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Ice Skating in Westchester County and Beyond

Ice skating is a fun winter family activity.  Here is all the info on ice skating in Westchester County and beyond.  Many of these rinks are indoors and offer year-round skating. If interested, many of these rinks also offer skating lessons and have ice hockey leagues.  Check the websites for specific information!

Please call or check the websites for the most up-to-date schedule and pricing information. 

WESTCHESTER COUNTY:

*Ebersole Ice Rink
Delfino Park
110 Lake Street
White Plains, NY
(914) 422-1348

Ebersole Ice Rink is located in Delfino Park in White Plains.  Public skate sessions are 2 hours during the week and 2 1/2 hours on the weekends.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.

Fees:
Admission:  $10/adult, $8/youth, $5/ seniors
Skate Rental:  $5.00/pair

*Edward J. Murray Memorial Skating Center
348 Tuckahoe Road
Yonkers, NY
(914) 377-6469

EJ Murray Memorial Skating Center is located in Yonkers.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  In general, weekend public skating times are  11 AM – 1:30 PM and 8:30 PM – 10:30 PM Saturdays and 12 PM – 3 PM Sundays.

Fees:
Admission:  $11/general admission adults and children, $3/seniors
Skate Rental:  $4.00/pair

*Hommocks Park Ice Rink
140 Hommocks Road
Larchmont, NY 10538
(914) 834-1069

Hommocks Park Ice Rink is located in Larchmont.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  In general, weekend public skating times are 1:00 PM -5:15 PM Saturdays and 11 AM – 4 PM Sundays.  Friday evenings from 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM they hold a skating session with music and lights.

Fees:
Admission:  $8.50/adult, $7.50/children (12 and under), $6.50/ seniors
Skate Rental:  $4.50/pair

*Ice Hutch
655 Garden Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
(914) 699-6787

Ice Hutch is an indoor skating rink located in Mount Vernon.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  Most skating sessions are 90 minutes.

Fees:
Admission:  $8.00/adults and children, $5.00/ seniors
Skate Rental:  $4.00/pair

*Playland Ice Casino
100 Playland Parkway
Rye, NY 10580
(914) 481-5941

Playland Ice Casino is located in Rye.  There are two rinks, the Main Rink and the Studio Rink.  Between September and April the rink hosts a Friday night teen skate with a DJ and black lights.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  Skating sessions are between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

Fees:
Admission:  $9.75/adult, $7.75/children 10 and under, $5.75/Tots (3 and under) and Seniors
Skate Rental:  $4.25/pair

*Westchester Skating Academy
91 Fairview Park Drive
Elmsford, NY 10523
(914) 347-8232

Westchester Skating Academy is located in Elmsford.  There are two rinks, the USA rink and the Canada rink. Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times. Most skating sessions are 2 hours.  Friday nights they have a live DJ and light show.

Fees:
Admission:  $11/adults, $10/children (10 and under), $6.25/Tots (3 and under) and Seniors
Skate Rental:  $4.50/pair

PUTNAM COUNTY:

*Brewster Ice Arena
63 Fields Lane
Brewster, NY 10509
(845) 279-2229

Brewster Ice Arena is an indoor rink in Brewster.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  Most skating sessions are either 90 minutes or 2 hours.  Friday nights they have a skating session with a live DJ.

Fees:
Admission:  $8.50/adult, $6.50/children (12 and under) and seniors, $6.25/Tots (3 and under) and Seniors
Friday Night DJ Skate (8:15 PM – 10:15 PM):  $10 (includes skate rental)
Skate Rental:  $3.50/pair
Walker Rental:  $2.00

ROCKLAND COUNTY:

*Bear Mountain Ice Rink
Bear Mountain State Park
Route 9W North
Bear Mountain, NY 10911
(845) 786-2701  x266

This rink is outdoors and uncovered so dress warmly!  Lockers are available.  They sell refreshments.  There are benches both inside and outside.  Public skating sessions are 90 minutes in length. They are held Friday evenings 8-9:30 PM and beginning at 10 AM Saturday and Sunday.  There will also be additional sessions during the holiday break.  Check the website’s holiday hours for additional times.

Fees:
Parking:  $10.00
Admission:  $5.00
Non-skaters and seniors:  $2.00
Skate rental:  $5.00/pair
Mastercard and Visa are accepted.

*Palisades Center Ice Rink
Palisades Center
2900 Palisades Center Drive
West Nyack, NY 10994
(845) 353-4855

This is an indoor ice rink located on the 4th floor of the Palisades Center mall.  Check the website’s public skating schedule for specific dates and times.  Most public skating sessions are 90 minutes.  They have additional times during the holiday break.

