Hey it’s Frieda. Hope you caught my last article about matchmaking! A few matchmakers reached out to me with positive comments. I hope my article makes an impact. If you missed it you can check it out on communitym.org in the May 2021 archives.

Last month’s article was rather serious. But now we are in summer mode, so I decided to write a lighter article that offers easier reading about vacations during those lazy days of summer. When summer approaches, many of our community members pack up big time. They plan on a full summer away from home, at the Jersey Shore. It is truly a privilege to be able to leave city life in the hottest months of the year and to check out different scenery, where the pace of life is slower. This comes with a walloping price tag, which must include summer rentals, summer camp, and all the little things in between. I have been thinking: what could a family do with all that money if they didn’t do the typical Brooklyn to Deal trip and instead thought outside the box?

I asked around and was pleasantly surprised to hear that many people do plan alternative trips during summer! Before I tell you about them, let me just say I understand travel during this season is not possible for everyone. Working as a photographer, summer is my busiest season and it is also the most exciting. It wouldn’t make sense for my family to leave Jersey (our permanent residence) and go somewhere else in the summer. I’m sure that’s true for many of you, too. But I was still curious about what’s out there, so I interviewed some community members about their summer adventures. Let’s hear what they had to say.

Lea Mann – Short Summer Trips

“Since we got married we’ve been taking small summer trips. Our first one was to Lake George. My husband was familiar with it because his yeshiva used to take the boys there every summer. It was a fun trip. We rented a cute and cozy cabin on the lake. It had a little fire pit outside. We used it to cook things such as corn wrapped in foil. We also went boating, kayaking, and mini golfed. For whatever reason, in that area there’s a miniature golf place on every block!

“One summer we took a trip to Newport, Rhode Island where we took tours of old historical mansions. The mansions are massive, each one taking about an hour to tour because of its size. We listened to recorded tours with headsets and heard descriptions of each amazing stately home. These mansions were the private homes of wealthy business tycoons over a hundred years ago. It was a very fun trip. We stayed for three days and really enjoyed this mini vacation. However, I would not recommend bringing young children along for this one.

“Cape May was another awesome summer trip, and we did bring the kids along. It was so nice to see another beach town so different from ours. They had a boardwalk with activities like Point Pleasant. The kids loved it! We spent our days by the ocean, brought along our barbeque, and enjoyed dinner on the beach.

“Lastly, I’ll tell you about one of our favorite mini vacations – the Catskills. When you hear Ashkenazi Jews say they’re going ‘to the country’ this is what they mean. It’s upstate New York. We rented an Airbnb by the bungalow colonies. We were very much at one with nature. We fed wild ducks and the kids were able to jump right into a lake. There were lots of kosher options as far as restaurants and supermarkets. It was by far our favorite experience – we want to go back!”

As a person who loves adventure but lacks executive planning skills, I was very inspired by Lea’s  trips. When my kids were growing up I was a bit overwhelmed. So I asked, is it really considered a vacation if you schlep the kids? Lea responded:

“Parents may think that since kids are generally not easy to bring out and around, it’s hard to travel with kids. I find that is actually not the case. When you take them on adventures they’re in better moods, they get along better, and new environments bring lots of distractions.  They just enjoy it so much. I love seeing them so happy. They talk about our trips up to months after. I’m always glad I brought them along!”

Jill Greenberg – Out of Town Adventures 

Let’s hear from Jill, who loves taking her family on summer trips.

“‘Get out of town’ trips are my specialty. I love going exploring and finding towns that are unfamiliar to us. I love being in nature that is so different from what I see at home. Take Lake Welch, for example. It’s about an hour and forty five minutes away from Deal. It’s so worth the trip, and you can stay right in town. The lake is near Monsey, NY, which has lots of kosher options to choose from. I think everyone should experience jumping into a lake. It’s like a natural pool –  cold and clean, and really so refreshing!

“Cape Cod is a dream town. It is located about a five hour drive from Deal. When you  land you will feel like you are in a story book setting. It is just beautiful. There are activities to be found, but just walking around and going into the shops is so pleasurable. I didn’t want to leave! From Cape Cod you can take a ferry to either Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. Both are beautiful options. I personally preferred Nantucket. We went on the ‘Bluff Walk,’ which was really stunning. I’m an artist and at some point I sat down with my pad and started painting. I was surrounded by beauty. At Cape Cod the sun sets over the water. It’s something magical to experience. After that we drove forty minutes to Boston to get kosher food. I highly recommend this trip to anybody. It was just incredible.”

I would love to check out this story book vacation. And it’s only a few hours away!

