My Favorite Zoo Is…

There is usually a zoo in every large city. When I travel to new cities though, going to a zoo is usually last on my last. I just don’t love zoos. I feel almost un-American saying something like that…who doesn’t love zoos?

Here’s why I don’t love them:

  • on the expensive side
  • hard to see the animals (they’re so far away, I need a big screen, like in a stadium)
  • animals aren’t always available to see (usually whatever one I want to see)
  • smells badly
  • have to walk long distances (usually with kids who are too tired to walk but don’t want to sit in a stroller because they’ll miss the animals)
  • the extras (merry-go-round, feeding animals, riding camels – why isn’t that stuff included!)

However, my favorite zoo is Cape May Zoo.

Here’s what I love it:

  • it’s free (they only ask for a donation)
  • the animals are very close
  • it’s not too big

Side Note: Yes, it still smells and they do have “extras” but those are outside the zoo so you can avoid them more easily, if you like.

On our last visit, I didn’t take many pictures but here are a few:

And, here is the best thing we saw there:

It’s a caterpillar. Isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve seen? It was walking across a pathway garnering tons of attention. Almost as much as the tiger whose cage was close by to where he was inching along. All right, I know it’s not really a part of the zoo but I’ve never seen it at another zoo, so there!

Where is your favorite zoo?
Why do you love it?

In case you’re wondering, my second favorite zoo is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, in Colorado Springs. We went a long, long time ago. Here’s a few pictures from that trip 🙂

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Let’s Eat: Rats, Hamilton, NJ

My last post was about visiting Grounds for Sculpture. Located on the beautiful grounds is Rats restaurant.

You might remember that I love going out to eat. Period. I also love visiting places that are owned by chefs I’ve seen on TV. The winner of Top Chef, DC was Kevin Sbraga who was the chef at Rats. Since he’s won, he opened is own place called Sbraga located in downtown Philadelphia.

Even though he was no longer there, I thought it would still be fantastic. Before I tell you what I thought, I should tell you about the name. Rats is just not the best name for a restaurant, don’t you agree? It doesn’t bring to mind thoughts of a clean, rodent-free place to eat, at least in my mind.

But…it’s actually named after the character, Ratty from The Wind in the Willows. Seward Johnson, founder of Rat’s and Grounds For Sculpture, thought he threw the best parties with the best wine, just like Ratty. Totally cool, right? Much better than dirty rodents in the kitchen!

So, what did I think of the place? I did not like it.

Ouch. Sorry.

The decor and atmosphere were cool. The outside front of the place looks like a French village. The back of the restaurant looks out onto a pond and sculptures, which is totally cool.

The food though, was just not good.

I got the mussels in a white sauce. They were okay. The flavor just wasn’t good and some of them had beards, which I hate. My daughter got a grilled cheese from the kids menu. She wasn’t eating it and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I tasted it. I’m not sure what kind of cheese they used but it wasn’t American or Cheddar. That’s fine for a grown up sandwich (I guess) but this was from the kid’s menu.

And it was expensive. Normally, I don’t talk about costs. Everyone has different levels of what they think is worth spending money. What I think is expensive you and a total waste of money, you might think is on target. But, I think without a doubt, we would agree this place is expensive.

Here’s what I loved:

  • nothing, really 😦

Here’s what I liked:

  • the atmosphere
  • the service
  • the bathrooms

Here’s what I didn’t love:

  • the food
  • the price for not very good food

Have you eaten at Rats?
What did you think?

Grounds for Sculpture IS for ALL ages

Have you heard of Grounds for Sculpture? It’s one of my in-laws favorite places to take people from out-of-town. We’re not from out-of-town so they hadn’t asked us…

I’m kidding, of course! They had asked us to go a number of times but it never fit into our schedule…until now! We planned to meet them there and arrived within minutes of each other, which is a fantastic omen of a good trip!