Fees:
Admission:  $10.00/adult, $8.00/child and seniors
Sate rental:  $4.00/pair

NYC Winter Family Fun {Besides Seeing the Tree in Rockefeller Center}

For those of us fortunate enough to live close to New York City, a winter visit is a must-do.  Of course, if you visit around the holidays, seeing the tree in Rockefeller Center is a must.  After battling the crowds to get a glimpse of the tree and attempting to take a decent family photo in front of it, now what are you going to do?  Here is just some of the NYC winter family fun to be had!

Free:

Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal – See the New York Transit Museum’s annual holiday train show.

Holiday Windows – Check out the holiday window displays at Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co.

Inside:

American Museum of National History –  The museum is so large that you really can’t see everything in one day.  Current temporary exhibits include Our Senses, the Butterfly Conservatory, Mummies, Inside You, Earthflight, Opulent Oceans and Dark Universe.

Big Apple Circus – The Big Apple Circus is back at Lincoln Center, celebrating its 40th Anniversary. Experience an evening of thrills and laughs through January 7.

Broadway Shows – There are lots of family-friendly Broadway shows.  Charlie on Broadway is closing January 14 and SpongeBob Square Pants just opened December 4. Seasonal show Elf is running until December 29 and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is playing through January 1. Other family-friendly shows include Aladdin, Anastasia, Cats, Lion King and School of Rock.

Gulliver’s Gate – A recently opened attraction in Times Square.  Step into an interactive world of miniatures.  Read all about our family’s experience! Reserved timed tickets start at $31 (if purchased online).

National Geographic:  Ocean Odyssey – A unique, immersive underwater experience in Times Square.  Read about or family’s recent visit. Reserved timed tickets start at $39.50 (adults).

New York Hall of Science – We have not been to New York Hall of Science yet, but it looks like a lot of fun! This is a hands-on science museum for children (and adults) of all ages. Through January 15,  visit special exhibit Gingerbread Lane.  See a village of homemade gingerbread houses.  On select dates you can even take part in a gingerbread workshop ($15 plus admission).  On January 15, the last day of the exhibit, from 2-5 PM, gingerbread houses from the exhibit will be given away on a first-come first serve basis.

Winter Onderland at One World Observatory – Through January 7, visitors will follow Ollie the snow owl from his home in the forest, past famous international landmarks to One World Observatory.  Reserved timed tickets start at $36.

Outside:

The Rink at Rockefeller – Ice skate under the famous tree in Rockefeller Center.

Winter Village at Bryant Park – The holiday shops are open until January 2.  However, the skating rink is open until March 4.

Palisades Climb Adventure {Family Fun}

A fun and aventurous family outing at the Palisades Center mall.

(We were provided tickets to Palisades Climb Adventure.  However, all opinions are our own.)

The temperature has been dropping and the holiday break will be here before you know it.  For a fun, indoor activity for the entire family, give Palisades Climb Adventure a try.  Located at the Palisades Center mall in Rockland County, Palisades Climb Adventure is the world’s tallest indoor ropes course.  There are 75 different elements throughout five different levels that climbers can experience as they make their way through the 85-foot tall course.

Located on the 4th floor of the Palisades Center, Palisades Climb Adventure is a fun indoor family activity.

After a day spent shopping at the mall, our family decided to do the ropes course before leaving.  This was not our first time doing the Palisades Climb.  All four of us did the course two years ago during the Christmas break.  Having experienced the course before, I did not participate this time as I wanted to take pictures of the family while they climbed around. You must empty your pockets and place everything in a locker before you can climb.

Every participant on the Palisades Climb Adventure is given a harness. The harness has a cable that attaches to the overhead beams.

Once you pay for the climb, you are given a wrist band.  Then, you wait on line to get harnessed and start the course. On this most recent visit, there was hardly any lines or waiting.  On our previous visit, during the holiday break, there was a substantial wait.  Only 75 people are allowed out on the course at one time, so there can be a long line, depending on when you go.

The Palisades Climb Adventure is the tallest indoor ropes course at 85 feet!

Employees fit each person with a harness and tighten the straps.  The harness gets clipped to a cable that runs on an overhead track. The cable ensures that you will not fall.  No matter how scary it appears, you are safe!  If your child is on the shorter side, they may have difficulty pulling their cable along the track in spots.  My husband had to assist my son at times.  If you are sending your child out on the course without an adult, there are employees out on the course to assist participants, if needed. Only one person is supposed to be on an element at a time. 

