We truly believe that Paris is best explored by wandering. Or as the French call it, flâner. And while we could spent a lifetime strolling around Paris, we thought we would save you some time and compiled a list of the top hidden spots in Paris!
Le Palais Royal
Despite its proximity to the Louvre, this spot gets passed up by many tourists. This garden oasis is a reprieve from the bustle just outside its walls in the heart of Paris. And its black and white columns make for a fun Instagram shot! People watch in the gardens or from atop a column and soak in some sunshine.
Courtyard of the National Archives
While the National Archives are a tourist destination, the gardens are worth exploring in themselves. For the quietest time, visit on a Tuesday when the archives are closed, but the grounds are still open. Walk through the main gates and to the right for more gardens and impressive building exterior views.
Passages of Paris
We came across several of these covered arcades, which are easy to walk right by without noticing. These arcades often have shops and restaurants housed on the interior. The Galerie Vero-Dodat is one of 25 remaining passageways built in the 19th century. The passage’s black and white diamond-shaped marble paving give it a beautiful effect, and the parts of the ceiling that are not glass are decorated with beautiful engravings. We found this arcade to be especially enchanting in the evening. And the Christian Louboutin store housed here is perfect for window shopping. After stopping by Galerie Vero-Dodat, catch happy hour in one of the small bars nearby.
Les Arènes de Lutèce
Did you know that Paris has a Roman Colosseum of its very own? Long forgotten, this remnant from the Gallo-Roman era resurfaced in the 1800s during construction in the area. Situated in the Latin Quarter, this amphitheater could once seat 15,000 spectators for gladiator fights. The Arènes de Lutèce is a fun stop for history buffs, and a walk around the perimeter past beautiful gardens is enjoyable for all.
Neighborhood courtyard parks
Paris has some incredible parks tucked into its neighborhoods that only locals know about. Square Georges Cain is a little park situated in the trendy Marais district, and provides an oasis of greenery to people who have been lucky enough to stumble upon it. This park is also popular among neighborhood regulars who would like to keep it a secret. Square Georges Cain has two pieces of artwork: ‘L’Aurore’, a bronze statue of a nude woman in the middle of a rose bed by the 17th-century sculptor Laurent Magnier, and ‘Le Rossignol Electrique’ by Eric Samakh (1990), a small electronic bird that starts singing whenever the wind blows.
Église St. Gervais & Rue des Barres
Rue des Barres is a stone’s throw from Île de la Cité but will transport you to a quaint village setting. Chairs line the cobblestone street in the warmer months and are ideal for people watching. Tucked into this street is Église St. Gervais. This church is overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, Notre Dame de Paris, but is equally beautiful. The church was built between 1494 and 1657 and its facade was the first example of French baroque style in Paris.
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New York City – A dazzling skyline, compact boroughs, streets packed with interesting shops, and unique people. In all its multifaceted angles, there are a thousand ways to “do” a trip to NYC. We decided to tackle the City in 48 hours and experience as much of it as we could in one short weekend. And boy did we pack in a lot! We took an urban wandering approach to experiencing NYC in the fall and let the structure of the city guide our daily journeys à pied.
Evening: Nightlife. We arrived into the city in the evening and headed directly to dinner in the Upper East Side at Candle 79 for an unbelievable fine-dining experience and vegan, organic plates. Stephanie was especially excited to dine here because loves the chef’s cookbook! Afterwards, our good friend currently living in New York joined up to show us a night out on the town. We were ambitious and traversed half of the city from East Village to Chinatown to Brooklyn.
Morning:Weekend brunching is part of the NYC lifestyle. We highly recommend a casual brunch at Jack’s Wife Freda in West Village. This charming yet understated American-Mediterranean bistro is super popular with locals and tourists alike. We ordered their Eggs Benny, Madame Freda, and cappuccinos with cute “coffee art” to go with.
Afternoon: Wander West Village past local outdoor markets, small neighborhood parks, and high end boutiques. Charming brick winding streets lined with old brick buildings give the area a lovely laid back feel. Seasonal veggies and homemade goodies were displayed in stalls at an outdoor neighborhood market. We also hopped into a few shops to browse their fall/winter collections, including Intermix, Maje, and Sandro (some of Stephanie’s favorites).
Afternoon:Explore Chelsea Market. This indoor urban space includes a diverse food market and local arts scene. It’s also one of New York’s hot spots for unique antiques, collectibles, and vintage clothing. Chelsea Market was a fun pit stop and great entry point to access the High Line.
