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

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: World’s Largest Collection of Rock Music Memorabilia

Rock and Roll Hall of FameWhere we went, and who was coerced into going:

Last weekend, we took a road trip to Cleveland. At the top of our itinerary was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which holds the world’s largest collection of rock music memorabilia.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

I’m the one at the Hard Rock Café looking at each artifact in the display cases, reading the back story on each item. I’m fascinated, especially by the costumes. The immense collection at the “Rock Hall,” as it’s affectionately called by locals, puts those displays to shame.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

Before you even get inside, there’s an exhibit of guitars all painted in different themes. The kids loved hamming it up.

Rock Hall

Also in the front courtyard was Johnny Cash’s 1979 tour bus. The interior was a delightful tribute to the decade, complete with powder puff blue velour upholstery.

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Where We’re Headed, 2012 Edition

See, the problem with taking frequent family road trips is that it gets to be a part of you, and you end up needing to hit the road as frequently as possible. We didn’t travel anywhere this month. It’s killing me.

However, staying put gave me the opportunity to plan out our next several adventures. Travel planning is almost as fun as the travel itself; without all the back seat fight refereeing. (“Stop singing in your brother’s ear. Let your sister pick the DVD. Give him back the pretzels. Did you just take her last sip? LET’S ALL PLAY THE QUIET GAME!!”)

In a few short weeks, the Go BIG family is wheels up! Here’s what the next few months look like:

FebruaryPittsburgh, PA

The world’s largest permanent robotics exhibition – “roboworld” – at the Carnegie Science Center

The world’s largest collection of Jurassic dinosaurs at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History


Credit: Joshua Franzos for Carnegie Museum of Natural History

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World’s Largest Pinball Machine, Chicago, IL

Not being able to clone myself presents two major problems: A) I have to do ALL the laundry myself; and B) I can’t visit all the really cool BIG things out there I want to see. Like the world’s largest pinball machine, which anyone (other than poor ole’ clone-less me) can find at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which just happens to be the largest science museum in the western hemisphere!


The largest science museum in the western hemisphere!

So while I make sure the kids have clean undies, I rely on generous contributors to write monthly guest posts covering what I have to miss. This month, that kind soul is Jessica at Suitcases and Sippycups. When she sent me her photos of the pinball machine, I was caught off guard, because I thought it would look like an arcade table-style game.

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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 – Easter edition

So, I was going to color Easter eggs with a “Go BIG or Go Home” message, similar to what I did with the Christmas cookies and the Jack O’Lanterns. I would like partial credit for the idea. The wrinkle in that plan is that the eggs would be colored on Thursday, and they would have to stay fresh until Sunday.

I’m happy and relieved to have found something MUCH better to share with you for our Easter post! A really BIG basket! This is the Lorain Easter Basket in Ohio.

Many thanks to Dominique King for sharing her photo with us! Dominique is the blogger behind Midwest Guest. A travel writer at heart, Midwest Guest allows her to share stories about the often underappreciated Heartland region of the U.S.

Dominque reports that Lorain’s big Easter Basket draws scores of visitors to the park on Ohio’s Lake Erie shore each spring to take photos of their families in their Easter finery. City parks employee David Shukait created the 7-foot-tall concrete sculpture, and the City of Lorain installed it as part of a public works project in 1941.

See more photos and get more info on her blog today.

Happy Easter!!


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World’s Largest Children’s Museum, Indianapolis, IN

I have never been to Indiana. This month’s guest post, combined with our oh-so-popular guest post on the world’s largest toilet, has me seriously intrigued.   There’s a lot going on in the “Crossroads of America!”

Since we wrote about another children’s museum last week, I thought it would be fun to continue the theme today. The world’s largest children’s museum is in Indianapolis. This place is a Go BIG trifecta! Not only is the facility itself the world’s largest, within it are the world’s largest permanent sculpture by Dale Chihuly, and North America’s largest water clock!

Children's museum

And, as a quick search reveals, the city is also now home to the world’s largest JW Marriott property.

Our valued contributor is Nicole Wiltrout, a stay-at-home Indianian (yes, it’s a word) who rarely stays home! I can tell she is an enthusiastic family traveler; she awarded the museum a “10” on our sliding scale, where 1 = “snoozefest,” and 10 = “add to your bucket list.” So now we definitely have to get to Indiana. Here’s hoping Nicole has enough room in her house to host the four of us…

Nicole writes about adventures with her husband and 2-year-old son at Arrows Sent Forth.


This is where my son would have FREAKED.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

We went to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest children’s museum. Our group featured three generations exploring the museum: myself, my mom and my 20-month-old son.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

I’ve lived in Indianapolis for the past 20 years, and the Children’s Museum is a cultural landmark in the city. Needless to say, I’ve been at least a dozen times. But I had never taken my son until this trip.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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I ♥ Elwood

Thanks to everyone who took a guess at our “Where is it? Wednesday” game yesterday! Liza and Bill both knew that this fellow – his name is Elwood, sigh – lives in Iowa. To be precise, he lives in Reiman Gardens on the Iowa State University campus.  Mike offered a more compelling back story about Hans, Das mad Gärtner, which I think was a product of his new parent sleep deprivation.

Standing 15-feet tall, Elwood is the world’s largest concrete garden gnome. My special guy Chomsky is the second tallest, at just over 13 feet.