Once on the course, my family gravitated to the upper obstacles.  They especially enjoyed the zip line at the very top of the course.  There was barely any wait for the zip line and they rode it three times in a row.

They eventually made their way down to the bottom levels of the course but discovered that those elements are apparently the easier ones.  So they made their way back up to the middle levels.

They spent a good hour on the ropes course and had a great time.  My son was a lot less fearful this time out and tried some elements that he hadn’t on the last visit.   For those with smaller children (under 42″ tall) there is a Sky Tykes kids course that they can participate in.

The Palisades Climb Adventure is in the middle of a large shopping mall.  There will be lots of people stopping to watch you climb. Believe me, you’ll be so focused on getting across the elements, that you won’t even notice them!  Relax and enjoy the experience!

The Details:

Palisades Adventure Climb
Palisades Center (Course entrance is on the 4th Floor)
4590 Palisades Center Drive
West Nyack, NY 10994
(845) 727-3500
Website

Hours:
Monday – Thursday 2 PM – 8 PM
Friday 2 PM – 9 PM
Saturday:  11 AM – 10 PM
Sunday: 11 AM – 7 PM

Parking:  Plenty of free parking in the mall parking lot.  Park in the Level 4 parking lot (Target/Barnes&Noble/etc) for closest access

Admission:  $19.99/person for the Rope Course  $8.99/person (under 48″) for the Sky Tykes Kids Course

Tips:

*If you want pictures of your family climbing, you will need to bring someone who doesn’t want to climb.  No phones, bags, etc. are allowed on the climb.

*The course gets busy during the holiday vacation.  Plan your visit accordingly.

*Although any closed toe shoes are acceptable, I recommend wearing sneakers.

*Lockers are available to store your jackets and bags.

 

 

6

National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey {Family Fun}

National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is an immersive, family fun experience in NYC. Take a journey under the ocean and learn all about the sea and its life.

(We were provided tickets to Ocean Odyssey.  However, all opinions are our own.)

Located in Times Square in New York City, National Geographic Encounter Ocean Odyssey is a fun, family experience.

If you are looking for a new, one-of-a-kind family outing in New York City, you must check out National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey. Conveniently located in Times Square, Ocean Odyssey is an immersive, underwater experience.  You will use almost all of your senses as you “travel” from the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific to coastal California via the Pacific Ocean.

While I’d love to fill this post with pictures of our experience and give you all the details, I’m going to try my best to keep it short, but informative.  The Encounter really needs to be seen and experienced in person.

Entrance to the Encounter Ocean Odyssey is by timed ticket.  We had 2 PM tickets but arrived early and were admitted in.  We were placed in a group of approximately 25 people and began our journey.  You move with your group throughout the majority of the Encounter, over 60,000 square feet of space.

The Encounter begins in The Shallows.  Here we were introduced to sea life via a screened wall and floor.  After a few minutes here, we then entered the Coral Reef.  The reef is fairly dark lit by the glow of the bioluminescent coral and eels.  There is some seating in this room but the exhibit is interactive and meant for guests to walk around. After the Coral Reef you visit Deep Ocean at Night. This is a very dark room with benches for guests to sit on.  In this exhibit we used our sense of hearing to listen to the sounds of the ocean at night.

The journey then continued to Squid Battle.  Here we watched on surround screens as two Humboldt squid battled it out.  We then walked to the Kelp Forest & Sea Lions.  The kelp forest is a maze that you must navigate.  At the end, you get to play with a sea lion and make him do tricks with your hand movements. Our Encounter ended at Bait Ball where we watched a 3-D viewing of a feeding frenzy.

In every room there are knowledgeable guides, who explain what is going on. They usher you from one room to the next.  The group experience lasts for approximately 45 minutes.  After that, you are free to stay and explore in Exploration Hall for as long as you wish.

If you complete the scavenger hunt at the National Geographic Encounter Ocean Odyssey, you get a puzzle piece to decorate and add to the Ocean Community Wall.

In Exploration Hall children can color ocean images, learn more about the animals in the exhibit via touch screens, or “clean up” a portion of the ocean via the Pristine Seas Challenge.  There is also a scavenger hunt which anyone can complete by watching a series of videos.  Once the scavenger hunt is completed and shown to an Encounter Guide, you are given a puzzle piece to design and place on the Ocean Community Wall.  Although our kids spent some time exploring the exhibits in the hall, they did not wish to participate in the scavenger hunt.  As you exit the experience you are routed through a gift shop selling branded memorabilia and ocean-related gifts.

National Geographic definitely went for the “wow” factor with the Ocean Odyssey Encounter.  It was such a fun and different experience.  However, keeping with the Society’s mission, they did a great job of educating guests as will.  Visitors will leave with a greater knowledge of the wildlife living in the Pacific Ocean and the importance of keeping the oceans clean.

