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

Archive for Food and beverage

We Get Around

In our quest to indoctrinate the world with the “Go BIG” message (MWAH HA HA!), we have ventured off in a few different directions of late. For “Show and Tell” today, may we present:


The first exciting development we’d like to share with you is that Matt and I are the new – and only – travel app reviewers for appSmitten.com! This site hand-selects the best apps in several categories (food, kids, health, news, education, etc.), then sends you weekly or daily recommendations via email to help keep you organized, entertained, productive, etc.

Our first reviews describe the brand new app for the iPhone and iPad, the Travel Channel Layover Guide With Anthony Bourdain, and a handy Android app, Packing List. Stop by and check us out on appSmitten! (Disclaimer: we receive a small commission each time someone we refer to the site signs up to receive the e-mail service.)

Kelley’s Break Room

Kelley’s Break Room is a really funny humor blog I’ve been following for a while. I was tickled – and a bit like “who, me?” – that she considered me humorous enough to write a guest post last week! In my oh-so-compelling post, 5 Ways to Create a Family Vacation You Can Actually Afford, I offer some ideas to incorporate fun into cheap (sorry, “budget-friendly”) family travel. While bringing the funny. I hope I succeeded; what do you think?

The Azumano Travel Show

The Azumano Travel Show, a radio program on AM860 radio in Portland, OR, interviewed me last week about our strange compulsion to visit BIG roadside attractions! The best question they asked me: “If you could build a world’s largest, what would it be?” Hint: My answer involved food. Naturally.

You can listen to the five-minute program right on their website. Mom says I sounded “professional.”

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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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The Varsity: World’s Largest Drive-in Restaurant


Credit: TheVarsity.com

Back in my carefree, single, post-college days, I visited my friend Tina in Atlanta. She took me to the Varsity, the world’s largest drive-in restaurant. While I relished the extremes of salty and sweet, what made a lasting impression was the frenetic pace and secret language of the counter staff, and the charmingly retro décor.

Twenty years later, and still in Atlanta, Tina blogs at Veggievangelist about the wholesome, home-cooked meals she prepares for her family. But she still takes them to the Varsity on occasion.

In this, her second guest post for GBOGH, she assures us that not much has changed at the Varsity. Phew.

Did I mention I’m hungry?

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

When my friend Michelle suggested that we take our gaggle of boys to The Varsity in Downtown Atlanta before heading over to the World of Coke, I didn’t hesitate. If there are wide gaps in my religious education, it isn’t hard to figure out why. Our church is across the street from what is the “World’s Largest Drive-In Restaurant.” We would go get onion rings instead of getting our butts into our Sunday School classroom.

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World’s Largest Collection of ABC Gum, Bubblegum Alley, San Luis Obispo, CA

At this point, the Go BIG family has seen some pretty quirky, offbeat, and strange things. Like a 27-ft wide pancake griddle. Animatronic milk cartons. Underground poutine. A giant bacon cheeseburger sandwiched inside a glazed doughnut. And don’t even get me started about South of the Border. I still haven’t found the words to write about our evening there.

Still, as someone with OCD in her gene pool — and two packs of antibacterial wipes in her purse at all times — it was difficult for me to process the idea of Bubblegum Alley. This month’s guest post features the world’s largest collection of “ABC” (already been chewed) gum, which is stuck to the walls of Bubblegum Alley , a 70-foot long, 15-foot high landmark in San Luis Obispo, CA.

bubblegum alley

That's not paint, folks. It's gum. That's been chewed.

Still, Sandra Foyt’s report manages to intrigue me! Sandra writes about fun and educational family travel at Albany Kid. And, apparently, loves her daughter very much to be talked into visiting this place. Her story:

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PHOTO FRIDAY – World’s Largest State Fair, TX

I’ve never met a state or county fair I didn’t like. They retain the flavor of old-fashioned American fun, even though they’re no longer an inexpensive day out! Last year, we went to the Big E in West Springfield, MA. It’s the state fair of Massachusetts and several other New England states, and it’s where you’ll find the world’s largest traveling amusement park, the North American Midway. The highlight of the day was sampling the Craz-E burger, a bacon cheeseburger sandwiched between two halves of a glazed doughnut. Yes, you read that right. I’m not up for an Oscar nomination, but the video clip we posted of The Boy’s first Craz-E bite captured a really fun Go BIG moment!

This year, the Big E takes place September 16-October 2.