Erica Nadav – Brooklyn-Based for the Summer

Erica Nadav is my aunt’s good friend who stays in Brooklyn for the summer. She takes her family on weekend trips during the summer and also on larger trips during the gap days between school and camp.“Summer trips are usually road trips. Our favorite place to go is the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. Every time we go we stay at different houses in different towns. We love to explore new places, and we take advantage of what each specific area has to offer. We do lots of hiking. It’s awesome to go on hikes that have waterfalls and different kinds of views.

“I feel like the best part is just getting out of our surroundings, out of the city and seeing what the world has to offer. Different towns are much more laid back and relaxing than in the city. It’s great to go into the wilderness and be surrounded by nature, sit by a fire pit, and do other things you can’t do in Brooklyn.

Violet Bernknopf – Head North!

“The summer pre-Covid we drove to Canada with our three kids. My older ones were eight and nine years old, and the baby was two. We went first to Niagara Falls and then to Toronto. It was a fun five-day trip between the end of camp and the beginning of school. The seven-hour plus drive with kids wasn’t terrible because they were excited for the trip and we were prepared. We brought an iPad for videos and coloring books. We played the license plate game with the older kids, and, of course, supplied lots of snacks. On the way back we got some ‘Are we home yet?!’ nagging but nothing too bad.

“Niagara Falls was a lot of fun. We went on a boat by the falling water and wore ponchos to stay dry. Behind the falls we took a walking tour of the natural tunnels, which was pretty cool. We enjoyed going on a Ferris wheel, mini golfing, and doing other fun things in the area.

“Next, we went to Toronto and visited the CN Tower (Canadian National Tower), which is over 1,800 feet tall. It has a glass floor and you can see all the way down to the street. Going up this tower is not for those who are afraid of heights! The kids loved it. We spent an enjoyable Shabbat in Toronto. Another stand out of the trip was a day excursion my boys went on. It was a pirate ship adventure. They went on a real boat and the whole crew was in costume. They acted out a show and had the kids look for hidden treasure. My boys had a blast. I know these memories will last a lifetime.”

Jacquline Elbaz – Mini Family Vacations

“I love to take mini-trips with my family. One year we went to Delaware during the summer, and we loved it so much it has since become an annual occurrence. I grew up staying in Brooklyn in the summer and now, so have my kids. We have friends here and don’t feel like we’re missing out on Jersey. In addition to the annual Delaware trip, we also take small trips to Hershey Park and other local attractions, We never really plan. When the time is right, we just pack up and go. I cook for a living so that part is simple, too. I just pack what I cook and it’s quick to do kosher on the go that way.

“Going to the Delaware beach is not an expensive trip. We stay at small hotels or rent Airbnbs. Sometimes we take the kids and sometimes we go with friends. It’s a tiny beach town, very clean and calming. We sit by the beach, the kids go to the water park, we walk around and shop at the local stores, or just hang out. You can take a ferry from Deal but we drive from Brooklyn. It’s about a five hour drive, or four if my husband is driving.

Melanie Falack – Go West, Young Man!

My good friend Melanie Falack sends pictures from her adventures that you wouldn’t believe. Her husband often travels to the West Coast for work a lot, which leads them to some not-so-typical road trip adventures.

“Every time my husband had a business show in Las Vegas we took the opportunity to travel the West Coast. We would plan a two to three week road trip, rent a camper van, and drive up the coast little by little. We’d specifically drive up or down the coastline because my husband likes to surf! We’d drive about two hours to our next destination, go hiking, see the sights, get back in our van for the night, travel to a new spot the next day, and have a brand-new adventure. We’ve driven around Vegas, Utah, the Grand Canyon, different lakes, etc. We’d do outdoor activities and see amazing national parks. One that really stood out to me was Death Valley National Park. It’s one of the hottest places on earth. Its sand is so white that in pictures it looks like snow!

“Once we drove through a really old town that’s since been made into a museum-type attraction. It was like stepping into a wild western film, but it was all real. We got to learn the history of the town. Most of these towns sprouted up around the gold rush. People would move to these dusty places in search of this shiny commodity. They’d raise families around the goal of mining for gold.

“I’ve done these trips when I was married, pregnant, with one kid, and then with two. It wasn’t easy but it was definitely an experience. We once left the kids with my parents and went on a crazy hike for three days off the grid. We planned to end it by a lake, and even brought swimsuits, looking forward to the culmination of our hike. When we got close, we found ourselves surrounded by snow, and realized the lake that we had planned this whole long hike around was frozen over!”

I don’t know about you, but all these stories have me itching to explore America and all it has to offer, within and outside of the tristate area. Sightseeing, hiking, touring, visiting zoos and museums – there is so much to see and do!

If this article inspires a trip or anything else positive, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to reach out on Instagram @friedaschwekyphoto or via email frieda@sephardic.org.

Thanks for reading!