This is my ten-year-old son, working with fire, to make a glass pendant at the Corning Museum of Glass in the Finger Lakes region of New York:
Can I just say that the Corning Museum of Glass rocks? Because it does. Really.
My kids loved making glass, watching others form glass into art and they even enjoyed walking through galleries of glass art, inspecting nearly every single piece. Really.
And they liked the hands-on learning stuff, too.
(I’ll admit standing on the section of the second floor that was glass and looking down kind of freaked me out, even though my brain knew it had to be safe. I might have to cross the Grand Canyon Skywalk off my travel to-do list. Gulp. Other than that tiny heebie-jeebie part, I loved every bit of the museum. It was awesome.
Here’s how our visit went:
The night before we visited, I signed us up and bought tickets for some hands-on glassmaking. I was able to find spots for all of us to make glass, and we were thrilled with what we made, but I really should have planned ahead to reserve some of the seasonal projects.
My ten year-old and I registered to make glass pendants. My husband, 5 year-old and 8 year-old signed up for glass fusing.
Since our class times were different, my husband and I divided the kids and explored, with our oldest and me heading straight to our class.
We were greeted by our instructor and given aprons, goggles and arm covers to wear for protection. We looked at other pendants, selected our designs and colors and then learned a bit about the flame and technique as our guide made an example for us and explained each step.
My son got right to work, rolling the glass to keep it from falling and adding the decoration from other glass rods. I have to say I was impressed at how he kept cool, trying something he had never done (or seen) before and also working in front of the flame!
Next it was my turn and, after watching him, I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I expected to be. Plus, our guide was great at explaining things and helping every step of the way.
After that, we checked out some of the art in that building and then walked back over to the main part of the museum and watched the end of a glass-making demonstration with the rest of our family before exploring the rest of the museum on our own.
My son spent about 45 minutes exploring the hands-on exhibits, but well over an hour looking at all the glass from different centuries and different parts of the world.
I didn’t expect him to be so intrigued at all the pieces, but he definitely was. He kept pointing out intricate details and referring to world events in the art that he had read about. (Not to self: All those Magic Treehouse books and 39 Clues books do teach something other than ‘just’ a love of learning!)
He was tickled by this chess set of Roman Catholic and Jewish characters.
We also enjoyed the glass market with a new appreciation after our class and after viewing the exhibits. As any boy would, he especially liked watching George Rhoads’ “Marble Machine.” Marbles roll along tracks to play the xylophone, ring other bells and do all sorts of crazy things:
We met back up with my husband and our other two children, took a few family photos in front of the giant Christmas tree of glass balls and decided to have lunch at the museum as well. The cafe served soups, sandwiches, pizza, pasta and other option and offered reduced-price kid-sized portions. The prices were definitely reasonable.
I would definitely go back to the Corning Museum of Glass if I was back in the area with my kids. We spent several hours there and the kids were occupied and happy the entire time (as were the adults!). We loved making the glass and looking at the glass… and I know we’ll cherish our own art for years to come. If you are planning a trip to the Finger Lakes with kids, this is a definite must-do.
The Corning Museum of Glass
Admission and fees:
The museum was kind enough to give us complimentary admission passes for our visit (kids and teens are free, adult passes range in price from $6 for locals with ID to $12.75- $15). The glass-making classes require a separate a fee, which we paid ourselves. (Classes range from $10 to $40 depending on the project.)
Wondering about wineries in the Finger Lakes? Click over to VineSleuth Uncorked for a few Finger Lakes winery reviews from my last trip.
Filed under New York | Tags: Finger Lakes, hands-on fun, museums | Comments (2)
Yesterday we drove from Buffalo to Watkins Glen to begin our vacation in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
What was supposed to be a straight drive of about 2 and a half hours changed a bit when we saw a billboard along the highway.
It advertised a JELL-O museum in LeRoy, the birthplace of JELL-O. I Googled it as my husband drove and we decided it wasn’t too far out of the way. So how could we not stop?
We exited the highway, followed a few signs
and pulled into the empty parking lot. We were a tad early as the museum opens at 1 p.m. on Sundays. (I guess I was caught up in the excitement and missed that part of the website.)
It was Noon, so we wandered around town, picked wildflowers, played in leaves (we don’t have those at home),
took pictures of the water (We don’t have that at home, either!)
and then had a bit of a picnic in the parking lot.