The world’s largest state fair, not surprisingly, is the State Fair of Texas. Three million people are expected to attend this 125-year old institution, which begins in Dallas next week (September 30) through October 23. Our friend Jessica at Suitcases and Sippycups goes almost every year, and has provided us with our PHOTO FRIDAY today!

ferris wheel

This is the 212-foot Texas Star ferris wheel, the tallest ferris wheel in North America! It can carry up to 264 passengers in its 44 gondolas.

 state fair

This is Big Tex (can’t help but love that name!), the 52-foot tall icon of the state fair! Jessica shares, “His voice booms all over the state fair. Most of the time he just makes general announcements about upcoming shows or events. But every now and then he makes a personal comment about someone’s shirt or hair in the crowd. It is hilarious to watch people look up at him and marvel at how the giant statue can see them.” Thanks, Jessica!

Who’s headed to a BIG fair soon? What’s your favorite fair food?  We’re partial to deep-fried Oreos.

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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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One Last Hurrah….

We’re headed to Pennsylvania this weekend for one last getaway before school starts next week. As giddy as I am for the return to school days (cue angelic harp music), I’m sad that our traveling will be curtailed for the next several months. The Boy begins middle school, so it’s even tougher on him now to miss days and make up all the work.

So we’re going out with a bang and a BIG cow (or two)! The focus of our trip is the new Turkey Hill Experience in Lancaster County, an interactive, museum-ish tour that the ice cream company opened this summer. The kids will get to milk some (not real) cows, and we’ll all get to stuff our faces with ice cream.

Turkey Hill

Credit: TurkeyHillExperience.com

Speaking of face-stuffing, we’re also going to visit several other food factories in the area. York, Lancaster, and Chester counties are full of them; the area is known as the “snack food corridor.” So, Points Plus be (temporarily) damned, here’s the calorific countdown for the next several days:

Revonah Pretzel Bakery, Inc.

Snyder’s of Hanover



Martin’s Chips

Wolfgang Candy

Turkey Hill Experience

Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

Wilbur Chocolate Co.

Hey, on an unrelated but exciting note, have you seen us profiled on SecondAct.com? Please take a look at our Florida trip on the “My Vacation” page! Our photos of Splitsville and the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, the Mirror Lake Shuffleboard Club in St. Pete, and the Sea Screamer speedboat in Clearwater live on in this article on our road trip over the holidays. We were thrilled to be included, despite the fact that it’s a site for “Boomers.” I guess at 41, I’m encroaching on that phase, huh?

Speed boat

Remember our freezefest on the world's largest speed boat?


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World’s Largest Wegmans, and other great places to eat on the road!

WegmansSupermarket shopping isn’t high on my list of favorite things to do. But if we’re planning a road trip, I’ll always check to see if there’s a Wegmans on the route. It’s difficult to explain my love for Wegmans, which burns more fervently because there isn’t one anywhere near us. The chain is based in upstate New York, with additional stores in NJ, PA, VA, and — soon — in MD and MA.

I’ve dragged the family to the locations in Bridgewater, NJ, Pittsford, NY, Scranton, PA, and Harrisburg, PA. At first, they wondered why I would veer off a trip itinerary to visit a supermarket. Little did they know that the itineraries were based around these stops! The most recent addition to our Wegmans passport was in Fredericksburg, VA. It’s the largest store in terms of square footage, and therefore, the world’s largest Wegmans!

If you’ve been to Wegmans, you know why I love it. There’s a huge selection and a high-quality store brand, pleasing décor, friendly staff, etc. What puts Wegmans over the top is the cold and hot food bars within the store, connected to a dedicated eat-in section. There are always hundreds of selections of prepared dishes, served from themed stations (e.g. Asian, vegetarian, salad) and counters (e.g. pizza, subs). Add these to the more traditional deli counter which also offers pre-packaged entrees and sides, and it’s a smorgasbord.


It’s a good thing I don’t live near a Wegmans. We would be poor and I would never cook again.

Wegmans takes priority on our road trip itineraries because it’s a great place for a family to eat while traveling. It’s inexpensive and casual. Everyone can get what they want, and there are always healthy options. (Meaning, I slip some carrots and grapes from the salad bar into the kids’ boxes when they’re not looking.) The dining section is well-decorated; many steps above a cafeteria. Even better, the stores we have visited have fun tables for kids, and even offer movie nights. In Pittsford, we had dinner on a Friday night. Shrek was playing in the front of the room, and the bar in the back was serving wine to the parents! Everyone was VERY happy.

Some stores like Pittsford also have a separate eatery called The Food Bar. You place an order at the counter for hamburgers, fish fry, etc.  There’s also The Pub in two locations, Malvern and Collegeville, with full table service and menu, and no tipping allowed.


