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

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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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Wall Drug: World’s Largest Drug Store

Sure, you could go see Mount Rushmore on your next trip to South Dakota. It’s BIG, so why not? But if you’re going to “The Coyote State,” you need to visit the Wall Drug, the World’s Largest Drug Store!

And we will. As soon as we get to South Dakota.

In the meantime, I am grateful that Anne at 500 Places With Kids DID go there, and has shared her photos with us! You can read a full report of her family’s visit on her blog.

Wall drug

One of America's top roadside attractions!

At 76,000 square feet, Wall Drug is not only a drug store. The space also contains a gift shop, pharmacy museum, art gallery, chapel, restaurants and other shops.

Wall Drug is an iconic American roadside attraction. I love the history of this place. It opened in 1931, and struggled to stay afloat, until the couple who owned it started advertising “free ice water” on small roadside signs. Now they get up to 20,000 visitors a day in the summer!

Check Anne’s site for a smile-inducing photo of the wall of jackalope heads for sale! Who doesn’t love a jackalope? There’s also this BIG one outside, and of course I had to have a pic on my blog:


World's largest jackalope? Actually, no. That one's in Wyoming.


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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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Virginia Beach: World’s Longest Stretch of Pleasure Beach


Shark week

BIG teeth at the Virginia Aquarium (in honor of Shark Week)!

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Over Memorial Day week, we drove down to Virginia Beach, VA and Williamsburg, VA. We were game for a road trip, and The Boy got to miss four days of school. He starts middle school next month (hold me), and I figured this may be the last opportunity to pull him out of school for such a long stretch!

WHY did you go there, exactly?

Virginia Beach holds a Guinness World Record as the “world’s longest stretch of pleasure beach.” The 35-mile coastline is comprised of the Virginia Beach resort area, the Chesapeake Bay beach, and Sandbridge beach (our favorite spot!)

It’s always convenient when a beach vacation fits with our BIG theme!  Plus, we were on the hunt for several BIG attractions I had read about, including a giant gorilla, a 30-foot statue of Neptune, and an oversized sea serpent!

Okay, what was so cool about it?

Beyond the beautiful beaches, there were several attractions and activities we all enjoyed, especially the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, and the Ocean Breeze Waterpark. I’ve already written broader descriptions of Virginia Beach for other family travel sites. If you would like info on family–friendly attractions, activities, and dining in Virginia Beach, please visit FamilyVacationCritic.com and FamilyTravelNetwork.com

But I know what you REALLY want to know more about – Hugh Mongous, the giant gorilla; Neptune, the King of the Sea; and Isabel, the sea serpent!

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World’s Largest Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL

Have you entered our BIG first anniversary giveaway yet? There are still a few more days to enter to win a pair of Go City Cards from Smart Destinations!

Naval aviation museumThis month, our guest post comes from Florida’s panhandle. I lived in Tallahassee in my early 20’s, and have fond memories of the beautiful beaches and…oppressive humidity. Jen from Two Kids and a Map hails from Pensacola, and apparently doesn’t suffer from humidity-induced bad hair days like I do. Lucky. She shares her family’s experiences at one of her favorite local attractions, the National Naval Aviation Museum.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

My husband and I took our two children, ages 4 and 6, and explored the National Naval Aviation Museum, the world’s largest Naval Aviation Museum, and one of Florida’s most visited museums. It is located in Pensacola, Florida.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

I have a confession to make.  We go to the National Naval Aviation Museum at least once a month during the school year and once a week during the summer.  I knew the Naval Aviation Museum was big, but I had no idea it was the world’s largest until Traci told me it was!  The Naval Aviation Museum is a great way to get the kids out of the Florida heat while avoiding the “I’m bored” chorus!

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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BIG Balloons

Fireworks are great and all that, but the highlight of our holiday weekend was watching a group of 12 hot air balloons lift off during the 2011 Dutchess County Balloon Festival. It’s one of our favorite annual events here in New York’s Hudson Valley, where we’ve lived for over 10 years. What made it really special this year was watching it from the span of the Walkway Over the Hudson, which is the World’s Longest Elevated Pedestrian Bridge.

We’ve now been up there several times and have described it here on the blog.  While it’s the span — 6,767 feet, or 1.25 miles – which breaks the world record, it’s the height which gets to me. The span ascends 212 feet above the water at midpoint. This was the first time I went up there and didn’t get weak-kneed. Open heights are NOT my thing. But the perspective of watching the balloons lift off from below us, rise to our level and then float higher, was amazing.

