What to Do During Your First Time in Paris

Paris, the City of Light, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It’s known for its beautiful architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture. For first-time visitors to Paris, it can be overwhelming to decide what to see and do in this amazing city. Even on your first trip, you won’t be able to do everything that you want. That being said, don’t be afraid to do the touristy things. Their iconic and popular for a reason.

First time in Paris must-dos

Eiffel Tower in sepia. One of the most popular things to do during a first time in Paris.


  • The Eiffel Tower: This iconic landmark is a must-see for any first-time visitor to Paris. You can take the elevator to the top for a breathtaking view of the city. Be sure to book your reservation in advance especially if you are looking to go all the way to the top. Even a month in advance the tickets to the top were sold out. We ended up buying tickets to the Summit through another route but it was much more expensive.
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral: This beautiful gothic cathedral is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris. Although it was damaged in a fire in 2019, you can still admire its stunning architecture from the outside.
  • Sainte-Chapelle: This beautiful chapel is known for its stunning stained glass windows, which are some of the most beautiful in the world.
  • Arc du Triomphe: This historic monument is known for its iconic arch design and commemoration of French military victories. It stands at the western end of the Champs-Élysées and serves as a symbol of national pride and heritage. Although it is in the middle of a pretty busy roundabout, the views from the top rival the Eiffel Tower.
  • Statue de la Liberté Paris: If you didn’t know, now you do – yes, Paris has a Statue of Liberty. In fact, the French are the ones that gave us ours! You can see this historic landmark just outside of the limits of the Eiffel Tower on a little island in the Seine. Although you can walk up to it, you can also get a great view of it during a lunch or dinner cruise.
Beautiful altar in the Cathédrale Saint Louis des Invalides


  • The Louvre: The Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums and home to some of the most famous works of art, including the Mona Lisa. It’s a must-visit for art lovers and history buffs alike. But just keep in mind that this is an extremely large museum! It make take a couple of days to see it all.
  • Hôtel des Invalides: No it’s not a hotel. It’s a historic complex known for its stunning architecture and rich military history. It houses several museums, including the famous Musee de l’Armee.
  • Cathédrale Saint Louis des Invalides: This is a continuation of the Hotel des Invalides. The inside is breathtaking beautiful and serves as the final resting place of several French military leaders, including Napoleon Bonaparte. (pictured above)
  • Château de Versailles: Located about 30 minutes outside of the Paris city center, this palace is an iconic symbol of absolute monarchy and opulence. Its grand architecture, expansive gardens, and rich history showcase the splendor and extravagance of the French monarchy.
Jardin du Palais Royal is not to be missed during your first time in Paris. Especially in spring when the cherry blossoms bloom!


  • Luxembourg Gardens: This beautiful park is a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic. You can also rent a sailboat to float around the pond.
  • Jardin du Palais Royal: If you weren’t looking for this garden, odds are you won’t find it. The street that it’s on is known for all of its designer shopping. And if you end up going in March, you can even watch as the cherry blossoms start to bloom! It’s a fantastic spot for pictures. (pictured above)
  • Jardin des Tuileries: This garden is located just outside of the Louvre. It is a very popular spot for tourists and locals. There are plenty of ponds, statues, and chairs to enjoy a perfect day in Paris. You’ll often see families having picnics, people running in groups, and others just taking the day in with a good book or great conversations.

Places to wander

  • Montmartre: This historic neighborhood is known for its bohemian atmosphere, quaint streets, and stunning views of the city. Climb up the steps to the top of the hill to see the beautiful Sacré-Cœur Basilica. It’s also where a few iconic scenes from Emily in Paris have taken place!
  • Île Saint-Louis: This island is located in the middle of the Seine River and is a great place to wander around and discover hidden gems like small shops, restaurants, and galleries.
  • The Catacombs of Paris: This underground network of tunnels and chambers is home to the remains of over six million people. It’s a unique and somewhat eerie experience that you won’t forget.
  • Canal Saint-Martin: This beautiful canal is a popular spot for picnics and boat rides. You can also explore the trendy boutiques and cafes that line the canal.
  • Rue Cler: This charming street is known for its open-air markets, bakeries, and cafes. It’s a great place to pick up some authentic French delicacies like cheese, wine, and pastries.