Afternoon:Walk the High Line. The High Line is an elevated freight line turned walkway that runs from Ganesvoort St. up the West Side. The walkway offers pedestrians an urban oasis and a different perspective of the city. Expect crowds in the afternoon, especially on a sunny day, and great people watching. You can hop on/off the High Line at several access points, but we walked the path in its entirety.
Afternoon:Times Square and shopping. If you didn’t take a picture in Times Square, did you even really go to New York? This tourist packed mecca is one for the books, and while we don’t love most overcrowded tourist attractions, we felt like this was still a NYC bucket list must. The Square is full of New York’s famed hustle and bustle energy, and the massive flashing billboards are also dazzling by night.
Afternoon: In NYC, you’ll walk. A lot. What was meant to be a rather short cab ride from Times Square back to our place turned into an adventure in itself. As hard as we tried one late afternoon, we couldn’t hail a taxi (they were all full!) and decided to take the city blocks by foot. We walked all the way back from Times Square to the Upper East Side and on the way passed interesting architecture and notable New York landmarks including the New York Public Library, Bryant Park, and designer shops on Park Ave.
Evening: Sip a cocktail at an upscale rooftop bar. The Press Lounge came highly acclaimed by local friends. To get there, take the elevator up to the 16th floor at the Ink48 Hotel. You’ll be rewarded by panoramic views of the city and the Hudson River. We sipped on cocktails poolside and caught the sun setting over the city and stayed for a beautiful full moon rise.
Evening: Dine in Hell’s Kitchen. With a lot of restaurant variety in the area, it can be hard to choose where to stop.We popped into a Thai restaurant called Obao, which had amazing and affordable plates plus a hip club-like ambiance. Take a stroll around Hell’s Kitchen past late night restaurants and bars up to Times Square to experience the neon-lit block by night. On the way out of of the tourist-packed Square, we discovered a reverse happy hour at Bar Catalina (675 9th Ave A) and stayed for bubbly rose and impromptu dancing with the bar staff. Go for great happy hour/reverse happy hour options and a fun cozy vibe!
Morning:Local coffee spot. Strolled around Upper East Side to Birch Coffee, a local coffee chain, to get our morning dose of caffeine. Not only is Birch Coffee delicious, but the company also purchases coffee beans from sustainable farms around the world with the aim of “making the coffee industry a fair and sustainable one.” Oh, and the pastries! You know we had to try the gourmet Texas-sized donuts. We split a dulce de leche donut and our taste buds got sent to heaven.
Afternoon: Pop into the Plaza Hotel & stroll Central Park. The Plaza Hotel dominates the square at the lower end of Central Park. Inside the revolving glass doors, you’ll be rewarded with giant chandeliers and the definition of New York luxury. From there, walk into the park past ponds, bridges, and benches. You may also discover some tucke treasures like the Alice in Wonderland statue and the Belvedere Castle. On your way out of the Park, walk down the grand avenues on the West and East peripheries with adorned facades that will definitely inspire major home design envy.
Evening: On the road again. Hail a taxi or ride sharing service directly from your phone to catch a ride back to airport. While Uber and Lyft are good ride sharing options, many New Yorkers use Gett and Via. Vacation Vagabond tip: First time Gett users will get $20 off their first ride by entering the code GTTEGOT. First time Via users will get $10 off their first ride with referral code stephanie6j7b. Until next time, New York!
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We’ve visited Yellowstone dozens of times and have spent enough time in this park to consider ourselves professional Yellowstone tourists. We’ve compiled a list of the top reasons why you should plan your trip to Yellowstone!
Only place in the world where can you see so many thermal features
Yellowstone contains half the world’s geothermal features and over 300 geysers. Grand Prismatic Spring pumps out over 4,000 gallons of water every minute, making it the largest hot springs in North America. Old Faithful is the most famous of the Yellowstone geysers thanks to its “faithful” timing; this geyser erupts regularly every 60-110 minute. Three of my personal favorite thermal features are Black Pool, Morning Glory Pool, and Castle Geyser. Our favorite geyser basins are West Thumb Basin and the Old Faithful area.
Vagabond tip: Download the National Park Service’s geyser app for up to date eruption predictions to time your routes around geysers accordingly. This was invaluable during our last visit to the park!