Once it was open, we learned all sorts of JELL-O history and enjoyed looking through old advertisements, products and reading JELL-O stories.
We learned how the owner of the company finally convinced people to buy his product: He sent a team door-to-door, handing out either a box of JELL-O or a recipe book free to each home. The moms started making it and the demand at the grocery stores grew.
We learned that no, JELL-O is not made from ground up cow bones or horse’s hoofs and that a bowl of lime JELL-O and the human brain have similar waves on an EEG machine.
Our son (the one who hates writing and will do anything to get out of writing anything) enjoyed following a scavenger hunt through the museum, filling in the blanks on a sheet
and was rewarded at the end with a box of chocolate JELL-O pudding from the gallery.
We also watched a DVD journey through the 30-year history of Bill Cosby’s relationship with JELL-O and all of his silly commercials, as well as some other commercials through the years. (My, how times have changed!!)
We also visited the transportation museum downstairs and saw carriages and beautiful sleds like I had never seen.
After about an hour, we loaded back into the minivan and continued our journey to Watkins Glen.
Once we turned onto Route 14, we drove alongside Lake Seneca, one of the Finger Lakes, and all of us were amazed as to how long it is.
“It’s still going!!” my daughter marveled.
We stopped at Fox Run Vineyards, a winery we will be visiting later in the week, to pick up a few bottles of wine to taste and then continued to the Harbor Hotel in Glen Watkins.
Once we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted with a very friendly staff. We checked in as the concierge pulled together quite a stack of literature on the area for us and then pointed out several family-friendly options. She gave a us dinner recommendation within walking distance and promised more help throughout the week.
Our room is amazing. I’ll try to post some photos soon (although now it is quite messy!!). We have a great view of the lake and lots of space to spread out.
So far, our travels here have been just what we needed: a bit of adventure and a lot of relaxation.
On tap for today: A winery visit to Anthony Road and potentially some waterfall sightings.
Later in the week we will definitely hit the Corning Museum of Glass and some more wineries.
Psst. This just in: The JELL-O museum was featured on CBS Sunday Morning on November 27. Click over and watch the six-minute story for more jiggly fun.
Filed under New York, Trip Journal | Tags: Finger Lakes, Glen Watkins, JELL-O Museum | Comment (1)
It is early in the morning and I’m in the hotel bathroom with the light on, trying not to stir anyone. We got in after midnight, so everyone should be pretty tired and sleep for a bit, but you just never know. For now, though, the kids are asleep. My husband has gone to get the rental car, and I’ve finished my devotional time. I was debating between trying to catch a few more winks, or sharing a bit about our trip.
I guess I’ll share for a bit…
We are over the river and through the woods, but not quite to grandmother’s house.
Last night we arrived in Buffalo and later today we will drive to the Finger Lakes for our Thanksgiving vacation.
A few years ago, after fitting in two different family trips in two different states within the week of Thanksgiving, we decided to use Thanksgiving as a time for our own immediate family vacation. Sometimes we see extended family and sometimes we do not. But we always have great adventures.
This year we plan to explore the wineries of the Finger Lakes in New York and also add in some family-friendly activities. We packed a few of the kids favorite games and intend to s-l-o-w down the pace and relax together this week.
And our traveling has already gone well.
The airport was quiet yesterday… so quiet that there wasn’t even a line at security at all! Cha-CHING!
And, at security we learned that kids under age 12 no longer have to remove their shoes at security.
My 10 year-old was bummed at this news.
“Now they won’t know how good we are at getting through security,” he said.
(My kids do rock at getting their backpacks and shoes off and in the bins at security. I think they breeze through faster than many adults, to be honest.)
So we got through security in a snap and then found a restaurant to grab dinner and just hung out for just over an hour before heading to the plane and boarding. Both of our flights were on time and all of our luggage made it beautifully. (Yippeeeee!)
The aforementioned 10 year-old did leave his sweatshirt on the plane which, thankfully, when we called from the baggage area, a USAirways employee cheerfully retrieved from the plane and brought it to us. (Thank you!!!) Guess he’s great at security, but can still be a bit forgetful. Oh well.
Right now we are at the Fairfield Inn and Suites right near the airport for just one night.
We were looking for a hotel near the airport with a shuttle from the airport and this hotel had that, as well as several great reviews on TripAdvisor.
