When I tell people that Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities, they raise their eyebrow and go, “Ohhh, I’m sure it is!”

They’re alluding to Amsterdam’s reputation for being a place you can easily buy marijuana.

Look folks, I live in Southern California. If I was looking for pot, I wouldn’t have to go so far.

No, there are a million reasons why I love this town. Here are just a few for you.

1. The People are Uber Friendly

museumplaatz

As a traveler, I’m always cognizant of how locals see Americans, or tourists in general. In some places (especially parts of France), they tend to not make an effort to speak English, and can make you feel like a second class citizen just because you’re visiting. But Holland, particularly Amsterdam, is so warm and welcoming. Everyone speaks English, so my attempts to remember Dutch from my 20s was entirely unnecessary on my last trip.

2. The Fries are to Die For

fritjes

Just…trust me on this. The fries — also called fritjes are well worth the trip alone. They’re the perfect thinness, crisped to perfection. You can find a fry shop on just about every block around Centraal Station. I highly recommend adding Samurai sauce to them. It’s mayo and sriracha. Heaven in a paper cone.

3. The Cheese is Worth Bringing Home

gouda in amsterdam

I adore cheese of every kind. (Except Swiss. Because it’s just stupid.) But one of my favorites is a super aged Gouda from Holland. There are cheese shops peppered throughout the city, but quite honestly, I just go to Hema or Albert Heijn (grocery stores) and pick some up. It’s cheaper and just as good. But you should at least go sample what the cheese shops sell. Because: free cheese. Also: you can totally take Gouda home in your suitcase.

4. It’s a Laid-Back City

albert cuypmarket

Okay, sure, this is due in part to the heavy waft of hemp in the air, but Amsterdam is one chill city. No one’s too much in a rush (except people on bikes. Stay the hell out of the bike lane if you value your life!) to give you a friendly smile. The cafes are filled with young people chatting, drinking coffee, or playing on their phones. I can easily lose hours just ambling about the city without an agenda. I love doing that.

5. The Canals are Totes ‘Grammable

amsterdam canal

One of the most visually appealing things about Amsterdam is its canals. Framed with a cruiser bike leaning against a bridge? Total Instagram city. I laughed at how often I saw people taking pics and posting them to Instagram. I was far from the only one. Plus, there’s something totally cool about a city with waterways; people live on them and travel by them. So different from how we roll in the US (pun intended).

There you have it. Just a few of the reasons Amsterdam rocks.