Overcoming my fear of heights — and getting up at 4:30am for the 6:00am launch — was worth it for this view.

Hot air balloons


And this one, facing away from the sunrise, was nice too.



Sigh. I love living in the Hudson Valley!





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World’s Largest Tiffany Glass Dome, Chicago, IL

For this month’s guest post, we giddily welcome the return of Julie Henning from Road Trips for Families. Giddily, because her last post for us was about the world’s largest toilet! Which remains one of the most visited pages on this site. She obviously knows how to speak to the masses.

From porcelain thrones to glass domes, she can write it all. Julie reports to us from Chicago…

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

In the Windy City for the 60th anniversary conference of the Midwest Travel Writers Association, the pomp and circumstance of the opening night gala paled in comparison to the grandeur of the Chicago Cultural Center. Under the circumference of the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world, we backed practically into corners to capture all 1,000 square feet holding 30,000 pieces of glass with our cameras.


WHY did you go there, exactly?

Without children, I imagined the experience with kids in tow. Joking with our tour guide about the lack of water slides in the main foyer, I was handed a map for the Chicago Cultural Center Treasure Hunt with a future visit in mind. Engaging enough to hold even my attention, the treasure hunt is a twelve-part scavenger hunt through the building. Part education, part adventure, treasure seekers who solve the Golden Clue receive a prize from the Information Desk.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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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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World’s Largest Collection of Lilacs, Rochester, NY

Turns out, we didn’t need that $10 box of Claritin after all. Unfortunately, the Lilac Festival in Rochester was rained out yesterday, which was the only day we had to visit. But since it was one of the reasons we drove up to Rochester, I still wanted to drive over to Highland Park to see what we could.

We drove around the perimeter of the park, and saw several rows of tall lilac bushes in various shades of lavender and purple. We stopped the car in front of this lovely bed of pansies, and the girls were brave enough to jump out for a quick photo in the driving rain and gusty wind. Oh, and Matt was gracious enough to get out to snap the shot!

Hurry up, we're getting soaked!

The ten-day festival isn’t over until May 22nd, so if you’re near Rochester, try to get there! The park is home to the world’s largest collection of lilacs — over 500 varieties and more than 1,200 bushes. Plus, there’s free entertainment, including children’s shows, arts & craft vendors, food, and other activities.

After we left, we still enjoyed our day in Rochester. We had lunch at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, spent a few hours at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, and enjoyed a local delicacy, Abbott’s Frozen Custard. It was hardly 50 degrees out, but that’s never stopped us before!

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BIGGISH – Billboard People of AZ and CA

We don’t get out to the west coast as often as we’d like. Our last trip was to Anaheim and Carlsbad, CA in 2008 to visit Disneyland and LEGOLAND. Our last post featuring the west coast was over the summer, when my very own Dad reported “from the field.” My parents went to several BIG sites: San Francisco’s Chinatown; the tallest waterfall in North America at Yosemite National Park; and the world’s largest tree in Sequoia National Park.

This month’s guest post brings us back out to California, as well as Arizona. Tiffany and her hubby are a young, adventurous couple traveling full-time in their little painted Airstream, “eddie.” (p.s. Did you know that “Eddie” is also the name of the World’s Largest Kid? And that I like to insert shameless links to other posts on this blog to increase page visits?)

Their blog, WanderingAirstream.com, chronicles their journeys in their beloved 1973 Argosy Airstream. I just love that they’ve lovingly restored and renovated eddie. I’m a sucker for before-and-afters (too much time watching HGTV!)

This is what eddie looks like inside.


The "Go BIG" family would last about an hour together in this space.

I take issue with them for removing the avocado oven, but otherwise, COOL! And compact. I think Tiffany and her husband must have a VERY healthy relationship to spend all their time together in this vehicle!

Here’s Tiffany’s report about two larger-than-life billboard installations they found during their travels:

Traci invited me over today to share a couple of BIG roadside attractions that my husband and I found on our travels. We love the biggest, tiniest, quirkiest of just about anything, and as we are traveling the country full-time in our vintage airstream,  we are always on the lookout for the unusual.

But these caught us out-of-the-blue. We had no idea of their existence, and were just lucky to have stumbled across them.


The first is a giant cut-out family outside of Temecula, CA. It is very close to Diamond Valley Lake, off of Hwy 74 East towards Hemet, CA. Turn right on Winchester Road, South towards Temecula, go about 10 miles and you’ll run right into them!

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