(This post contains affiliate links. Please read our Disclosure Policy for more info.) I’m so happy the weekend is almost here! Even though we all had Monday off from school/work for Columbus Day, this has felt like a really long week! This weekend we all seem to be busy, but not doing much together! My daughter is at a friend’s birthday party tonight which includes a sleepover. Tomorrow my son is at a Boy Scout event all day and then camping out. I’m a little worried since the temps are expected to hit a low of 38 degrees! Better him than me! Sunday, I am going out for brunch with some mom friends – much needed time out! Then my husband and I are going out to the local dinner theatre. Lots going on! Here are five from this week:
1.Reading – I am currently reading After the End by Clare Mackintosh. This is a tough read, just due to the subject matter. It’s well written and has me wanting to read more. I’m hoping to finish it this weekend.
2. Watching – This past weekend we had a family movie night and watched The Secret Life of Pets 2. It was a cute movie, but one we were glad we waited to watch on DVD. My husband and I also watched Rocketman this weekend. All I knew was that it was about Elton John’s life. I enjoy his music and was surprised at how much I liked the movie. It gave insight into some of his songs, which I found interesting.
3. Weekend Fun – For the first time in forever, we skipped apple picking this year. I really wanted the family to do a corn maze together. So, I found a new-to-us farm upstate and we went Sunday. They had two corn mazes!! Plus, mini golf, a petting farm, apple cannons and more (you can check out all the fun in my Instagram stories highlights “Exploring NY.”) The weather was perfect and it was a great family day out.
4. iPhone Hack – So, this may be old news for everyone else, but I just learned a new to me iPhone hack. Did you know that you can search your photos by word? I never noticed the search icon before. But, for example, I can type in “waterfall” and every waterfall picture in my camera roll appears!
Imagine you and your family are gliding through the forest along railroad tracks. As you advance, you can see and hear the Esopus Creek rushing by. You may spot birds and wildlife among the trees that border the track. Well, you don’t have to imagine this, you can actually enjoy this experience up in the Catskills!
The Catskills Rail Explorers is located in Phoenicia, NY, in Ulster County. It shares its parking lot with the Empire State Railway Museum, which was unfortunately closed the day of our visit.
When you book a ride with Rail Explorers you can choose a tandem explorer, for two people or a quad, which seats up to four riders. They make this a family friendly experience and children of all ages are able to enjoy riding. However, everyone needs a seat. The seats are adjustable and are able to be moved closer to the pedals.
When you arrive you must first check in. Waivers must be signed and here you can purchase water, clothing and souvenirs. The explorers are preassigned and labeled with name cards, so there’s no need to rush to get a certain explorer.
The Catskill ride is 8 miles round trip and travels along the Esopus Creek and through the woods of the Catskill Mountains. The explorers come with electric motor assistance, so you are not pedaling entirely on your own! This is especially helpful for families with young children!
Each explorer rides independently and travels at their own pace. It’s really beautiful to see the mountain views and ride along the Esopus Creek.
The only time that all explorers are connected is when crossing Route 28. It is super safe, as railroad crossing barriers come down across all lanes. Plus, a Rail Explorer guide stands in the street with flags until everyone has crossed. Tandem and quad explorers can be connected for the entire ride if you have a large party and want to ride together.
Safety, as I mentioned, is taken seriously by Rail Explorers. Besides the main Route 28 crossing, there are a couple of side streets that the railway crosses. A guide stands in the intersection and will direct traffic for the explorers to safely cross. These crossings may also involve high fives with your guide as you pass!
At the end of the 4.1 mile trail, there is an approximately 15-20 minute break while the guides turn the explorers around for the trip back. It’s fun to watch them do this while you stretch your legs. There is also seating available where you can relax and take a snack break.
Be sure to take the Rail Explorer guide up on the offer for a family pic before heading out for your ride!
The first leg of the trip was much easier for us than the return. After the explorers were turned around and we were headed back it started to rain. Fortunately, there are umbrellas in each explorer. However, during the ride our pedal assistance motor stopped working. We had to pedal the entire trip back on our own….which was slow and a lot of work! But we did it and got a great workout!
A visit to the Catskills isn’t complete without a ride on the Rail Explorers! It’s such a unique and fun experience that is great for all ages. Check out our short video:
(Thank you Catskills Rail Explorers for hosting us. As always, all opinions are our own.)
The Details: Catskills Rail Explorers 70 Lower High Street Phoenicia, NY 12464 1(877) 833-8588
Hours of Operation: Thursday – Sunday, now through November 3
Parking: Plenty of free parking is available in their lot.
Price: $85 for a tandem explorer (2 riders, $42.50/person), $150 for a quad explorer (up to 4 riders, $37.50/person)
*They ask that you arrive 15-30 minutes before your scheduled tour. A waiver needs to be signed and they want to ensure that all parties have arrived.
*Dress accordingly! We visited at the end of September and it was very chilly! Be sure to bring sweatshirts and jackets, depending on when you visit.
*The rail explorers go out rain or shine. They have two large umbrellas on the quad if needed. However, you may want to wear or pack rain gear if there is rain in the forecast.
*There are storage baskets in the back of the explorers where you can keep loose items and belongings.
*Bring drinks and snacks. There is a 15-20 minute break where they turn the rail explorers around. This is a great time to hydrate and refuel.
*Check out the website for special tours! They are currently running a stargazing evening tour with hot cider and donuts (Saturday at 7 PM) and a Beer and Pretzels tour (Fridays at 4:30 PM).
*Rail Explorers currently operate in two other locations: Las Vegas and Rhode Island.
The kids are back in school and busy schedules are the new norm. So when the kids had a couple of days off from school, we decided to enjoy some fall family fun at the Emerson Resort & Spa in Mount Tremper, NY. The Emerson is an easy drive from northern Westchester County, less than two hours away.
The Emerson is conveniently situated for visiting the nearby towns of Phoenicia and Woodstock to the East or Belleayre and Hunter Mountain to the West. However, if you’re looking to simply enjoy some rest and relaxation, it’s perfect for that as well!
The History of the Emerson Resort and Spa
The Emerson Resort is located in Ulster County, in the Eastern part of the Catskills, and borders the Esopus Creek. Once you arrive at the resort, you will quickly discover who it was named after. Every room has books of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poems, and quotes from these poems decorate the walls of the Resort.
The Resort sits on what was originally an 1840 dairy farm owned by the Riseley family. Part of the original building was transported onto the current property. Over a century later, it was developed into tourist destination Clinton Corners, which included a variety of shops, a restaurant and the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope. After a move and various renovations, it is now the Emerson Resort & Spa as we know it.
There are two different lodging options when visiting the Emerson Resort. You can stay in the Lodge buildings, which are more rustic, Adirondack-style rooms.
The second lodging option is the Inn, which features more contemporary, Catskill chic type accommodations. We stayed in room 502 of the Inn which was perfect for our family of four. This Royal Suite room has two queen beds.
I enjoyed a soak in the large whirlpool tub and we all enjoyed the waterfall shower with adjustable side sprays. Although we did question the window looking into the bedroom! Luckily, the blinds close for privacy.
During the afternoon, our balcony was a perfect place to enjoy some reading time, while listening to the tranquil sounds of the Esopus Creek. And in the morning, my husband and I enjoyed our coffee with a beautiful view!
Fall evenings in the Catskills can get chilly. We enjoyed sitting nearby our room’s gas fireplace in the evening. On the second night, we enjoyed a family game night in front of the fireplace as well. The kids really enjoyed the complimentary snacks (peanut trail mix and granola bars) and water available in the room. The water came in handy on our outings. It’s important to know that there is no cell phone service in the area. Thank goodness the Emerson has complementary wi-fi!
The Emerson Resort is very family-friendly . Although it is a resort and spa, we noticed many families with children visiting. For dog owners, the Resort is also pet-friendly! It was fun seeing guests walking the property with their dogs.
The spa at The Emerson Resort is spread over 6,000 square feet and is only for adults. Reservations are recommended prior to arrival if you wish to enjoy a massage, facial or one of the other treatments they offer. All overnight adult guests can enjoy the fitness room, sauna, steam room and outdoor salt water hot tub. The entrance to the spa is one of the few decorative pieces that remains after a major renovation in 2016. The hand-carved imported doorway was too fantastic to change .
The day of our arrival we enjoyed participating in a kaleidoscope making class. While you can purchase the same kits in the gift shop, it was nice to be guided through the process. After making our kaleidoscopes, our instructor, Jonas had us walk around the property to look for objects in nature that we could add to the kaleidoscope. It was fun to see how the different items looked while viewed through our kaleidoscopes. If you aren’t interested in making a kaleidoscope, the Resort also offers watercolor postcard painting or design your own t-shirt classes ($20 per shirt). Check the schedule to see which days the classes are offered.
The Catskills are truly beautiful. The Emerson really wants guests to explore and take in all the beauty of their surroundings. The grounds of the Emerson include 1.2 miles of trails and a small pond. There are several cruiser bicycles available (adults sized only, they do not have children’s bikes) and you can get helmets from the front desk. If you are interested in doing some bird watching around the property, you can also borrow binoculars at the front desk.
Twice a day, guided nature walks depart from the lobby. We enjoyed participating in one of these walks that takes you down to the Esopus Creek and along the property. The creek’s water comes from the mountain and leads to the Ashokan Reservoir. Weather permitting, swimming is allowed in the creek. The Emerson has partnered with the Ashokan Watershed and offers fresh water snorkeling on select dates during the summer! The resort even had its moment of fame as the recent movie The Dead Don’t Die, starring Bill Murray and Adam Driver, was partly filmed on the property!
In the warmer months guests can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. There are outdoor games including volleyball, horseshoes and corn hole. There’s a playground for younger kids and even a dog park for all of the four-legged visitors. And, of course, there’s a pool open during the summer.
All guests are invited to enjoy the Family Room in the Black Bear building at the lodge. We walked over one evening and enjoyed several games of intense and competitive family ping pong. There are also several fire pits throughout the property and s’mores kits are available for purchase at the front desk for guests to enjoy.
The World’s Largest Kaleidoscope
The Emerson Resort is probably most well known for housing the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope. The Kaleidoscope sits in the former silo of the Riseley Farm. It has a 50-foot virtual sphere that can reflect 254 images, which creates an illusion of over 3,000 images! Overnight guests are able to view a complimentary showing of Star Dust, a 10 minute experience that will dazzle your senses. Seating is available, but we all enjoyed laying down on the floor to view the show.
There are a variety of shops in the Emerson, including a toy shop, housewares and souvenir and clothing shops. However, you must take a visit through the Kaleidostore. There are a couple of fun, interactive exhibits to see. But the showstopper is the large collection of kaleidoscopes for sale at the Kaleidobar. Children are asked not to touch these and even I was afraid to touch some (most?) of them. There’s a kaleidoscope that costs $1,850! They are truly works of art!
The Emerson Resort has two restaurants onsite. Ralph’s Cafe is open from 9 AM to 5 PM (except Sundays when it’s open until 6 PM). Here you can pick up pastries, soup, sandwiches, salads and more. There is seating both inside and out where you can enjoy your food, or you can take it to go.
Woodnotes Grille is the sit down restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. Locally sourced ingredients are used to create delicious meals in what they like to call “Catskill Creative Cooking.”
We enjoyed dinner there one evening and some of the highlight dishes included this Black Angus Beef Brisket with Parmesan Twice Baked Potatoes and Wilted Swiss Chard…
…as well as the Pan Seared Beaverkill Trout with Lyonnaise potatoes and French beans. Most entrees are priced between $22-$26.
We enjoyed breakfast one morning at Woodnotes as well. The restaurant serves everything from Eggs Benedict and House Made Corned Beef Hash to Quinoa Granola and Avocado Toast.
Our second morning, we stopped at Ralph’s Cafe. Overnight guests can enjoy a free cup of coffee or tea each day of their stay. We purchased a variety of breakfast goodies to share before we headed out that morning. Everything is reasonably priced, including breakfast sandwiches.
We had a great stay at the Emerson Resort & Spa. Our weekend had a mix of relaxation, fun and exploration. With an eleven and thirteen year-old, there was enough to see and do during our stay to make it an enjoyable visit for the entire family. If you are looking for a quick weekend getaway to the Catskills, we highly recommend a visit to the Emerson Resort & Spa in Mount Tremper!
The Details: Emerson Resort & Spa 5340 Route 28 Mount Tremper, NY 12457 (845) 688-2828
Room Prices: Rates start at $224/night, depending on date and room type
*Be sure to check out the Emerson website for specials and packages.
*This is a dog friendly resort! You can bring your pet with you!
*There is a full service spa onsite as well as fitness classes (for a fee).
(Thank you to the Emerson Resort & Spa for hosting NY Foodie Family. As always, all opinions are our own.)
(This post contains affiliate links. Please read our Disclosure Policy for additional info.) Happy Friday! I’m super excited for a three day weekend where I have no set plans. This rarely happens, especially during the school year, where we can kind of plan our weekend as it goes. Tomorrow my son will be busy with soccer and then a Boy Scout car wash. But, it’s a three day weekend filled with so much possibility! This week we enjoyed a mid-week day off. School was closed on Wednesday for Yom Kippur. My son spent Tuesday night and Wednesday at the new waterpark, the Kartrite, for his friend’s birthday celebration. My daughter enjoyed some time at the mall with her friends. I got to sleep in a little later and was able to catch up on some blog posts. A win for all! Here are five from this week:
1. Reading – I am finishing up Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle. It’s a mystery thriller that I’m not loving. But, it has me curious enough to see how it will end.
2. Supper Club – Last Saturday was our monthly supper club. This month’s theme was Italian. I made Eggplant Rollatini and Dana made Italian Wedding Soup. His soup was so good and definitely the better of our two dishes.
3. Lunch in NYC – Sunday we took a trip down to New York City. Dana’s brother lives there so their parents and us all drove in to see their new apartment and go out to lunch. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant right near his apartment called Vietnaam. I had Chicken Bun (Vermicelli). This is one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes!
4. Drinking – On one of our recent podcasts, we discuss all things pumpkin spice. Neither my husband nor I had ever tried the Starbucks PSL……until this past weekend. Both of us were not huge fans of the drink, but we finally got to see what all the hype was about.
(This post contains affiliate links. Please read our Disclosure Policy for additional information.)
Today’s September reads post is short and sweet. Sadly, I was stuck in a reading rut and didn’t have much motivation to read. Part of the problem was that I made myself finish a book for my book club that I just wasn’t into. So it was very slow reading and not many books were read. The books I read were all over the rating scale. With only four books read, I had a 2, 3, 4 and 5 star read this month. Here are my September reads that I’m sharing with Jana and Steph’s monthly linkup.
Beautiful Ruinsby Jess Walter – In 1962 Pasquale is running his family’s hotel on the Italian coast. American actress Dee Moray ends up as a guest at his inn. The two end up forming a close relationship despite their language barrier. Present day, Claire Silver must listen to movie pitches for her movie producer boss. An unexpected visitor leads her on a path to connecting the past. This book ruined me this month. I would have given up on it, but it was my book club’s read for the month. It had been on my to read list, so I’m glad that I finally was able to give it a try. I was also the only one in the book club who didn’t love it. The story line didn’t interest me at all which made me want to do anything but read. However, I’m definitely in the minority with my opinion about this book. If it’s been on your to read list, I recommend you give it a try.
My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni – Tracy Crosswhite has spent 20 years looking into the disappearance of her younger sister, Sarah. Edmund House was convicted and put in jail, but she’s not convinced he’s guilty. But then Sarah’s body is discovered and Tracy makes some discoveries that put her life in danger. This was just an okay mystery for me and didn’t make me interested in continuing the Tracy Crosswhite series.
Ask Again, Yesby Mary Beth Keane – Peter Stanhope and Kate Gleeson are neighbors and best friends. Their fathers, both cops, met on the job and moved their families to the suburbs. After a tragic accident, the two families who were once cordial to one another, are not the same. As the book progresses, we follow Peter and Kate and how their lives are shaped by the accident. This book was Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show Summer Reads book pick. My husband listened to it on audio and I read it so we can discuss it with each other. This book gave me insight into mental illness and alcoholism and the effects they have on a family.
The Tattooist of Auschwitzby Heather Morris – It’s 1942 and Lale Sokolov is transported from Slovokia to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He is given the job of tattooist, marking his fellow prisoners with the numbers that will identify them. For over two years he survives at the camp, even falling in love. This book had been on my to read list for awhile. While the subject matter of the Holocaust is always difficult to read, I think that it’s important to remember. Like many books about this time period, it is based on a true story. It is well written and a highly recommended read.
Dana and I are fairly new to the bed and breakfast scene. Besides our recent visit to Cranberry Manor, the only other bed and breakfast that we visited was a couple of years ago when he turned 40. When my 40th arrived last month, I decided that I also wanted to go to a B&B to celebrate my birthday. After a little research, we decided to stay at the Cranberry Manor Bed and Breakfast in the Poconos. It’s roughly a two hour drive from northern Westchester County, a perfect distance for a one night stay. Plus, all of the reviews I read were very positive.
Why a bed and breakfast?
Bed and breakfasts are small and intimate. They are usually old houses that have been renovated and restored to accommodate guests. A big plus is the “breakfast” part of a bed and breakfast. Not only is the home cooked meal included in the price of your stay, but it’s usually delicious and filling. But most importantly, bed and breakfasts cater to adults. All of the B&Bs that I’ve looked into do not allow children to stay.
Cranberry Manor Bed and Breakfast
The Cranberry Manor Bed and Breakfast is a house that dates back to the 1880’s when it was a boarding house. Its most recent owners Sharon and Ric Anderson have been running the bed and breakfast since 2007. Sharon formerly had a career in IT support. She and her husband moved up to Pennsylvania from the South for what she thought would be a tech job. But when that fell through, they ended up purchasing the bed and breakfast.
Cranberry Manor has a cozy, homey feel. I love the holiday tree that Sharon made out of grape vines and decorates for the different seasons.
