Month: April 2014

Why You Should Plan A Day Trip to Governors Island

Governors Island is a really amazing gem situated right in New York Harbor. But unfortunately, many New Yorkers never think to venture over there. However, the island is open to the public seven days a week from late May through late September each year. With so much to offer and many cultural events taking place throughout the warmer months, make it your mission to spend a day at Governors Island this summer.

Governors Island is fairly easy to get to – just hop on a ferry from the Battery Maritime Building. Kids under 12 travel for free and you can even bring your bikes with you. Once you step onto the island, it’s almost like you’ve been transported back in time. It’s peaceful, serene and full of historical significance.


The Jazz Age Lawn Party

The two main edifices on the island: Fort Jay and Castle Williams were built between 1796 and 1811 and served as defensive structures during the Civil War. The past history of the island is in full view to visitors, as there are a multitude of kid-friendly, historical activities taking place all summer long. Here is just a sampling:

For Kids! From Drills to Drums: Civil War Life on Governors Island

Here you can witness first-hand how soldiers, civilians and even prisoners lived on the island during the 19th century through re-enactments by historical actors.

Artillery Thursday!

If you really want to get in on the action, you can learn how a 19th century artillerist lived – there’s even an exciting (and loud!) canon demonstration. From there, visitors can take a look at the huge Civil War-era canons at Fort Jay. Head’s up – you may want to bring along ear plugs for this one!

Junior Ranger Activity Booklet

Kids can receive their very own official Junior Ranger Badge by completing the Junior Ranger activity booklet. Simply download a copy here, complete the activities and bring it to a park ranger. Pretty cool!

In addition, there are daily tours of Castle Williams, Nolan Park and the Arsenal District as well as hikes throughout the island and much more, such as a Jazz Age Lawn Party, taking place two weekends in June and August. Be sure to pack a lunch before you go or on weekends, you can choose from a variety of food truck vendors at the Governors Island Food Court. Set up a picnic area either at a table or on blankets underneath a shady tree for a truly relaxing experience.

Make time to visit Governors Island this summer and you’ll be wondering what took you so long in the first place.


This article originally appeared on


Good as Gold – the New York World’s Fair

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. I must have driven past Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, NY hundreds of times, yet I’ve only visited this former site of the World’s Fair once – to visit the New York Hall of Science.


A view of the 1964 New York World’s Fair

In 1964, the world was a different place and at the Fair a multitude of nations came together to showcase the best of what they had to offer in culture, technology, cuisine and more. My mom was lucky enough to go to the Fair a few times during its year-long run and it was here that she first tried Belgium waffles! It’s also where Michelangelo’s famous Pieta was displayed and where Walt Disney debuted the now iconic “It’s a Small World.”



Visitors enjoy a taste of Belgium waffles

Unfortunately one of the main exhibit sites – the New York State Pavilion has since fallen into disrepair and there has even been whispers of demolishing the Philip Johnson-designed structure. But a few intrepid New Yorkers have taken its restoration into their own hands and hopefully the structure will be revived rather than demolished. And for today only, people can actually go up into the structure as so many before them did 50 years ago. The window of opportunity is small (11AM-2PM) but pretty incredible. And if the preservationists have their way, this will hopefully be a glimpse of things to come.


The New York State Pavilion in 1964


A view of the New York State Pavilion today

I actually found an original New York World’s Fair program for sale at the library for $1 a few years back. It’s a fascinating look back at the hopes and dreams the World’s Fair brought to the masses. I wish I could have seen it in person, but alas I don’t have a time machine (wouldn’t that be something)! So for now I can at least hope to visit a restored Pavilion in the near future.

Just Like Sunday

Yesterday, I had some blissful time to myself (thanks mom and dad!) to leisurely walk around the mall. And while I was there, I discovered the new home scent line from Jo Malone called Just Like Sunday.


I love candles and the way that scents can be so evocative of different times and places in our lives. So when I saw these new candles, I knew I had to check them out. First of all, the label is clean and sleek – just a simple black label with white font. And second, they really smell great. There are four scents in the Sunday line and one  in particular really struck me – Green Tomato Leaf.

Now, you may not automatically think of this as a great candle scent, but to me it smells like a fresh summer day. It’s clean and crisp and reminds me of spending summer days at my grandparents house. They had a garden with tomatoes, basil, zucchini and so much more and this scent takes me right back there with them.


It’s really amazing how a scent can make something click in our minds and take us back to another time of our life. If you’re looking to add a little bit of lux into your home, may I suggest one of these new candles  – or any one that sparks something in you.


Images via Google



Must Do: Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Cherry Blossom Festival


It’s one of the tell-tale signs of Spring – the beautifully-flowering cherry blossom trees at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG).

The Garden is home to an impressive array of blossoming cherry trees which are displayed at the Cherry Esplanade and the Cherry Walk. The Esplanade boasts 76 trees while the walk contains more than 40 additional trees, making the BBG one of the foremost places to view cherry blossoms outside of Japan. Cherry blossoms have a notoriously short bloom season – only about one month long, so guests are encouraged to visit during the month of April for optimal cherry blossom viewing.

Sakura Matsuri

Each year, one of BBG’s can’t-miss events is Sakura Matsuri, the festival which celebrates the cherry blossoms. This year’s event takes place on April 26 and 27 and is a wonderful way to spend some outdoor time as a family. The best part – kids under 12 get in for free!


The festival not only celebrates the cherry blossom trees, but it is also a celebration of Japanese culture, featuring a varied schedule of events, workshops and demonstrations each day. A selection of activities and exhibitions include:

Manga Drawing for Kids with Misako Rocks – a hands-on workshop for kids ages 6-13 with one of the top manga artists today.

Children’s Suzuki Recital – watch kids from the Brooklyn College Preparatory Center perform an array of classical music.

Samurai Origami Workshop – learn to create your own origami masterpiece.

NY Taiko Aiko Kai Kids’ Team – this amazing type of drumming performance will have your own kids begging to take lessons.


You can see a full list of events and activities here.

Guests will also be able to enjoy a menu of Japanese and American foods for sale under the tent at the Cherry Esplanade and at the Terrace Café. Grab some food, sit back and relax on the grass before moving on to another workshop or event.

Be sure to get there early as Sakura Matsuri is an incredibly popular event at the BBG. What better way to introduce your children to another culture while getting out and enjoying nature at the same time.


This post originally appeared on MommyNearest