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What Happens When A Small-Town Family Visits The "World's Largest"... Whatever!

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The Mapparium in Boston, MA: Another Really BIG Globe!

Mary Baker Eddy Library

Mary Baker Eddy Library, home to The Mapparium

Last weekend, we returned to the annual MakerFaire, which is held in Queens. It also gave us a chance to see the Unisphere again; the world’s largest globe. Love it! And you know how I feel about Eartha up in Yarmouth, Maine.

Which got me to thinking about globes, and how I really should tell you about the Mapparium in Boston, MA.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Boston was hot the week we visited. We stopped by the Mapparium, a part of the Mary Baker Eddy Library, for some air-conditioned relief, and to see the indoor, 30-foot, walk-through globe.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

I have a thing for globes (see above). The tabletop version we have at home is used frequently, to show the kids where places are while we’re reading books about distant lands. Or…when I make them sit with me to {cough} watch House Hunters International on HGTV.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

The Mapparium globe is constructed from 608 concave glass panels, which are illuminated from behind. Electric clocks ring the equator, giving comparative times around the world. You can only get inside by taking the short guided tour. The narration is accompanied by a simple light show and video.


Photo Credit: Mary Baker Eddy Library

You’ll enter on the elevated glass bridge through the Indian Ocean and exit through the South Pacific. The transparent sides allow you to see Antartica below your feet.

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Five Tips For Attending the San Gennaro Feast in New York City

San Gennaro Feast

Crowds at the San Gennaro Feast in Little Italy

Well, it’s underway again – the Feast of San Gennaro in New York City, one of the world’s largest outdoor religious festivals. The 86th Annual Feast takes place in Little Italy through Sunday, September 23 on the streets of Little Italy in lower Manhattan.

The Figli Di San Gennaro is meant to celebrate the Patron Saint of Naples. A religious procession will take place next Wednesday (September 19th, my birthday!), during which the San Gennaro statue will be carried from its permanent home in the Most Precious Blood Church through the streets.

But let’s not kid ourselves. It’s really about the food.

Are you planning to go? Because we’ve been multiple times, and would like to share five tips for attending the San Gennaro Feast:

1. Don’t Go on a Full Stomach.

Obviously, you’re going there to eat. Last year, our family’s total consumption included:

Six fried ravioli

One rice ball

One slice bruschetta

One sausage and peppers sandwich

One deep-fried Oreo

One corn dog

One order of French fries

One gelato

Three small cannolis

…and six zeppole


Mmmmm…fried dough….

But NO pasta, interestingly enough!

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PHOTO FRIDAY: Big Fun Toy Store, Cleveland, OH

I included the Big Fun toy store on our Cleveland itinerary for its name, obviously.

Big Fun

It’s not the world’s largest toy store (that would be the Toys R’ Us in Times Square), but it lives up to its name by giving you a really enjoyable trip down memory lane!  Big Fun, which has been around for almost 20 years, has two locations. We went to the one in the Coventry neighborhood. Both are stuffed to the brim – literally from floor to ceiling – with an amazing array of toys, collectibles, novelties and gag gifts.


Their own description says it best: “a cathedral of counter-culture, a warehouse of nerdabilia and nostalgia.”

toy store

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BIG Finds at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA

Franklin InstituteDinosaurs are becoming a “thing” for us. Makes sense…they’re BIG after all! Last year, we went to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC for its temporary exhibit, “The World’s Largest Dinosaurs.” This spring, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is presenting a similar program, “Giant Mysterious Dinosaurs,” through April 15.

I now know more about the Jurassic era than I ever thought I would. Or ever really wanted to…

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Visiting Philly earlier this month, we were drawn to The Franklin Institute for this dinosaur exhibit, as well as the giant walk-through heart. In the end, another unexpected BIG thing turned out to be the highlight of our visit.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

We would have loved this place more if we had: A) less whiny children; and B) a few more hours to cover all three floors of science and technology exhibits. We missed out on the planetarium, IMAX theater and 4D flight simulator.

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PHOTO FRIDAY: The BIG sandwich at Primanti Bros., Pittsburgh, PA

A week ago today, we road-tripped to Pittsburgh, PA for the long President’s Day weekend. We have much to share over the coming weeks about the BIG things there.

Our first meal was at the original location of Primanti Bros., a culinary institution which was recommended by pretty much everyone. It’s known for BIG sandwiches with a wide selection of fillings.

Matt, always up for a BIG artery-clogging challenge, ordered this hot sausage and cheese monstrosity:


The fluffy bread was the only "light" part of this 'wich!

When you order sandwiches with “the works,” you will get tomato, cole slaw, and – oh yes – French fries. ON the sandwich.

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Foxwoods Resort: North America’s Largest Casino

The thing about grandparents is – if they’re the good kind – they will babysit for free. Over multiple days. My parents are the good kind. Matt and I never got a chance to celebrate our 15th anniversary in October, so last week, while my Mom and Dad were visiting from Florida, we escaped for a few days.

Little did Dad know he would also be called into duty as The Boy’s social studies project assistant. I came home to find a soundly-constructed, two-story cardboard Egyptian villa. (Phew.)

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Matt and I went to the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, CT for three days. With the promise of spa treatments for me, and hours at the poker table for Matt, we knew this would be a destination we could both enjoy.


This is the view from the Pequot Museum observation tower. I was plastered against the far wall with jelly knees, so Matt took this shot.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

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World’s Largest Santa and other BIG Christmas Fun!

Let’s talk about Christmas! Primarily, let’s talk about what I want for Christmas {sheepish grin}. Then we’ll get to you.

