Lakota Wolf Preserve – With Kids

Did you know that those magazine photos of wolves in the wild usually aren’t taken in the wild? They’re not, because wolves can smell you a mile away and they want no part of you. Those photos are usually taken at a wolf preserve, like the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, NJ.

We stopped by there recently for a tour, chock full of interesting information not only about wolves, but bobcats and foxes, which they also have there. I thought the 1.5 hour tour might bore my 10 year old daughter, but she paid rapt attention, possibly because the caretakers told us interesting stories and facts about the animals, and she got to watch them being fed.

Lakota Wolf Preserve. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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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.

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Review: Smuggler’s Notch in Winter with Kids

When we found out the kids had President’s Day Week off, we started looking into vacations. The kids hadn’t yet learned to ski properly (a two hour lesson three years ago didn’t count). We figured they should learn to ski at a place specializing in teaching kids. And after a lot of research, we booked our vacation at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont. We don’t know the East Coast resorts very well, but this one was highly rated as both a family resort and a great place to learn to ski. I’ll cover all that!

Bottom line – we had a great time and the kids learned to ski. There was plenty to do off the slope, and on. The best way to sum up the resort is that it’s like a cruise on land. Or a quasi all-inclusive (lots of free activities, pay for your own food and lessons).

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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”