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3+ week trip to Amsterdam/Germany/Prague

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We plan to travel with another couple for at least three weeks. We plan to start in Amsterdam for 3-4 nights, take the train to Frankfurt to start the German part of the trip, and end in Prague for 3-4 nights before taking the train back to Amsterdam. We did a similar trip four years ago in France. We found apartments in Paris and Menton for a week each and used public transit for day trips. We spent a third week in a car exploring chateau country and Dinan. We would like to,plan something similar for Germany. My questions: 1) can you recommend towns in the Rhine or Mosel region and on the Romantic Road/Bavaria area where we could find lodging and venture out on day trips (less than 3 hours from home base)? We liked staying in VRBO apartments in France where we could purchase local produce and prepare breakfast and lunch, yet be close enough to town for evening meals out. We plan to rent a car for our day for our day trips, so prefer to stay in smaller towns where parking is less problematic. My husband is comfortable driving in other countries and we will bring our Garmin with the applicable maps loaded. 2) is VRBO a good rental option in these places or would you recommend other agencies? 3) we love exploring out of the way sites as well as the "must see" places. What do you recommend? 4) we are thinking we should travel to and from Amsterdam on the train and that the train might be the best way to go to Prague. Is there a rail pass that works best for these countries or should we purchase single tickets? 5) are there any other travel tips that made your trips more enjoyable? We would appreciate any suggestions!
Kathy

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