Would anyone recommend going all the way over to Bruges for a day while transiting btw Amsterdam and Paris... it seems a little out of the way, but I don't want to go to Brussels... Ghent seems closer... thoughts?
Gent is 30 mins from Brussel, Brugge another 40 mins beyond Gent.
Personally I find Gent a more interesting city, worth more than just a stop.
You of course don't have to stop in Belgium at all, since Thalys trains run directly between Amsterdam and Paris (3h 18m). From Amsterdam to Gent/Ghent (2h 16m), the recommended transfer point is at Antwerp, instead of Brussels. This is also the faster route to Bruges/Brugge (2h 45m), but requires 2 connections, vs. 1 at Brussels (3h 12m).
On an earlier version of your plan, you were thinking of staying overnight in Bruges, which is what we would usually do. If you don't have that much time, you'll still enjoy the town visit but not go into many museums. I've probably mentioned that I think it's valuable to mix in some small towns between the big cities. But whether you really have time for all of it depends on the big picture and which city gets less time as a result.
Thanks for the info. The odds of me being in a museum are incredibly remote, so thats ok. I would have preferred to stay at least a night, but in the bigger picture we had to trim some things to make some other things work... but as long as something's not too far out of the way, I don't mind stopovers, they're just easy day trips.