American Ninja Training at Cape Cod Inflatable Park

American Ninja Training at Cape Cod Inflatable Park

My kids love the Cape Cod Inflatable Park in Yarmouth with an intensity that defies logic.  Or maybe I’m just an old grump. Every year, they beg to go to the Cape Cod Inflatable Park during our summer vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.  According to them, with its new upgraded inflatables, the park is even more fun than ever.

The Cape Cod Inflatable Park delivers exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a whole lot of inflatable bouncy things like you’d find at a kiddie party but bigger, better and just generally… more insane. With so many inflatables, I find that the park does not get that full.  There isn’t a long line for rides – if you have to wait to get on a particular inflatable, you just find another inflatable which provides similar hijinks.

Post-revamp of the park, my kids could barely contain their excitement because their old favourite inflatables were still there plus lots of new exciting ones. For example, there was the  inflatable where you put yourself in a Velcro suit and try to throw yourself so that you stick onto a giant dart board.


We had the mechanical bull operator throw my Spanish au pair for a really wild ride. It seemed only fair since the Spanish are still into bull fighting. We felt justice ought to be served in some small cosmic way. 

Then you had the crazy jousting on top of the inflatable which reminded me of those crazy Japanese television contest shows.  It was really entertaining to watch – similar to Total Wipeout featuring your own family.


We had a football game which descended into chaos and occasional flagrant handballs.


Although we’be been to the park midweek before, this year we went on a Saturday in July.  To my surprise, the park was very busy with both kids and adults.

There is a separate toddlers area as well as a water park inflatable area which is included in the general price of admission.  In addition there is a challenge area of trapezes, tightropes, zip lines etc. which is meant for teenagers and adults. It’s probably really good if you are preparing for a show like American Ninja. The challenge area is an additional fee, and mercifully, my children were too short/young for it.


The Cape Cod Inflatable Park isn’t cheap.  A summer day admission runs $29 (less for little ones). The Stay and Play Rate with the attached Cape Cod Family Resort is not bad value in this context.  For each room you get 4 park passes, breakfast and a double-bedded room. The rooms are recently revamped too with comfortable beds, air conditioning and WiFi.  We had no problem getting connecting rooms.  The breakfast is nothing special (cereal and plastic-wrapped muffins).  The cost of this motel bounty? In the summer, it’s $169 per room for the weekdays and $219 per room on the weekends.

Family Fun at the Cape Cod Inflatable Park

If you are in Cape Cod for the summer, your children will love the Cape Cod Inflatable Park.  Cape Cod has a limited selection of  amusement park-like options. They include Water Wizz (a water park), Ryan Family Amusements (arcade games) and Skull Island Sports World (go-karts, batting cages and other sports-oriented activities).  My children just wanted to bounce around like maniacs and pretend they were on American Ninja Warrior – Cape Cod Inflatable Park was just the ticket!

It’s Morning Glory in Edgartown Anytime

It’s Morning Glory in Edgartown Anytime

Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown is a bit of an institution on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.  Although billed as a humble farm stand, Morning Glory has the reputation and faithful clientele that would make any high-end gourmet food store proud.

Morning Glory farm farm stand

The barn/farm stand

The farm was started in 1975 on land owned by the Athearn family who have lived on the Vineyard since the 19th century.  Starting off with a farm stand, by 2010 business was thriving enough that a newly-built barn replaced the original structure.  They farm over 120 acres over several sites on the island.  The farm produces a wide variety of crops, herbs and cut flowers.

Morning Glory flowers

Rustic chic flowers

We are lucky we live near Morning Glory Farm and stop by the farm stand often.  I am in the habit of getting their ice tea and a muffin for breakfast after I drop my children off at horse-riding camp nearby. My favourite are the corn muffins followed closely by the peach muffins (in case you are wondering).

Martha’s Vineyard is such a small island that the farm where my children take their riding lessons is located near some of the Athearn family land in West Tisbury.  The horse farm sends off its manure to fertilise the Morning Glory farm crops.

The farm stand’s zucchini bread is deservedly famous for being delicious.  You can find the zucchini bread recipe here at Cape Cod Magazine if you feel inclined to try it out.  I heard grumbling in line in front of me the other day when one woman was complaining to another that the zucchini bread was not as good as it used to be.  Definitely, first world problems.

Morning Glory farm stand

Branded merchandise and books

I thought the best way to introduce Morning Glory Farm to you was with a vlog. It’ll give you a short tour of the farm stand and all the delicious products inside.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMIfIPPbdy8]

Morning Glory Farm is located on the corner of Meshacket Road and the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.  It is open 7 days a week.

Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown in Martha's Vineyard sells the best farm fresh produce on the island

Drama while Dining at Ninja New York

Drama while Dining at Ninja New York

I am not surprised that The New York Times food critic wrote a scathing review of Ninja New York.  Ninja is a Japanese ninja-themed restaurant in TriBeCa.  Unless you have experienced the hell that is a Chuck E. Cheese or similar, you will not appreciate how high up in the children’s theme restaurant scale Ninja New York truly is.