To see native animals in their natural habitats
Lots of open space which is also the perfect environment for other wildlife including elk, deer, moose, pronghorn, wolves, and more. The Yellowstone bison herd is the oldest and largest public bison herd in the U.S. Bison roam freely througout the park, and you may see at least a couple from the side of the road. Visitors seek out Lamar and Hayden Valley in particular for these areas’ large number of animal sightings. Wolves were only recently reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995 after being absent from the park for seven decades and are a big attraction.
Vagabond tip: Always be alert driving through the park, as you never know what animals you may sight from your vehicle. And never approach wildlife, even if they look peaceful–they can be unpredictable and may charge without warning.
Camp under the stars
Have you ever seen the Milky Way with your own naked eyes? Grab a sleeping bag, pitch a tent, and star gaze in Yellowstone. The park offers several campsites, or if you’re an adventurous sort, take your gear backpacking to get away from the crowds. We camped out along a scenic river in between tall pine trees, but it was the view of the stars at night that took our breath away.
Visit the only supervolcano on land in the world
There are only 30 active super volcanoes in the world, and the Yellowstone Caldera is the only one in North America, and is also the only one located on land. Did you know that the entire area of the park is located on top of this gigantic volcano that stretches about 34 by 45 miles (55 by 72 km)? So cool!
Experience a part of history
Signed into law by Congress in 1872, Yellowstone was the first national park in U.S. history. Yellowstone’s history begins much earlier than that though, with Native American tribes in the area for centuries who were followed by pioneers traveling west. Many iconic greats in American history have left a footprint on the park since it was established. President Roosevelt laid down the first cornerstone of the Roosevelt arch located at the northern entrance in Gardiner, which is inscribed with a quote from the legislation which created Yellowstone.
Vagabond tip: It’s fun to stroll some of the tourist shops along the Gardiner main street with an ice cream cone of some of the best we’ve ever had!
Take a hike
Explore the back country of some of America’s most beautiful land. We recommend breaking up full days of driving with at least one hike to stretch and go exploring off the park’s paved roads. Some interesting hikes are Uncle Tom’s Trail, which is short but steep and descends 500 feet toward the base of the Lower Falls, and Mystic Falls, which is a moderate 2.5 mile hike and gives you an overlook of Biscuit Basin.
Vagabond tip: Safety first! Always carry bear spray and make noise throughout hike. Park rangers also suggest that hikers travel in groups of three or more. (P.S. Check out our favorite NPS Rangers, Christina Warburg’s Instagram account @christinaadelephoto for some of the most beautiful photos of U.S. national parks and interesting anecdotes.
Inspiring landscape and wildlife sure to spark wonderment at all of the sheer natural beauty. Even the drives are stunning with roads skirting cliffs with canyons and rivers coursing below, waterfalls at bridge outlooks, and always scanning for a glimpse of wildlife. The park attracts artists from all over the world seeking inspiration. It’s no surprise, then, that one of the most iconic views of the yellow stone of the canyon is aptly named Artist Point.
Old Faithful Inn
Experience one of the most interesting American architectural feats for yourself. Old Faithful is constructed of lodge pole pine and looks like a giant wooden cabin. It was built in a unique style in its conception and inspired an entirely new architecture genre, National Park Service rustic. No two windows are alike, with the architect intending the building to reflect the non-parallel symmetry of nature. Another interesting feature of the Inn is the Crows Nest. Grab a spot on the outdoor deck facing Old Faithful geyser for the geyser’s nearly hourly entertainment. In the evenings, grab a drink and settle in for live music in evenings.
Soak in a natural hot tub
Ditch the spa for a dip in one of Mother Nature’s hot tubs. Most of the park’s thermal areas are way too hot to touch, but a few places are safe for a dip. We were thrilled to visit Boiling River just north of Mammoth Hot Springs, where hot springs enter Gardner River to create an enthralling experience. Imagine one side of your body icy cold from the mountain river, and the other half steeping in steaming water from hot springs. Winter visitors can also visit Boiling River, since the northern entrance from Gardiner into the park is open through the park’s colder months.
Great trout fishing
Trout Fishermen claim Yellowstone to have some of the best fishing in the U.S. Test your skills and fling a cast into Yellowstone Lake or Madison River for either fly or lure fishing. Yellowstone waters are home to sizable native cutthroat, brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout.
Make lasting memories
Reconnect with yourself, friends, and family in nature. Yellowstone is the perfect place to make lasting, timeless memories. Stephanie’s family has been visiting Yellowstone for decades, and we’re already planning our next trip to Yellowstone together!
*All pictures are our own unless stated otherwise.