Battlebots Filming – What to Expect (2019 version)

This spring we went to the Battlebots filming for the second year in a row. If you’re a fan of the show, you might notice that this year is a little different than last year. The big difference is that it’s 2 hours instead of 1. That means more battles. And that was a pleasant surprise for us, as we saw the line-up for our taping. There were a lot more battles! This was our Battlebots filming experience last year.

Battlebots set. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Continue reading “Battlebots Filming – What to Expect (2019 version)”

Dandelion Chocolate Factory and Cafe in San Francisco

*This is part of our series this week on San Francisco.*  When you’re in the Mission district getting most excellent burritos and other Mexican food, don’t miss a trip to Dandelion Chocolate factory and cafe in San Francisco. This bean-to-bar factory has tastings, tours (on-site and international), classes and dining. Stop in and get some chocolate bar samples from their single origin bars. Don’t forget to try their hot chocolates.

Dandelion Chocolate factory and cafe samplers. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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Review: Smitten Ice Cream in San Francisco

Smitten Ice Cream in Hayes Valley. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

*This is part of our series this week on San Francisco.* I’ve been wanting to try Smitten Ice Cream in San Francisco for a long time and am glad I finally did, on a recent trip to the city. We went to the flagship location in Hayes Valley, which looks a bit like a pop up store. It’s quite charming. Most of the Smittens are in San Francisco and other Bay Area cities, but there are now two in southern CA as well.  Continue reading “Review: Smitten Ice Cream in San Francisco”

Review: KitTea Cat Cafe in San Francisco

*This is part of our series this week on San Francisco.*  We’ve been to two cat cafés, so we wanted to try KitTea Cat Café in San Francisco. I learned not to go late afternoon like we did – the cats are tired and don’t feel like playing. So it was disappointing. Even my son, who begs me to visit other cat cafes, got bored 20 minutes in and asked how much longer we were staying. Given that we paid $20/person for the hour, I was disappointed. It was crowded with people and the cats ignored us. No cats wanted to play!

KitTea Cat Cafe in San Francisco. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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A day in Japantown San Francisco

*This is part of our series this week on San Francisco.*  Japantown San Francisco is one of my favorite places. And my teen son loves it too, so when we were spending our spring break in San Francisco, that was first on his list to see. Japantown is basically the Japantown Center, an indoor mall, though there are some stores outside there as well.

Japanese Kit Kat. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Here were some of the highlights: Continue reading “A day in Japantown San Francisco”

San Francisco CityPASS Review

This is part of our series this week on San Francisco.

When we visited San Francisco recently, we were given a San Francisco CityPASS for review purposes. We already planned on seeing many of the places covered by the CityPASS, so it seemed like a good idea – was it? We discuss that at the end. Here’s what we saw.


The Exploratorium is a world famous hands-on kids’ science museum for a good reason – it’s a great place. It’s huge. You won’t make it through in one visit, but you can still spend a few hours there. Since we were there a few years ago, they’ve added on more outside exhibits, some indoor ones and rebuilt the Tactile Dome (one of my favorite things from it’s old location at the Palace of Fine Arts).

The wall of the tinkering lab. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Some highlights: Continue reading “San Francisco CityPASS Review”

A Day at Fisherman’s Wharf

This is the first article in our series this week on San Francisco.

If you’re visiting San Francisco, you’re going to want to spend a day at Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s kind of like Times Square in the touristy factor, but it is a fun place to spend a day – and there is some authentic San Francisco there.  My son and I were in San Francisco for spring break, so we are sharing our knowledge with you – as former San Francisco and Bay Area residents (I lived in SF for 7 years – and another 7 outside the city).

We started off taking the trolley from Union Square. But before you hop on, check out the Walgreens on Powell Street between Market and Ellis? Wow! It’s really nice and they sell fresh foods like sushi.

Part of the sushi selection at Walgreens in Union Square SF. It was good. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Cable Car Continue reading “A Day at Fisherman’s Wharf”

BattleBots filming: What to expect

My son is a huge BattleBots fan. But the BattleBots filming was going to be in Long Beach, California and we live in New Jersey. We weren’t making a special trip to watch the filming. Lucky us – after making plans to spend part of spring break in Los Angeles, we got an email announcing that BattleBots filming would start on our last day there.

Battlebots set – copyright Caroline Jusko

Here’s what it’s like going to a BattleBots filming Continue reading “BattleBots filming: What to expect”

Universal Studios vs Disney

Guest post by Dori Kaplan
Both Disneyland and Universal Studios are popular theme parks in California, but what are the differences? This year, we skipped our usual day at California Adventure and substituted it for Universal Studios. After two consecutive days of Disneyland and Universal, I noticed many striking differences between the parks.

The butterbeer truck at Universal Studios. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan