And here are some additional posts we think you'll find helpful:
- Summer Bucket List for Bay Ridge and Beyond
- The Best Day Trips and Weekend Getaways from NYC
- Classes & Activities for Babies and Toddlers in Bay Ridge
Let me preface this post with a statement that I am not big into sports. Like, not at all. Nor is my husband or our kids. But, we are all about family-friendly fun activities, so when I found out there's a minor league baseball team in Coney Island, playing on the 4th of July, followed by fireworks we could watch from the field, I was ALL IN!!! We were provided free tickets in exchange for this post, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased. Click below to watch our highlights video embedded from YouTube and keep reading for more details about what you can expect at a Brooklyn Cyclones' minor league baseball game in Coney Island, and my tips for getting home from Coney Island on the 4th of July (spoiler alert: it's a MAD HOUSE but totally doable!!)
From Bay Ridge, it's a pretty simple commute down to Coney Island - take the R to 59th, transfer to the N (go up and down stairs to the track going the opposite direction), and get off at the last stop, Coney Island / Stillwell Ave. Or take a direct (but long) B64 bus down there. You're just a stone's throw from the Boardwalk, the Beach, the Aquarium, Luna Park, and MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones - a minor league baseball team affiliated with the New York Mets!
Tickets are a steal at just $15 for most games (cheaper on weeknights), and you can also get group tickets, book a party room or even a picnic area. Many of the games have great giveaways to the first X number of visitors. On the day we went, they gave away Coney Island bobble heads and a free hot dog voucher (or $4 toward any food, beverage, or gift shop item) to the first 2,000 fans!
It was hot, and the seats were in the sun for the first hour or so. Rather than sweat it out and have the kids getting stir crazy, we decided to hang out up top where there was lots of space, a great shaded breeze, not to mention all the food and drinks and toilets! Concessions aren't cheap, but there are great options - from the traditional hot dog and beer to more gourmet and exciting options. I'd never had it before but after trying it at the game, I am now in love with Truly Hard Seltzer (affiliate link), which has only 1 gram of sugar - that's 26 less grams and half the calories as the hard cider I typically imbibe. WHAT!? And it was delicious!
There was lots of non-baseball entertainment throughout the game, as well, such as a race of 3 giant costumed hot dogs (my son's favorite), cheerleaders dancing and engaging the fans (my girls' favorite), and some fun contests that involved fans, including one fan getting a bucket of hot dogs dumped over her head! Yikes!
Most Friday night games, and the Fourth of July, finish with fireworks and you'll have a front row seat whether you stay in your seat or are invited to take the field (I'm thinking the latter might be only on Independence Day, but I'm not sure). The fireworks were fun and they played great patriotic music in the background, but they started late. After 10pm!!
After they finished, we all made a last minute bathroom stop, and headed to the station which was just beyond crowded. It was reminiscent of trying to board the last train of the night back in Tokyo. Like, OMG. But, with kids in tow. It was very nerve wracking!! We stumbled upon a little secret and I will share it with you - go in the side entrance!! There was no crazy crowd, and we did swipe but it seems they were pretty much just holding the gates open and letting everyone just go through without paying. I guess anything to get the crowds moving! We managed to get on the first train and our exhausted tots were offered seats by incredibly kind fellow subway goers. Once we made it back to Bay Ridge we were bummed to find out our local bus wasn't running, so we had to hoof it the last half mile home. I couldn't be prouder of our kids for making it the whole way home. In bed around midnight, it was quite a hot, exciting, and eventful day and I'm thinking we'll be making this an annual event, and highly recommend you considering it, too!!! Check out the schedule and get your tickets here!
Have you been to a Brooklyn Cyclones game, or have additional tips for 4th of July in Coney Island with kids? Leave a reply below!!
And here are some additional posts we think you'll find helpful:
- Summer Bucket List for Bay Ridge and Beyond
- The Best Day Trips and Weekend Getaways from NYC
- Classes & Activities for Babies and Toddlers in Bay Ridge
Still on the fence about signing your city kids up for summer camp, or wondering if your progeny might be ready for sleep-away camp? Then you're in luck, because today's post is sponsored by Trail Blazers, an overnight camp located on 1,000 beautifully forested acres in Montague, NJ - just 2 hours from NYC with busing available from Brooklyn! One of the nation's oldest summer camps (open since 1887 - now in its 133'rd season!!) and accredited by the American Camp Association, sessions have already commenced, but it's not too late! Keep reading for more info and sign up ASAP!
