Houseboating in Raystown Lake, PA

When we told people we went houseboating last weekend, we got a lot of questions. A lot of questions means a lot of interest, hence here’s what you need to know if you want to rent a houseboat in Pennsylvania on Raystown Lake!

One of the houseboats at Raystown Lake. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

My travel planner (i.e. my husband) planned this rental out probably six months in advance. These things book up quickly, so if you’re interested, don’t wait. Continue reading “Houseboating in Raystown Lake, PA”

Fossil Hunting With Kids at Big Brook

Did you know that October 12 is National Fossil Day? With a few days off this week, and fall break/teachers’ convention coming up next month, you may be looking for day trip ideas. Think about going fossil hunting in New Jersey! Turns out there are a couple of places that are easy to get to, where you can wade through streams looking for sharks’ teeth, oyster shells, squid fossils, and other items that are millions of years old. Even though you’re not by the ocean, this area was once covered in water.

Big Brook Preserve. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Big Brook Preserve. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Continue reading “Fossil Hunting With Kids at Big Brook”

Passports with Purpose: Win a stay at one of 180 U.S. campgrounds with Thousand Trails

Jersey Kids likes to do its part helping others, which is why we’ve been participating the past few years with Passports With Purpose. This blogger-run (and all volunteer) fundraiser chooses a new organization and project every year to raise much-needed funds for great projects.

For every $10 donation, you get the chance to win a prize and these Kenyans can get access to e-readers. It's win-win! Photo courtesy of Worldreader.
For every $10 donation, you get the chance to win a prize and these Kenyans can get access to e-readers. It’s win-win! Photo courtesy of Worldreader.

This year we’re working with Worldreader, and we’ll be raising funds to bring digital readers (like Kindles) to five libraries in Kenya. Each library will get about 50 e-readers each, providing 6,250 children, teachers and parents with access to more than 50,000 books. The books will be in Swahili and English, with fiction and nonfiction books.The Worldreader program trains the librarians, and also provides field-tested solar chargers to keep the e-readers charged if electricity is scarce. Read more about the Worldreader program here. and the Worldreader website here. This one speaks to me because I love reading, and so does my son. I can’t imagine not having access to books.

PWP MountDesertNarrows_ME_Tent
Not a bad place to spend a week with the family! Take a vacation at one of 180 Thousand Trails and Encore RV Resort campgrounds this year. Photo courtesy of Thousand Trails.

So you’re probably dying to know who is providing an amazing prize for this fundraiser, and what you can win. You probably got a hint from the photo above. The answer is:

Thousand Trails Campgrounds and Encore RV Resorts, who is giving away a week’s stay at any of Thousand Trails Campgrounds and Encore RV Resorts’ 180 campgrounds across the country. You get to pick! See where there are. Continue reading “Passports with Purpose: Win a stay at one of 180 U.S. campgrounds with Thousand Trails”

Chicago: Visit the Shedd Aquarium with Kids

**This is part of our series on Chicago. Also in the series: the Museum of Science and Industry, the Willis/Sears Tower, and a review of the downtown Embassy Suites**

shedd

This is first in a series of posts about taking the family to Chicago. There’s still time to go this summer, and fall is a great time to visit too. One stop on the family list is the Shedd Aquarium. Situated on Lake Michigan, it’s the world’s largest indoor aquarium. Continue reading “Chicago: Visit the Shedd Aquarium with Kids”

Review: One World Observatory

To be honest, I was a little nervous to go to the top of One World Trade Center. I wasn’t in the East Coast on September 11, 2001 but it’s impossible not to think about what a target this building is, and how high I would be, trapped if something similar happened. Okay, getting the creepy feelings out of the way early!

One World Observatory opened to the public in late May, 2015. The building opened to tenants the previous November.

world trade center 2
Looking up the One World Trade Center building. Photo by Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The entrance to One World Observatory is on Continue reading “Review: One World Observatory”

16 Things You Didn’t Know about Hurricane Harbor

We went to Hurricane Harbor last year for the first time (our Hurricane Harbor review and primer here). We went back again yesterday and had a great time, noticing and doing different things than we did before. Here are 16 things I bet you didn’t know about Hurricane Harbor.

