When In … Leiden, Netherlands

Welcome to Leiden, Netherlands! My name is Katie Sweeney, and I graduated from Clemson in 2000 with a marketing degree. Now, I’m a freelance advertising copywriter living in Leiden. A university town and the birthplace of Rembrandt, Leiden is located near the coast between Amsterdam and The Hague. Let me show you around:

 

1 | Pieterskerk
President George H.W. Bush visited Leiden in 1989 and gave a speech at the Pieterskerk, a stunning church that served as the Pilgrims’ original house of worship. Visit Leiden’s quaint and quirky Leiden American Pilgrim Museum (pictured) to learn more about the Dutch connection to the Pilgrims who arrived in America on the Mayflower.

 

2 | The Burcht
Just around the corner from the Pilgrim museum is another important remnant of Leiden history. Look for the iron gates with Leiden’s lion and keys symbol. Straight ahead and up the stairs, you’ll discover the remains of an 11th-century castle.

 

3 | Naturalis Biodiversity Center
This stunning natural history museum reopened in 2019 and is a short walk from the train station. Its nine floors are divided into different themes, covering the varied eras and stages of life on Earth. The dinosaur exhibit never gets old, and my daughter loves the activity rooms, where she can look through microscopes and identify bones.

 

4 | Outdoor Market
Wednesday and Saturday are outdoor market days in Leiden. Walk along De Rijn canal and pick out fresh meats, cheeses, fish, fruits, veggies and souvenirs from the vendors. During tulip season, I can grab two bunches (10 purple, 10 orange) for 5€.

 

5 | Canal Tour
If it’s sunny, the Dutch will be outdoors soaking up vitamin D. Whether you rent a boat on your own or take a guided tour, seeing Leiden from the water is a great experience.

 

Interested in sharing the best eats and secret spots of your own city with fellow Tigers? Email shutto@clemson.edu for more information.

When in Tokyo

Justin Prescott '09

Welcome to Tokyo! I’m Justin Prescott, class of 2009. I majored in economics and minored in Japanese at Clemson. I work at EY Japan in strategy consulting and lead Clemson’s (still unofficial) alumni group in Japan. I’ve spent my professional career in Japan, Indonesia and Singapore, but I’ve spent the most time in Tokyo, so let me show you around.

1| Tokyo Station

Tokyo Station

Located on the eastern side of the city, Tokyo Station is a popular attraction as it was recently renovated with its iconic brick façade preserved. The surrounding area has a number of buildings famous for their mixture of new and old architecture, like the Kitte building. For food and drink, I recommend the ninth floor of the Shin-Maru building, which has a terrace overlooking Tokyo Station.

PRO TIP: Compared to Shibuya and west Tokyo, the crowd around here is more mature, making this area great for date night.

2| The Imperial Palace

Just a short walk away from Tokyo Station, the Imperial Palace grounds are beautiful — perfect for a jog to cure your jet lag. Although the central area of the palace is only accessible on rare occasions, there is still plenty to see, especially if you’re able to visit when the cherry trees are in bloom.

3| Kichijoji/Inokashira Park

Kichijoji_Credit Alex Queen

Photo by Alex Queen

Located a bit outside of the city, Kichijoji is a neighborhood escape from the busy central Tokyo atmosphere. Inokashira Park is home to the Ghibli Museum, a must for Studio Ghibli fans, and Kichijoji has good shopping options with both high brands and quirky secondhand clothiers.

4| Shibuya

One of Tokyo’s most famous areas and the site of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersection (the Shibuya Scramble), Shibuya is a great place to visit, especially for the younger crowd looking for solid night life, food that you probably should only eat while you’re still young and all-night karaoke.

PRO TIP: Check out Dogenzaka for a picture with the iconic Hachiko statue.

5| Ebisu

Ebisu

Although Ebisu is just one stop from Shibuya by train, the vibe is totally different. Home to the headquarters of Sapporo and Ebisu beer, Ebisu claims some great upscale restaurants, including M House for western-style brunch, Day & Night Café — one of the only places in Tokyo to get a real pulled pork barbecue sandwich, y’all — and the famous Afuri Ramen shop.

PRO TIP: For a more daring culinary experience, go to Niku-Zushi, which serves sushi using nearly raw beef.

