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

Chiming In to Announce our Anniversary Giveaway Winner!

We’re excited to announce the winner of first anniversary giveaway prize!

There were three ways to enter this contest. Our winner, Elizabeth F., entered by posting a photo of a BIG attraction she’s seen. (the world’s largest wind chimes in Eureka Springs, Arkansas) on our Facebook page. Read more about her adventure here.

Congratulations, Elizabeth! You’ve won two pre-paid Go City Cards for the city of your choice, courtesy of Smart Destinations!

Go City Cards

I just had to look up more info on the wind chimes! Technically holding the record as the World’s Largest Tuned Musical Wind Chimes, they’re located outside of Celestial Windz Harmonic Bizaar, an art gallery and store. The chimes weigh 782 pounds, and the longest one is nearly 36 feet long!

wind chimes

Elizabeth's photo of the BIG chimes! Love it!

 

Thanks again to Smart Destinations for donating the prize for this travel giveaway!

Speaking of travel, if you’re headed to Florida or Vermont anytime soon, please check out my recent guest posts on some of my favorite family travel blogs, which provide information on Clearwater Beach, FL (TheVacationGals.com) and Burlington, VT (FamilyVacationCritic.com).

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A BIG Anniversary Celebration and a BIG Giveaway!

Rubiks Cube

Still one of our most popular posts!

It’s been a BIG year! The Go BIG or Go Home family travel blog has reached its first anniversary of chronicling what happens when our small-town family visits the “world’s largest…” whatever! To celebrate, we have a BIG giveaway prize!

The year began with reports from the world’s largest light bulb in NJ, and the world’s largest rotating globe in ME. Sometimes we were cultural and high class, with visits to one of the world’s largest botanic gardens, and the largest Buddha in the western hemisphere. But we know what the masses REALLY want, so we also ran reports of the world’s largest Rubik’s Cube and the world’s largest toilet!

Our heartfelt thanks go to everyone who has followed our posts from the beginning, and those loyal fans who contribute to the conversation with fun comments! Thanks to everyone who has shared their photos of BIG things they’ve spotted on the road! We love to see these on our Facebook page. We especially appreciate everyone who has contributed a guest post, sharing stories of BIG things in places our family hasn’t reached yet.

And now, the fun part! We’re giving away A PAIR OF TWO pre-paid, 3-day adult Go City Cards for the city of your choice, courtesy of Smart Destinations!

Smart Destinations is the premier provider of unlimited sightseeing and attraction admission passes in 15 major North American travel destinations. Smart Destinations’ Go City Cards and Explorer Passes offer pre-paid access to over 425 museums, attractions, and tours for one low fixed price. Smart Destinations products not only allow travelers to save money while seeing the sights but also allow them to skip the lines.

Go City Cards save visitors up to 55% off the cost of regular admission to top attractions and things to do in 11 major destinations including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Oahu, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. The Go City Card offers unlimited admissions to most of the popular attractions in each city for a pre-selected number of days, as well as local dining and shopping discounts.

Do you have plans to visit any of these cities in the next year? You can enter to win the Go City Cards in three different ways. 1) If you haven’t done so before, you can sign up to receive our e-mail notifications when new posts go live. All new e-mail addresses we receive from today through next Friday (7/22/11) will be entered into the drawing. Sign up in the box in the upper right column of this page. 2) Post a photo of a BIG attraction you’ve visited on the Go BIG facebook page. 3) Tell us in the comments below what your favorite Go BIG post has been so far.

Our winner will be notified on or before Wednesday, July 27th, and will be asked to provide a mailing address anywhere in the world. The prize will be mailed directly to them from Smart Destinations, Inc.

Good luck!

 

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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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Miscellany Monday, and ANOTHER Giveaway!

VERY exciting goings-on here lately at GBOGH HQ!  (Hi, I’m Traci, and I’m an acronym-aholic.)

First, we were delighted to be included in the Go Green Travel Green website’s list of Best Travel Writing of 2010!! Our post about the Walkway Over the Hudson,  the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, was included.  Having given new life to an unused railroad bridge, The Walkway is an inspirational example of recycling on a gargantuan scale.

Second, we’re thrilled that Alltop® has now included our blog within its Travel category. Alltop is a “start page” which categorizes feeds and filters the top news on the subjects of your choice. We’re expecting a lot more eyeballs will find their way here!

Alltop. Seriously?! I got in?

And now, for the really exciting news! We’re giving away a copy of a children’s book which is just hitting stores TODAY!

Quick back story: The Boy is a voracious reader, so I’m always on the lookout for books he may like. On Facebook, I happened upon the page for popular children’s author Dan Gutman. (The “My Weird School’ series and more).  I found out that he was releasing a book about a cross-country road trip, with kids visiting quirky roadside attractions, and I was hooked.