It has proved to be an excellent choice. The shuttle driver was extremely friendly and helpful last night and the lady at check in was equally delightful and accommodating. Our room is the perfect size for a quick overnight, is very clean and has a groovy decor, which is always fun.We have a room with a king bed and a pull out sofa and I like how the room is arranged so the beds are not right next to each other but, instead, that the pull-out is an a different alcove.
We have free wi-fi (yay!!) and there is a complimentary hot breakfast downstairs.
After breakfast, we will be on our way to the Finger Lakes!
I’ll report back later and try to snap a few pictures to share.
So far, our Thanksgiving travels have been easy-breezy. If you are traveling this week, too, I only wish the same for you.
Filed under New York, Trip Journal | Tags: Finger Lakes, Thanksgiving | Comment (1)
Here’s how it went for us:
Anyone out there thinking of going to the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City this Thanksgiving?
Well, guess it’s a little late in the game for most of us to just be thinking about it. Let me try again…
Anyone planning on heading to New York City this Thanksgiving and taking in the Macy’s Day Parade?
We did it a few years ago with our then-18-month-old daughter and our then-four- and six-year old boys.
(Just typing that makes me laugh at myself. What were we… INSANE?!)
Seriously, though we did have some wonderful moments and now that it is over it is funny to hear the boys’ recollections of the trip.
I don’t think my daughter remembers it. But that’s okay because I know she had her own moments of sheer delight at the time. Like when we visited the American Girl Place and she wouldn’t stop rocking her new Bitty Baby for hours.
Our younger son talked for months about New York City. And for quite awhile he would talk about earning money so he could give it to all the people in New York who needed it. (I think all the Goodwill Santa’s ringing bells and asking for donations skewed the statistics in his mind.)
The trip was action-packed… and that was just walking to go get lunch!
I will say the trip was a lot of work… pushing a stroller through that much of a crowd was no picnic. And there were crowds everywhere, every second, like nothing I have ever seen… either before or after that trip.
But, still, we had a great time and the boys do talk about it.
Yes, after seeing the parade live with massive floats in person and then traipsing up to our hotel room to watch the end on TV and then not hearing even one excited comment from the kids was a bit surprising and heart-breaking. But NOW they talk about it and are pretty impressed.
Thanksgiving dinner by room service just felt, well, weird. But not as weird as it would have felt had we gone to Dubai this year as originally planned! (More on that much later)
So what all did we do in NYC that year? And what did we think (did I mention the crowds??)?
Here are our reactions:
Oh my gracious was that store packed!
I thought it would be fun let the boys ride the indoor ferris wheel. So did everyone else. The line was at a 2-hour wait when we arrived, which pushed it way out of consideration. Even looking at the toys with so many people around was a challenge. There are Toys R Us locations all over the place. I didn’t think any tourists would actually be Christmas shopping….WHAT WAS I THINKING???
Pushing through the crowds to see the Macy’s Day parade balloons the night before the parade
There were so many people literally shoved into such a small chain-link-fenced area that I even began to wonder how safe we were.
We moved with the crown alongside the balloons which were pretty massive, but the crowding and shoving made it hard to enjoy the experience. If you go, don’t even think of bringing a stroller. I am glad we left ours back at the hotel.
Thinking we would get cupcakes at the famous Magnolia Bakery and then dine at a pizza place reviewed in every travel book I found
Both had lines. Out the door. And around the corner. And then some. YOW! Fortunately we found suitable alternatives.
Assuming our concierge would give us good inside advice.
Most New York City hotel concierges are now contracted through a tourism company. Ours knew very little about the hotel we were in and its dining options and instead seemed only to want to sell us tickets to other things. The people at the front desk were nice and helpful, though… but still a little lost about the restaurant’s dining options.
Wearing cute boots with heels
Yep, they looked great. And yep, after awhile they hurt, which might have contributed to a bit of the crankies on my part.
Like I said, though, it wasn’t all bad… here’s the good stuff:
Changing into athletic shoes
Aaaahhhh, life was much better when I cast fashion aside and just wore the tennies. My feet thanked me. My body thanked me. My husband and kids probably noticed a change in my attitude and thanked me, too.