The Details:

National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
226 W. 44th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue, Times Square
New York, NY 10036
(646) 308-1337

Hours: Sunday – Thursday 10 AM – 10:30 PM, Friday & Saturday 10 AM – midnight
Last tickets are sold one hour prior to closing time

Tickets:  Online, for reserved time, $39.50/adults, $36.50/seniors (65+) and veterans, $32.50/child (12 and under)

Tips:

*Reservations are highly recommended.  Order tickets online if you are looking to visit at a specific time.  If purchasing onsite you will be admitted for the next available time slot.

*This experience is recommended for ages 3+.  Strollers are not permitted in the experience. but there is place to park them during your visit.

*Photography is allowed, but flash photography and video recording are prohibited.

*If you are looking for someplace to eat before or after your Encounter, there are many restaurants within walking distance including Junior’s, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, Carmine’s, Sardi’s, City Kitchen and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

7

Paddling the Palisades with Southern Tier Kayak Tours

(Thank you Southern Tier Kayak Tours (STKT), Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes and the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce for hosting us!  All opinions are my own.)

My kids have surprised me this summer with their adventurous spirit and have been all about trying new things. Although kayaking isn’t new to us (the kids love kayaking around the lake near our friends’ house) we had never taken a guided tour before.

On the day of our kayak tour we arrived at the Senator William Smith Launch in Big Flats, NY a little earlier than our expected 9:45 AM meeting time.  I wanted to make sure we had on proper foot attire (i.e. water sandals and old sneakers) and had time to apply suntan lotion.  There were eight of us on this tour, plus our professional guide, Aaron from Southern Tier Kayak Tours (STKT).

Prior to our kayak trip, we were asked heights and weights so we could be fitted with the appropriate size kayak.  We had the option of getting a tandem kayak so I could paddle with one of the kids, but they both wanted to paddle their own. STKT provides the kayaks, paddles and life jackets.  On this trip we used sit-on-top kayaks, but they also have sit-in kayaks.  Although most of us on the tour had previous kayak experience, Aaron gave us a quick paddling lesson and safety talk.  Like most outdoor and adventure excursions, a waiver must be signed before setting off.  We helped carry the kayaks down to the river and Aaron ensured everyone got into their kayak safely before our tour began.

The Chemung River was surprisingly calm and peaceful and our tour provided beautiful views of the palisades.  Aaron was a very knowledgeable guide and pointed out various killdeer, herons, ospreys and eagles.  On our journey we saw several eagles perched in trees and flying above us.  He also pointed out the invasive species of plants that are growing rampant along the river banks.

A couple miles into our paddle we stopped at a shallow area and took a stretch.  We spent a few minutes skipping stones (or in my case, attempting to).  Then Aaron showed us how you can tell the health of the river just by examining the wildlife growing under the rocks.  Picking up rocks he pointed out the variety of water pennies and snails that were thriving, indicators that the river is doing well.

After our little respite, we got back into the kayaks and continued our tour.  As you can see, some parts of the river were very shallow that day.  Paddling the river several times a week, Aaron is very familiar with it and he directed us to paddle towards certain sides of the river to avoid the rocks.  In one part of the river, there was a very small rapid we needed to navigate to continue onward.  Aaron got out of his kayak and stood in the water, ensuring that everyone made it safely through the rapid and was headed in the correct direction.

I have to note that I did not realize how tiring a five mile kayak paddle is!  By the last mile, our arms were tired!  After my son complained about his arms, Aaron took pity on him.  He attached my son’s kayak to his and towed him the last mile or so.  Although they make exceptions, these kayak tours are recommended for children 9 and up.  While my son turned 9 over the summer, I see why they have the age recommendation. FYI, this tour is usually six miles, but our tour was shortened by a mile to keep us on schedule for horseback riding (review on its way soon).

We had a great time kayaking down the Chemung River with STKT.  It is a calm paddle with beautiful, scenic views. Most of our enjoyment can be attributed to Aaron, our amazing guide.  His passion for kayaking is evident through the tour, ensuring everyone is having a fun and enjoyable ride.  If you are in the Southern Tier region, I highly recommend taking a kayak tour with STKT!

The Details:

Southern Tier Kayak Tours (STKT)
P.O. Box 293
Lansing, NY 14882
(607) 220-3642

Tours and Prices:
Paddle the Palisades (6 mile tour down the Chemung River, $55/person)
Chenango Charm (7.5 mile tour down the Chenango River, $55/person)
Sample the Susquehanna (6 mile tour down the Susquehanna River, $50/person)

Tours run April through October.  Check the STKT calendar for exact dates and times of the tours.

