Review: Island Spa (Korean Spa) in Edison

The last two summers I spent a day at King Spa Fitness in Palisades Park, NJ. It’s a huge Korean spa, and one for which non-Koreans like me need a culture lesson before going. I was thinking of going back this summer, when a friend told me that Island Spa in Edison just opened up this summer, in July. In the name of research, I went there instead.

The exterior of the charcoal island at Island Spa. Photo copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
The exterior of the charcoal island at Island Spa. Photo copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Island Spa and Sauna is on Route 27 Continue reading “Review: Island Spa (Korean Spa) in Edison”

Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossoms

We haven’t been to Branch Brook Park since 2011, to see the cherry blossoms. Each year we plan to go and then something gets in the way. We missed the festival (though to be fair, it’s super crowded) but went last weekend – a week after the festival – to catch the just-past peak trees. They were still gorgeous. This park has the largest collection of cherry trees in the country.


Continue reading “Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossoms”

The Great Falls in Paterson

Have you been to the Great Falls in Paterson? If not, it’s worth going. We took a trip over there this summer and it was gorgeous!

Paterson Falls

This place has a lot of history, going back to Alexander Hamilton’s time, when he envisioned Paterson as the country’s first planned industrial city. He wanted to use hydropower from the Passaic River’s Great Falls. Hamilton and the Society for Establishing Useful Manufacturers (a real mouthful), started this in Paterson in 1792. Since then, Paterson’s industry became known for fabrics (silk spinning, cotton, textile machinery, jute, weaving, dyeing, etc.). When I posted a picture of the Falls on my personal Facebook page some time back, one of my friends said her first job was working in textiles in Paterson, and she’s not even old! You can read more of the history of the Great Falls here. Continue reading “The Great Falls in Paterson”

Zumanjaro Drop of Doom Opens at Six Flags Great Adventure

I am super disappointed to miss the press preview of Zumanjaro Drop of Doom tomorrow at Six Flags Great Adventure. It opens to the public on Friday, and to season pass holders on Thursday. My kids are not going to forgive me for missing this one.

This is the world’s tallest and fastest drop ride, at 415 feet and 90 miles per hour. It’s 41.5 stories high, and is nestled into the middle of Kingda Ka (the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster). Eight riders go up for 30 seconds on three gondolas. The ride down is 10 seconds, and the gondolas descend together as well. In case your little ones are wondering if they can go, the minimum height requirement is 48 inches. And no, you can’t wear your mountable GoPro camera on it.

Zumanjaro Drop of Doom at Great Adventure is the world’s tallest and fastest drop ride.

Continue reading “Zumanjaro Drop of Doom Opens at Six Flags Great Adventure”

Sleeping with the Fish: Overnight at Adventure Aquarium in Camden

We joined the scouts for an overnight at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden. This was our fourth overnight, so we’ve had lots of experience seeing how they’re run in different facilities. This one was very well organized, and we slept better than at others. Even if you have no intention of sleeping over at the Adventure Aquarium, read on because there’s lots of great information about the animals in this post, and some awesome pictures too, if I say so myself.

View of Philly from the Adventure Aquarium.

Continue reading “Sleeping with the Fish: Overnight at Adventure Aquarium in Camden”

Review: The Other Josh Cohen

I have to admit, it was fun going into the Paper Mill Playhouse to see The Other Josh Cohen and knowing nothing about it. So if you want to do the same, skip the review, but know that it’s a really fun show.

We went on press night, though we were not there as official press (we bid on our tickets at a silent auction). Paper Mill Playhouse – please put me on your press list! And I have a few recommendations for Paper Mill, but I’ll put those at the bottom.

The plot

The musical is about a NYC man named Josh Cohen who is trying to get his life together. He’s underemployed, loveless, poor and feels the world is out to get him, but he’s also a mensch. In a quirky twist, the narrator is an older version of Josh Cohen (and it’s not the OTHER Josh Cohen). Josh Cohen gets a big check from a mysterious person, possibly a relative, possibly a mistake. What will he do with the check? I won’t spoil that for you.

The Other Josh Cohen at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Jerry Dalia
The Other Josh Cohen at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Jerry Dalia

Why it’s unique Continue reading “Review: The Other Josh Cohen”

Review: The Grounds for Sculpture

The Grounds for Sculpture had been on our bucket list for the past few years, and we finally made it there this summer (on a very hot, muggy day – with a rain interlude while we were eating lunch). If you haven’t been, you must go. This is a place you could go to multiple times and not see everything. Why? There are more than 260 sculptures spread out over 42 landscaped acres.sculpture2

It’s located on former New Jersey State Fairgrounds land, and was started by J. Seward Johnson, whose work you will see prominently. More to come on him. It was Seward’s idea to make a sculpture garden open to the public, to introduce and make others comfortable with modern sculpture. The Grounds opened in 1992, financed by public bonds, private institutions and Johnson’s foundation. It transitioned to a nonprofit organization in 2000. Read more of the history of the Grounds for Sculpture here. 

This is supposed to resemble Monet's garden and bridge - which it totally does. They pipe in the smoke/fog for effect.
This is supposed to resemble Monet’s garden and bridge – which it totally does. They pipe in the fog for effect. You can walk across it. It looks a bit like a painting itself!

The name “Johnson” certainly rings a bell in Central New Jersey. For good reason. Continue reading “Review: The Grounds for Sculpture”

Review: Duke Farms In New Jersey

When we read about Duke Farms opening to the public a year ago (May 2012), we put it on our list to do. We finally went, albeit without kids (they’re at camp) but can’t wait to take them there.

The barn house ????
The farm barn, which is now the orientation center, is the first building you’ll see in the parking area.

Duke Farms is one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land in New Jersey, made up of more than 2,700 acres. Doris Duke’s father, tobacco farmer J.B. Duke, bought the land as a luxury homestead, endowing it with formal gardens, water features and grand buildings like the one you see above. Read more about its history here. Of note, the family home is not available for touring (and we couldn’t even see where it was while there).

F meadows
A meadow outside the Farm Barn.

Doris Duke, as the sole heir, inherited the land, where she spent part of her childhood. She put it in her foundation, for land preservation and land stewardship. What a gift! Continue reading “Review: Duke Farms In New Jersey”

Cicadas in New Jersey – part 2

The cicadas have reached a threshold. You can now hear their constant hum outside. It sounds like a constant rubbing of one of these frog instruments.


This may give some of you nightmares, but it’s a beautiful movie

The kids were privileged (!) to see two cicadas mating yesterday- at least that’s what I think they were doing – right there in the Bank of America sidewalk in their parking lot. In the 20+ minutes we were in there (exchanging U.S. dollars for Canadian dollars for my trip to Toronto – yay!), they stayed at it, though moving slightly to a different part of the sidewalk.

cicada sex
cicada sex. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

We’re hearing that some areas of NJ – even some areas of our town – still haven’t seen any.  So here are some pictures for those of you who are missing them. Continue reading “Cicadas in New Jersey – part 2”