Friday, November 13, 2015

Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly

With almost 20 live species on display at The Academy of Natural Sciences' special exhibit "Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly", visitors have a chance to experience some of the world's most amazing creatures first hand.  Daily Vacationer absolutely loved this exhibit!  We managed to check off our list animals we've always wanted to see in person like the Chameleon and Gila Monster.  Each reptile on display boasts its own "wow-factor" from the unique way it gets around and hides to how it kills and eats.

As always with special exhibits at the Academy, Reptiles is a hands on learning experience with interactive facts and lots of things to touch on the Curiosity Cart.  Check out the schedule for talks with the Keepers and feeding demonstrations as well.  We're big fans of the massive Alligator Snapping Turtle, so seeing that big guy eating his lunch during our visit was a treat for him and us.  Another of our favorite parts was using some old-school technology to see how certain reptiles get around and learning once and for all what the difference between an Alligator and a Crocodile is.  Another thing that we really enjoyed about the set up was that half of the exhibit was entirely "snake free".  So for those of you interested in a seeing the turtles, lizards, and crocs, but have a small or large case of Ophidiophobia, you can still enjoy this awesome exhibit without fear.  However, those of you looking for snakes will be blown away by the variety and the crazy facts about these unique creatures (did you know you can "milk" a viper??).
Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly will only be at The Academy of Natural Sciences until January 10, so do not miss out on your chance to experience this amazing collection of species (save when you purchase tickets online):

Soft-shell Turtle
Snapping Turtle
Side-neck Turtle
Veiled chameleon
Frilled leaf-tailed geckos
Gila Monsters
Monitor Lizards 
Green Tree Python
Mangrove Snake 
Monocled Cobra
Gaboon Viper
Tri-color Milk Snake 
Diamond-back Rattlesnake
Reticulated Python

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: Discovery Theatre Presents Old MacDonald 2

"Old MacDonald had a farm -
E I E I O!
And on this farm he had a.....
Rocket ship? Castle? Dinosaur???..."

Join the Discovery Theatre at the Garden State Discovery Museum this month as they show want happens when a beloved nursery rhyme character leaves his home to explore the great wide world.  A tale that reminds us how hard it is to leave the familiar behind, how exciting it is to discover new places and friends, and how nice it is to come back home again.  Farmer MacDonald is certainly in for some laughs and surprises when his travels include a ballet class, traveling back in time, coming face to face with wild animals, and even exploring space!
As always, the Discovery Theatre shows are geared to delight and entertain the younger set (as well as their parents and caregivers).  The performance has lots of audience participation and moves at a fun, quick pace (thoughtfully put together for short attention spans).  With inventive props, quick costume changes, catchy songs, and endearing characters, a talented two-person cast brings each new adventure to life and engages the imagination of the audience.  Discovery Theatre never fails to put together entertaining and age appropriate shows, and Old MacDonald 2 is no exception.

Discovery Theatre shows are always included
in the price of admission.
Performances run 12pm and 3pm
November 5, 6, 7, 14, 21, 27, 28
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Diner en Blanc Philadelphia 2015

Diner en Blanc: "Thousands of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space...."
.... in the POURING RAIN!
The 2015 Philadelphia Diner en Blanc is sure to be remembered as one of the most exciting and unpredictable gatherings since Kayli Moran and Natanya DiBona brought this Parisian tradition to our city.  The evening started with a mist and heavy drizzle while thousands gathered in groups around Center City decked in their party white lugging their tables and chairs and picnic baskets along - determined to have a good time in spite of the weather.  The drizzle turned into a steady rain as the participants arrived at the secret Navy Yard location, and then erupted into a full out down pour as the elegant dining began.  Umbrellas and ponchos were the must-have accessory of the evening, but the added elements could do nothing to deter the 4.500 who had gathered for a lawn party with friends, acquaintances, and lots and lots of total strangers.  Our favorite people to watch were those who never bothered to shield themselves from the rain and continued to sit in full fancy dress, eating their baguettes and shrimp cocktails, making casual conversation as if there was absolutely nothing unusual about sitting in a storm to dine.  As the rain began to clear, the masses got up to dance, socialize, and shake off their wet clothes.  The meal ended with the raising of 4,500 sparklers to the night sky letting the city know that in spite of the weather, Diner en Blanc was still there, still having the evening of their lives, and still the envy of the 30.000 people on the waiting list who hope for a chance to attend in 2016 (we know we want to be there!).
The secret 2015 Diner en Blanc location: the Philadelphia Navy Yard

Guests arrive, set up their own places, and a napkin wave sets the meal in motion


People went all out on their table d├ęcor looking for that Best Centerpiece Prize


As the evening got darker, the rain got more intense, and the fun continued


 The beats from DJ Sabeel Chohan got everyone up to dance

The evening climaxed with a blaze of sparklers:


Au Revoir...until next year....
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Rail Road

This past June, Daily Vacationer Jr got the thrill of a lifetime when we were able to attend one of the most talked about and anticipated childhood memory-making events of the year: A Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Rail Road.  We absolutely love Strasburg Rail Road out in Lancaster County (tons of happy times were had there in our own childhood)!  A regular day at Strasburg is already loads of fun, with rides on historic steam engines and train cars through Amish farmland and lots of extra fun to do at the station from browsing the extensive gift shops and sampling the good eats to taking a spin on the hand-powered cranky cars and behind the Pint-Sized Pufferbelly miniature steam engine.  But when A Day Out with Thomas comes to Strasburg, it all becomes even more exciting - an absolute must for anyone with Thomas and Friends/train fans in the family.

