Starbucks Reserve Roastery NYC

When visiting Seattle before the pandemic, we spent a wonderful afternoon at the original Starbucks Reserve Roastery Seattle in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. With many seating areas inside, we plunked down near the fancy coffee bar serving Chemex-prepared coffee that looked like a chemistry experiment. We had fantastic dessert coffees that were presented on adorable wooden trays and cost a pretty penny. Though we ended up not having to pay, because the server couldn’t find our bill, and said it was on them. Score! Why was there not a Starbucks Reserve Roastery NYC?

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery NYC. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
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Visiting the Statue of Liberty with Kids During the Pandemic

Approaching the Statue of Liberty from the ferry. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

One might think nothing much changes at the Statue of Liberty. But one would be wrong. I didn’t do much research before booking our ferry tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty with kids during the pandemic, other than seeing the crown wasn’t open. Not a problem – there are a lot of stairs and some of my traveling companions were not eager to take them.

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Visiting Ellis Island with Kids after the Pandemic

We haven’t been to Ellis Island in about 10 years, so when we had out-of-town visitors for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown, we were eager to get out and about. Even in July, it was easy to get next-day ferry tickets to visit Ellis Island with kids.

The New Jersey ferry station and train terminus, at Liberty State Park. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
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Review: Big Snow at American Dream

Big Snow at American Dream

The idea of driving 30 minutes to ski instead of 90+ minutes is appealing. The idea of skiing indoors is novel enough to want to try it. So when Big Snow at American Dream invited my family for a visit as their guests, we said yes. But it’s indoors! It’s in a mall! What about COVID-19? I have an entire section on how they’re handling COVID-19 below. Because it’s a huge topic.

What is Big Snow?

Big Snow at American Dream is an indoor ski area that’s finally opened in East Rutherford. Yes, the massive mall and former Xanadu eye sore that was sitting vacant forever! Big Snow at American Dream is one of several large experiences you can do indoors there, in addition to the Nickelodeon Universe theme park (currently open), DreamWorks Water Park (currently open), and the Sea Life Aquarium (opening spring 2021). Big Snow opened late 2019, closed in March 2020 because of the pandemic, and reopened in October.

The top of the hill at Big Snow American Dream. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
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Visiting NYC in December 2020

Igloos in NYC because of COVID-19

On Black Friday we headed into NYC, where we hadn’t visited since March. We weren’t sure what to expect. It was a lot quieter than we anticipated, except for 5th Avenue, which was pretty busy (uncomfortably busy – but less so than a typical Black Friday). I wanted to share some photos and thoughts from that day!

Christmas tree in Fox Plaza. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
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NYC Holiday Windows 2020

We usually go into Manhattan on Black Friday, and this year we wanted to check out the NYC holiday windows 2020. We haven’t been in Manhattan since early March, just before the lock-downs started. So we weren’t sure what to expect. This is the first of 2 posts about NYC observations – this one of course, holiday windows. Here’s a good NYT piece about the history of NYC holiday windows, and this year’s theme.


This gold emoji in the Bloomingdale’s window turned like disco ball – NYC holiday windows 2020. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
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A pandemic visit to Burlington, Vermont

Like many, we cancelled trips during the pandemic. As a family that travels a lot, this was hard, but necessary. Aside from a camping trip where it was easy to avoid other people, we decided to take our first pandemic trip, after a lot of planning and forethought. We chose a pandemic visit to Burlington Vermont, though the location was subject to change up to a few days before, as we awaited infection numbers for our county. Vermont requires infection rates to be below 400 per million for your county (for specific Northeastern/mid-Atlantic states), to avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine in Vermont (or other specific rules). Given that we were only going for 3 nights, it didn’t make sense to go unless our county was in the clear, and we had a back-up plan in New Jersey just in case. See the bottom of the post for our COVID-19 trip preparations.

Sunset at Waterfront Park in Burlington. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
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Review: Primo Mercato at Short Hills Mall

Primo Mercato at Short Hills Mall

I guess it’s been awhile since I’ve shopped at the Short Hills Mall, because I didn’t realize there was a new Italian marketplace. They invited me for a visit to their 17,000 square foot space. Here’s my Review – Primo Mercato at Short Hills Mall!

The entrance of Primo Mercato at Short Hills Mall. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Primo Mercato is a cross between a fancier food court and a sit-down restaurant, kind of like a smaller Eataly but without the dry goods shopping – just the eating and drinking. They have five food stations, plus a cafe with bakery/gelato, a pizza making station, and a nice restaurant. And yes, there’s sit-down eating if ordering food fromt the stations. You’ll see some picnic style tables (much nicer looking, of course), and some other types of seating configurations.

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Review: Mardi Gras World with Kids

Mardi Gras World with kids

Mardi Gras season began on January 6, or rather the Carnival season began then. I’m still learning about this! When you’re in New Orleans, visiting Mardi Gras World with kids (or without kids) is a must, to see how the floats get made and learn more about the parades and history behind Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Worker is putting 2-3 inch paper mache strips on the Styrofoam prop at Mardi Gras World. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Mardi Gras History – in a Nutshell

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