Despite Spring being in full effect and there being a handful of gorgeous days, on occasion those pesky rainy days still manage to sneak their way in. Last Sunday was no exception – rainy, windy, and just really cold. So trying to think of an indoor activity we could do as a family, I came across the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Yonkers.
If you don't already know, Alan is a HUGE LEGO geek. It's not a rare occasion to find him building a Star Wars LEGO set after Sally and I go to sleep, and to be honest, I've had to put the kibosh on his LEGO buying as we're running out of room in our apartment! Sally (aka: Daddy's little girl) has also become a big LEGO fan and has a pretty extensive Duplo collection so I figured a LEGO Center would be an easy sell. But we weren't sure if Sally would be too young to fully be engaged. As it turns out, there is TONS to do for a kid Sally's age, even rides! Let's start there...
When you first walk into the LEGO Center you come across a ride called Kingdom's Quest where you climb into a car on a track (think the classic Haunted House type of ride). I was very excited that this was the first time Sally was actually tall enough to ride a real ride! Each car is equipped with "laser guns" to shoot at the bad guys as it took you through different scenes. Sally was mildly entertained and made it through without getting scared, but I'm sure older kids would love this.
When you get off the ride, the "park" opens up into a large room split up into several zones. Some are playgrounds, some have LEGO models (Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Mets Stadium, R2D2, a life-sized motorcycle, etc.), and some are build stations where kids can make everything from a tower where you can see how it holds up to an earthquake to a LEGO car that you can race on a track.
Sally's favorite zone was the Duplo Village that had a small tube slide. She probably went down it 54 times. In that zone young kids can sit in a massive pool of soft large LEGO bricks (see the picture above) and jump around or build giant towers. There's also a smaller "hot tub" type zone with actual Duplo bricks where young kids can sit and build.
Another attraction at the park is a "4-D theater". I'm not entirely sold on the "4-D" aspect (seems like 3-D, but they spray water at you at one point). The theater showed an animated LEGO cartoon that was about 15 minutes. Sally sat through it (and even somehow managed to keep her 3-D glasses on the entire time), but I would say the film is ideally for older kids as it was a little violent (Nexo Knights slaying LEGO dragons, etc.).
All in all, the LEGO Discover Center occupied Sally for HOURS, and when it was time to go, she was definitely not ready to leave! Until, that is, we told her we were going to hibachi for dinner...
The Harrises LOVE hibachi! We loved it before we had Sally, but we've recently discovered hibachi is surprisingly ideal for toddlers! Since the courses keep coming and the chef cooks right in front of you, it's one of the few restaurant genres where Sally can sit (most of the way) through a meal without wanting to get up and run around. And you know what that means... that 'old mama' can finally sit down and enjoy a glass of wine in peace! Oh, and the food's delicious too!
One day I'll get around to writing an article on our favorite hibachi spots, but in the meantime I'll tell you about Mt. Fuji Japanese Steakhouse in Hillburn, NY. If you've ever driven up Route 87 you may have already seen it without even realizing it. I'd often notice the neat-looking building on the top of the hill just off the highway, but it wasn't until one day I googled what it was that I discovered it was actually a hibachi hideaway!
Everything about this place is impressive. From the massive red gate you go through at the bottom of the hill to the windy road to the top of the hill, to the valet parking, to the gardens and Buddha statues that surround the architecture, to the gorgeous custom wood interior. My photos do not at all do this place justice. This is top shelf hibachi! But it's old school grandeur that feels delightfully lost in time. Like the Peter Luger of hibachi. Did I mention the wait staff wear tuxedos? The one down side of hibachi is that it ain't cheap. But at Mt. Fuji the food is excellent, and the portions are made for leftovers. All in all, it's a step above most hibachi joints and I can't recommend it enough!
Oh, it does get very crowded on weekends, so if you can, make a reservation. We didn't have one when we went this go-around, but luckily it was only a 15-minute wait. It's a good thing I rubbed that buddha statue's belly when we got there!