Tips:

Wear water shoes or old sneakers.  You will be walking in the water and it’s rocky in some areas.

Bring a water bottle.  There is a place to store a water bottle or two.  You will get hot and thirsty, especially on a warm, summer day.

Remember to apply sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses.  You are out on the water with no shade.

Bring phones and cameras at your own risk!  I put my cell phone in a Ziploc bag and then stuck it in a waterproof, athletic waist bag belt.

If you had a great trip, tip your tour guide.  Tips are not required, but your tour guide will appreciate it!

A Peek Inside Our Geocaching Bag

Our family has been enjoying geocaching for over a year now.  It’s easy to use the geocaching app on my phone and there are caches hidden everywhere from local parks to hiking trails deep in the woods.  It’s a lot of fun to go on an outdoor scavenger hunt and we never know when or where we might be in the mood to find some caches!  That is why we keep a bag packed in my car with our geocaching necessities.  With the bag easily accessible, we are always ready to geocache whenever the mood strikes. Today I’m giving you guys a peek inside our geocaching bag. Hopefully, this can help you pack your own bag so you are always ready to geocache!  We store all of our supplies in a small book bag.  Any bag or tote will do, but we like having the zippers so things do not fall out.  Here are the items we keep in our geocaching bag:

Bag of trinkets – When you find a geocache, many times there are trinkets in the cache.  We always follow the rule of take one, leave one.  So, what kinds of things do you leave?  We have a large Ziploc bag that we keep in our geocaching bag filled with lots of goody bag favors including bouncy balls and small toys, stickers and temporary tattoos.  Some of the kids’ favorite treasures to find in a cache include pretty rocks or shells.

Pen and paper – Not all caches include a writing instrument, so we keep a pen in the bag to sign logs.  We also keep paper in the bag in case a log has run out, or we want to jot down notes.

Hand Sanitizer – I’m not going to lie.  Sometimes, caches are hidden under piles of wet leaves or wedged into a crevice in a tree trunk.  I like to have hand sanitizer at the ready, especially when the kids get hungry and want to have a snack.

Bug spray –  Most of our geocaching has been done in parks and wooded areas.  Some of these caches take us off a marked trail and into wooded areas.  Our kids are mosquito magnets and the bugs are out in full force come spring and summer.  It’s always good to have some bug spray on hand.

Suntan lotion –  Especially in the warmer months, we don’t do any outdoor activities without putting suntan lotion on.  It’s also good to have on hand in the bag in case you are out longer than expected and need to reapply.

Water and Snacks – Prior to going out geocaching we also pack some snacks and water bottles.  There is nothing like hungry or thirsty kids to ruin a good hike!

Are there any other items that you find helpful when geocaching? 

Family Fun at Six Flags Great Escape

{We received complimentary tickets to the park.  All opinions are my own.}

Summer isn’t complete for me without a visit to an amusement park!  On our recent trip upstate, we surprised the kids with a visit to Six Flags Great Escape. Six Flags Entertainment Corp. is the largest amusement park company in the world and Six Flags Great Escape is their only New York theme park.  The park is an approximately 2 1/2 to three hour drive from my house in northern Westchester County.

It was a beautiful day for us to visit the park.  When we arrived near the 10:30 AM opening,  I was surprised to discover that it would cost us $20 to park, which I found to be a bit on the expensive side.  From the parking lot, it’s a short walk over a street overpass to get to the amusement park.

There are eight different areas in the park, including water park Splashwater Kingdom and International Village, the main shopping area.  Great Escape was formerly Storytown USA, and many of the historic icons are still in the park, including Cinderella’s Castle and the Pink Whale.

Even on a hot summer day, the park was crowded but didn’t feel especially so.  None of the ride lines were exceptionally long.  Great Escape is truly a family-friendly amusement park.  There are rides for everyone with Timbertown and Kidzopolis geared towards little kids and more than five roller coasters for thrill seekers.

My son loved riding all of the roller coasters and Flashback, a forward and backward looping coaster, was his favorite ride of the day.  My daughter, a fellow coaster lover, chose Steamin’ Demon, a multi-loop coaster pictured in the title photo of this post, as her favorite ride.

I have to say that Great Escape has some of the most fun ride operators that I’ve seen at an amusement park.  One of  my favorite rides was Marshal’s Stampede, the bumper car ride. Sassy, the ride operator, cheered the riders on: “Great bump #10!” and helping those who were “stuck”, directing them to turn their steering wheel.  Her upbeat attitude really helped “make” the ride.

