Category Archives: Example Trips

The other CIA

We’re always looking for interesting things to do both when we’re traveling and when we’re at home.  A few years ago, I got my husband, who loves to cook, a gift certificate for a one-day class at the Culinary Institute of America.  Yes, I am an amazing wife. ;)   He took a Vietnamese and Thai Food class and absolutely loved it!  A coworker of mine who grew up near Hyde Park, NY (where the CIA is based) told me about it.  This friend of mine has celiac disease and therefore can’t eat gluten.  He took the Gluten-free Baking Class and thought it was great.  (He also has a blog about gluten-free living.)

The CIA has locations in Hyde Park, NY, St. Helena, CA and San Antonio, TX.  They offer a range of classes from 1 and 2 day classes to Boot Camps (typically 4-5 days).  The classes cover both cooking and baking.  They also have classes geared towards kids and teens.  Around the holidays, they have special holiday baking classes where you get to take home everything you bake.  You can check out their current weekend classes here and their boot camps here.  So if you or someone you know is a food enthusiast, this could be a fun gift to give.

Note:  We’re still without power from the utility company in the aftermath of Irene.  Luckily, we do have a generator, but I may not be posting as much until we get power back.

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September 24th is Free Museum Admission Day

Smithsonian Magazine is running a free admission museum day on September 24th this year.  Many museums in every state (not just Smithsonian museums) are included in this deal.  You must register for this deal and they will give you a 2 free tickets via email.  There is a limit of 1 deal per household/email address.  To register, use the link above.  I think I might just have to check out the Norman Rockwell Museum (admission is normally $16/adult) or the Zoo in Forest Park that day.

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Wine – Harvest Festivals

I just got a mailing from one of our local wineries that their Harvest Celebration is going to be the weekend of September 17th.  That got me thinking about all the different wine locations in the US.  You don’t have to live in California to find great wineries these days (although CA is an amazing place to go that I might need to talk about someday).  In fact, most states have wineries.  If you want to find a winery near where you live, check out Wine Web.  It has a clickable map of the US that lists the wineries in the state you click on.

Living in New England, I have to talk about some of the options in the Northeast.  Connecticut has a web site for the Connecticut Wine Trail.  The site gives you information about the wineries, a map of their location and suggestions of places you can eat and sleep.

A favorite wine location of my family is the Finger Lakes region in NY State.  The Finger Lakes are located in Central New York State.  It is incredibly pictureque.  The Finger Lakes Wine Country web site gives you information about the wineries and things to do in the area.

And if you’re looking for something a little different, check out Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Inniskillin Winery which pioneered ice wine.  The other wineries in the area also have ice wine now.  You can check out the Niagara-on-the-Lake wine region using this link.

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Basketball Hall of Fame

My sister and her family were visiting us from North Carolina last weekend.  Her husband and her older son are huge basketball fans.  So going to the Basketball Hall of Fame was a must-do activity for their visit.  I had only been to the Basketball Hall of Fame one time before.  It was shortly after it moved to its new location in 2002.  They have made a lot of improvements in the last 9 years.

The Hall of Fame has several interactive exhibits.  One of them has a blue screen that you stand in front of and you play a virtual basketball game.  Another one tests to see how high you can jump to get a ball (like at tip-off).  And there’s another that allows you to be a sportscaster reading from a teleprompter.

And of course, there is a lot of memorabilia.  There are sections for coaches, college, professional and women’s basketball.  One of my favorite areas was the one dedicated to Michael Jordan.  They have a room where they play a video about his career.  They also have a wall of Air Jordans.

The main floor of the Hall of Fame is a basketball court.  One side has a bunch of hoops that show the progression of the hoop, starting with the peach basket.  On another side, they have a Slam Dunk area – there are 4 hoops set at different heights.

Overall, it was a really fun visit, even for someone who really isn’t into basketball like me.  And I know it was a blast for those who are big basketball fans!

Virtual Basketball


Jump for the Ball


Michael Jordan



Main Floor




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Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

We were so fortunate to have my sister and her family visit this past week.  So we got to play tourists in our own area.  There is so much to see in New England.  You can visit historic sites, beaches, major cities, many museums and so much more.  There were 2 places that they really wanted to visit – The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and The Basketball Hall of Fame.  I had visited the Basketball Hall of Fame shortly after they opened in their new building (shaped like a basketball) and I had never been to the Eric Carle Museum.

Now being a frugal traveler, I didn’t want to pay full price to visit the museums.  So before we went, I stopped by our local library and picked up museum passes for the 2 sites.  That allowed 6 of us (2 adults and 4 kids) to get in free to the Eric Carle Museum.  That saved us $40.  And we got reduced admission to the Basketball Hall of Fame, saving us $30.  When you have people visiting you, check out your library to see if they have museum passes.  Ours has passes for most of the major tourist attractions.

Today I’ll talk about the Eric Carle Museum and tomorrow I’ll talk about the Basketball Hall of Fame.

We started our day at the Eric Carle Museum.  It is a fairly new museum.  It’s very clean and bright in the foyer.  They have an auditorium where they show videos of some of Eric Carle’s work.  They also have a studio where kids can make art work.  Then there are a few galleries of picture book art.  One of them is focused on Eric Carle’s work.  The other galleries showcase picture book art.  Our kids loved a scavenger hunt that they have in the Eric Carle gallery.  There is a list of items that they have to find in gallery (items in the pictures or showcases).  They check off the items as they find them.  After they find all of the items, they take their sheet to the front desk where they are given a Very Hungry Caterpillar tattoo.

While I liked the museum, I’m not sure I would worth the “list” admission price unless you’re really into children’s books.  If your kids like art work, the studio would be a really fun outing.  For some reason, our kids all got really shy when we went into the studio so we didn’t get the full benefit of the museum.

I was really surprised how much our kids liked the museum considering they are out of the age for picture books.  Their favorite part was the scavenger hunt.  And the museum has a great gift shop.  You can buy limited print lithographs of Eric Carle’s work along with many kids books, decorating items for kids rooms and other kids items.

You are not allowed to take pictures in the galleries so I don’t have many pictures.  I only have one that my sister took in the art studio.