I'll be coming from Amsterdam, and plan to spend a few nights in Bruges and Ghent in early September (perhaps 2 or 3 nights in each). From there, I'll head to Brussels from approximately Sept. 6-11. I'm wondering if you have suggestions for day trips from Brussels (Besides Antwerp), or perhaps even a longer trip for two or three nights, before going to the US for a visit. (Brussels has a good airfare back to the US, so thinking of leaving from there, but again, open to suggestions.)
Luxembourg isn't too far by train, and rather fun.
Mechelen has good bells and a history of lace.
Better day trips are to home base in Brugge or Ghent and do day trips from there.
I posted this https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/belgium/less-obvious-ghent-day-trips
link to this forum a few years ago and got some good responses. Any number of these should help you.
It doesn't get a lot of love on here but I liked Antwerp.
I love Antwerp. It has much more to do than Gent or Bruges. Alas, the biggest of its many museums is closed for renovation. But the MAS Museum is not a bad #2. #3 maybe in Meyer Van Den Bergh. Superb Art Deco/Nouveau townhouse district (exteriors only) called Cogels Osy Lei.
Also consider Lier, which can be combined for a busy day with Turnhout. Turnhout is maybe obscure, but has a superb little Beguinhof with a nice museum (check closing day.) It also has a world-famous Playing Card museum. (Note that before note pads existed, worn-out playing cards were notepaper ... ) It also has nice Art Deco town hall that was OPEN TO THE PUBLIC last time I was there. The Cathedral has really fine wood carving, on the choir as well as around the pulpit. Good restaurants. Nice castle now a financial services company. Pretty, prosperous town that gives a feel of a happy European Welfare State.
Leuven is worth a whole day, even though it had a major fire a hundred or so years ago. The town museum has a great art collection, and the interior of the town hall (SUNDAY ONLY, once a Sunday, by tour, tickets at the TI.) Beguinhof is as nice as Bruges', if smaller, and a long way from downtown. Leuven can coordinate with BRU, which is very nearby. The university formerly known as The CATHOLIC University of Leuven has a lovely (exterior only??) library, which is famous for having been destroyed and rebuilt at least twice. Like Gent, this is a university town, with lower costs and a lively, young student presence.
I also like Mechelen, which was once a major city of Europe, because of the Catholic Church administrative offices. Besides one of the most important Carillon schools in Europe, it has a local museum including some of (European, that is) artist Rik Wouters. The town museum has a huge collection of frightening "lives of the Saints.") Market day Saturday. Lovely town hall exterior. Bus or train from Antwerp. Have you heard of the Mechelen Trials? This is partly related to Fort Breendonk, a Nazi prison just outside Mechelen. It is very hard to get to without a car or expensive taxi. But it is a government supported museum with audioguides that include English.
Leuven, Mechelen, and Antwerp have big commercial breweries, but I can't vouch for tours being available.
It may be too long a train ride, but the open-air historic building museum, Bokrijk, has its own train station. You could work a two night visit to Cologne, Germany if you can get an early enough discounted rail ticket from Brussels or another town nearby. Aachen is even closer, but Cologne has more to do.
Thanks everyone for your replies. Apologies for the late response, however, I never received a notification that anyone replied to my question.
Thanks again for the suggestions!
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While in Brussels, if your dates match theirs, do an architecture tour with ARAU. Their Art Nouveau tour was, by far, my favorite thing to do in Brussels (actually, the only really memorable thing): https://arau.org/en/tours
I really enjoyed my day in Tournai. It's French rather than Flemish, and has almost no tourists. One caveat is that I encountered much less English here than in the more touristed parts of Belgium; if you don't have at least survival French, you may not enjoy it as much as I did.
I'm another one who really liked Antwerp.
I was doing some other research and ran across a warm mention of Landen, which I have not been to.
Thanks Tim! I'm in Amsterdam now and loving it. I made arrangements to stay in Ghent for 3 nights, Bruges for 2 and Brussels for 4, so will be good to have a couple of day trips planned from Brussels.