1. Going on a weekday (especially one when rain is expected and it’s cloudy and in the 70s) makes a HUGE difference in line compared to the weekends. Fortunately it didn’t rain on us and we only got cold once (took a break then went back out) and had a relaxing day without many lines. We waited at most 20 minutes (for the Tornado – video below) and most lines were less than 10 minutes.

2. You will get a lot of exercise.  Continue reading “16 Things You Didn’t Know about Hurricane Harbor”

7 Best Movies for Kids this Summer

This post is written and brought to you by Tesco.

The summer holidays are fast approaching and what better way to keep your little ones entertained on a not so sunny day, than one of the many blockbusters hitting theaters and DVD this summer? To give you a helping hand navigating the hundreds of new releases, we rounded up our top seven picks, guaranteed to keep the kids entertained (and maybe give you a laugh as well).

Jurassic World, photo courtesy of daryl_mitchell;Creative Commons license.
Jurassic World, photo courtesy of Daryl Mitchell; Creative Commons license. bit.ly/1Nai8Oc

 

 

Jurassic World (PG-13)

Much like its predecessor, Jurassic World is a state-of-the-art dinosaur theme park. Once visitor numbers start to fall, a hybrid dinosaur, Indominus Rex is introduced to bring the crowds flocking back, with disastrous consequences. As one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2015, Jurassic World can be pre-ordered at retailers like Tesco. Combining brilliant visual effects and a thrilling storyline it will definitely keep even the most boisterous of kids quiet for a few hours.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (PG-13) Continue reading “7 Best Movies for Kids this Summer”

Review: Storm King Art Center

Having visited the Grounds for Sculpture recently, I was keen to get outside and see some more when my parents visited me. My mother is involved in the art world, and when I told her Storm King wasn’t too far away, she was eager to go. And we’re so glad we did. Storm King is one of the premier sculpture gardens in the world. Set on 500+ acres, the 100 or so large scale sculptures have plenty of space for themselves.

sculpture by Alexander Liberman
Iliad by Alexander Liberman (1974-76). This piece is similar to another Liberman we had on my college campus. We affectionately called it “Dueling Tampons.’

Wear good walking shoes, because you’re going to do a lot of walking. And it’s hilly. Storm King recommends spending 4-6 hours on a visit, if you have the time, and that you won’t see everything. Our goal was to see everything. We thought we did, but later saw pictures on the guides of  sculptures we somehow missed during the day. We were there about four hours, and our legs were tired by the end! (see the end notes for other ways to see Storm King, like  on the tram or on bikes).

Maya Lin
Maya Lin, who designed the famous Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., designed this Storm King Wavefield (2009), which is on 11 acres. Apparently, you can no longer walk on it.

If you’ve ever studied art history or art in general, you’ll recognize some of the artist names here: Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, David Smith, Nam June Paik, Mark Di Suervo, Richard Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, Sol Lewitt, Barbara Hepworth, Louise Nevelson, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg and more. They have works from all the heavyweight sculptors, focusing on monumental sculptures from the 1960s on. Continue reading “Review: Storm King Art Center”

Review: Boston Harbor Islands – Spectacle and George

One of the hidden gems of Boston are the Boston Harbor Islands. If you have an extra day (or half day) on your trip, consider going. There are 34 islands in all, 24 with archeological activity on them. Not shockingly, Native Americans used these islands before we settlers did, for hunting, farming and other activities. You can visit 12 of the islands. This is part of our Boston series.

boston harbor

Even their recent history is interesting. The country’s oldest lighthouse was first built here in 1716, though the British burned it down  in 1776 and rebuilt in 1783. That makes our own Sandy Hook lighthouse (built in 1764) the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. You can tour the lighthouse on Little Brewster Island on a different boat tour, along with two other lighthouses.

The popular Spectacle Island is only a 15 minute boat ride from Boston’s Long Harbor. On the way, Continue reading “Review: Boston Harbor Islands – Spectacle and George”

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”