I would like your vote! Go BIG or Go Home has made Christopher Elliott’s list of nominees for favorite travel bloggers! He’s a consumer travel advocate who publishes this annual list, and it would mean significant exposure for us. We’re included in a list of 25 blogs, from which 12 will make the cut for “Top 12 Favorite Travel Bloggers.” The final list will be posted this Friday. Thanks in advance for voting for Go BIG or Go Home!

Moving on…have you entered our giveaway yet for some fun stocking stuffers? You could win a $50 gift certificate to Appalachian Outdoors or a pair of BTB Sunglasses. Winners will be chosen tonight and announced tomorrow, so enter now!

On to the fun part! We like BIG expressions of holiday spirit, so we thought we would share a few with you.  Like…

The world’s largest Santa Claus! You can find this sizable St. Nick at the Santa Claus House in North Pole, AK. Our friend Erin writes about family fun in the 49th state at AK on the GO. She tells us that the 42-ft, 900 lb. fiberglass statue has stood in front of this attraction since 1983, although he was originally built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

The world's largest Santa lives in...where else? North Pole, Alaska!

There’s a live Santa here all year with whom you can share your wish list. You can also have a letter delivered from the Big Guy, see reindeer, shop and grab a snack. Erin says, “It’s pretty fun to visit, a little kitschy, but a worthwhile place to stop, especially since it’s the North Pole, for goodness sake!”

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BIGGISH – Wally the Stegosaurus, Pittsfield, MA

Look who we ran into this weekend! This BIG stegosaurus sits in front of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA. We were in the Berkshires for a reunion for the PR company where Matt and I both worked – and met – way back in the Jurassic Period.


Speaking of the Jurassic Period…this is Wally the Stegosaurus, so named because this creature’s brain was the size of a walnut. A life-size replica, he’s 26 feet long, 12 feet tall, and 7 feet wide.  Since he’s made of fiberglass, he only weighs 1,200 lbs, versus a real Stegosaurus weight of 6,000 lbs.

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The Turkey Hill Experience, Columbia, PA

This big, beautiful bovine isn’t the world’s largest, and she doesn’t even have a name. But we still love her, because she welcomed us to the Turkey Hill Experience in Colombia, PA!


They’re not excited at ALL.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going?
Heading to Pennsylvania Dutch Country was a “last hurrah” getaway before school started. I told the kids, “we’re going to learn how ice cream and potato chips are made, and then we get to eat them.” Not a tough sell.

WHY did you go there, exactly?
The Turkey Hill Experience was the last stop on a three-day tour of the “snack food corridor” connecting York, Lancaster, and Chester counties. We toured potato chip and pretzel factories, visited chocolate makers, and searched for whoopie pies. Both York and Lancaster counties have their own “sweet and salty” tour itineraries listing all the companies offering public tours and/or outlet shopping. We visited nine of them!

Even after gorging ourselves on all that, there was still room for ice cream!

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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New York Roadside Attractions, and Other BIG Things to See in the Empire State

It’s no secret that I ♥ NY; my family calls it “home.” It’s been so disheartening to learn of the destruction caused by Hurricane Irene in many parts of New York, but particularly here in the Hudson Valley. Hundreds of homes and working farms have been washed away by flooding. Last week I dedicated a blog post to Vermont, which also suffered incredible damage. This week, I wanted to do the same for my Empire State.

Dinosaur skeleton

Doesn't get much bigger than dinosaurs!

(I also made a donation to the Red Cross, which has been working tirelessly in the affected areas. If you’re interested, here’s the link.)

There are a lot of BIG things to love in New York (state income tax not included). Over the past several years, the “Go BIG” family has traveled far and wide looking for the world’s biggests, longests, and tallests in NYS.  Why not go see these entertaining sites and attractions for yourself?

Here’s what we’ve found so far, beginning in New York City, with links to our posts.

The World’s Largest Dinosaursan exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. (Open only until January!)

The world’s largest toy store the Toys R’ Us store in Times Square, AND the world’s largest Disney store, also in Times Square.

The world’s largest indoor theaterRadio City Music Hall.

The world’s largest public collection of video gamesat the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, part of The Strong and the National Museum of Play in Rochester

The world’s largest collection of glass within the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning

The world’s largest pancake griddle – Penn Yan, NY

The world’s largest premium outlet shopping center- Woodbury Common, in Central Valley

The world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridgeThe Walkway Over the Hudson, which links Poughkeepsie to Highland over the Hudson River.

The world’s largest kaleidoscope– located within the Emerson Country Store in Mt. Tremper

The largest Buddha statue in the western hemisphere — located within Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, NY

And my personal favorite:

Garden gnome

Chomsky is the DEAL!

The world’s second largest garden gnome—  “Chomsky,” on Kelder’s Farm in Kerhonkson, NY.

Chomsky’s fifth anniversary at the farm is being celebrated this weekend! If in you’re in the Hudson Valley, stop by for some fun! It should be noted that the farm was under ten feet of water following the hurricane, but it’s drying out, and they are determined to party! Hooray for them!

These are places we’ve been, but are returning this month to “research” their “world’s largest” claims:

85th Annual Feast of San Gennaro

Who knew it was the world’s largest outdoor religious festival? The Go BIG or Go Home family will go to this street festival in NYC’s Little Italy for “research”… which in my mind means zeppole and sausage and peppers.

Bronx Zoo

I always knew it was big, from our inability to walk the entire thing in one day. But it’s actually the world’s largest urban zoo, and features the world’s largest man-made rainforest, the Congo Gorilla Forest.

New Yorkophiles, what BIG things have we missed?

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