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World’s Largest Outdoor Antiques Show: Brimfield Antique Show, Brimfield, MA

Brimfield BarnI spend more time than I should watching HGTV, and my current favorite show is Flea Market Flip. I’m captivated by the “before and after” transformations of the old pieces they find at antiques shows and flea markets. One of the markets regularly featured is the Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, Massachusetts. It’s supposedly the world’s largest outdoor antiques fair, so that was all the reason I needed to plan an outing.

Brimfield is a small town, with Route 20 (Main Street) running through it. The antiques show, which has run since 1959, is situated on both sides of this road along a one mile stretch. Technically, the show is multiple smaller markets, each with their own days and hours of operation. There are 21 show fields in all, and more than 3,000 dealers at full capacity. There are a handful of buildings, but most dealers are under tents.

Brimfield Grand Trunk Antiques

The best decision I made was to not bring the kids. Instead, I brought a friend who loves to shop as much as I do. There is a LOT of ground to cover, and my kids would have hated it. We tracked our walking, and logged close to four miles over two days. And this was the July show, which is the smallest in terms of number of exhibitors. There are three shows each year – May, July, and September.

It was an amazing smorgasbord of antique and vintage finds, as well as the random stuff you would find at anyone’s garage sale. At the end of the weekend, my loot consisted of vintage tourism postcards for my collection, earrings made from old keys, a scarf, and a decorative wall hanging made from old tin ceiling tiles.

Vintage postcards

There are “regulars” who know the layout well and know which dealers they like. But it seemed to me that most of us were newbies, taking it all in, and shopping with no real plan of attack. If you are new to it all, here are some of my suggestions:

Tips for Shopping the Brimfield Antiques & Collectibles Show

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World’s Largest Airboat: Sarasota, Florida

Myakka Wildlife ToursIf you live in Florida (and I have), alligator sightings are about as rare and exciting as observing a squirrel in its native habitat here in the northeast. But Floridians know that northerners think it’s thrilling to see gators while we visit their sunshine-y state, so a whole subset of the tourism industry has evolved to give us that opportunity. One such business, Myakka Wildlife Tours in Sarasota, sweetens the deal further with a ride on the world’s largest airboat.

During our December visit, the weather was perfect for outdoor exploration; sunshine, breezes, and low humidity. We spent a happy, restorative day in Myakka River State Park, one of Florida’s largest and oldest state parks. Follow the signs to find the tour boat dock and ticket booth.

The world’s largest covered airboats are actually two identical twin boats, the Myakka Maiden and Gator Gal. Both are 53-feet long and 16-feet wide. Each can seat up to 57 people for the 45-minute cruise. There are three cruises offered daily in the slower (hotter) summer season, June 1 through December 15. Four or more cruises, depending on demand, are offered during the high season, December 16-May 31.

The Gator Gal

The Gator Gal

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Rock City Park, Olean, NY: World’s largest exposure of quartz conglomerate

Rock City ParkOur family is on a nature exploration kick lately, and no one is more surprised than me. It’s never really been our thing. Granted, we stick to “bunny slope” versions of hiking trails, and I don’t go anywhere without a backpack filled with antibacterial wipes and provisions for a potential week in the wild.

Earlier this fall we scrambled over a mossy rock embankment to reach the Old Stone Church in Dover Plains, a town park in the Hudson Valley. Most recently, we explored Rock City Park, home to the world’s largest exposure of quartz conglomerate, in Olean, New York. It’s a small city in the western part of the state, just north of the Pennsylvania border. And it was a little—okay, a lot—out of the way as we headed toward Niagara Falls, but we got to spend some time with Matt’s cousin, who told us about this “world’s largest.” We couldn’t resist!

This place makes you exclaim “wow” on a continuous loop. Rock formations, created 320 million years ago, surround and engulf you as you make your way through the 45-minute hiking trail. The rocks represent a combination of shale with exposed quartz veins, non-quartz sediment, and Olean conglomerate. Geologists believe the crevices and fractures formed 280 to 225 million years ago.

kids hiking

Your tour starts by descending down stairs into one of these crevices, called “Fat Man’s Squeeze.” There are endearing names like this for most points along the trail, as well as for many of the largest rocks.

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World’s Largest Gingerbread Exhibit

So, the plan was to get up early Sunday for a 9:00am wheels-up for the New York Hall of Science in Queens, to see the GingerBread Lane exhibit. Except it was dark and rainy, and we just switched over to flannel sheets. Flannel sheets are quicksand on Sunday mornings. My feet didn’t touch slippers until 8:30, so our plans were slightly postponed.

Still, the drive was worth it. GingerBread Lane, a 1.5 ton, 300-square-foot village made entirely of edible gingerbread, royal icing and candy, is a contender for the Guinness World Record for the largest gingerbread exhibit. The final decree has not been made, but we had to go see it. It’s pretty amazing to look at, and smells deeeeelicious.


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Dinosaur World, Plant City, FL: World’s Largest Dinosaur Attraction

Dinosaur World

Dinosaur World, Plant City, Florida

In the summer “Pro” column: school’s out, so we can take fun trips to BIG places. In the “Con” column: school’s out, and having two kids at home leaves little time to blog about it!

We’re just back from almost three weeks in central Florida, and we made tracks across that state, let me tell you. We’ll be sharing the details in future posts, but our trip included visits to: the world’s largest manmade penguin colony; the world’s largest LEGOLAND; the world’s largest Hard Rock Café; the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut mementos and historic spacecraft; and the world’s largest accredited sanctuary for big cats!