There’s a community sitting room that has books, games and lots of brochures for local attractions and restaurants. The walls are decorated with antique Collier’s magazine pages that were discovered in the walls during a renovation! There’s a large dining room where guests dine for breakfast.
The dining room also has a billiards table that visitors are welcome to enjoy. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to play during our short stay.
There’s a Butler’s Pantry in the dining room as well. It includes a refrigerator stocked with sodas and bottles of water, and tea and hot cocoa can also be made at anytime. It was nice that, after returning from dinner, Dana was able to walk downstairs and make me a hot mug of tea. Sharon asked him what time we were planning to be downstairs the following morning; a fresh pot of coffee waiting for us when we came down.
Cranberry Manor has five different rooms, each uniquely decorated with a Victorian feel. My husband and I just happened to stay in the “Victorian Room”. It has a queen bed with a half-canopy.
There is a small seating area and a gas fire place. Although space is a bit tight for modern amenities, I would have enjoyed a larger television in the room. It was hiding with the cable box in the little nook above the fireplace.
Each room has its own private bathroom with both a shower and large soaking tub.
One of my favorite parts of Cranberry Manor is the large wraparound porch. There are a variety of seating arrangements, including a bench swing, several rocking chairs and cushioned seating areas. It was nice to be able to sit out there before breakfast and read, while we enjoyed a cup of coffee.
On Sunday mornings Sharon serves breakfast at 9 AM. Look at how pretty the place settings are!
Our breakfast started with sliced bananas drizzled with homemade caramel sauce.
We then enjoyed blueberry peach french toast, scrambled eggs and sausage. I was stuffed by the time breakfast was over. We were the only guests that night during our stay in September. So Sharon asked if she could join us for breakfast and we had a lovely time chatting with her.
Guests are given two keys when they arrive. One opens the front door and one that opens their bedroom. While Sharon and Ric live on property, they live in the space beyond the kitchen, separate from where guests stay. If you are in need of ideas of things to do or places to eat, Sharon is full of recommendations and information.
If you have never been to a bed and breakfast, I highly recommend giving Cranberry Manor Bed and Breakfast a try. It’s not too far away from Westchester County and is conveniently located to various Pocono attractions and restaurants.
The Details: Cranberry Manor Bed and Breakfast 406 Cherry Lane Road East Stroudsburg, PA 18301 (570) 620-2246
Price: $145 – $175 a night, depending on which room you choose and when you visit.
*Although some weekends require a two night stay, give Sharon a call. Depending on the date(s) of your visit, you may be able to stay for one night like we did.
*There is plenty to see and do in the area. But if you just want to relax and hang out at the bed and breakfast, you are more than welcome to do that as well.
(This post contains affiliate links. Please read our Disclosure Policy for additional information). Hooray for short work weeks! I am so happy that it’s Friday. Even though it was a short week, it was super busy! We spent the long weekend up in the Catskills where we had the perfect mix of fun and relaxation. We have another busy weekend planned. My son has soccer Saturday afternoon and then we have our monthly supper club Saturday night. We are heading into the city on Sunday to meet up with Dana’s family for lunch. We also have some house projects that we have to catch up on. And Monday will be here again before we know it! Here are five from this week:
1.Emerson Resort & Spa – The Emerson hosted our family for two nights and I can’t wait to share all about this beautiful resort in the Catskills in an upcoming blog post. It was a great place to stay and was conveniently located for our outings. We enjoyed a kaleidoscope class, took a nature walk and played lots of ping pong in the game room during our stay here!
2. Eating – when you travel you eat out a lot. We of course try to eat as much tasty food as we can when we are traveling! You can see it all on my Instagram stories. One of my favorite dishes was this brisket that my daughter ordered for dinner one night. It was so flavorful and tender!
3. Catskill Rail Explorers – we enjoyed our visit with the Catskill Rail Explorers. We biked a little over 8 miles round trip on these quads and got to see some fall foliage and views of the Esopus Creek. It was a fun family experience.
4. Reading – I was able to get some good reading time in while we were traveling and finished The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Although the subject matter of the book is tough it’s a well-written story. I just started a thriller, Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle and so far, so good.
5. Fall foliage – Living in New York I love being able to experience all of the seasons. Before we headed home from our trip we hiked Great Ledge and got to enjoy these amazing views! It’s not quite peak leaf peeping season yet, but being this high up and seeing this was still pretty awesome.
This week on the blog I wrote about GoGreek in Pelham.
This week on the podcast we talk about Brothers Fish & Chips and What’s your food splurge? Then we end with our Quick Hits of the week!