When in Los Angeles

Valerie Joy WilsonWelcome to the home of the stars! My name is Valerie Joy Wilson, and I am a travel journalist, photographer, host and influencer, as well as the founder of TrustedTravelGirl.com — a guide to globetrotting. As a 2013 Clemson grad, I love to show off my class ring on all of my travels around the world. When I’m not traveling, I’m enjoying everything Los Angeles has to offer. Here’s a curated list of some of my favorite spots around the city:

 

1 BEVERLY HILLS With some of the best eats in L.A., Beverly Hills has more to offer than just Rodeo Drive. For lunch, Wally’s has outdoor seating, a phenomenal wine menu and incredible charcuterie boards. For cocktails, the brand-new Beverly Hills Waldorf Astoria is the place to be with a cocktail menu crafted by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and a rooftop bar boasting panoramic views of Beverly Hills.

 

West Hollywood

West Hollywood

2 WEST HOLLYWOOD Here is where you’re more likely to bump into some of the stars; it’s not unusual for me to see A-listers while grocery shopping or heading out to lunch. For breakfast, the Griddle is known for having large stacks of pancakes and “secret French toast,” which used to require a secret password for ordering. Now, anyone can order it (no password required), and it’s a fan favorite, so don’t miss it.

3 THAI TOWN Few cities around the world have Thai food that can rival Thailand, but Los Angeles does. In an unassuming strip mall in the middle of Thai Town is Jitlada, one of the best Thai restaurants anywhere in the world.

PRO TIP: Owner Mama Jazz cooks Southern Thai food, which means the dishes are spicy. If you can’t handle the heat, be sure to let your server know.

 

Lake Hollywood Park

Lake Hollywood Park

4 HOLLYWOOD One of the best places to catch a glimpse of the iconic Hollywood sign is Lake Hollywood Park. It’s the perfect place to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the sunny SoCal weather.

 

5 MALIBU My favorite spot in Malibu is Paradise Cove, famously featured on the covers of Beach Boys albums. Just above the cove, you can catch a view of the “million-dollar trailer park,” where trailer homes have sold for up to $3.75 million. Stars including Matthew McConaughey and Pamela Anderson have been residents of the park.

Malibu

Malibu

When in Washington, D.C.

Charlotte Richardson

Charlotte Richardson ’16 enjoying a chilly day at Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.

Welcome to the nation’s capital! My name is Charlotte Richardson, class of 2016, and I live in Washington, D.C., where I work as a global events planner for the United Nations Foundation. While D.C. is home to some of the most famous monuments and museums, here are my top five recommendations, as a local, for restaurants to try and neighborhoods to explore while touring the district:

1 Georgetown

GeorgetownThis classic D.C. neighborhood is filled with history and old brick houses. I like to spend my Sunday mornings at the Georgetown flea market, then wind my way down Wisconsin Avenue. My favorite lunch spot is Oki Bowl @ Georgetown. A tiny hole-in-the-wall, this local ramen house is equal parts colorful, eclectic and delicious. Other restaurants to try: Martin’s Tavern, Farmers Fishers Bakers and Chaia.

2 DowntownDowntown

One of my favorite restaurants to frequent is GCDC — D.C.’s only gourmet grilled cheese bar. One block away from the White House and a quick walk from the National Mall, this restaurant serves a vast array of unique grilled cheese sandwiches and is complete with outdoor seating. I recommend the Young American or the French Onion.

14th Street 1_Richardson3 14th Street/U Street

The sidewalks are lined with endless restaurants, bars, mom and pop shops, concert venues and apartments, but this neighborhood is also home to one of D.C.’s most iconic venues: the 9:30 Club. The list of big-time bands who have graced the stage there is endless, so be sure to see a show for yourself. PRO TIP: Make a reservation at Le Diplomate in advance of your visit; this is D.C.’s most popular French restaurant and one of my favorite brunch locations.

4 Blagden AlleyBlagden Alley

One of D.C.’s hidden gems, Blagden is an alleyway in the Shaw neighborhood that looks like it’s out of a movie set. Brick pavement and brick buildings give way to dive bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and open-air patios. Favorite spots: Calico has a great custom-built wooden patio, Lost & Found if you like a vintage dive bar, and The Dabney for one of the best meals in the city.

5 Dupont

DupontIf you’re in Dupont Circle and looking for a place to unwind and grab a cup of coffee, look no further than Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café. Part bookstore, part café, Kramerbooks is my favorite place to browse for new books and escape from the hustle of the city. PRO TIP: Evenings and weekends, they have custom literary cocktails. I recommend The Adventures of Sherbet Holmes.

 

 

U.S. Capitol Building

The U.S. Capitol Building in the heart of Washington, D.C.