Preparing to write this post made me think about other affordable, non-restaurant alternatives for traveling families. So I put the question out to other family travel bloggers, “Where do you eat on the road instead of restaurants?” The answers mainly fell into three categories: farmer’s markets; specialty supermarkets; and food trucks/street food.


Courtesy of Wandering Educators

Mara at The Mother of All Trips plans ahead to stop at farmer’s markets. “Along the New York State Thruway and the PA Turnpike they even have them at some of the rest stops in the summer. I picked up fresh cherries and blueberry bread at one that we ate for breakfast the next morning.” A great tip — she finds local food sources at LocalHarvest.org.

Heather, the Texas Destination Guroo at Trekaroo.com, likes the Avila Valley Barn in Avila Beach, CA for a tasty baked treat, ice cream, or fruits and veggies, and even a petting zoo. She also recommends the farmer’s market on Thursday nights in San Luis Obispo, CA. “It’s crowded, but there are five blocks of street vendors, farm stands, outside barbecue stands, and other restaurant vendors.”

As for specialty supermarkets, Whole Foods got a mention for its great deli selection. I can attest; I’ve spent my fair share in their prepared foods aisle. Lora at Cascadia Kids likes Trader Joe’s, mainly for picking up healthy treats to-go. “I’m pretty big on the protein-while-traveling, so we focus on the trail mixes, nutrition bars and hard cheeses.”

Keryn at Walkingon Travels loves the food trucks in Seattle, especially the city’s wealth of taco trucks. “El Camion is our favorite. It tends to park near Home Depot locations. My almost 2-year-old son can’t get enough of their carnitas (pork) burritos with black beans. I figure anything he will eat is worth the stop.” Even better, music blasts from the truck, so they can dance a little salsa!


Chicago's Chinatown, courtesy of Wandering Educators

Jessica at Wandering Educators loves ethnic grocery stores, particularly those within Asian communities, where she can pull together a meal of seaweed salad, sushi, dumplings, cold noodle salad, and grilled meat. She never forgets the treats. “We LOVE shrimp crisps, as well as those hello panda biscuits with chocolate inside, and Pocky! Don’t forget the bubble tea, calpis, or any of the amazing flavored beverages in the cooler.”

I appreciate all the input, ladies! So, where do YOU like to eat on the road?

Fredericksburg Things To Do on raveable

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PHOTO FRIDAY: World’s Largest Pancake Griddle

On our way up to Rochester last weekend, we stopped to see the World’s Largest Pancake Griddle in Penn Yan, NY!  Don’t we look tiny in front of this thing? It measures 27 feet across.


Pass the syrup!

It is not lost on me that The Boy has grown nearly as tall as me…sigh…he needs to stop doing that.

So, the story is that on September 27th, 1987, the Birkett Mills company cooked the world’s largest (buckwheat) pancake in this huge griddle, which was placed over hot stones. They mixed the batter in a cement mixer, and flipped it with a crane.

After we left, I tweeted that I think Penn Yan is Dutch for “middle of nowhere.” The very nice staff at the Penn Yan Public Library responded, graciously setting me straight as to the true origins of the name.

In its early days of settlement, the town welcomed emigrants from Pennsylvania as well as from the New England states. “Penn Yan” credits both parties – “Penn” in honor of Pennsylvania, and “Yan” in honor of the Yankees, as all people from the New England states were called.

I’m sharing this on Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.


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Who’s Got the Best Caption?

We are surrounded by clever, funny people who read this blog…you know who you are. Today we want your captions for some of these photos from our “Go BIG” travels! Many of these photos never even made it onto this site due to space constraints, but most are on our Facebook page.

When we went to the The Big E fair (world’s largest traveling amusement park), we felt compelled to partake in the specialty dessert, the Big E Cream Puff, and its cousin, the E-Clair. The resulting sugar crash was NO fun.

What’s your caption?

Big E Cream Puff


You’ve all seen the typical Italy vacation photo of the tourist trying to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa through tricky photography. Matt was up for trying something similar at the world’s tallest inclined tower in Montréal.

What’s your caption?

Montreal Tower


It was Day One of our holiday road trip to FL, and we were hoofing it to get ahead of a huge snowstorm in NY. Of course, there’s always time to stand the kids in front of a huge paint can! Even if it was 20 degrees out. I would be reminded of this day several weeks later, back home. We were driving past a regular, cylinder-shaped water tower. The Girl (3 years old) innocently asked if we were going to get out and take its picture. Sometimes I wonder what she’ll tell her kids about me.

What’s your caption?

paint can

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