While you definitely don’t want to miss the top tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre-Dame, there are also some hidden gems that will make your first time in Paris unforgettable.

There are so many beautiful café storefronts to look out for during your first time in Paris. Le Recrutement is one of the most picturesque.

Hidden gems in Paris

Like any incredible destination, there are also some unique experiences that not everyone knows about. Here are a few hidden gems to add to your itinerary:

  • Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature: This quirky museum is dedicated to hunting and nature and features some unusual exhibits, including a collection of taxidermy animals and antique hunting equipment.
  • The Père Lachaise Cemetery: This famous cemetery is the final resting place of many famous people, including Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Édith Piaf.
  • The Paris Sewer Museum: This unusual museum takes you underground to explore the city’s sewer system, which played a major role in the city’s history.
  • The Musée des Arts et Métiers: This museum is dedicated to science and technology and features exhibits on everything from airplanes to clocks to robots.
  • The Palais de Tokyo: This contemporary art museum features cutting-edge exhibitions and installations. It’s a great place to discover new and emerging artists.
Try as many street side cafes during your first time in Paris

Best recommendations for your first time in Paris

  1. Buy a museum pass. There are so many museums that are door to door to one another. And if you prefer wandering versus a solidified itinerary, this will help you. While you walk around, if you stumble upon a museum, with your pass you can just walk right in. No need to worry about paying extra!
  2. Walk to your destinations. Many things are right next to each other. Plus traffic in Paris can get a little crazy. If your destination is within a three mile radius, I suggest walking. During my honeymoon, my husband and I walked a total of 53 miles during our one week there!
  3. Bring comfy shoes. I get it – Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world. But fashion and walking everywhere do not mix. Wear comfortable shoes so that you can stay out all day enjoying the city.
  4. Use the metro. This is another great and cheap option to get around the city. When coming back from Disneyland Paris, my husband and I took the 45 minute metro ride back in to the city. For both of us to ride was 10 euros.
  5. Try as many street-side cafes as possible. The food in Paris is incredible. My husband and I ate like royalty and our bill was nowhere near how much it would have cost in the US. Not to mention that my husband had the best burger of his life at one of these cafes. I had a bite and I can confirm – it was the best burger ever.
Woman enjoying the Palace of Versailles gardens in spring

Final thoughts for a first time in Paris

These are just a few suggestions for things to do during your first time in Paris. With so much to see and do, you’ll want to plan your trip carefully to make the most of your time in this amazing city. I will say for our honeymoon though, we only planned to go to one place per day, and then the rest of the day was spent just finding things to do and see while we were out and about. Whether you stick to the top tourist attractions or venture off the beaten path to discover some hidden gems, your first-time experience in Paris is sure to be unforgettable!

Essential gear for your first hiking expedition

Get Outdoors: Essential Gear for Your First Hiking Expedition

So you have decided to start hiking – kudos! Hiking is a fun activity to share with friends and see new, beautiful places around the world or even in your hometown. Now the next step is to learn the essential gear to take on your first hike and all hikes. Although hiking through nature is fun and exhilarating, precautions must be taken. Not only for your safety but also for your personal health.

Below are four essentials for starting off on your first hiking journey!

Hydration and electrolytes are essential gear for your first hike

1. Constant hydration

You knew this one was going to be a part of your must have gear. During any outdoor activity, but especially while hiking, hydration is of utmost importance. Staying properly hydrated on the trail ensures that you have enough energy and are safe from dehydration related injuries or illnesses.

Water bottles are often the easiest solution for day hikes. If you’re like me and you like fun water, colorful, or even fandom-related durable water bottles, consider Corkcicle. However for backcountry travel with limited access to sources, a filter system such as a pump or gravity filter may be preferable. consider electrolyte supplements like Liquid IV for your hike. Not only are they delicious, but they help to replenish lost minerals in your system. Liquid IV also helps to hydrate you faster with less liquid. So those awkward potty breaks on your hike won’t be as frequent. Use the code DONNAGAILBLOG to get 20% off on Liquid IV. On average, aim for approximately three to four liters of water per person per day depending on factors like altitude, temperature and terrain. In my opinion, electrolytes should be considered highly in your essential gear for your first hike.