Grounds for Sculpture is exactly what it sounds like it is, a huge area filled with all different sculptures. I was concerned taking my daughter there. She only just turned four and I wasn’t sure she was going to appreciate the artistic endeavor of sculpture.

Guess what? I underestimated her artistic eye. She had a great time. We all did.

There is so much to see there (see the eyes of the sculptures between the trees?).

Leah loved these dancer sculptures.

But, these indoor sculptures were her favorites!

If you go, be sure to check throughout the trees. There are tons of hidden sculptures. And things that look real but aren’t (hint: the whole table scape below if a sculpture).

My favorite area was the water gardens.

And here’s my favorite sculpture. I don’t know why I like it so much. Maybe its simplicity? What do you think?

And, here’s my favorite picture of the day!

Just had to throw that one in 🙂

Have you been to Grounds for Sculpture?
What did you think?

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Let’s Eat: The Bistro, Haddonfield, NJ

Recently, my husband and I got to enjoy a lunch out together. It was a little last-minute and kind of unusual for us. And, it was a great opportunity to try The Bistro, which surprisingly enough I found through twitter!

It was a perfect day so we chose to eat outside on their sidewalk patio. The inside looked pretty big though and there was quite a crowd for lunch (side note: this picture is not from that afternoon…this is a picture from their web site). The service was very friendly. Unfortunately, we were seated next to some rude customers, which I previous discussed here, so I won’t go into it again!

The menu is really big, which I love but sometimes makes me nervous. I feel like they can’t make all those different options well, or even have fresh ingredients always on hand for that many things. I got the spinach pear salad and my husband got the falafel burger. And, we were pleasantly surprised.

They were both very good. Mine was the winner though. The pear vinaigrette was so yummy. That, along with the candied walnuts made the whole thing! My husband liked (but not loved) his. The fries that came with it were crispy and delicious.

Here’s what I loved:

  • the outside area
  • lots of selection

Here’s what I liked:

  • the service
  • the food

Here’s what I didn’t love:

  • nothing 🙂

Have you eaten in Haddonfield?
What’s your favorite place?

Best Trip Ever

We do a lot of traveling (hence the blog) and visit a lot of places. We usually have a great time wherever we go. Sure, sometimes it’s fraught with disasters but in the end it winds up being fun (at least that’s how we remember it after a few years).

However, this past week, I experienced the best trip ever.

My daughter and I went to Storybook Land. Now, this is not really a “big” trip. It’s only about an hour away and only two of us went for one afternoon. None the less, I’m categorizing it as a trip.

Here’s why it was the best:

  • we didn’t rush
  • it was clean
  • we walked all over without missing the stroller
  • everyone was nice
  • we had no expectations
  • the weather was perfect
  • we loved the rides and the exhibits
  • there were no tears (NONE, that is unbelievable but true)
  • it was age appropriate
  • nobody got car sick

This all happened even though:

  • it was expensive
  • we had to park far
  • it was crowded

Storybook Land is filled with all rides and small exhibits related to kid’s stories. I say exhibits because I don’t know what else to call them. Here are some examples of the exhibits:

  • A big boot you can walk through that is supposed to be the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe
  • A big sculpture of Moby Dick with his mouth open you can stand in
  • A pumpkin with a moving statue of a woman making pies representing Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater (and another pumpkin you can go in)
  • Snow White’s house that you can look in the windows and see and hear the elves singing and dancing (and a Dopey figure to stick your head in)
  • Live birds including a regular peacock and two white peacocks (I’ve never seen those before!)

See, exhibits, right?

They also have rides, like:

  • train ride, which goes around the park
  • dragon ride
  • teacups
  • merry-go-round
  • card maze
  • ferris wheel

They have a few rides that are faster, higher, and overall a bit scarier but my daughter doesn’t like those yet, so we stuck to the smaller rides.

Storybook Land is perfect for three through eight year-olds. Younger or older can certainly go but I don’t think they’d enjoy it as much. It really is a clean, well-kept park that is lots of fun!

Have you been to Storybook Land?