I contacted Dan, and asked if he would consider offering a book to our readers. He graciously said “yes,” and added that he thinks this blog is “cool!” (Wait, a few more !!!!!!!. There, that’s better.)

Here’s an intriguing video and synopsis of his new book, The Genius Files:

In eight days, Coke and Pepsi McDonald are going to turn thirteen. Before then, they’ll jump off a cliff, get trapped in the locked basement of their burning school, get chased cross-country by murderous lunatics, left for dead in the pit of a sand dune, thrown into a giant vat of Spam, and also visit the largest ball of twine in the world. Read all about it in “The Genius Files” brand new from Dan Gutman.

Did you see the world’s largest ball of twine?! You know that’s on my bucket list, right?

Want to enter to win a copy of The Genius Files? 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 the name of your favorite book from your childhood (I call Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret).

A winner will be chosen randomly and will be notified next Tuesday (2/1/11), and will be asked to provide a mailing address.  The prize will be mailed directly to them from the author, so the winner must reside in the U.S.

Or, if you want to make sure you get a copy, get yourself to a bookstore and add this treasure to your collection!

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Top Five Family Road Trip Mistakes

Okay, the holidays are over, and it’s time to get back in the blogging saddle. The Go BIG or Go Home Road Trip (2010 Holiday Edition) is over, and we’re back into our routines. Routines which, sadly, include shoveling snow and administering Children’s Sudafed.

Home!

I did learn a few things from our 1,900-mile automotive journey from New York to Florida, and back again. Namely, that TSA patdowns must surely have gotten a bad rap, relative to sitting in a car for 24 hours with two kids.

We did not have a terrible experience on the road. We did not have a wonderful experience. We made errors in judgment regarding which routes would be faster, which prevented me from seeing the world’s largest peanut. I must carry the burden of that loss forever. So that you may never experience similar anguish, I must share with you our:

Top Five Family Road Trip Mistakes

1. Assume that it’s cheap to drive.

For the four of us, driving to FL was more affordable than flying during the holidays, when airfares skyrocket in line with demand. But while it was cheaper, it was not cheap. Our expenses for the four travel days, including gas, meals, and accommodations, totaled $903.42!

By the way…taking the train? Almost as expensive as flying!

2. Underestimate how long the drive will take.

Google Maps says it will take 10 hours from Point A to Point B. Your GPS unit says it will only take nine hours , 50 minutes. Don’t be fooled. It will take 12 hours. You will have to stop for gas and potty breaks, at the very least. You will want to stretch your legs, breathe fresh air, and untangle the two angry children wrestling in the back seat because one of them crossed the invisible center borderline.

3. Start out without hotel reservations.

This is one mistake we didn’t make, happily! You may consider leaving your overnight lodging up to chance, depending on how far you get. That’s risky when you’re traveling with kids, and want some assurance of a clean, safe place to stay. Also,  if bad weather forces people off the road, hotels may get overbooked. Find a hotel near where you think you’ll end up, make a reservation, and make note of their cancellation policy.

4. Eschew electronics.

If your family doesn’t own a T.V. , kudos.  On the road, you will need to plug the kids in eventually, or all of you will go crazy. (Yes, I am clairvoyant.) Part of the fun in travel is to have experiences they don’t get at home, so why not  entertainment too? PIXAR movies, in particular, appeal to children of all age groups, and keep the peace.

5. Set out with absolutely no idea where your next meal will be.

I-95

Enter to Win This!

This could lead to disaster if you have young children who get cranky when they’re hungry. We have some of those, and the snacks I packed didn’t always cut it. It was important to have some idea of where and when we were stopping for meals. While we were on I-95, this guidebook became an invaluable resource:  Drive I-95, by Stan Posner and Sandra Phillips-Posner.

I actually downloaded the PDF version to my laptop; how “eco”! On the first day of our return trip, it helped me avoid trouble when lunchtime was approaching, and I realized that we wouldn’t make it to the Applebee’s off Exit 6 in Georgia. My first clue was The Girl’s fervent demand, “When are we eating lunch?!” One look at the map, and we found a Wendy’s off Exit 373 in Florida. Close call, but nothing four chicken nuggets couldn’t help.

I find it remarkable that the authors have visited every single exit along I-95 from Maine to Miami! In addition to listing restaurants, they provide exit-by-exit info on lodging, gas stations, attractions close to the highway, campgrounds, mechanics, and much more.

And I’m happy to add that we have a copy to give away!! Because we all love Go BIG or Go Home giveaways, don’t we?

Want to enter? Just sign up to receive our e-mail notifications (see upper right hand corner). Alternatively, you can comment below and tell me which of the road trip mistakes listed above you’ve made, and what happened as a result. The juicier the story, the better!

A winner will be chosen randomly, and a winner will be notified next Tuesday (1/8/10). The winner will be asked to provide a mailing address within the U.S. or Canada.

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World’s Largest and Deepest Freshwater Spring, Wakulla Springs, FL

FIRST, an announcement that Linda B. is the winner of our latest giveaway, a copy of Walt Disney World Extreme Vacation Guide for Kids by Kathleen Reilly. CONGRATS!!

This morning, the outdoor thermometer read a whopping 2° F. That’s why I especially enjoy this month’s guest post about a warm, sunny place. My friend Rebecca Roberts lives in Tallahassee, FL, which is close to Wakulla Springs, the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring. We met way back in elementary school, when we both lived in the Middle East. She still lives in a warm climate, while I’m stuck in this frozen tundra.

I lived in Tallahassee for three years, just out of college, and unemployed. My parents graciously opened their home to me, then charged me rent! (Something about a valuable life lesson, blah blah.) So, I’ve been to Wakulla Springs myself, and even got to ride on the glass-bottom boat, which isn’t always running, depending on the weather and water quality.

Wakulla Springs

GOR. GEOUS.

What left the biggest impression on me? The signs warning that alligators are attracted to pets and small children. Yikes.

But Becca the Brave didn’t let the threat of harm prevent her from providing this report from the field:

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Becca and her boys!

This August for our last “field trip” before the start of school, I took my sons, Will (8) and Sam (5) to Wakulla Springs.

WHY did you go there, exactly?
We had all been there before as a family and on a kindergarten field trip, but it is one of those day trip destinations from Tallahassee that we try to do at least once a year.

Okay, what was so cool about it?
We went to the springs to go on the 45 minute boat tour and take a dip in the freezing cold spring. The water is 70 degrees year round and on a 98 degree day in August it will take your breath away. Wakulla Springs is very unique to the area and a cool trip for the day. We packed a picnic lunch, our swimsuits and made a day of it. The boat tour is a must-do. On every visit we have had a tour guide that is both entertaining and knowledgeable about the surroundings. The boat winds down the river, which is lined with Cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss. We saw various birds, alligators, turtles, snakes (ugh!), fish, and we even saw two manatees on this trip.

Alligator

I leave the death-defying reporting to my guest bloggers.

A little background info about the place:
Wakulla Springs is located on the Florida Panhandle near Tallahassee. On average, more than 250 million gallons of water flow from Wakulla Springs forming a nine mile river that reaches the Gulf of Mexico.  If the water is clear you can see the fossilized remains of a mastodon resting on the bottom in about 80 feet of water. There are miles of caves and tunnels under the water.

And, this is where I would start worrying about that alligator warning sign…

Wakulla Springs is a state park, so it is available to anyone that would like to visit, and it is open 365 days a year. The springs also has a lodge and restaurant that has been open since 1937, and it still appears as it did back then.

FUN FACT…… Scenes from the movies ”The Creature From The Black Lagoon” and “Tarzan” were filmed at Wakulla Springs!

How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list):

9. Wakulla Spring is a must-do if visiting the “Big Bend” area, and we typically bring visitors from out of state because it is so unique.

Hey YOU! Go BIG!:

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Friends of Wakulla Springs

550 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs, FL 32327. (850) 926-0700

Turtles

Sunbathing sounds really good right about now.

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MISCELLANY MONDAY

First, a friendly reminder that there are only THREE days left to enter our giveaway drawing for a copy of Walt Disney World Extreme Vacation Guide for Kids by Kathleen Reilly.  We included this fun prize in our post last week about the world’s largest Disney store in Times Square!

Cobra Bubbles

Cobra Bubbles! Credit: Fotolog.com

You can find more information about entering your name here. We’re asking for a name of an obscure Disney character.  Fiona likes Roquefort the mouse from The Aristocats. Linda loves Bruno , the dog from Cinderella. Personally, I like Cobra Bubbles from Lilo & Stitch; such a conflicted, multi-faceted character! If you need a list of Disney characters, this one is pretty complete!

We were flattered to be interviewed last week for the Sharing Travel Experiences website about Go BIG or Go Home! Spreading the gospel about BIG things…is this my calling? 😉  You can read the whole article here.

And, because this blog is just so cool, it is also featured on TravelBlogs.com this week! I’m not generally inclined to say “Hooya!,” but it seems appropriate in this case.

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World’s Largest Disney Store, New York, NY

 

Disney castle

You are now entering...the Princess Zone!

IT’S DISNEY GIVEAWAY DAY! But first, the post…

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

There’s a reason the sale of psuedoephedrine-laced cough medication is regulated. It can make you do crazy things. Case in point: suffering from a sinus infection, and self-medicating with Advil Cold & Sinus, I made the decision to drag everyone into NYC recently to check out the brand new Disney store…in Times Square…one week after it opened. I took leave of my senses, and I’m blaming it on pharmacology.