I was really looking forward to trying out Acrophobia VR, the park’s newest ride.  It was scheduled to open in July, but wasn’t yet running during our visit.

Around 2 PM we started to get hungry and decided to eat lunch.  Since we were in Fest Area, we chose to eat at the Alpine Fest Haus. Even at a later time, this place was pretty crowded.  We opted to share a Pulled Pork Sandwich with fries ($11.99) and a German Burger ($12.99) with fries.  This burger, served on a pretzel bun and topped with Swiss cheese, bacon and mushrooms (canned) was surprisingly good.

There are many different places to eat throughout the park that serve the usual burgers, chicken tenders, pizza hot dogs and salads.  One of the more interesting eateries we saw was the Skillet Market where fajitas, quesadillas and other food was cooked in gigantic cast iron skillets!  You can also find all kinds of treats from funnel cake and ice cream to cotton candy and popcorn being sold throughout the park.

We visited Splashwater Kingdom after lunch.  The water park area has a number of slides, a wave pool (Lumberjack Splash), a lazy river (Captain Hook’s Adventure River) and two water play areas (Buccaneer Beach and Paul Bunyan’s Bucket Brigade. Since I’m not the biggest fan of water parks, I luckily found a chair and camped out with our bag and towels while my husband and kids partook in the water fun.

The trio really enjoyed Bonzai Pipelines, the newest water park attraction.  They raced each other down the colorful, twisting water slides many times.  In fact, these slides were my husband’s favorite ride in all of the park.  After a couple of rides around the lazy river, the rest of their time was spent in the large wave pool.  Many of the other water slides had fairly long lines that they didn’t want to wait on.

There are a few cons to Splashwater Kingdom. It’s not easy, unfortunately, to move between the various sections of the water park.  The walkway to the Comet cuts right through the middle. Also, empty chairs are hard to come by anywhere in this area.  While there are lots of chairs, most were claimed by towels but never actually occupied by people.  And finally, Paul Bunyan’s Bucket Brigade, pictured above, has seen better (and wetter) days.  The kids made a quick visit here, since most of the water fun aspects of the attraction (the large tipping water bucket and water guns) weren’t working.

Besides all of the rides included with admission, you can try Dare Devil Dive (Free Fall attraction) and Olympiad Grand Prix (Go-Kart ride, $8/person, $18/ride all day) at an additional cost.  Plus, there are also dance parties and live entertainment shows at the three different theater venues around the park as well as several arcades and game stands.  There is something for everyone at the park.

We spent the entire day at Six Flags Great Escape, staying until the 7 PM park closing.  We had a fun-filled day and I highly recommend a visit!

The Details:
Six Flags Great Escape
1172 State Route 9
Queensbury, NY 12804

Parking:  $20 (credit cards accepted)
Hours:  Check the site for specific dates/times
Admission:  Ticket Prices when purchased at the park – $59.99/general admission, $46.99/children under 48″, kids 2 and under/free
Lockers:  $16/Small, $17/Medium,  $18/Jumbo

Tips:  
*Purchase tickets online prior to your visit for cheaper prices.

*Parking costs $20.  Establishments outside the park offer parking at cheaper prices.  You may have to walk a bit more and I have no information on the reliability/safety/security of these places.

*Outside food and drinks are not allowed and food is generally expensive in the park.  I recommend eating a big breakfast before arriving, have a late lunch on site and then eat dinner outside the park.

*Purchase a refillable season drink bottle when you first get to the park.  It costs $15.99 but you receive a wristband for free refills on the day of purchase.

*Make sure to pick up a couple of park maps when you enter.  I found the park a bit difficult to navigate since it doesn’t all connect and you have to backtrack to get to certain areas of the park.  Refer to the map to make sure you get to all the rides you are interested in riding.

A Visit to The Adirondack Experience

*I received complimentary admission tickets.  However, all opinions are my own.

Recently, our family visited the Adirondack region of New York. Spanning more than 6 million acres, seeing all of the region in one visit is impossible.  When researching our trip, one of the places that I wanted to visit was Adirondack Experience (formerly known as the Adirondack Museum), located in Blue Mountain Lake, NY. Encompassing over 121 acres, it includes  24 galleries and historic buildings with tons of hands-on learning and fun. An “experience” it is!

We arrived at Adirondack Experience at the 10 AM opening.  We made sure to take the activity book they offered, since the kids (and I) are big fans of these.  This gave the kids some focus as we wandered around and they were motivated by the small prize they’d receive if they completed it.

