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

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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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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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PRIZE GIVEAWAY To Celebrate Summer Road Trips!

This photo makes me happy! Not too hard to figure out why, since it’s a warm, sunny beach. Virginia Beach, to be precise, and our home for the next five days! To be followed by a few more days in Williamsburg…AND the weather forecast looks AMAZING!

Virginia Beach, we're on our way!

It’s time for another GBOGH Road Trip! Please follow along for frequent updates on our Facebook page or on Twitter, hashtag #GBOGHRoadTrip.

On our itinerary:

World’s largest Wegmans supermarket in Fredericksburg, VA

World’s longest stretch of pleasure beach, Virginia Beach

The world’s largest living history museum (Colonial Williamsburg)

We’ll also be tracking down a giant gorilla, a giant statue of Neptune, and a giant sea serpent.

And … still up for discussion …the world’s tallest dive coaster at Busch Gardens. Early polls suggest that 0 out of 4 GBOGH family members are actually willing to ride this coaster, because of our shared “chicken” gene. To be continued…

In the meantime, we’re celebrating summer and the start of “Road Trip Season” with a fun GIVEAWAY!

Hullabaloo, an award-winning kid’s music duo, has just released their eighth album, Road Trip. There are 13 family car travel-inspired songs with traces of twang, funk, rock, folk and blues. Such an entertaining break from sappy children’s music! We test drove the CD on our trip to Rochester, and I cracked up when I heard the lyrics to the title song, which mentions the world’s largest ball of twine!

I have two copies to give away to residents of the U.S. or Canada! Want to enter to win? Just sign up to receive our e-mail notifications (see upper right hand corner). If you’re already a subscriber, just comment below and give me your funniest family road trip story, or share your road trip plans for this summer!

Two winners will be chosen — one randomly, and one based on how much I like your road trip memory!  You’ll be notified on Monday, June 6th, and will be asked to provide a mailing address.

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Where We’re Headed!

Sometimes I enjoy planning our travel more than actually traveling. Mainly, because I’m usually alone, in a quiet place, reading and putting together our itinerary. I get my (temporary) fill of omnipotence without any complaints from the smaller people in our household about 1) being shortchanged of pool time, or 2) the unavailability of rectangular chicken nuggets.


Credit: Rochester Lilac Festival

And, by the way, I prefer the old school method of looking through glossy travel guides, as opposed to navigating through flash-ridden websites. Don’t look for my picture next to the definition of “early adopter.”

Our Go BIG plans for this spring and summer are coming together nicely! Now if only the price of gas would stop its precipitous climb.

These are the adventures we’ve planned so far:


World’s largest indoor theater – Radio City Music Hall, NYC

World’s largest hot dog stand – Nathan’s Famous, Brooklyn


World’s largest collection of lilacs – Rochester, NY

World’s largest collection of electronic games – Rochester, NY

Frying pan used to make world’s largest pancake– Penn Yan, NY

World’s longest pleasure beach – Virginia Beach, VA

World’s largest gorilla – Virginia Beach, VA

World’s largest living history museum – Colonial Williamsburg, VA

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach. Credit: CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com


World’s largest regional theme park company – Six Flags (Queensbury, NY location)

World’s largest Uncle Sam – Lake George, NY


World’s largest cowboy boots – San Antonio, TX

We need something for July! Suggestions?

What do you think? If you know of any other BIG things in these areas, please comment and give us the scoop!


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World’s Longest Elevated Pedestrian Bridge, Hudson Valley, NY

Walkway Over the Hudson

Walkway Over the Hudson

As I mentioned in the post about the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope, I ♥ the Hudson Valley! I look past the winter weather in anticipation of the bright, verdant springs and the brilliant snap of fall. (Exception: last winter’s ice storm which knocked out power for three days; that one left a mark.)

It’s the valley topography which lends itself to amazing scenery of undulating tree-covered hills and mountains. (It’s also the perfect holding vessel for seasonal pollen, which brings on the annual allergy attack and sinus infection, but again, LOVE the HudVal!)

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Last year, the Hudson Valley earned its place on the tourism map with the opening of the Walkway Over the Hudson, which is The World’s Longest Elevated Pedestrian Bridge.

We’ve been a few times since then, as a family of four, and twice more when out-of-town family has visited.

Was coercion necessary? If by coercion you mean “put on the big girl panties and force a brave face in front of the kids because you are too chicken shit to go all the way up there on an open-air bridge,” then yes, I had to coerce myself into going. I also had to convince my son (Trip #1) and my brother (Trip #2), because we all share the gene for “fear of open heights.”

It’s also one of the reasons why Matt and I could never win the Amazing Race. Well, that, and my inability to drive stick shift.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

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Bayshore Boulevard: World’s Longest Continuous Sidewalk

NOTE: We don’t limit our Go BIG adventures to just the world’s “largest.” We also have room in our hearts for the world’s longest and tallest! Cause they’re big too, in their own special, linear way.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

My parents and brother’s family lives in the Tampa Bay area, so we visit regularly. Generally, there is an understood Florida embargo in place for us between the months of April and October, when the average temperature there hovers around 170 degrees. At least, that’s what it feels like to us.  We are heat wimps. We wilt and grow increasingly cranky with the humidity levels.

World's Longest Sidewalk

Drama Girl, still not over “The Sunscreen Incident.”

However, our February ’10 trip was cancelled due to a huge snowstorm in NY, so we rescheduled for late April to coincide with a school holiday.  So the four of us, along with my parents, decided to take a stroll along Bayshore Boulevard, the world’s longest continuous sidewalk, on a hot, sunny day.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

This wasn’t my first time on Bayshore, but it was for the kids.  I lived in Tampa during my high school years, and have been back many times.  I’ve driven along the boulevard many more times than I’ve actually walked it, however, so it was time to experience it on foot.

We almost didn’t get there, actually.  The Girl, who I had slathered liberally with sunscreen prior to leaving the house, had accidentally rubbed some into her eye.  A 30-minute drive filled with wailing and crying set our nerves on end, even before we stepped out into the unforgiving heat. But it was also exactly the excuse we needed to cut short our “Walk on the Surface on the Sun.”

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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