Japanese Ninja-theme restaurant Ninja New York

Ninja is a kid-friendly restaurant that isn’t specifically geared for kids.  My children loved Ninja!  It was not only dinner but also entertainment.

Ninja New York restaurant

We had a magician come to our table and do tricks.  The waiters, dressed as ninjas, would jump out from behind doors and scare us.  Their enthusiasm and good attitude was infectious.

The Japanese menu had a small section for the kids.  Our children just ordered from the main menu.  More importantly, adults are treated to an extensive beer/sake section. Certain dishes came with special effects such as edamame on a bed of dry ice.

Ninja New York edamame

The interior of the restaurant is set up as a medieval stone and timber Japanese village.  We had our own little Japanese house which was nice for family conversation.  You had a fair bit of privacy thanks to each table being an individual house.

Ninja New York table

Everyone discovered early that my kids don’t scare easily.  Much to my children’s delight, I shrieked every time a ninja jumped out from behind a door.  What can I say?  I am used to whining at dinner time not yelping.

Ninja New York waiter

The kids were given assorted little treats and stickers which they liked.  Our favourite gift were the fake knives that retract into their handle.  We are still trying to figure out how best to use the knives as a Halloween prop.

Ninja New York game

We thought the food was expensive but fine.  Sure you can get better Japanese food elsewhere especially in Manhattan.  But you won’t get the theatrics at a ‘real’ Japanese restaurant.  Don’t come here expecting fine Japanese dining.  Unlike the pizza at a Chuck E. Cheese, the food at Ninja was actually edible.

Ninja New York menu

Like the New York Times reviewer, adults will find the food disappointing and expensive.  I would be too without my children in tow. We did see lots of adults only parties at the restaurant.  In my opinion, Ninja is a dining experience that you should enjoy with the children.

Much like Disneyland, The Hard Rock Cafe, etc. Ninja New York is overpriced.  You are paying for the whole Ninja New York experience.  Like many theme restaurants, Ninja is expensive and perfect for a special event.  We heard lots of ‘happy birthdays’ being sung.  If you go in with an open mind and a big fat wallet, you will enjoy Ninja.

Ninja New York is located at 25 Hudson Street in Manhattan.  Reservations are advised.

The L Street Tavern Has The Luck of the Irish

The L Street Tavern Has The Luck of the Irish

The lucky owners of the L Street Tavern had just bought the bar a few days earlier in March 1997 when they were approached to use the bar as a movie set.  The movie, Good Will Hunting, went on to become an Oscar-winner which launched the careers of its screenwriters, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, into the stratosphere.  The L Street Tavern hasn’t done too badly either!

L Street Tavern

Although tourists now visit the bar, The L Street Tavern is definitely a local bar.  I saw a handful of locals who looked like they propped up the bar on a regular basis (and had done so for quite some time).

L Street Tavern

The L Street Tavern is proud of its Irish neighbourhood roots.

L Street Tavern

I couldn’t decide if the Irish paraphernalia was still up from St. Patrick’s Day.

L Street Tavern

Then I saw the countdown to the next St. Patrick’s Day and decided that it was probably St. Patrick’s Day here every day.

L Street Tavern countdown to St Patricks Day

Although the L Street Tavern has had a revamp in 2001, it’s still small and dark with a real neighbourhood feel.  You won’t have a problem telling which booth was used for the filming of Good Will Hunting.

L Street Tavern

The classic scene from Good Will Hunting filmed here was when the genius character played by Matt Damon shows up a smug Harvard guy.  I mean who wouldn’t root for Matt Damon in this scene?!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymsHLkB8u3s]

You can get food in from the two Italian restaurants across the street.  I guess Southie despite being a real Irish neighbourhood still appreciates good pasta and pizza.

L Street Tavern

Open daily from noon, the L Street Tavern is located at 685 East 8th Street.  Parking is limited because it is restricted to local residents.  I went with On Location Tours who run regular Boston movie tours.  These tours regularly drop by the L Street Tavern bringing customers and fanning the flames of its fame.

Marvellous Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut

Marvellous Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut

Mystic Marinelife Aquarium, an aquarium and a research centre in Mystic, Connecticut, has been around since the 1970’s.  The aquarium I remember from my childhood is very different from the aquarium we visited last summer.  It’s bigger and better than anything I recall.

My children really liked the Titanic Exhibit which was set up in 2012 by Dr. Robert Ballard who discovered the wreck of the RMS Titanic in 1985.  If anybody could recreate what the doomed ship looked like on the ocean floor, it would be him!

iceberg

Touching an iceberg

The exhibit’s got lots of hands-on things for children to do and explore as well as interesting factoids to pique their interest.

