Review: King Sauna (King Spa Fitness)

A few years back, I read an article in New Jersey Monthly about King Sauna in Palisades Park. And my interest was piqued. I love trying new spa experiences, especially after going to one in Turkey. So when the kids were off in camp and I didn’t have to worry about what time to pick them up, I drove to Palisades Park.

When you check in, you get a wristband with your locker key and a bar code you use for any purchases. They give you a toothbrush, large shower towel, and a smaller hand towel which you bring with you as you sauna. They also give you a “uniform,” pink for women, white for men. They were like scrubs material, but shorts and t-shirt. They flattered NO ONE.

Unfortunately the women’s locker room and spa was under renovation, so we were in a much smaller locker room, and the spa (hot tubs, showers, bathing area, steam room) wasn’t as nice as the one in the pictures online. That said, they’re supposed to have the changes finished this weekend. Continue reading “Review: King Sauna (King Spa Fitness)”

Review: The Inn at Lambertville Station

So it’s a little cloudy in this picture, but the hotel is next to the river

We recently spent a romantic weekend (away from the kids!) in Lambertville NJ/New Hope PA. We stayed at the Inn at Lambertville Station, which is right on the Delaware River, looking out over New Hope. (Read 11 Things to Do in Lambertville/New Hope here)

Overall it was a lovely experience, save for the loud, drunk wedding guests parading past our room from 11-11:30 p.m. on Saturday night. See WARNING below.

The hotel is behind a historic station house which is now a restaurant (and two bars). The hotel is not old, but it looks old inside (in a good way). The front desk has a nice looking key pick-up area and gift shop with food, drinks and lavender soaps (the type they have in your room). Continue reading “Review: The Inn at Lambertville Station”

Review: Hotel Elysee

When I headed into New York City for a conference recently, I wanted an adult hotel – since my kids wouldn’t be with me. I wanted something boutique. And I always prefer something with free wi-fi and breakfast included.

I got so much more than that at Hotel Elysee . Haven’t heard of it? It only has 92 rooms, and it’s part of the Library Collection, with four hotels in New York City. The location was perfect for my midtown conference, as the hotel was on 54th Street, between Madison and Park.

This is why it’s part of the Library Collection! Part of the club room. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan.

Continue reading “Review: Hotel Elysee”

Treat of the Day: Ralph’s Ices

We first discovered Ralph’s when in Staten Island, eating at Denino’s Pizza. Ralph’s was just across the street. Since we’re relative newcomers to the East Coast, the concept of Italian Ices was rather new to us too. Turns out that Ralph’s is quite popular in the area, with many NY locations, and many in New Jersey as well. On every trip home from Sandy Hook, we stop at Ralph’s, which is heavily represented in the Garden State.


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It’s always a toss up between the water ices, the creme ices and the ice cream. Here’s why:

Water ice flavors: cotton candy, grape, blue Hawaii, black raspberry, Malibu bay breeze, root beer, red raspberry, sour cherry and strawberry margarita.

Creme ice flavors: cappuccino, canolli, coconut raspberry tart, crazy coconut, cremalata, mocha chip, peanut butter candy bar, peanut butter cookie dough, pina colada, vanilla fudge brownie and more.

Here’s what we ended up with:

2 malted milk shakes (black/white and chocolate), a java chip creme ice, and a brownie sundae. We felt a bit ill after finishing them all.

Ralph’s has lots of locations.

Review: Sandy Hook with Kids

Sandy Hook is a great place for those who don’t want the boardwalk experience, and want more to do than just sit on the beach. Plus it’s only $15 entrance for a whole carload of people. Parking is free and the money goes to the National Park Service. Sandy Hook is a “barrier spit” that’s 6-7 miles long, a mile wide at some points, and accessed via bridge.

What to do at Sandy Hook:

Ride a Bike: Bring your  own or rent one (there’s a rental place at Beach B – first right after the pay station). Lots of trails – 7 miles of them starting at the park entrance, out to Fort Hancock at the end.

Fishing: fishing is allowed at all beaches without lifeguards on duty.