Trail Blazers has an adventure for every camper - grades K - 12, of every background and all levels of experience. We're talking Farmstead, Rock Climbing, Canoeing, and Biking programs, and a Leaders-In-Training program for teens.
With 14 campsites and a private 55 acre lake, Trail Blazers offers campers a unique and immersive experience in nature. We're talking canvas teepees and tents (with beds), non-flushing latrines (running water & hot showers available), and a completely electronics-free zone (yep - no phones, internet, or video games!!).
Campers live in a smallcamp group, with just 7-9 campers and group leaders who come from all over the world. This allows each group to schedule days tailored to their to their individual interests. They believe children learn best through experience, so your child will learn hands-on skills, how to take charge, and how to share their skills and talents with others. While having the summer of their lives, campers will learn how to develop care and respect for themselves, their friends, our community, and the environment.
In order to make summer camp available to all children interested in Trail Blazers, they offer a 5-level tier system based on family income. Additional scholarship funding is available for some programs to families for whom Tier 1 (lowest) pricing is still out of reach.
Sounds amazing, right!? Don't miss the chance for your child to have an amazing, adventurous summer with Trail Blazers! Head on over to their website NOW for more information or to schedule a tour! Besides their overnight camp in NJ, they also have a Brooklyn Day Camp (with drop-off locations in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Crown Heights, and Park Slope) for campers entering Pre-K through 10 years of age, from $55 - $125 per day.
Welcome to our budget friendly kitchen makeover! We've been in our small Brooklyn co-op for 5 years now and have always disliked how dark and dated our tiny galley kitchen was, so we finally decided to give it an update.
Watch our kitchen remodel step by step highlights video - a tour in the "before" kitchen, replacing our kitchen appliances (from mismatched black to new smudgeproof stainless steel whirlpool appliances), replacing our kitchen counters (from dark baltic brown granite to msi arctic white quartz countertops), adding new white hexagon backsplash, and a tour of the "after" kitchen. I think it really brightened it up and gave it a much cleaner, fresher, and a bit funkier vibe, what do you think!? I mean, it'll never be a spacious pinterest perfect dream kitchen, but this is life in a Brooklyn co-op!
Our Step-by-Step Highlights Video:
WHAT WE USED:
Our budget friendly kitchen remodel features the following products (affiliate links) - our whole project, parts and outsourced labor, was just under $5K!
So, what do you think? We did a gut renovation of our bathroom (also done by E&M Shore Construction) when we purchased our co-op 5 years ago. You can see that post here!
This past weekend we were hosted by Pip's Island for a special bloggers' preview of this "immersive theatrical adventure" and can I just say, MIND. BLOWN!!! I was expecting a cute generic children's theater kinda thing, but boy oh boy, was I wrong! Rather than being the audience, your children are actually TAKING PART IN THE ENTIRE SHOW! There is no stage but rather a series of rooms designed so well that you actually feel transported to this other dimension - Pip's Island!
The kids are immersed in the adventure right from the start, getting dressed in special explorer vests and digital wrist bands. Led by a park ranger from set to set, meeting other characters, engaging in exciting challenges. The kiddos' care givers join but take a back seat, figuratively and literally, being encouraged to sit back and watch from comfy benches and chairs toward the back of each room. But for the kids, it's never about watching passively. They're engaged in every moment - helping to find gems to open up a hatch, fly a magical ship, crawling through mole hills, decorating cake to feed to a huge monster, and in the end, working as a team to destroy the villain and save the Island.
As a parent, I found the entire show captivating. The actors were terrific, the sets were incredibly creative, the dialogue at times downright hilarious. But watching my children's faces as they participated in the adventure was the absolute best thing ever!
It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience for both kids and adults. If you are a NYC-area parent, take your kids to Pip's Island, from the bottom of my heart, you will not regret it! Whether it's a birthday treat, weekend adventure, or random after-school splurge, you and your kids will be talking about it for days (or weeks, or longer!).
Pip's Island is geared toward kids ages 4 - 10 years. My 3 year old twins thoroughly enjoyed it, though there were a couple of short-lived moments that unnerved them a wee bit, and one of them sat on my lap during the last scene because of the "scary bad guy" haha! There are strobe lights and loud noises, too, but it's very kid-friendly, the actor / guides are great with the kids, and parent(s) are there for reassurance as well. So, take that into consideration, you know your children best!
Pip's Island started previews today (March 11)! You can buy tickets for $39 online or $49 at the box office (adults & kids require a ticket, and all children must be accompanied by at least 1 adult parent or guardian). The 60-minute long show runs Wednesdays through Mondays at 400 W. 42nd Street at various times throughout the day.
Don't forget to pop back to this blog post (or @usjapanfam on Facebook/Instagram) to leave a comment after you've seen it and let us know what you thought!!
I want to start this post off with a HUGE THANK YOU to King Kong Broadway, for providing us tickets in exchange for this post, but moreover, for providing my husband and I with a much needed (and LONG overdue) date night! And a thrilling one, at that!!
King Kong officially opened up on Broadway in November 2018 and has been receiving rave reviews, and I can now say personally, for good reason! Before heading to the show, I checked out their website and Instagram feed, but frankly, wasn't quite sure what to expect. A broadway musical... about King Kong? What the heck??? But now I'm here to tell you what you can expect: to be absolutely thrilled, breathless, enthralled... I could go on! And it starts from the moment you arrive at the theater.
Their logo, with the heroine's silhouette within King Kong's shadow, love it! They've got it shining on the stage curtain when you walk in as well, so don't miss the opportunity to run up and take a photo in front of it as we and countless others did! They also have great merchandise, even water bottles with King Kong on them!
The story takes place in 1931, during the Great Depression, and we are quickly introduced to our beautiful and brave heroine, aspiring actress Ann (played by Christiani Pitts), who goes from dreaming of being Queen of the City to sleeping in Central Park and waiting in the soup line. She runs into her perceived savior, Carl (played by Eric William Morris), a film maker, who takes her on an incredible journey across the seas to Skull Island.
Now, I want to pause here a moment to go over the incredible stage. How they were able to transform it from the streets of New York City to bobbing up and down across the ocean - they actually build the bow of the ship in front of your eyes and have it on hydraulics (I'm assuming?). AMAZING!! You actually feel like you're sailing across the seas with them!
On Skull Island, Ann is captured by King Kong, then saved by him, and finally her crew captures him and transports him back to NYC for exhibition. Because, it's all about the money, isn't it? This is the part of the story we're all familiar with. His fate is doomed, of course, which is utterly tragic and I have to admit I was very close to tears at the end. But the way they transform the characters, use King Kong's demise to inspire the characters and the audience to do the right thing rather than the easy or greedy thing. It's truly beautiful! The final song is upbeat and helps you leave the show feeling alive and excited rather than walking out bawling over the epic destruction of such a beautiful beast.
Speaking of the beast. He was basically a modern day puppet. Hung from strings, and operated by a group of hooded puppeteers on the stage and above (taking a bow, above). You could see them climb up his back and jump down making Kong's arm raise quickly and dramatically as his ROAR boomed across the theater. It was simply fascinating to watch him. They somehow figured out how to have him running across the jungle or streets of NYC, with exciting techno music, Kong staying in one spot but the screen behind him flying by, puppeteers moving his arms and legs in running motion. Your mind knew it wasn't actually running, but you simply couldn't believe otherwise. He is fast and ferocious, and this crew is nothing but masterful in its portrayal!!
Kong's face was also spectacular. His eyes had soul, and so much emotion came through in the subtle motions made by the robotics team backstage. He's obviously not a real live gorilla, or is he?! Sometimes I almost forgot.
The story, the music, the dancing, the acting - all top notch, holding its own on Broadway and definitely well worth your time and money. But King Kong himself, he is the show stopper. He is what makes this a truly unique and unforgettable experience!!
So, make haste and grab your tickets today!! Get $55 off with code KKPVM129 here through 9/1/19! One final note, though. I personally wouldn't recommend this show for young children (under 4 years not permitted in the theater, but I would say under 7 may get afraid during certain scenes). I mean, I'm a grown woman and found some scenes downright terrifying - that roar, man, not something you soon forget!! Here's a great montage:
This post is made possible by support from King Kong Broadway. All opinions are my own.
A couple of weeks ago I spent the day at Toy Fair New York 2019 and phew, it was a BIG day! This was my 3rd year in a row attending Toy Fair New York, which is only open to toy makers & distributers, buyers, and media. Since it's not open for you guys, the consumers, I always feel responsible and excited to walk the expo floor, booth by booth, hours on end, to find the new, exciting, and mind blowing products new to the market or coming soon. Many of these will be the hottest toys for Christmas 2019, and will be on all of your kids' wish lists! For the kids at heart out there, there are some great toys for you, too, as well as some non-toy products!! So, watch my Toy Fair New York highlights video below featuring my picks for the BEST TOYS OF 2019, and keep reading below that for some photos and details of a select few items from the video (some affiliate links are included, which provide our blog with a small comission from items you purchase - thank you)!
BEST ACTIVE TOYS:
BEST ARTS & CRAFTS TOYS:
BEST BABY & TODDLER TOYS:
BEST BOOKS & READING TOYS:
BEST COMPOUND TOYS:
BEST COOKING TOYS:
BEST PRETEND PLAY TOYS:
BEST PLUSHY TOYS:
BEST TRAVEL TOYS & PRODUCTS:
BEST VIDEO GAME & TECH TOYS:
OTHER HOT ITEMS (not toys):
In case you missed my Best Toys for 2018 video from Toy Fair New York last year, watch it below, LOTS of gooooooood stuff!
~ sponsored post ~
It may be freezing outside, but the time is NOW to plan your children's summer! Most summer camps' early bird discounts expire in March, and others are fully booked up around that time! Our 2019 Summer Camp Guide will go live in a week or so, in the mean time, we're thrilled to introduce you to Kids in the Game (KING) Summer Day Camp!!
KING offers an action-packed classic day camp experience at their 5 NYC locations, including Park Slope, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Inwood, and Riverdale. Emphasizing enrichment through movement and play, campers will have a blast in activities such as sports, Zumba, art, STEM, theater, yoga, twice-weekly pool days, and weekly field trips!!
Children entering Pre-K through 8th grade are welcome to register at Kids in the Game, where activities are designed to instill teamwork, introduce friendly competition, build sportsmanship, develop confidence, and create an unforgettable summer experience!
KING Summer Day Camp runs Monday to Friday, 9AM - 4 PM, with complimentary early drop-off as early as 8am and extended day til 6PM for just $15 per day.
There is an Early Bird Discount of $50 off registration before March 1, and 10% sibling discount for each child.
PARK SLOPE LOCATION:
Saint Saviour High School (701 8th Ave; with gymnasium, cafeteria, classrooms, and library will be used for indoor activities each day), and much time spent at Prospect Park (1 block away)
DATES: 7 weeks (July 1 - August 16)
Kids in the Game also offers camps for shorter school breaks, sports and school programs, and birthday parties!! Get more info here and be sure to sign up for their e-mail list serve to be kept in the loop!
This post was sponsored by Liberty Science Center through a Momtrends blogger campaign, however all thoughts and opinions are my own (cuz... I'm no sell out!!)!
Little by little we're making our way through my list of the best day trips & weekend getaways from NYC, as well as the best kid-friendly spots within the 5 boroughs, and this past Saturday brought us to a new one which is now one of my all-time favorites: Liberty Science Center!! In a nutshell, the entire facility and all of the exhibitions were immaculate, there were endless hands-on activities for everyone from toddlers through adults, and it's relatively easily accessible for NYC dwellers despite it being "all the way over" in New Jersey LOL!! Watch my video highlights here and keep reading below for more details about the center in general as well as some brand new exhibits!
DOC MCSTUFFINS EXHIBIT:
Open from October 6, 2018 - January 27, 2019, this exhibit is based on Disney Jr.'s award winning children's TV series, Doc McStuffins. Children can feed newborns in the nursery, complete check-ups in the ER, care for animals in the Pet Vet, tune-up toys, and more! My kids loved every nook and cranny of this exhibit, and my girls were specially fascinated with the pretend hand washing stations, haha!!
SHERLOCK HOLMES EXHIBIT:
Walking through this interactive adventure, you could really find yourself carried away to another time and place. Each center is meticulously decorated with forensic clues to read and examine - see first hand how blood splatter analysis works, how foot prints differ going forward and backward, and much more!! Do note that this is a premium exhibit, meaning it's not included in general admission. You can pay an extra $6 or so to go the planetarium OR a premium exhibit, or about $10 extra to do both. Don't expect to follow along and actually solve the crime if you have little ankle biters in tow like we did (though it's still enjoyable to walk through and take it all in), but if you have older kids or adults only, spend an hour in here and have an exciting crime-solving adventure!
I could not believe my eyes when walking into this room, and seeing on their website that it's the "Biggest Planetarium in the Western Hemisphere", yep, I believe it!! It's massive!!!!! When sitting down, it's overwhelming and absolutely breathtaking!! When seated you pretty much had a 180 degree view from left to right, and the screen and images even wrap up and behind you a bit. We saw the "One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure" Sesame Street Show and it was really adorable - we learned some of the basic constellations and even traveled to China and the Moon!! Currently playing, they also have "Black Holes" and "Wonders of the Night Sky". It's not included in the standard admission fee, it's an add-on just like the "premium" Sherlock Holmes exhibit mentioned above.
OTHER NOTABLE ACTIVITIES & EXHIBITS:
Liberty Science Center is just a 40 minute drive from Bay Ridge Brooklyn (about 1 hour 15 minutes by bus / Path / NJ Light Rail), so totally doable if you plan to spend half a day there or so - great for a cold or rainy Saturday or Sunday!! They're open 9am - 4pm on Tuesdays - Fridays and 9am - 5:30pm on weekends (closed Mondays). Parking is $7. Admission is $23.75 per adult ($19.75 for ages 2 - 12), plus $6 for a combo pass (1 planetarium show OR 1 premium exhibit) or plus $10 for a Premium Pass (1 planetarium show AND 1 premium exhibit).
But here's where you can get a great deal... the FAMILY MEMBERSHIP!!! At just $175, basically the same price as 2 visits with a family of 4! It includes unlimited admission for 2 adults and 4 kids, 6 single-use passes (which can be exchanged for theater show tickets), member-only events (including member mornings and nights), and discounted theater/planetarium shows, premium exhibits, science camp, gift shop & cafe! Membership also grants you free admission to over 340 science & technology centers around the world as part of the ASTC Travel Passport Program (they must be at least 90 miles from your residence or science center where you are a member).
Thanks again to Momtrends and Liberty Science Center for hosting all of us bloggers and our families - we had a blast (above pix from our private party that included breakfast, learning about Bernoulli's Principle of Flight via 9 rolls of toilet paper, and making ice cream with liquid nitrogen - SO FUN!!)
The New Victory Theater is THE best place to introduce your kids to theater, serving as "New York City's premier nonprofit performing arts theater devoted year-round to kids and their families and classmates". What's this mean? They are amazingly kid-friendly, with incredibly entertaining shows, activities before and after the show, stroller parking, changing tables, free lockers, and more. And oh yeah, tickets are actually affordable!! You can read more about The New Victory Theater in my blog post here, but THIS blog post is more specifically about the show they currently have running, Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams - keep reading for more and enter to win a 4-pack of tickets in the giveaway app at the bottom!! Please note: The show runs through December 30 but the giveaway vouchers will be good only for performances through December 23.
Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams is an exciting acrobatic show put together by two brothers from Ethiopia, who dreamed of joining the circus and are now sharing that dream with the world! Knowing the backstory makes it even more interesting. The brothers, Bibi and Bichu, had this dream of joining the circus without ever having seen a show in person, and headed to England at the age of 12 and 13 with one of the first Nigerian troupes to tour Europe. They went on to perform all over the world, and since 2010 have been funding and providing equipment to several circus schools, including one in Ethiopia. From these schools, they've found the incredible and inspiring acrobats they've cast in Circus Abyssinia.
Geared toward guests ages 5 and up (but my 3 year old twins LOVED it!!), you'll be on the edge of your seat grinning and applauding to jaw-dropping contortionists, jugglers, Chinese pole acrobats, tumblers, an aerialist, a hula hooper, cloth spinners, and a hilarious comedian! Some of the acts are pretty typical, others are incredibly unique (an aerialist on chains instead of silk!? what!?), matching the talent you'd find in any great cirque show. Though the added African flare woven in through music, costumes, and dance really makes it feel a step beyond pure entertainment - it also feels like a bit of a cultural experience. You'll laugh, you'll scream, your spirit will be moved by the beauty and sensuality of some acts, and just try not to clap and dance along in your seat during the hula hoop and Chinese poles performances!! SO FUN!!!
As always at The New Victory Theater, you're also sure to enjoy the pre- and post-show fun and kid-friendly Family Engagement Activities! Our kids had fun balancing feathers on their hands and walking across tight ropes (i.e. jump ropes on the floor) before the show. It's a small theater that feels really intimate - there are really no bad seats. The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful, and the ushers will bring your little ones boosters!
Running November 30 - December 30 (with Autism-friendly show December 14 @ 7PM), the performance is 90 minutes with one intermission, and tickets start at just $22, but don't forget, you can enter to win a 4-pack of tickets below (giveaway vouchers will be valid for performances through 12/23).
GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Open to US residents ages 18 and over. The winner will be selected randomly and have 24 hours reply/confirm; they will receive a Family 4-pack Voucher to The New Victory Theater. This includes 4 tickets to any performance of CIRCUS ABYSSINIA: ETHIOPIAN DREAMS scheduled through Dec. 23, 2018, based on availability.
**12/1/2018 update: the giveaway is over and the show is mid-run but I wanted to do a quick update because we went to see it last night and it was AH-MAY-ZING!!!!! The acts were simply out of this world, jaw dropping, exciting, hilarious, beautiful, all rolled into one crazy good show! Our 3 year old twins took a nice long nap during the day so were able to stay awake and in absolute awe during the entire show (we saw the 8pm show which had a 20 minute intermission), my 5 year old unfortunately as much as he loved it couldn't keep his eyes open even til intermission, he's so bummed today!!). So that's my only recommendation, try to get the matinee show if going with small kids! But as for the show, it's truly good for all ages - I would have loved it as a date night with hubby, but perhaps for the first time in my life I enjoyed something with my kids even more than I would have alone? Seeing their faces watching it, their laughter, their "WOW!!!!!s", simply the best!!! If you can get tickets for today or tomorrow, or whenever the next time Cirque Dreams comes to town, do it!!!
Guys!! I'm thrilled to let you all know about an amazing tour coming to Brooklyn! Cirque Dreams Holidaze will be lighting up the stage of Brooklyn's Kings Theater from November 29 through December 2. I'll be GIVING AWAY A 4-PACK OF TICKETS (enter to win below) and all can get 20% off tickets with code FAMILY (lap children under 1 year old do not need tickets, and the theater will have a stroller check).
Featuring 20 of the world’s best acts, the finest singers, original music and seasonal favorites, audiences will be dazzled and amazed by this gravity-defying holiday celebration that is fun for the whole family.
The Holiday Spectacular is making its first ever visit to Brooklyn, and they'll only be here for 4 days, so grab your tickets quick before they sell out!! Cirque Dreams Holidaze run dates – November 29th – December 2nd, as follows:
BROOKLYN KINGS THEATER (1027 Flatbush Avenue)
You can purchase tickets through the Ticketmaster link here (don't forget to use code FAMILY for 20% off!!)
My family has been provided tickets in exchange for this promotion, and we couldn't be more excited!! Check back in after the 30th as I'll be adding my review in here (but don't wait til then to grab your tickets)!!
And now, what you've all been waiting for - the giveaway!!! Enter to win below (open to US residents ages 18+ only). Once you leave a blog comment and click in the giveaway app that you've done so, it'll open up more options to gain extra entry points. Some are daily, so come back and keep increasing your chances!! The giveaway will end on Monday, November 12 at 11:59PM EST and the winner will be randomly chosen and contacted on November 13 (and will display in the below app). Good luck everyone!!!
About Me ^_^
I'm a NYC mom blogger, Influencer, YouTuber, & Entrepreneur living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1)! My blog is chock full of humor, honesty, family travel, product reviews & giveaways, galore!