Kaiserslautern Staycation Series Part 2

Some weekends, you just don’t feel like going far. If you’re like us, sometimes you want to get out, but don’t want to spend all day doing it. In the first part of this series, we shared five great Kaiserslautern-local places for you to check out and explore. Now here in part two, we have five more recommendations for you to get out and see no matter the time of year.

Side note: I started working this post several months ago, hoping to give you all a few ideas of things to do during the long, cold, and dreary winter; I recently realized that this post is much overdue. It is now January 2021, and many of us have little confidence that restrictions will ease anytime soon. As we all do our part to curb the spread of the virus, I pray and hope this post will give you an idea of a few local things to check out while we are hunkered down.

#1- Vogelwoog

Tucked behind Kaiserslautern’s Merkurstraße is a quaint and inviting lake just waiting for you to come visit. The lake may not be huge, but it is pet-friendly, free to park and access, and a great quiet place to relax when you don’t have much else to do. There’s a Biergarten and Restaurant available on-site, which is great for a drink and snack on a sunny day. Still, nothing beats throwing down a blanket next to the shore while the kids play at the nearby playground.

If relaxing on the shore with your fur-pal isn’t for you, head out there for a stroll or jog around the lake. From swans to people on horseback, you just might be surprised at what you’ll see. Vogelwoog is an easy trip and it’s always open, so check it out!

#2- Nanstein Castle

Nanstein Castle (or Landstuhl Castle) is a local favorite. Whether you drive right up to the castle to park, or make the castle a part of your hike in the area, Nanstein Castle will not disappoint. As I am writing this during Germany’s strict COVID-19 lockdown, Nanstein Castle can only be seen from the outside until the restrictions are lifted. When you can make a visit inside, you’ll find the cost of €8 for a family very reasonable to explore this local favorite.

You can feel the history of this 12th Century castle as you roam the many rooms and levels. Built by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, the castle withstood multiple wars and sieges before being left for rubble in medieval times. Fortunately, the castle was beneficiary of a major reconstruction effort in the late 20th Century. They have plenty of events throughout the year at the castle, and when you finally visit, make sure to enjoy a Schnitzel, Pommes, and Hefeweizen at the Burgschänke. Nanstein Castle is a must visit!

#3- Schluchtsteig

With so many trails to discover in the area, it is almost easy to get decision fatigue trying to figure out where to start. In the small neighborhood of Morlautern is the Schluchtsteig, or gorge trail, that almost fools you to believe you’ve driven a world away. I love visiting the trails near the Schluchtsteig because parking is free and you have immediate access incredible hiking close to the city.

The trail is well marked and directly adjacent to the Kaiserslautern Waschmühle’s large and free parking lot. The Schluchtsteig itself is the steep ravine that rises from the Eselbachtal River. You can easily navigate through the Schluchtsteig using Google Maps or Komoot; that is if you are up to the challenge of hiking up the steep slopes that will make you forget you are in Kaiserslautern.

If hiking up steep slopes for great views just isn’t your thing, enjoy a leisurely stroll (or run) on the relatively flat and marked trail from the parking lot. It’s also great for biking. While on the trail, a perfect place to stop and relax is Schallbrunner Weiher, a peaceful and undisturbed pond about a mile from the parking area. You probably didn’t know about this local spot, so check it out when you can!

#4- Abteikirche Otterberg

We all love admiring churches and cathedrals all over Europe, but make time to visit the amazing Abteikirche Otterberg right in our back yard! Construction of this church began in the 1100s, and today is the second largest church in the Palatinate, right behind Speyer Cathedral. The church was originally part of a Cistercian Monastery and eventually came under joint use of Catholics and Protestants. They worshipped peacefully alongside each other until the 1700s, when a wall was erected to separate the congregations. The wall was removed in the 1970s, and today both denominations share the church peacefully! The seating forms a cross, symbolizing the unity of both congregations.

We visited a few years back by signing up for a tour with Welcome to Rheinland-Pfalz, but you could also ask for a tour by emailing tourist-info@otterbach-otterberg.de. The church is something to admire from ground level, but while there, hike up the streets of Otterberg (including the one right behind the church) for views of the church that will amaze you. Also, with the church tucked right in the middle of the Otterberg Altstadt, on nice days it’s easy to bundle the trip with a stroll down the Altstadt, relaxing at a nearby restaurant, or grabbing some street side Gelato. Don’t miss out on this local gem!

#5- Karlstalschlucht

There’s just something enchanting about Karlstalschlucht that makes you feel like you’re wandering in a story book. There’s a special feeling you get as you stroll the path that leads across a gentle stream. Karlstalschlucht is a gorge connected to endless hiking trails in Trippstadt, a place known for the best hiking in the area. The path through the gorge is decorated with moss on rocks and trees, and the most iconic spot is a surprisingly peaceful pavilion, nestled on a river crossing.

The best place to park is at Parkplatz Klug’sche Mühle, where you can stop and enjoy the swans before starting off on your adventure. Bundle a trip to the area by strolling into Trippstadt to see Schloss Trippstadt, Schlossgarten Trippstadt, and the 12th Century Burg Wilenstein. Don’t miss out!