Exploring the American Museum of Natural History
I love cool museums, I just do. And, even though the museum in the first “Night at the Museum” movie is fictional, and looks very different inside, I knew the boys would dig a trip to a museum that resembles the one in the movie. We had a blast exploring all the exhibits, comparing dinosaur bones, watching the fish, and just wandering through and wondering. This place wasn’t too, too crowded, either.
Top of the Rock
On Thanksgiving night we took the zooming elevator ride up to the top of Rockefeller Center for a look at Manhattan from way up high. We all loved peering out, taking in the sights and feeling the wind through our hair. I only became afraid of the height once. Okay, maybe twice. And guess what… the line was virtually nonexistent! Hooray!
Visiting American Girl Place just after it opened
We must have hit this store at just the right time. After a five-minute wait outside, my daughter and I zoomed up the Bitty Baby floor of the American Girl Place where she fell in love with a new baby. Like I said above, watching her rock that baby for hours after she became hers was priceless. She still loves her Bitty Baby 3 years later.
The kids could see the massive digital M&M’s World signs from our hotel room, so it wasn’t long before we checked it out. We found M&Ms of every color and made our own custom mixes.
We also bought M&Ms in a variety of different flavors I hadn’t seen before and looked through any type of M&M paraphernalia a kid could imagine. We were in M&M heaven!
Horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park followed by dinner from a hot dog stand
A little chilly but a lot of fun. Even my daughter, who was terrified of horses at the time, loved it. Eating hot dogs form a street vendor for dinner afterward just seemed appropriate… and there was no wait for a table on the sidewalk! (Okay, there wasn’t a table, either, but we didn’t notice.)
Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes
All five of us were mesmerized by the show and it even snowed inside the theater… Loved it!
DoubleTree Guest Suites
Our hotel not only had a fantastic location for wandering down to watch the parade live in person, it also had a great location for just about anywhere else we wanted to go. But what I especially loved was that in the land of tiny hotel rooms that is Manhattan, the DoubleTree Guest Suites offered a room of reasonable size, reasonable rate and was a suite. Perfect!
Have you been to New York City for the Macy’s Day Parade? What tips would you offer a family thinking of going?
And what are your NYC Must-See’s?
This post is linked to Mingle Monday.
My tastebuds just returned from a trip to New York City, and oh, are they happy!
Tonight our family discovered Grimaldi’s pizza in our own hometown.
The last time I had Grimaldi’s pizza was on a girls’ trip to NYC. It was good then, but all the standing and waiting, and then sitting at a long table with strangers, and then feeling rushed so that those standing and waiting didn’t have to wait so long was a bit much.
Tonight, I dined with my family in a very relaxing setting and we all enjoyed it.
The little kids were each given a pizza pan with dough to play with while we sat at the table.
My two boys, ages 6 and 8, were also entertained by watching the very active pizza kitchen right from their seats. I learned later that they saw dough being tossed in the air and pizzas going into and out of the coal oven.
My husband l-o-v-e-s a good thin-crust pizza, and is always on the hunt for the perfect pizza. He ordered his typical sausage and pepperoni and our waitress said he would love the sausage. (She also said he ordered her favorite salad, the Caesar.)
When I ordered my pizza (tomato and extra basil) I asked that they go light on the cheese. Our waitress explained that they go light on just about everything and use high-quality ingredients so they flavors really stand out.
She spoke the truth.
I think my husband has a new spot for his pepperoni and sausage on thin-crust fix. The kids loved their pepperoni and also the plain cheese. And did I mention how fantastic mine was? The crust was perfect—thin and crispy, but not so crispy that the crust crumbled. And, just as the waitress said, I could taste all of the flavors of the pizza because they weren’t loaded on too heavily.
(This Weight Watcher had to remind herself she was counting points… after 3 ½ fantastic pieces! But that’s what the weekly allowance is for, right?)
Typically I am not a fan when a small, local restaurant starts popping up all over the place because typically, when this happens, the food just tastes mass-produced.
Well, in this case, that could not be further from the truth. The pizza was superb. The salads were crispy, fresh and also delicious. And fortunately I can go back and enjoy this delicious New York pizza without packing one suitcase, buying a plane ticket or waiting too long in line.
I’m quite sure my tastebuds will vacation here again and again.
So, can you go on this trip without a plane ticket, too?
Grimaldi’s has six locations in Arizona, one in Nevada, and five in Texas, in addition to two in New York and one in New Jersey.
Bon Voyage!Filed under Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas | Comments (2)