But our first stop was to Dinosaur World, the world’s largest dinosaur attraction. I’ve seen the giant T-Rex menacingly stalking the I-4 highway many times on the drive between Tampa and Orlando, and have always wanted to stop in.

I could not have picked a hotter day to visit. It was 173 degrees in the shade. This is what I looked — and felt — like:


The friendly Dilophosaurus, best known for appearing in the movie “Jurassic Park.”

Actually, this is just one of more than 150 life-sized dinosaurs you’ll see as you take the paved – and gloriously shaded – “Dinosaur Walk” through a forest setting. Fact-filled signs near each creature provide paleontology lessons along the way. The dinosaur models, up to eighty feet long, are made of fiberglass, steel, and concrete.


These Brachiosaurus can also be seen from the I-4 highway. Which could be startling at night if you’re not expecting them!

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PEZ Visitor Center, Orange, CT: World’s Largest PEZ Dispenser

PEZ Visitor Center

PEZ Visitor Center, Orange, CT

I remember my first PEZ dispenser; do you? It was Snoopy, my all-time favorite cartoon character. The Boy started a collection several years ago, and R2D2 was the star of that show. It’s since been passed down to The Girl, and she’s glammed up the group with Hello Kitty and a princess or two.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

The kids and I drove over to Orange, CT to visit the PEZ Visitor Center, home to the world’s largest PEZ dispenser, as well as the world’s largest public collection of PEZ memorabilia.

It was one of those late summer days, when camps have ended and the first day of school is still weeks away. We were bored.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

If you’ve nibbled on a pack of PEZ at any time over the past 30 years, it was made here at this manufacturing facility. The visitor center is a new addition, acting as part museum, part attraction.

As soon as we got out of the car, I smelled the sweet scent of cherry candy in the air. Once we entered, our eyes went straight to a wall covered by rows of PEZ dispensers, and a PEZ motorcycle hanging from the ceiling.Beyond the ticket window, you’re greeted by a giant, 12-foot tall PEZ dispenser, topped by a boy’s head with a blue baseball cap. Adorable.

Worlds Largest PEZ Dispenser

You’re free to explore this place on your own, and you’ll have to give and take. There are the decidedly kid-focused activities, like a create-your-own dispenser table, alongside the display cases of vintage memorabilia. There’s a fascinating historical time line across two walls which appeals those of us old enough to remember some of these earlier decades. Included here are bits of fun trivia.

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Absecon Lighthouse, Atlantic City – New Jersey’s Tallest Lighthouse

Absecon lighthousePoor Matt. He’s been doing a lot of the “heavy lifting” for the sake of the blog lately, like when we sent him out on a tightrope 70 feet in the air in November. Last month, we sent him up a circular staircase of 228 steps, to the top of Absecon Lighthouse, the third tallest lighthouse in America.

Well, someone has to do it.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

We spent a cold President’s Day weekend in Atlantic City, New Jersey, WITH the kids. Despite those obstacles, we still had a great time, and found plenty to do. One of our stops was the Absecon Lighthouse, the tallest in New Jersey and the third tallest in the United States (topped only by the Cape Hatteras Lighhouse in North Carolina, and the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse in Florida).

Okay, what was so cool about it?

The lighthouse has been decommissioned since 1933, but it’s still lit every night, and open for tours daily.


Absecon Lighthouse, Atlantic City, NJ

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World’s Largest Turban, Udaipur, India

We definitely needed a post on something exotic and highbrow to balance the last one! Our friend Sandra Foyt to the rescue, with this month’s guest post on the world’s largest turban, located in Udaipur, India. You may remember Sandra, editor of Albany Kid, from her post on Bubblegum Alley, the world’s largest collection of “ABC” (already been chewed) gum. She has eclectic interests. I dig it.

Her report:

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

By the time my two teens and I arrived in Udaipur, we were beginning to suffer from one of the first gastro-bugs that felled us while traveling in India and Nepal. Nothing serious, but we weren’t up for doing anything too ambitious.

A short visit to Bagore-ki-Haveli, a restored royal palace, located a block away from our lodgings, sounded like an entertaining option for a tranquil afternoon.


The Bagore-Ki-Haveli Palace, Udaipur, India

WHY did you go there, exactly?

Curiosity, plain and simple. Who wouldn’t want to see the world’s largest turban? I’m a sucker for royal palaces; and added bonus, Bagore-ki-Haveli was reputed to hold an eclectic collection of regional folk art.


World’s Largest Turban

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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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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World’s Largest McDonald’s, Orlando, FL

McDonald'sI’m completely swamped by work since we got back from our Orlando trip, and I’m getting very little accomplished, thanks to this time of year which others cheekily call summer “vacation.” However, I’m under an intense deadline to post this one, because this McDonald’s won’t be the world’s largest very much longer. Several sources have advised me that a larger McDonald’s is being built for the Olympics in London, which begins in three weeks.

So technically, we did see this one while it was the world’s largest. And to be fair, it qualifies itself as “the world’s largest entertainment McDonald’s and PlayPlace,” which I assume relates to all the arcade games and other diversions which you won’t find in many other Mickey D’s.

Two Floors of Fun

When you enter the ground floor, you might be greeted/accosted by a person selling theme park tickets from the booth set up along the side wall. There are some games on this floor, and the “jungle room.” Do you remember the borderline creepy 1980’s TV commercials featuring the moon guy named “Mac Tonight” singing to the tune of Mack the Knife? Well, he’s here with his piano, and he’s a little dusty.

Mac Tonight

“When the clock strikes half past six, babe…” Sing it with me...

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