Continue reading “Review: Sandy Hook with Kids”

Review: Once on Broadway (and is Once appropriate for kids?)

Once was just nominated for a slew of Tony awards: Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, Best Direction in  a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Orchestration, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Lighting (and Best Sound Design) of a Musical.

What makes Once different? When you enter the theater, you’ll notice something different from every other Broadway show. The stage is not only lit, it’s populated with the actors and musicians playing music (which started about 15 minutes before the official showtime). You’ll also see other people up there – audience members. Yes, you can go on stage before the show (and during intermission) to listen to the music and buy drinks at the on-stage bar. And you can bring those drinks (wine/beer in plastic cups with lids and straws) back to your seat. I would love to have taken a photo but they were making a lot of announcements prohibiting photography, even before the show started.

Continue reading “Review: Once on Broadway (and is Once appropriate for kids?)”

Review: Terracotta Warriors at Discovery Times Square

The Egyptians had their pyramids and burial chambers filled with goods they thought they’d need in the afterlife. Chinese emperors were buried with a full size army. Fortunately this army was made of terracotta, but 8,000 soldiers strong.

Terracotta Warriors exhibit. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

(Tickets and discount ticket information at the bottom)

The army is thought to include 130 chariots and 520 chariot horses and 150 cavalry horses (2 of which are on display at this exhibit), and nonwarriors like acrobats and musicians. The soldiers formed a large army in complete battle formation. They were buried in three pits, which are not fully excavated. You can see details and a lot of pictures of the ongoing Terracotta Warriors archeological excavations here. Continue reading “Review: Terracotta Warriors at Discovery Times Square”

Sleepover at the Philly Zoo

Many zoos have sleepover programs you can attend with a group (like scouts) or on your own. We went to the Philly Zoo with our Cub Scout pack and thought we’d share our experience here. One of the great things about the sleepover program, is you can get a lot more “show and tell” type of experiences. Animal shows, some behind-the-scenes activities, early access to exhibits, and additional tours. By the way, the Treehouse is open to the public at some times, and only to members at others. You can see some grand arches inside – the building was designed by a church architect and is one of the oldest zoo buildings.

Our host talks to the kids

We spent much of the evening in the Treehouse (one of two indoor spaces you can sign up for). The space was awesome, with a large tree the kids could explore, dinosaur shells they could climb into, a large-scale beehive they could climb in, and more. Our host for the evening, Kaitlyn, was excellent at keeping the boys in line (something we parents have a hard time doing). Continue reading “Sleepover at the Philly Zoo”

Review: Disney Wonder Mexican Riviera Cruise – the Details – Part 2

As mentioned in yesterday’s post this part 2 in a 3-part series on the Disney Cruise. Read on for very extensive details about the cruise. Part 1 was an overview. Part 3 is special Hidden Mickey photos. Here I break the cruise into categories. If you’ve taken a Disney Cruise, please post about your experiences!

Glad we didn’t need one of these. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Continue reading “Review: Disney Wonder Mexican Riviera Cruise – the Details – Part 2”

Review: Disney Wonder Cruise to Mexican Riviera – part 1

When we returned from our Disney Cruise, our friends had a lot of questions, the main one being, “should we book one too?” The answer to that question is of course, individual. In this 3-part series on the Disney Cruise, I’ll give an overview (here), then go into specifics about the cruise (activities, food, kids’ club, entertainment, etc.). Part 3 is special Hidden Mickey photos.

The Disney Wonder – copyright deborah abrams kaplan

We had a fabulous time on our Disney cruise, and went with an extended family group on the Disney Wonder. Our 7 night cruise was the Mexican Riviera itinerary, going into and out of Los Angeles, with port calls in Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta (the Mazatlan stop was cancelled ahead of time due to violence there). Disney will add New York City as a starting/ending port, in 2012, which is the talk of everyone at school. They have will Canada and New England coast trips, as well as visiting the Bahamas and going to Disney World in Florida. This was our second cruise (the first was an Alaskan cruise when my daughter was a toddler, and Disney didn’t do Alaska then). Continue reading “Review: Disney Wonder Cruise to Mexican Riviera – part 1”