Remembering to pack food as well as water is also key; simple snacks like nuts and fruits will provide energy without adding extra weight to your pack. Planning ahead can ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day so you can focus on enjoying your hiking without fear of fatigue or dehydration.

2. Proper clothing is essential gear for your first hike

Your clothing should not be as simple as a tank top and shorts. Clothing is definitely part of your essential gear for your first hike. Proper attire will keep you protected from the elements while remaining lightweight and breathable. Select materials such as quick-drying synthetic or natural wool material (merino wool if you prefer it) that allow airflow. And remember to layer up in case temperatures dip during the evening. If you can, bring along waterproof jackets just in case it rains! With regards to cold weather, thermal clothes are must have hiking gear and have also proven to be extremely effective in regulating your body heat. Be sure to pack the warmest thermal socks next time you’re tackling the wild in freezing temperatures!

Close up of hiking shoes as a women walks across a river

And quite possibly the most important part of your clothing – your shoes. Make sure that you bring appropriate footwear for your hike as well. Hiking boots may be more suitable for steep terrain or longer treks. However, trail running shoes could work better for flatter routes with less elevation changes. Whichever shoe type you decide upon, ensure they fit properly and have been broken in before beginning the trail. Nothing would be worse than doing your first hike and coming back with huge blisters.

3. Clear navigation strategy

Lucky for most hiking trails, they are clearly marked and easy to navigate. However, it can still be intimidating for a beginner. Finding your way can be tricky in unfamiliar terrain. To ensure safe travels, it’s vital that you know how to read maps and use compasses accurately. Additionally a GPS unit may assist with this but should never be relied upon solely.

Before leaving on any hike, be sure to research the area so you can plan effectively. Learn which trails are available, where water sources are, and what terrain comprises the hike. Having this knowledge can help anticipate potential obstacles or navigation changes that may come your way during a trek. In case something unexpected comes up or technology fails you, bring along a paper map and compass just in case something unexpected comes up along your journey. Lastly, you can also talk to other hikers or local rangers as they may provide additional information about the trail and potential hazards.

A bobcat on a hiking trail

4. Inform others and stay alert

Safety is first! And so is everything else in this list honestly. Ensure your family or friends know your route, how long you’ll be gone, and any potential changes in plans. In case of minor injuries or emergencies, it may be beneficial to carry a first aid kit with you as well as some form of signal device that allows you to call for help quickly if needed. Likewise keep an eye out on local weather forecasts prior to starting your hike. You want to be prepared for sudden shifts in conditions that might require quick action.

Stay alert. Keep an eye out for wildlife and give them ample space should you come across one. Also pay close attention for signs of potential danger like unstable terrain or changing weather, so as to take steps and prevent these scenarios where necessary.

With this must have hiking gear taken care of, your hiking expedition should be an enjoyable and successful one!

What’s unique to Disneyland Paris?

Disneyland Paris, also known as Euro Disney, opened its gates on April 12, 1992. It’s the only Disney Park in Europe. And like every Disney park, it has several unique features that set it apart from other parks around the world. Because no two Disney parks are the same. This ensures that every new park that you visit is memorable and offers something new to do!

From exclusive rides to special events, here are some things that are unique to Disneyland Paris.

Things you can only do at Disneyland Paris

Crush’s Coaster

This is a thrilling rollercoaster ride that takes you on an underwater adventure inspired by the movie “Finding Nemo”. You’ll spin, dip, and swirl through a colorful coral reef and encounter characters like Crush the turtle and Bruce the shark. The ride is located in the Walt Disney Studios Park and is a must-do for thrill-seekers. Unfortunately it was under refurbishment during my recent trip there in mid-March. Because I can only experience this at Disneyland Paris, I will have to come back and experience it!

