Market St. 94105 , bocce balls not included.

Other notable bocce ball courts with balls included are:

Javabeach Cafe

The Hidden Vine

STEM kitchen and Garden