One of the things that we liked best about A Day Out with Thomas was how well run it all was (no confusion and delay here, Sir Topham Hatt).  The overflow of parking was redirected with easy to follow signs to the Sight and Sound Theatre where buses were transporting visitors back and forth pretty much every five minutes.  There were no lines or huge crowds waiting even at the height of the weekend, and it was no big deal to run back to the car to grab something you forgot.  We also observed a distraught family who had missed their time slot to ride the Thomas train being assured that they would be able to get on the next ride and were quickly printed new tickets with a new time.  Everything was clearly marked and there were staff everywhere to answer questions and keep everyone safe with all the train comings and goings.  A Day Out with Thomas was probably was one of the smoothest run events we've ever been to - and for an event where the main audience is not even school-aged yet, that is saying a lot!  It was very clear that it was the staff's job to worry about all the details, and visitors were just expected to relax and have fun.

The highlight of A Day Out with Thomas is, of course, seeing the blue tank engine himself, and no matter how many times he puffed in and out of the station, there was always euphoria among the crowds as he went by.  Making things even better was the addition of his best friend, Percy, who was also available to ride behind ( and don't worry - we were informed that back on the Island of Sodor, James was taking care of Percy's usual job pulling the mail cars so he was able to come too).  Both engines talked and smiled as they entered and exited the station and then would stop to pose for photos with guests in between train rides.  We rode behind Thomas and Percy and definitely recommend going for the upgraded ticket to experience both (and you can always upgrade once you are there as we saw many families doing).

A Day Out with Thomas also includes many special extras around the train station that aren't usually there.  There's a fun photo op with the famous Sir Topham Hatt, a tent to get temporary tattoos, lots of Thomas and Friends toys, books,  clothing, and more to browse and buy, plus lots of activities.  We headed over to the Imagination Station where numerous train tables and piles of building materials gave everyone a chance to create their own Thomas story.  Nearby, a handful of Thomas power wheels were available for little ones to ride around the tracks.  A favorite spot among parents was the Storytelling and Video Viewing location - a great place to rest and regroup without getting bored.  Photo ops also abounded with big banners of Thomas and Friends characters hung low for smaller visitors to enjoy, as well as many places to stop and see Thomas and Percy puffing in and out of the station.

A Day Out with Thomas is already chocked full of special fun and activities, and Strasburg Rail Road manages to make it even better by continuing to run their normal steam train route, as well as all their regular extras around the station.  Different ticket combos allow you to enjoy some or all of the trains available to ride during the event (and  as always, train station extras are FREE with a train ticket).  Daily Vacationer Jr had an amazing time at A Day Out with Thomas at Strasburg Rail Road - and judging from the looks on the faces old and young around us, we were not the only ones.  Definitely take advantage of this awesome event and bring your Thomas and train lovers to meet their beloved tank engines face to face and make memories that the family will remember forever.
September 12 -September 20
November 20 - November 22

You might also like: Easter at Strasburg Rail Road
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Summer at the Delaware River Waterfront

The Delaware River Waterfront is always an awesome place to enjoy in Philadelphia.  Refreshing breezes, the sound of lapping waves, and endless piers and walkways to explore give the Waterfront an exciting coastal feel.  And as fun as it is to experience during the rest of the year, nothing compares to a visit during the summer.  The Delaware River Waterfront outdoes themselves year after year with brand new renovations, pop up parks, concerts and live entertainment, exercise classes, seaport and boating fun, and much, much more - and almost all of it is FREE!
One of the best things to ever happen to the Waterfront was last year's success of Spruce Street Harbor Park, and this summer it returns for an extended season and even more of what made it so great last year.  Open from May 22 - September 27, Philadelphia's urban beach is the place to play during the day and relax into the night.  With hammocks strung under an amazing lights display, various games for every age (including an indoor arcade), and a great variety of tasty food options (we are loving having another spot to enjoy The Franklin Fountain's ice cream creations!), there's something for everyone.  The real show stopper is the floating oasis barge surrounding the peaceful water gardens - the perfect place to dig your feet in the sand or lay back on a comfy rope net over the river.
Photo: Delaware River Waterfront
Another must see location this season is the transformation of the wildly popular Winterfest into Summerfest (also open May 22 - September 27).  Turning the famous Blue Cross RiverRink from an ice skating rink to a roller rink was pure genius, and a welcome retro activity for children and grown ups alike.  Fortunately for us, rollerblades are available for rent as well as the traditional roller skates.  Another indoor arcade and tabletop games in the lodge provide even more fun, and we're loving the addition of the swing set.  The great Delaware River views and porch seating aren't the only good reason to visit - the food is also fantastic!
Along with SSHP and Summerfest, the Delaware River Waterfront now boasts nine different attraction areas each with it's own unique experience.  Festival Pier welcomes a variety of bands and shows all summer long, while Race Street Pier is the perfect location to rejuvenate with a free yoga session.  The Great Plaza at Penn's Landing has a schedule packed full of concerts. movies, and cultural events (many of which are free to the public).  The Delaware River Trail along Columbus Blvd is a tranquil nature path which includes stops at the newly renovated historical Washington Avenue Pier and the anticipated fishing location, Pier 68.  Penn's Landing Marina is the place for on the water fun with paddle boat, kayak, canoe, and row boat rentals, paddleboard yoga classes, boat slips, river cruises, and maritime discoveries with the Independence Seaport Museum, including going aboard historic ships like the USS Olympia and Becuna.

Bring the family, meet your friends, or just relax alone at the Delaware River Waterfront this summer - a location that continues to make Philadelphia stand out as a fun and forward-thinking destination.

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