Thanks again to Jody at Family Rambling for providing the photo, and this background info: Elwood is modeled after a garden gnome statue made by Created in Johnston, a company which creates concrete statues.

He is named after both an ISU professor who taught Landscape Architecture, and the original street which Reiman Gardens sits on (which is now called University Avenue).

There is a gnome in Poland which is larger, but he is made of fiberglass.

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Where is it? Wednesday

First, a quick thank you to everyone who entered to win our giveaway last week! Kathy H. has won a copy of the Drive I-95 guidebook by Stan Posner and Sandra Phillips-Posner!

So, my love for garden gnomes has grown to uncomfortable levels. When I set my sites upon gnomes which are among the world’s largest, like this one, things just start getting weird. I mean, isn’t he cute?! Not as cute as Chomsky, the giant gnome here in my native Hudson Valley, but this guy apparently likes to garden, which is a plus in my book.

Jody, the travel blogger at Family Rambling who wrote a guest post for us on the world’s largest Souvenir Travel Plate, got to meet this fellow in person.  Ten points to the first person who can tell me where it is! Yes, he’s been referenced in a previous post, if you want to search.  Hehe, made ya look. Fifty points if you can tell me his name!!

Giant gnome

Also, I feel compelled to remind you to save the date of February 11th for the premiere of the animated movie Gnomeo and Juliet. It’s the humorous story of two garden gnomes who try to avoid tragedy and find a happy ending to their star-crossed love affair when they are caught up in a feud between neighbors. CAN’T WAIT!!

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World’s Largest Jack O’Lantern Displays


I know I’m starting to sound like a scaredy cat. I assure you it’s mostly just a fear of heights. And spiders. And 200 TV channels all airing reality shows at the same time.

Keene Pumpkin Festival

Keene Pumpkin Festival. Photo Credit: J.W. Ocker via OddThingsIveSeen.com

Given my delicate nature, Halloween tends to not be my favorite holiday. But Jack O’Lantern festivals are just my cup of tea. They’re more about fun and artistry, and less about fright and gore.

There are two events this year vying for the world record for the most Jack O’Lanterns lit at one event.

The Keene Pumpkin Festival in NH is the largest and oldest. The world record for the number of Jack O’Lanterns lit at one event was broken here eight times, until a 2006 event in Boston topped it. Still, last year’s 29,762 pumpkins was a record for this festival, and the world record may be broken again this year! The 20th anniversary of the Keene Pumpkin Festival takes place on Main Street in Keene this Saturday, October 16.

In this corner, the challenger! The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival in IL, is preparing to take its own shot at the world record this year. The whole community participates, creating and donating their own carved creations. They anticipate lighting 32,000 Jack O’Lanterns to take the title! This event takes place October 20-23 in Highwood, IL.

Highwood Pumpkin Festival

Highwood Pumpkin Festival. Photo Credit: Marcia Burke, City of Highwood

Full disclosure: we have not been to either of these events. But we have been to The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Croton-on-Hudson, NY for five years in a row. There are over 4,000 Jack O’ lanterns on display here; nothing to sneeze at! And since this event is my personal, “hometown” favorite, I’m going to give them a plug.  The level of artistry and creativity at the Blaze is notably above par. The Jack O’Lanterns cover the grounds of a 17th-century historic site; hanging from tree limbs, perched on rooftops, and incorporated in themed vignettes. You’ll see an undersea aquarium, a field of detailed Celtic knots, a den of dinos, a beehive, pirate ship, and a group of mummies with a pyramid. Amazing.

If you would like more information about these and other Jack O’Lantern festivals, I recently wrote this article for WomansDay.com about ten different events across the country.

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World’s Largest Toilet, Columbus, IN

Sometimes this blog will enlighten and enrich your life with descriptions of artistic, cultural, or spiritual sites, like the large Buddha at the Chuang Yen Monastery.

Other times, we ditch all that highbrow stuff and go for the easy chuckle. This is one of those times.

Our guest post for October, graciously submitted by Julie Henning, is about the World’s Largest Toilet. Yes, you read that right!  Julie is the “Feed Me” Editor at a great site, Road Trips for Families. I met her at the BlogHer conference, and was jazzed to realize that there are other moms out there who: A) love quirky roadside attractions; and B) have no qualms about forcing them upon their defenseless children.

Worlds largest toilet

I can only imagine the stories these kids told their friends about this experience!

The toilet is located inside the Kids Commons Columbus’ Community Children’s Museum in Columbus, IN. Here’s Julie’s take:

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

As a way to intentionally break up our recent 18-hour road trip from Madison, WI to Charleston, SC, we downloaded the Roadside America iPhone app to our iPhones. With a touch of a button, the app detects your physical location and returns back an interactive list of nearby unusual, interesting, and “Go BIG-worthy” places. Restless in Indiana, we gave the app a whirl.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

Truthfully, we hadn’t stopped since a rest area in Illinois and we all had to go to the bathroom! Fate intervened with the “World’s Largest Toilet” a short distance from I-65 in the heart of downtown Columbus, Indiana. Housed in the Kids Commons Columbus Community Children’s Museum, the museum gracefully allowed us to use the real bathroom and visit the big-daddy loo too. Normally, there’s a nominal admission fee.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

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