Review: Yotel

I’ve been wanting to check out Yotel for some time, and finally made it there when I went to a toy show. One of the nice women working in the information area agreed to take me to see some rooms. I didn’t realize how generous she was going to be, as she took me to a lot of rooms to give me a good idea of the various types they have. My kids were in heaven and wanted to stay there.

Yotel is at 10th Avenue and 42nd Street, an easy walk from Times Square (and Port Authority). The hotel is more economical than many, with rooms starting at $149 (in winter, for the smallest room for 2) and going up from there.

The front of Yotel, on 42nd and 10th. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Yotel is a very funky hotel with smaller than average rooms (think cruise ship), and they actually call them cabins. The space is well designed though, and you kind of forget about the size when you realize how much else it offers. Like great design! Yotel in NYC is the only actual freestanding hotel in its group – the other three are airport hotels at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and Amsterdam’s airport, where you can book by the hour without worrying feeling like you’re in a brothel.

Leave your luggage with YOBOT while you hit the town on your first or last day in town. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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Review: Spiderman on Broadway – Good for Kids?


If you pay attention to Broadway shows, perhaps even if you don’t, you’ve heard about Spiderman – the most expensive show to produce on Broadway, the injuries from flying during previews, criticism of the script and Bono/The Edge music, firing of director Julie Taymor, etc. Reviews of the new production are mediocre, claiming this version of the show is bland, family entertainment (versus Taymor’s artistic version which was darker and didn’t work). And only one person I talked to who had actually seen, it liked it. In fact, she loved it, and said it was the best show she’d ever seen on Broadway. I assumed she didn’t get out much. So this was my mindset going in. I figured my 8 year old son would like it, and my critical 11 year old daughter and I would say, “meh.”

Bottom line: We all loved it.

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Review: Spy Exhibition with Kids – Discovery Times Square

We were recently at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC. There are more spies in DC than anywhere else. But apparently there are a fair amount in the NYC area as well (not that that’s a surprise). We weren’t sure how it would compare to the recently opened Spy: the Secret World of Espionage at Discovery Times Square.

What is spying? Basically it’s trying to gain the upper hand and know what your adversary is going to do before they do it. It’s attaining information you’re not supposed to have, to ensure your security. And it’s widespread. It doesn’t have to be obtained illegally – spies get their information from internet sites and blogs (my kids laughed at that one), as well as classified documents. Continue reading “Review: Spy Exhibition with Kids – Discovery Times Square”

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.

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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”

Dead Sea Scrolls Major Discount Tickets

If you’re thinking of seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit (read our Dead Sea Scrolls with Kids review here), now’s the time to click “buy.” Groupon has a deal for through Sunday where you can get tickets for $10-15 each. You can see the list of Dead Sea Scrolls deals and discounts available daily here, but bottom line is you’re not going to get a ticket for less than $20 on a normal day, and here there are no additional fees. At the box office, Dead Sea tickets are $27 for adults and $19.50 for kids.

If you’re new to Groupon, get the tickets here – on the Northern Jersey page (if it takes you to a different page, then click on the city at the top, find New Jersey, then Northern Jersey).

If you’re already a Groupon user, get the tickets here. You can buy 8 per person plus additional ones as gifts.

Review: Dead Sea Scrolls with Kids

The Dead Sea Scroll exhibition tells the story of the foundation of three religions, in terms of ancient texts and times. The scrolls are more than 2,000 years old, written mostly before Jesus’s time.

The entrance to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition

When you enter, you’ll be in the room above, pictures/movies that change depending on what your guide is telling you. You’ll hear about the three jars – their origin and times, while seeing scenes of Israel and the area in historical context – the Dead Sea, digging at an archaeological site, the Western Wall, and more.

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Where to go during the New Jersey Teachers’ Convention

Those of us with kids in New Jersey public schools look forward to a two day school break in November, for the teachers’ convention. You can either sit around at home, or take off in the car or on a plane for a family trip.

It’s not too late to plan something! If you haven’t yet thought of what to do, I rounded up some great links to vacations in driving distance of New Jersey, provided by seasoned fellow bloggers and travel writers. Let me know where you plan to go!


For a staycation, here are some ideas for local fun. See a Broadway play. I’ve got reviews of Matilda here  and reviews of Mamma Mia here. See all my Broadway reviews here.

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Review: CSI: The Experience with Kids – New York City

You’ve seen CSI the show (or maybe you haven’t). Now try it for yourself. CSI: the Experience is making its way around the country, and is in Discovery Times Square (I’m not sure of the ending date, though it is a limited engagement).

The exhibition has three scenarios (crime scenes). While we were able to go through all three (we had to complete one circuit and then go back to the entrance again), my understanding is that this is not the case any longer, and that you have to pay an additional fee to go through a second scenario.

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