It’s the world’s largest Disney store, but as I found out from a “Cast Member,” it’s not as big as the “World of Disney” store in Orlando. They are different companies, so the distinction is made.

Bonus: After our expedition, nourishment was in order, so we ended up at Applebee’s. Turns out, the Times Square location is the world’s largest Applebee’s!

WHY did you go there, exactly?

Actually, we were going to the upper west side anyway, because The Girl and I had tickets for Angelina Ballerina, the Musical. The Girl imagines herself to be a dainty ballerina type. Taller, louder, and more in-your-face than all the other three-year olds in Miss Tanya’s “Combo” dance class, she obviously has an active imagination.

The boys went to check out the Quidditch World Cup, then came to pick us up after the show. When I said to Matt, “let’s go down to Times Square,” he acquiesced, knowing I was on medication and fearing the unknown.

We found free, on-street parking on 45th street–a sign that it was meant to be. We entered, squeezed our way through throngs of people, and applied the Death Grip to The Girl’s hand so she wouldn’t get lost.

Disney store

A Jessie doll? Why yes, I would be interested in purchasing that. How did you know?

Okay, what was so cool about it?

Any Disney fan will lose their mind in this place. There are two floors with floor-to-ceiling merchandise; everything from toys to apparel. The displays are so endearing, the décor so magical, the staff so friendly…all the necessary elements to separate you from your money.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Contest Winner!

world's largest peanut

During our road trip, we have our sites set on the world's largest peanut in GA!

Our sincere thanks to everyone who offered suggestions for our BIG, NY to FL road trip next month! That was our most popular post yet, and I enjoyed reading about the type of places you like to see, and even more telling, where you like to eat!

The winner of our contest is JUDY!  She’ll receive a set of the first three books in the Wright on Time series by Lisa Cottrell-Bentley. This series of children’s chapter books are about an RV-living family who travels the USA.

While I’m confident that everyone who posted suggestions did so purely because they love to share travel tips, I know offering a contest can sometime help facilitate the sharing.  🙂  SO, be on the lookout, because next week, we have another fun contest giveaway! Can’t tell you what the prize is yet, but here’s a clue: rhymes with “bisney.”

Need a reminder to check back next week? Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Help Plan the “Go BIG” Road Trip and (Maybe) Win a Prize!

I-95

Source: www.i95highway.com

There are three reasons why we’re driving from New York to Florida next month. The first is to see my family, in particular my new nephew. The second is that airfares are astronomical. (They would have to be in order to get me in a car with The Girl for 24 hours). And third, I’m hankering for a road trip adventure, with the opportunity to let the kids see some fun, maybe even educational stuff during their winter school break. I like to do what I can to keep their brains from turning to mush, since I put in so much time and effort in enriching those little sponges. If they forget to thank me when they’re grown, I do plan to remind them.

Here’s where you come in. I’m looking for recommendations on where to stop during our road trip. Particularly, I’m looking for “world’s largest” roadside attractions or other sites. For example, I’m considering the world’s largest model railroad museum in Flemington, NJ.

We’re also looking for great family-friendly places to eat, like diners, where we have half a chance of finding vegetables on the menu.

Our route for most of the trip will be I-95, with some time on I-295 around the capital and I-75 in Florida. We’re willing to veer off course up to 30 miles for a really great stop.

What’s in it for you? Well, our gratitude and a big fat online shout-out, for one. Also, everyone who provides a recommendation in the comments section below will be entered in our latest giveaway contest!

We’re offering a set of the first three books in the Wright on Time series by Lisa Cottrell-Bentley. This series of children’s chapter books are about an RV-living family who travels the USA. Each book is set in a different state with a different fun and educational theme! In addition to authoring the series, Lisa is a prolific blogger, whose sites include Do Life Right. She’s also a homeschooling mom to two daughters, who recently traveled cross-country by train and visited the world’s largest ball of twine…how COOL is that?!

Wright on Time books

The prize set includes Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming!

We’re not a homeschooling family, but the reason Lisa’s books resonate with me is that travel is one of the richest educational experiences we can offer our children. There are exciting lessons to be learned at sites like the world’s largest rotating globe, or the world’s largest light bulb at the Edison Center. There are so many opportunities to extend classroom learning when you travel, even to seemingly quirky attractions.

Never fear, there’s a second way to enter the contest. Just sign up to receive our e-mail notifications when new posts go live. All new e-mail addresses we receive from today through next Wednesday (11/24) will also be entered into the drawing. Sign up in the box in the upper right column.

Winner will be notified next Wednesday (11/24), and will be asked to provide a mailing address.  The prize will be mailed directly to them from the author, so the winner must reside in the U.S.

Thanks for your recommendations! Let’s hit the road!

 

Largest ball of twine

Lisa in front of the world's largest ball of twine. I'm so stinkin' jealous!

 

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