Gent (Ghent)
Gravensteen Castle - Visit a classic medieval castle, built in the 12th century, Gravensteen, Castle of the Counts of Flanders. Having been restored, the castle is in great shape, with crenelated towers and turrets. A friend who lived in Belgium with her daughters says the castle "has the best torture chamber," complete with thumbscrews and rack.
Canals - Gent has miles of canals to explore. Walk along the canals or take a boat excursion. Canal boat rides leave from Graslei or Korenlei, close to Gravensteen. Rides last about 40 min.
Belfort - Climb up the medieval belfry, over 300ft high, and topped with a dramatic copper dragon. From the observation level, for a great view of the city below. Inside the tower, there's a bell museum, and you'll see the huge carillon bells. The Belfort is open March - Nov. daily (closed around lunch time).
Horse carriage ride - A great way to see the city is to take a horse carriage ride. Pick up carriages at the Cloth Hall (Lakenhalle) Sint Baafsplein, the square in front of St. Bavo's Cathedral (St. Baafskathedraal). Half hour carriage ride, April - October.
Blaameersen Park (Zuiderlaan 5 - This is a large recreation park. The lake has a sandy beach, with four different playgrounds with a large quantity of play equipment, "each one better than the last one as you walk along the path around the lake," writes a friend. Swimming for kids in summer or fall, and plenty of places to get snacks and food. It's also a fun expedition to get there, a 20 min. bus ride from the city center.
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