  • Did you know that the Titanic only had 2 private bathrooms?  The people in First Class had to share bathrooms and the passengers in storage had to make do with 2 bathtubs among 700 people.
  • The Titanic had lots of dogs on board but no cats.  At the time, cats on board were believed to be good luck.  Is that where it all went wrong?
  • Perhaps the Titanic’s bad luck came from never haven been christened.  Traditionally ships are christened by breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow.
shoe

portrayal of shoes found in the seabed

The children could also enter into a replica of Dr. Ballard’s deep-sea submersible which discovered the Titanic.

deep sea submersible

The Beluga whales were first introduced to the aquarium in 1975 from Manitoba in Connecticut.  The three Belugas are housed in the largest outdoor exhibit in North America (a tank that holds 750,000 gallons of water).

beluga

face to face with a beluga

There are also the usual hands-on sea animals and ray pools exhibits as well as enclosed tanks with fish and jellyfish.  The 3-D theatre and the 4-D theatre were also a big hit with the children.  You aren’t allowed to bring outside food into the aquarium and the food available onsite is standard sightseeing fare (cardboard pizza and rubbery burgers).

a clownfish

A friend of Nemo

jellyfish

Jellyfish

Details

Mystic Aquarium is easy to find off Exit 90 on Interstate 95 in Connecticut.  It’s open daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  For more detailed information, please visit the Mystic Aquarium website.

Cattle Baron Posh at The Warren-Nagle Mansion in Cheyenne

Cattle Baron Posh at The Warren-Nagle Mansion in Cheyenne

One of the beautiful historical buildings we stayed at in the American West was the Warren-Nagle Mansion in Cheyenne in Wyoming.  This historic building is now run as an upscale bed and breakfast.  The house is one of the few mansions from the 19th century still standing in Cheyenne when the city was one of the richest cities in the world for its size.

Warren Nagle Mansion

The Warren-Nagle Mansion has a great location within a 10 minute walk of downtown Cheyenne and Depot Plaza.  Interestingly, the U.S. Marshall’s office was moved from the mansion’s location to make way for the house.  With Cheyenne’s Hell on Wheels reputation, I’ll bet that Marshall’s office saw a lot of action.

The mansion was built in 1888 at a cost of $50,000 (twice the projected cost) for an Erasmus Nagle.  Mr. Nagle had his hand in many pots and owned interests in everything from grocery stores to gold mines.  The plans for the house were drawn up by the same architect who did the Cheyenne capitol building and a lot of the marble facade were offcuts from the Cheyenne capitol building too.  Nagle clearly intended for the house to be an impressive addition to the mansions of Cattle Baron Row.  Unfortunately, he died a couple of years later and left the mansion to his widow.

brass fireplace

Nagle’s widow sold it in 1910 to F.E. Warren, the first governor of Wyoming who later served as its Senator to the U.S. Congress for many years.  The Warrens hosted many dignitaries at the house, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft.  After Senator Warren’s death in 1929, the building did a short stint as a YMCA and then eventually found its way into private hands.  The current owner, Jim Osterfoss, bought the mansion in 1997 and turned into a B&B post-renovation.  Jim is very much on site and a cheerful, welcoming presence in the house.

warren angle living room

living room

The mansion is clearly a landmark in the Cheyenne scene and entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 .  It was a bit strange having our B&B explained to us when we did the Cheyenne Trolley Tour!  They also did an ice-cream social on the Saturday for the neighbourhood where people would come by and have ice cream on the porch while listening to an accordion player.  My children thought it was great!

ice cream social

ice cream social on the porch

The interior of the mansion has many original features and is very fancy.  As befitting a cattle baron mansion, the ceilings are carved leather and the windows have stained glass and crystal panes.  Other details include cherry wall panelling, brass fireplaces, ornate doorknobs and parquet flooring.

The mansion is furnished in keeping with its Victorian origins.  Each room is individually furnished and named.  We had a charming writing desk in a nook in our room.

Although a bit like staying in a museum, nothing felt precious and our children were made to feel comfortable.  This B&B was our first stay in our Wild West road trip and it really got us into the spirit of the trip.  The garden was small but really pretty.  It was a nice place to hang out in the shade away from the Cheyenne sun.

garden

garden

The mansion was busy on the weekend we were in residence.  There were lots of couples off for a romantic getaway and we were the only ones who had brought our children. We were supposed to have interconnecting rooms but the key for the connecting room was lost.  I’m somewhat paranoid about having the children out of sight on their own.  So Mr. N and I wound up sleeping with a child each in the 2 rooms.  Hardly a romantic weekend but my daughter and I enjoyed our impromptu slumber party!

Breakfast was served in the dining room.  Everyone shared a big table which would not have been my first choice.  Supervising appropriate breakfast behaviour in the children is way too much effort on vacation.  The people we met at breakfast were friendly and were visiting from all over the United States.  The breakfast itself was quite fancy (poached egg on a potato concoction).  Needless, to say the children had cereal but we enjoyed our fancy breakfast.

warren angle dining room

dining room

The Warren-Nagler Mansion has 12 guest rooms each with their own bathroom.  If you are in Cheyenne, staying at this beautiful piece of history is definitely recommended.