What You Will Learn on a Maple Sugar Tour

Every winter we see listings for maple sugaring tours, and every year we seem to be busy or forget to go. This year we finally went. What will you learn on a maple sugaring tour? A lot!

We went to the Great Swamp in New Jersey for our education. They were offering two sessions on a weekend afternoon – for $3/person (though no one asked for or collected money – and we checked in at the outdoor education center desk).

Follow the maple sugar leaf signs to the sugar shack at the Great Swamp. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

While there’s no way to know for sure who discovered maple sugar, Continue reading “What You Will Learn on a Maple Sugar Tour”

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”

Big Apple Circus Review – Metamorphosis

We went to the Big Apple Circus Legendarium show two years ago, and had a great time. When I thought about going back this year for Metamorphosis, I wasn’t sure how different it would be. Turns out it’s a completely new show, in the familiar small tent atmosphere. I brought along two teen girls, including a high school sophomore, and two tween boys.  We all loved it – and when I asked them about their favorite parts, each listed something different. I’ve been telling people to go to the show since I got home.

a contortionist
The contortionist got into this little box, and then her helper got in there too. Look for the band above the stage under the French looking Big Apple Circus sign.

What follows are pictures of some of my favorite acts, but there were many more I didn’t include here. And they’re not in order. The Big Apple Circus brings in different acts each year. This year’s show is Metamorphosis, which was not a theme that really carried over through the whole show (well, aside from the ringmaster’s coat). There were a few references, but basically it seemed to me to be just the title. Not an issue. Continue reading “Big Apple Circus Review – Metamorphosis”

Zumanjaro Drop of Doom Opens at Six Flags Great Adventure

I am super disappointed to miss the press preview of Zumanjaro Drop of Doom tomorrow at Six Flags Great Adventure. It opens to the public on Friday, and to season pass holders on Thursday. My kids are not going to forgive me for missing this one.

This is the world’s tallest and fastest drop ride, at 415 feet and 90 miles per hour. It’s 41.5 stories high, and is nestled into the middle of Kingda Ka (the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster). Eight riders go up for 30 seconds on three gondolas. The ride down is 10 seconds, and the gondolas descend together as well. In case your little ones are wondering if they can go, the minimum height requirement is 48 inches. And no, you can’t wear your mountable GoPro camera on it.

Zumanjaro
Zumanjaro Drop of Doom at Great Adventure is the world’s tallest and fastest drop ride.

Continue reading “Zumanjaro Drop of Doom Opens at Six Flags Great Adventure”

Review: Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in New Jersey

We chose the perfect day to go to Hurricane Harbor (albeit, a weekday might have been even better). It was warm, in the mid-80s, but not too hot. We hit no traffic on the way there (going home was a different story). We didn’t get sunburned! I didn’t leave with a headache from motion sickness. All in all, a great day at Hurricane Harbor, our first time at this water park.

The entry bridge to Hurricane Harbor. Photo courtesy of Six Flags Hurricane Harbor.
The entry bridge to Hurricane Harbor. Photo courtesy of Six Flags Hurricane Harbor.

If it weren’t for my husband’s contact lens emergency, we might have shaved 15 minutes off our wait in the first line. Lesson learned: if you wear contact lenses to the park, bring a spare set AND a bottle of saline solution, neither of which my husband did. Continue reading “Review: Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in New Jersey”

Treat of the Day: House of Cupcakes

French Toast cupcake - a winner!
French Toast cupcake – a winner!

We spent last Saturday in Princeton, picking up the race packet for the Princeton half-marathon for the next day No, I wasn’t running, hubby was. But we wanted to spend the gorgeous sunny day, bursting with fall leaf goodness, walking around the Princeton campus and downtown. Look for a post on that coming soon.

We’re always on the lookout for treats – to hold over the kids’ heads if they are good during the day. I spotted the House of Cupcakes after leaving the parking garage on Spring Street, near Witherspoon. I hadn’t done my research. I didn’t know that the House of Cupcakes won the 2011 Cupcake Wars competition on the Food Network (well, I didn’t know until I read their sign in the window). Continue reading “Treat of the Day: House of Cupcakes”

Review: The Grounds for Sculpture

The Grounds for Sculpture had been on our bucket list for the past few years, and we finally made it there this summer (on a very hot, muggy day – with a rain interlude while we were eating lunch). If you haven’t been, you must go. This is a place you could go to multiple times and not see everything. Why? There are more than 260 sculptures spread out over 42 landscaped acres.sculpture2

It’s located on former New Jersey State Fairgrounds land, and was started by J. Seward Johnson, whose work you will see prominently. More to come on him. It was Seward’s idea to make a sculpture garden open to the public, to introduce and make others comfortable with modern sculpture. The Grounds opened in 1992, financed by public bonds, private institutions and Johnson’s foundation. It transitioned to a nonprofit organization in 2000. Read more of the history of the Grounds for Sculpture here. 

This is supposed to resemble Monet's garden and bridge - which it totally does. They pipe in the smoke/fog for effect.
This is supposed to resemble Monet’s garden and bridge – which it totally does. They pipe in the fog for effect. You can walk across it. It looks a bit like a painting itself!

The name “Johnson” certainly rings a bell in Central New Jersey. For good reason. Continue reading “Review: The Grounds for Sculpture”

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. 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”

Review: Wild Safari at Six Flags Great Adventure

safari4

We went to Great Adventure’s safari a few years ago, when it was a stand-alone entrance or upgrade. Last year they closed it down to redo it, including it in the Great Adventure offerings as an attraction you don’t pay extra for. We heard about the three hour lines (and there’s even mention of that in the park. But we were smart – or so we thought – arriving at the park at opening bell (10:30 a.m.), hitting Kingda Ka first (10 minute wait!) and then the log ride right next to the safari entrance (10 minute wait) – figuring it was still really early and we’d have a relatively short wait.

We were wrong. Continue reading “Review: Wild Safari at Six Flags Great Adventure”

Review: Glassworks in Morristown

Our recent trip to Glassworks in Morristown was a resounding success, and now we can’t wait to go back. We went as a Girl Scout activity, and saw lots of families making crafts together. They have a party room set up as well.

The party room! You can see one of the tables holding holding glass pieces in the middle, by the cupcake. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The space was quite large, with several tables seating 10 set up. We had a choice of three projects (set up with our troop leader ahead of time), so we all chose which item we wanted to make, and the staff person explained how to do it.

The table is set up for customers. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Continue reading “Review: Glassworks in Morristown”