Boston – What the Kids Like to Do

We had a plan for what we’d do and see in Boston. It was educational. It was cultural. It was physical ( lots and lots of walking).  The highlights for the kids, however, were not the ones we planned for them. They did not love the Freedom Trail. They did not love seeing Daddy’s alma mater and hearing fascinating stories of the building donors and founders. Here’s what they’ll remember from Boston:

#1. These are doors leading into and out of the Boston T stops. They open in a funny way – going in, then up. The kids found this endlessly amusing.

#2. The vending machines. Our hotel (the Midtown Hotel) had an endless supply of interesting vending machines, like this one that Continue reading “Boston – What the Kids Like to Do”

Review: Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour in Vermont

When we told people we were going to Vermont, they all asked “are you going to Ben & Jerry’s?” And given how much I love factory tours, we went.

The tour was really short. After watching a sanitized (but cute) several minute video, we went into a viewing area above the production floor. Though they’re supposed to be producing ice cream on the weekdays (we were there on a Friday at 2 p.m.), unfortunately they had already finished the batch for that day, so we got to see them cleaning the equipment. Sigh.

The kids didn’t understand much about the ice cream making process, and didn’t really like the actual viewing part. But then again, that part took only about 10 minutes.

“I liked the eating part the best,” said Zachary.

Continue reading “Review: Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour in Vermont”

Review: Six Flags Great Adventure – Plus Discount Codes

“He said he was in Paris. He said it was urgent I come.”

“To Paris?” I asked.

“No, to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey…”

Long Lost by Harlan Coben

Six Flags Great Adventure

This Jackson, NJ location is the is the largest Six Flags in the country. Woo hoo! Having been to several in California, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It was clean, the employees were helpful (except one) and the other visitors weren’t quite as skanky as at other Six Flags parks. Continue reading “Review: Six Flags Great Adventure – Plus Discount Codes”

Review: Six Flags Wild Safari in New Jersey

Jersey Kids review of Six Flags new Wild Safari Park is here – 2013 review)

This New Jersey park claims to be the largest drive-through safari outside Africa. It’s 350 acres, and it does take awhile to drive through. You’ll see something different each time you go through, but at least early in the day, it’s cooler for the animals and you may see more of the 1,100 that live there.

(Of note: on August 30, 2012 Six Flags announced that Wild Safari would close to individual cars starting in the 2013 season. Instead, the park will become a regular Six Flags theme park attraction – Camp Aventura – where guests will ride in open air vehicles driven by park employees. Guests may be able to hand-feed or pet some of the animals. For an extra fee, guests can zip line over the camp. Read the review of the newly opened attraction here.)

You won’t find these rides in the background in Africa!

Admittedly it was a bit odd in the beginning and end, because you can see Great Adventure rides in the background. It’s hard to picture these animals in the wild, with the Kingda Ka coaster doing its thing. But once you journey a little further inside, you forget about the amusement park (you can’t see it anymore) and just focus on the animals.

It’s a nice park – with signs in each area telling you what animals you’re seeing. They apparently have a CD/DVD you can buy (CD to listen to in the car, DVD to watch at home) – but I didn’t see anything about this on the website. Continue reading “Review: Six Flags Wild Safari in New Jersey”

Land of Make Believe – Review

If you’re looking for some clean, family fun, and your kids are on the younger side, head to the Land of Make Believe in Hope, New Jersey. They have lots of kiddie rides and a fun water park good for both younger older kids.

The park is quite manageable for families with young kids. It’s not too big (but not so small that you’ll get bored). The rides are geared toward kids age 6 and younger (preschoolers will be quite happy). My 8 year old was bored with most rides, and I was surprised that my 6 year old was happy to ride them.

The Rides: Expect everything from a carousel to a small tilt-a-whirl. The mini roller coaster was fun for us – it goes in a loop and is good for the younger set. You can see some of the rides here. There probably 15 rides.

Attractions: We didn’t check out the arcade, Haunted Halloween House, jump houses or Dog Pound (games). There’s also a train circling the park and a hay ride.

The Show (Middle Earth Theater): The park put on a very cute interactive show featuring any kid and adult who wants in. Dori and I were part of it, and we could choose our part. The skit was funny and the kids had a great time dressing up and acting in it. Zack had fun watching. They said they want to do it again next time we go.

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12 Things To Do with Kids this Summer in NYC

If you’ve been to New York City with kids many times, and you’re looking for something new and different, read on.

-Want a family-friendly Broadway show? If Mary Poppins is too young (or you’ve seen it), dry the darker Addams Family, or the classic Miracle Worker.

-For off-Broadway shows, get tickets to the Awesome 80’s Prom.

-Get your hands (or at least your eyes) on some gold, at the Federal Reserve’s gold vault.

Read the entire story of 12 things to do in New York City with Kids – for details on new candy shops, museum teen nights, scavenger hunts, and new luxury hotels.

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The New Jersey State Fair – with Kids

It seems like there are two state fairs in New Jersey. There’s the State Fair at the Meadowlands, and the New Jersey State Fair Sussex County Farm & Horse Show. The latter is August 6-15, 2010. It has the stuff you might expect from a state fair, like a demolition derby, home arts, baking competitions, artistry using a chain-saw and wood, animal shows, lots of 4-H activities, lawnmower racing, a farm tractor pull, taxidermy, model trains, robotics, cyclocross bike racing, quilts and more. Oddly, there’s nothing on the website about rides and games.
We went to the  State Fair at the Meadowlands. It’s open until July 5, 2010. It has rides, entertainment and games. We did a daytime excursion, as part of a company summer event. It was so hot we spent a fortune on drinks. This was our first State Fair in New Jersey, and to be honest – it was really small! I’ve been to county fairs that were much bigger. And I really missed the 4-H kids and their animals, the hobbyists and the vendors inside their own building, hawking all kinds of dishwares and housewares. Apparently, though, it’s the largest fair in the New Jersey, New York metro area. (Note: the reader who commented so politely below points out that this is actually not the REAL state fair – this one is actually a for-profit carnival).

Okay, then. Here’s my review of the State Fair Meadowlands – with kids.

Here piggy, piggy!

LIVE SHOWS – the shows are all free with admission. We saw the Sea Lion Splash – very cute. They have three sea lions who jump, dance and do other tricks for you. The show is about 15 minutes long and kids can stand up front to watch. We missed the BMX Stunt Show, which looks like fun. It goes through the end of the fair. Hypnotist, Steve Bayner is funny. The Batcopter aerial show runs daily, and you can get a 2 minute ride for $30. The racing pigs were a lot of fun, also about a 15 mintue show. Check the schedule before going – the shows change daily. Continue reading “The New Jersey State Fair – with Kids”

Ellis Island with Kids

A visit to Ellis Island with kids is emotional no matter where you come from. The facility, which processed 12 million immigrants from 1892-1954, was the first stop for many coming to the U.S. The Statue of Liberty was the symbol of freedom – Ellis Island was the gateway to obtain it. They estimate that more than 100 million Americans have a connection to Ellis Island.

To take advantage of what Ellis Island offers, make sure you have plenty of time to peruse the galleries. The exhibits downstairs are not nearly as interesting as those upstairs. There’s plenty to interest even the younger kids.

When you enter Ellis Island, you might even feel like you’re an immigrant yourself. After all, those around you speak a multitude of languages and might be wearing outfits traditional to other lands And you come from a crowded boat that you waited in lines to board. Granted, your passage from New Jersey’s Liberty Park or New York’s Battery Park took only 15-30 minutes (two boat rides from New York, one from New Jersey) and you weren’t packed on like sardines, stuck in a dimly lit hold or subjected to motion sickness-inducing waves.

You’ll be shuffled inside the building with your fellow boat-mates, unsure where to go and what you’ll see. After entering the glass doors, straight-ahead look for the collection of luggage and photos from those early arrivals. It’s a perfect teaching moment for the kids – showing how little luggage newcomers brought, and the lines they had to wait in (in heat and cold). Now’s a good time to remember your ancestors. Continue reading “Ellis Island with Kids”

Statue of Liberty – with Kids

The Statue of Liberty is often cited as the first thing that immigrants saw when coming into New York’s harbor on their way to Ellis Island. It’s probably the top thing on list to see during a visit to New York. And for good reason.

The United States was not the intended recipient for Lady Liberty. The statue was originally conceived as a lighthouse for Egypt’s Suez Canal. But the Egyptians rejected it. Private citizens, part of the Franco-American Union, along with some companies, later decided to give it to the United States for its centennial. And after a lot of research on where to put it, fundraising for the pedestal, and other hubbub, here it is. Of course that’s the brief explanation. You’ll learn more about it on Liberty Island.

A trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is rife with logitics. You can get a lot of information about the statue elsewhere . I’m going to focus on how to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – with kids. Continue reading “Statue of Liberty – with Kids”

Circle Line Boat Tour in NYC with Kids

Let me start off by saying you should not do a 2 hour boat tour with kids who can’t sit still for several hours. Lesson learned the hard way.

Normally a slow boat tour is not something I’d sign up to do – especially with kids. However, a friend was visiting from California, and she wanted to find something her husband hadn’t done in New York City before. .

If you try searching for Circle Line boat tours, you might find that there are two locations – Circle Line at the 42nd Street pier, and Circle Line Downtown, at South Street Seaport. In spite of having the same name and similar cruises, these are different companies. Go figure. If someone could tell me how they can run the same type of business with the same name, and not be hit with trademark issues, I’m all ears!

Continue reading “Circle Line Boat Tour in NYC with Kids”