Review: Chihuly at New York Botanical Gardens

You’ve probably seen glass artist Dale Chihuly’s work before. But it’s lovely to see it in the garden settings of the New York Botanical Garden, where it will be through October.

An exploding star, or something. Fire and ice? Ice and ocean? I can’t remember. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

For this exhibition, there are plenty of his older works, and a few made for this show. We went over to see it on a beautiful summer day. It was my first time at the NYBG as well, so I didn’t know what to expect. We spent four hours there, and still didn’t see all the gardens (though we saw all the Chihulys, I think).

Starting from the entrance by the Conservatory gate, we went first to the library building to see what was inside. Outside at the fountain, there’s a Chihuly sculpture that’s actually not blown glass, but molded/layered plastic. It looked like giant ice cubes or icebergs. Inside you’ll find some stunning pieces of older works, and some videos. It’s worth a stop, even though it feels weird to go inside into a stuffy building when it’s nice outside, and most of the sculptures are in the conservatory.

This sculpture looks like icebergs. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

A few sculptural installations are spread out in the grassy areas. You’ll need to do some walking. The NYBG is huge, so even walking from the front gate to the conservatory took awhile.

Glass rods in wood, one of the outdoor pieces. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Given that it was our first time there, we walked around a lot before realizing we weren’t going to see it all. We then took the tram for part of the way (I was getting tired!). Here are some of the sculptures we saw.

A boat full of glass globes by Chihuly. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The NYBG offers a number of interactive ways to see the exhibition, which is good with kids:

Interactive guide: get the app before you go or get on wifi there to access additional information about the Chihuly pieces. It also tells you the location of the closest sculptures, which is helpful when you’re wandering around the outdoor spaces.

This glass screen is one of his older pieces. There were two in the area. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Film screenings: Inside the library auditorium, they run screenings of short films. It’s a great introduction to his work and shows you how the sculptures are blown and assembled. You’ll also see other exhibitions and the Seattle permanent site for his work, by the Space Needle. The films are short enough so kids won’t be bored, and you can come and go as you please. No extra cost for these.

Chihuly at Night: Go at night, Thursdays through Saturdays, and you can see this sculpture (and others) lit up. This one is neon, though, and electrified. Reservations are required. It would make a great date night, as they offer cocktails, shopping and food. But they do have kids’ prices too!

These neon sculptures would look totally different at night. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Look for the poetry: The results of the kids’ poetry contest is displayed through the NYBG. Stop and read the poems. Your kids might like to read what other kids wrote. There’s also a teacher’s guide and lesson plan you can read and bring with you (look under the poetry section for the links) to help talk about it with your kids.

These glass flowers/bowls are in the conservatory. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

If you’re short on time or attention span, head there first. You do need a Chihuly ticket at the conservatory.

The children’s garden is also large and worth a stop. You need a ticket admitting you to the children’s garden.

A cute animal sculpture at the children’s garden. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

If you go

When: through October 29, 2017

Where: New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx

Houseboating in Raystown Lake, PA

When we told people we went houseboating last weekend, we got a lot of questions. A lot of questions means a lot of interest, hence here’s what you need to know if you want to rent a houseboat in Pennsylvania on Raystown Lake!

One of the houseboats at Raystown Lake. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

My travel planner (i.e. my husband) planned this rental out probably six months in advance. These things book up quickly, so if you’re interested, don’t wait. Continue reading “Houseboating in Raystown Lake, PA”

Review: Lincoln Caverns in PA

For cave lovers like me, Pennsylvania is a hotbed of cavern activity, with eight commercially developed caves in the state. I have a lot of driving to do!

We checked out Lincoln Caverns after houseboating at Raystown Lake. Lincoln Caverns were discovered in 1931. The William Penn Highway was being built just above it, and a large steam shovel machine fell through into the caves during the blasting process. It fell into what is now called Devil’s Pit. I’m not sure what damage it die to the formations below, but that area is full of wonder after wonder.

One of the formations in Lincoln Cavern. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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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”

Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Windows 2016

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the holiday windows, what are you waiting for? Here are some of my pix from Saks Fifth Avenue. Though I didn’t go at night, they have a lovely light display on the building, above this candy entrance.

Saks Fifth Avenue front holiday entrance
The front entrance of Saks Fifth Avenue. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Their theme this year is Land of 1,000 Delights. It’s a fun pairing of sweets and some awesome clothing. Continue reading “Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Windows 2016”

Stony Hill NJ Corn Maze: Review

We usually do a NJ corn maze every year, and it’s often the Stony Hill corn maze. This year was no exception. Why Stony Hill? They have a lot of other activities to do there, many included with the basic admission. The corn maze is well done also.

When we went on a recent Saturday, they had live music, which we could hear inside the maze. They also had a face painter. Not sure if you pay extra for that.

This year’s theme is Rutger’s 250th anniversary.

Rutger's 250th anniversary corn maze at Stony Hill. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Rutger’s 250th anniversary corn maze at Stony Hill. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Continue reading “Stony Hill NJ Corn Maze: Review”

Fossil Hunting With Kids at Big Brook

Did you know that October 12 is National Fossil Day? With a few days off this week, and fall break/teachers’ convention coming up next month, you may be looking for day trip ideas. Think about going fossil hunting in New Jersey! Turns out there are a couple of places that are easy to get to, where you can wade through streams looking for sharks’ teeth, oyster shells, squid fossils, and other items that are millions of years old. Even though you’re not by the ocean, this area was once covered in water.

Big Brook Preserve. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Big Brook Preserve. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Continue reading “Fossil Hunting With Kids at Big Brook”