La Tanière du Dragon

This attraction is unique to Disneyland Paris and takes you on a journey through a dragon’s lair. You’ll wind your way through dark corridors and encounter the dragon himself, who breathes smoke and sparks. The attraction is located in Sleeping Beauty Castle and is a fun and slightly spooky experience. The entrance is located to the left side of the front of the castle.

Mickey and the Magician

This show is exclusive to Disneyland Paris and features Mickey Mouse as a magician’s apprentice. The show combines music, magic, and Disney characters to create a dazzling performance. You’ll see characters like Cinderella, Elsa, and Genie as they help Mickey master his magic.

Disneyland Paris' front entrance architecture

Disneyland Paris’ architecture

The architecture at Disneyland Paris is unique and combines elements of classic Disney style with European design. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, for example, is inspired by the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany and features intricate details and stunning stained glass windows. But don’t get this castle confused with Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim. Every park has a castle unique to the property. There are no two castles that are the same! The park also has areas that are inspired by different European countries, like Main Street USA, which is modeled after a quaint French town.

Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain

Don’t expect this to be like the Hyperspace Mountain at Disneyland Anaheim. Because Hyperspace in Anaheim is just an overlay to the Space Mountain ride. But Hyperspace Mountain at Disneyland Paris is a thrilling space-themed roller coaster ride that takes guests on an immersive journey through the Star Wars universe. The ride has over-the-shoulder restraints so you know it’s intense! The ride’s track is designed to simulate a high-speed chase through space, complete with corkscrew twists, a 360 flip, and drops. With its combination of thrilling speed and immersive theming, Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain is a must-ride attraction for Star Wars fans and thrill-seekers alike.

Phantom Manor

Phantom Manor is a popular attraction at Disneyland Paris that is essentially this park’s version of the Haunted Mansion. “What makes Haunted Mansion so special across Disney Parks is that each one is located in a different land.” (10 Fun Facts in Celebration of Disneyland Paris’ 30th Anniversary) This version is set in the Old West and features a range of eerie scenes and special effects. Guests board a “doom buggy” and travel through the manor, encountering ghostly apparitions, creaking doors, and a haunted ballroom. The attraction is known for its intricate details and immersive theming, making it a must-visit for fans of spooky experiences and Disney parks alike. And honestly, it was kind of on the creepier side!

The Curious Labyrinth is something you can only do at Disneyland Paris

The Curious Labyrinth

The Curious Labyrinth is a popular attraction at Disneyland Paris, located in the Fantasyland section of the park. It is based on the story of Alice in Wonderland and invites guests to navigate a maze of hedges to reach the center of the labyrinth, where they can meet the Queen of Hearts. The labyrinth is filled with interactive features such as a talking doorknob, a maze of mirrors, and a Cheshire Cat who disappears and reappears. The Curious Labyrinth offers a fun and challenging experience for guests of all ages, and is a must-see attraction for fans of the Alice in Wonderland story. And at the top of this little castle pictured above close to the end of the maze is a slide! This is truly something that you can only do at Disneyland Paris.

Disney Illuminations

This nighttime spectacular is a breathtaking display of fireworks, projections, and music. The show takes place in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and features scenes from classic Disney movies like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King. The show is a perfect way to end a day at Disneyland Paris.

Avengers Assemble: Flight Force

Flight Force is an exhilarating attraction located in the Avengers Campus at Disneyland Paris. The ride takes guests on a thrilling journey where they become recruits of the Avengers, boarding a high-tech aircraft and soaring through the skies. Flight Force is a must-see attraction for Marvel fans and theme park enthusiasts alike. It was an incredible ride and truly for those who love roller coasters.

Avengers Campus merch that is unique to Disneyland Paris

Exclusive merchandise

Disneyland Paris has its own unique merchandise that you can’t find at any other Disney Park. Loungefly backpacks or wallets and Spirit Jerseys, for example, are popular items that have exclusive renditions just for Disneyland Paris. The park also has special merchandise for holidays like Halloween and Christmas, which are worth checking out. However, I did notice during my recent visit that Disneyland Paris really caters more to kids merchandise. The only place that I found truly great adult merchandise was Avengers Campus. And if you want to know what Loungefly’s to bring to Disneyland Paris to match all of these amazing, exclusive attractions, check out “The Best Loungefly’s for Disneyland Paris.”

707 Street French inspired Loungefly bags

In conclusion, Disneyland Paris has several unique features that make it a must-visit for Disney fans. From exclusive rides and shows to special merchandise and architecture, there’s something for everyone at this magical park. So next time you’re in Europe, be sure to add Disneyland Paris to your itinerary and experience the magic for yourself! And be sure to check out all the things you can do during your first visit to Paris so that you are completely ready for adventure.

Cruising to Paradise: A Perfect Day at CocoCay – Map 2023

Nestled in the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas, lies the perfect getaway for sun-seekers and thrill-seekers alike. A place where you can do dare-devilish waterslides or go work on your tan lines. This tropical paradise, known as Perfect Day at CocoCay, has been reimagined and enhanced for 2023, offering an even more unforgettable experience than before. So let’s dive in to this Perfect Day at CocoCay review!

All about Perfect Day CocoCay

CocoCay is Royal Caribbean’s private island. From exhilarating waterslides to serene lagoons, this island oasis has something for everyone. Known for its Thrill Waterpark, as you can imagine there are many families in attendance. Also this private port can have two ships docked at once. So you shouldn’t be shocked to see another Royal Caribbean cruise there the same day you are!

Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas docked at Perfect Day at CocoCay

Not to fret though. Even though two ships can undock here, there is still plenty of space. There are lounging chairs aplenty and the small island is big enough that it doesn’t seem like two full cruises are on one plot of land.

How’s the food at CocoCay?

The food is perfect for what you’re craving after a long day of sun and fun. And yes, it’s free! The great thing about cruises is that the food is included with your cruise reservation. Unless of course you go to one of their premium restaurants. And Royal Caribbean has, in my opinion, the BEST quality of food.

Part of the menu included: hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, a chicken sandwich, cookies, funnel cake, and more! The service is also super quick and easy. I had the chicken sandwich and it was delicious. My husband got a hot dog and we were both a little bummed that it was more on the luke-warm side. Still delicious though.

Perfect Day at CocoCay map 2023
Perfect Day at CocoCay map 2023

Breaking down the CocoCay Map 2023

There are three options for enjoying CocoCay:

  • The “free” part of it, which is essentially just getting off of the ship and wandering around on your own
  • The Thrill Waterpark ticket, which includes exploring on your own and as well as entrance into the waterpark
  • Or upgrading your perfect day by going to a secluded beach at Coco Beach Club or enjoying other paid experiences, cabanas, and daybeds.

Free Access

Access to CocoCay is included with your cruise itinerary. All you have to do is get off of the ship and enjoy your surroundings! Included in this access is Harbor Beach, Oasis Lagoon, and Chill Island. But this does not mean you are allowed to access all the amenities. You may encounter daybeds or gazebos on the water. Unless you reserve these ahead of time, you will not be able to use them. Prices will vary. The lounge chairs however are free to use and they are everywhere!

For anyone traveling with small kids, if your little ones are not quite big enough for the Thrill Waterpark, CocoCay does have some water playgrounds that are a part of the “free access”. They can be found right outside of Thrill Waterpark on numbers 6 and 7 on the CocoCay map 2023 above.

Thrill Waterpark

The Thrill Waterpark is about $130 per person and it is recommended to buy your tickets ahead of time. Personally after experiencing Thrill Waterpark, I think $130 is a little overpriced. This isn’t to say that their slides weren’t awesome because they definitely were. But it just seems steep. Also since the majority of their slides are pretty “thrill” worthy, if you are scared of heights or intense waterslides, Thrill Waterpark won’t be worth it.

Pro tip: Looking for some hype, but don’t want to pay for Thrill Waterpark? Oasis Lagoon is going to be your spot. They have a swim-up bar that has a DJ booth right next to it. As an adult, this was the place to be to get great drinks and enjoy a very energetic atmosphere! Also because it was very loud and also right next to the swim-up bar, there weren’t many kids around.