The first building we entered was The Great Outdoors. This is a play and adventure exhibition geared specifically towards children.  Here the kids did some fishing, climbed a rock wall, walked in a pair of snow shoes and so much more.  We spent a lot of time in here as the kids explored.

Next, we visited the Work in the Woods building.  We learned all about logging in the Adirondacks, from past to present.  Outside the building there is a climbable fire tower, relocated here from Whiteface Mountain, New York’s fifth tallest peak.  From the top of the tower, you can see great views of the mountains.

The highlight of the visit was the new “Life in the Adirondacks” exhibition which opened in the beginning of July.   The exhibit includes 19,000 square feet of interactive fun.  When we first entered the exhibit, we saw a short film about the Adirondacks.  There are hundreds of artifacts housed here, including a canoe, stage coach, snow mobiles, a totem pole and many objects used in everyday life.  We walked through the Oriental, a private railroad car, and the kids dressed up in time period clothing, blasted a rock in the mine, cleared a virtual log jam and rowed a guide boat.

When leaving the “Life in the Adirondacks” exhibition, we made sure to pause and take in the beautiful view of Blue Mountain Lake!

The only scheduled activity on the day of our visit was the trout feeding at 12:30 PM.  The kids really enjoyed throwing the food pellets into the pond and watching the fish pop up and eat them.

After feeding the trout, we were getting hungry ourselves.  Adirondack Experience has a great eatery right on property, the Lake View Cafe.   David, owner of The Well Dressed Food Company and his culinary team provide a great dining experience.  They have an espresso bar and serve bagels and breakfast sandwiches for those eating earlier in the day.  We arrived at lunchtime and had difficulty choosing from the selection of flatbread pizzas, burgers, salads, sandwiches and more.  My daughter ordered the White Garlic Basil, Chicken and Broccoli Flatbread pizza ($9.95/individual pizza), my son had the Fried Cod Sandwich ($9.95) and I opted for the Gyro Wrap ($9.95).  Portions were generous and everything was delicious.  They have a children’s menu for kids 12 and under with choices of a hot dog, chicken nuggets or grilled cheese served with chips and pickle ($6).  They also serve a selection of wine, domestic and imported beer and craft beer and cider.

After lunch we headed to the Reising Schoolhouse and Kids’ Cabin.  Here the kids played old-fashioned games, like top spinning, Jacob’s ladder and ring toss.  Then they helped with Wash Day, scrubbing pieces of cloth and hanging it to dry.  Afterwards, they played in the cabin kitchen. Before wrapping up our visit, we did a quick walk-through of the Boats & Boating exhibit and the recent art acquisitions in the Lynn H. Boillot Art Gallery.

If you have the time, I highly recommend taking advantage of the second day free admission.  There was plenty more that we didn’t see and time-wise I focused on kid-friendly exhibits and activities. There is really not enough time in one day to fully see and do everything that Adirondack Experience has to offer. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to spend another day visiting and we had to rush through the end of our visit to make sure we got to see everything before our target 4 PM departure.  After six hours of walking around, the kids were pretty tired.  I would have loved to have done the self-guided hike to Minnow Pond if we had more time and energy.  Fortunately, this gives us a reason to go back for another visit!

The Details:

The Adirondack Experience
9097-NY 30
Blue Mountain Lake, NY 12812
(518) 352-7311

Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM, seven days a week (May 26-October 9, 2017) 10 AM – 7:30 PM Mondays in July and August
Parking:  Free, large parking lot
Admission:  $20/adults, $18/seniors, $12/students (with ID and children 6-17), Free/children 5 and under Active Military Personnel are free
*Free second visit with paid admission within a one-week period
Food:  Available for purchase at the Lake View Cafe or you can bring your own food and drinks.

Untermyer Park and Gardens {Yonkers, NY}

If you’ve ever driven on North Broadway in Yonkers, you may have sped right past Untermyer Park and Gardens and not even known it {guilty!}.  Hidden behind a gated brick wall, the entrance is unassuming.  However, once you pass through those gates, you are transported to another world.

Untermyer Park is a public park in the city of Yonkers.  It’s named for successful corporate lawyer, Samuel Untermyer, who acquired the property in 1899.  An avid horticulturist, he commissioned architect William Welles Bosworth  to design the gardens in 1916.  Untermyer opened his 150 acres of gardens to the public and intended for them to become a state park when he died.  Unfortunately, due to the high cost of this endeavor, his dream couldn’t become a reality.  Instead, in 1946 a portion of the property was given to the City of Yonkers to be used as a city park.  Today, Untermyer Park consists of 43 acres that is maintained and being restored in a collaboration between the non-profit, Untermyer Gardens Conservancy and the city of Yonkers.