Coco Beach Club and private cabanas

Coco Beach Club is all about relaxation. If you want to take some time for yourself away from others, this would be the way to go. However during our trip, we actually talked to some people that purchased this beach access and had a gazebo on the water. They said that unless you really don’t want to be bothered or be around people, it isn’t worth it. There is so much to do on this island oasis. I wouldn’t blame them if they had a little FOMO from hearing how much fun other people were having!

Perfect Day at CocoCay. View from Harbor Beach area.
The view from Harbor Beach. Listed #14 on the CocoCay map 2023.

Final Perfect Day at CocoCay Review

Overall, I am impressed with CocoCay. However, I did picture it bigger. The commercials really make it seem like Thrill Waterpark was the majority of the property. But I do like that there is a lot to do. There are also plenty of areas to explore and relax. Whether you’re an adult who loves waterparks or you have a family with kids, it is a great spot! And even if you would rather spend some time in a quieter area, they have that too. Just look at the CocoCay map 2023 and you can see just how much fun is waiting for you on your next adventure!

Lastly, if you vacation with Royal Caribbean frequently and are also a fan of MGM Resorts, be sure to get your Royal Caribbean tier match with MGM Rewards!

What to wear in Paris in March

What to Wear in Paris in March

Paris in March is a wonderful time to visit as the weather starts to warm up. The city also begins to come alive after the colder winter months! But if you’ve never been to Paris, you may be surprised with how cold it still can be during this month. To start, the key to nailing Parisian style is to choose high-quality, timeless pieces and wear them with confidence. Parisians are known for their effortless, nonchalant approach to fashion. Aim for a polished, put-together look that appears natural and easy. It’s still a bit chilly too, so it’s important to pack layers to stay comfortable.

Here are some tips on what to wear in Paris in March:

Woman in Paris. Outfit for Paris in March

1. A warm coat

March can be quite chilly in Paris, with average highs around 50°F (10°C) and lows around 40°F (5°C). It’s important to pack a warm coat to protect you from the cold. Bring a coat that is water-resistant or waterproof, as March can be a rainy month in Paris. Try looking for a water-resistant puffer coat as they are very popular! And just in case your trip falls on a rather rainy time, I highly recommend getting yourself a clear, bubble umbrella. That way you can still see the beautiful city without your umbrella getting in the way of the view.

2. Layering pieces

While the days may be warmer, the evenings can still be quite cool. That being said, it’s a good idea to pack layers to stay comfortable. Lightweight sweaters, long-sleeved tops, and scarves can all be easily layered under your coat to provide extra warmth. But remember – you’re in Paris! Keep it stylish. And Nordstrom Rack is great for closet staple layering essentials.

3. Comfortable shoes

Paris is a city that is made for walking, so it’s important to pack comfortable shoes. Especially if you’re in Paris in March, you’ll want to walk as much as possible to see the cherry blossoms bloom. Opt for a pair of boots with good traction to navigate the wet streets, or consider packing a pair of waterproof shoes if you’re concerned about getting caught in the rain. Better yet, get some trending platform shoes or boots! They’ll keep your feet dry from potential rain because you’ll stay above the puddles. And not to mention that they go with a lot of different outfits.

4. Lightweight accessories

As the weather starts to warm up, you may want to pack some lightweight accessories. This includes a sunhat, sunglasses, and/or a lightweight scarf. These can all be easily carried in your bag and pulled out as needed. But if you want to go extra Parisian, grab a beret! It’s a cliche, but hey, c’est la vie. It’s just something you have to wear in Paris.

5. A versatile bag

A bag that can be worn over the shoulder or carried by hand is a practical choice for exploring Paris. Look for a bag with a long strap that can be worn across the body, leaving your hands free to take photos or carry maps. More so, look for a bag that stays in front of your body like a fanny pack or a sling backpack. Paris has a lot of pickpocketers. Ensuring that your bag stays in your line of sight will help keep your belongings, well… yours.

For the Vera Bradley sling backpack, use the code DONNAF10 for 10% off!

Overall, the key to dressing for Paris in March is to pack versatile layers. Remember to choose pieces that can be easily mixed and matched. With a little bit of planning, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy all that the city has to offer, no matter what the weather has in store!