I recommend picking up a brochure which is available in an outdoor case at the Community Center (bathrooms and benches to sit and rest are located here as well).  You can read about the history of the gardens and use the map to ensure that you don’t miss anything. As much as I wanted to fill this post with tons of beautiful pictures of the gardens I restrained myself. There’s nothing like seeing their beauty for the first time in person.

 

Begin your tour at the Walled Garden.  This Indo-Persian garden is based on the Garden of Eden. Divided into quadrants by waterways, some things you will see in this garden include an open air amphitheater, reflecting pools filled with goldfish and koi, marble columns, a Grecian temple, fountains and mosaic-tiled floors and walls.

Make your way toward The Vista, the staircase that takes you down towards the Vista Overlook. At the circular Overlook, you will have spectacular views of the Hudson River.  As you make your way down the steps, you’ll pass the remnants of what was the Color Gardens.

At the bottom of the Vista Overlook you can take the Woodland Trail up the the Temple of Love.  We opted to walk down past the old Gatehouse and take the longer Carriage Trail.  This trail runs parallel to the Old Croton Aqueduct and Warburton Avenue.  Hearing police sirens and cars driving by as we walked on the trail were the only reminders that we were in the midst of a city.  When we came upon the waterfalls at the Temple of Love, my jaw dropped in disbelief! Seeing the rock gardens with the water cascading down is truly a breathtaking sight.

The whole family was surprised at the history and beauty of Untermyer Park.  These gardens are truly a hidden gem in Yonkers that every Westchester County resident should visit at least once.  The beauty of the gardens is that you can come back at different times throughout the year and get a different perspective, as they change the floral displays with the seasons.

The Details:

Untermyer Park and Gardens
945 North Broadway
Yonkers, NY 10701
(914) 613-4502
www.untermyergardens.org

Admission:  Free

Hours:  7 AM – dusk (daily)
Please check the website for the Walled Garden hours

Tours:  90 minutes – given on Sundays by docents from late April through early November (focus alternates weekly between history and horticulture – check the schedule for information)
Cost:  $10/adult, free for children 12 and under  –  no reservations required

President’s Tour:  Given one Sunday a month
Cost:  $20/adult, free for children 12 and under  – no reservations required

Parking:  Two small lots at the community center next to the community center at Untermyer or street parking on  North Broadway (both metered and unmetered)

Additional Info:
There are restrooms on the property.

Pets are not allowed on the grounds.

Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Food and drinks are not sold on the property.  However, feel free to bring your own and enjoy a picnic on the grounds.

We visited with our two children, ages 8 and 11.  Walking at a leisurely pace, we were able to see all of the gardens and take plenty of pictures in about one hour.  You can make a longer or shorter visit, depending on your needs.

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Why You Need a Seasonal Family Bucket List

Recently, our family started creating a seasonal family bucket list.  By definition, a bucket list is a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before they die.  Quality family time is important to us. However, as our kids have gotten older our time together has become limited.  Social time with friends takes precedence over family time and their schedules are packed with lots of extracurricular activities. These seasonal bucket lists have become a fun way for us to enjoy quality time together.  Here are some reasons why you need a seasonal family bucket list as well!

New Experiences

How many times have you thought, oh, we should do that one day (when referring to any number of activities or events)? That was us until we realized that the “one day” would never happen unless we actually scheduled it in.  By definition, a bucket list is a list of things that one has not done before.  Therefore, each family member selects an activity or experience that is new to him/her and the whole family gets to enjoy the experience together. It’s been so much fun to see the joy on my children’s faces as they get to experience new things!  And of course we take lots of photos to capture the memories!

Seasonal Fun

Every three months we create new bucket lists and make them seasonally appropriate.  In the summer we’ve gone berry picking, been to a Renaissance Faire, gone clamming and attended a local baseball game.  In the fall we have been hiking and geocaching.  In the winter, we either do outdoor winter activities (like snow tubing) or indoor activities (like going to an ice hockey or basketball game or doing an indoor adventure ropes course).  In the spring we took a trip to Philadelphia and went to a cupcake festival.  The ideas are endless!  But the point is that you get out and enjoy them!

Limited Number of Activities

Making a seasonal bucket list means that you’re not doing something every day of every weekend (unless you want to!).  Each family member gets to choose only one activity per season that they would like to do. So, in our family of four we have four activities that we consider must-dos each season.  Weather-dependent, we try to schedule them out throughout the three months and make sure they get written into the calendar.  For the four of us, that averages to one activity a month.

Quality Family Time

In our personal experience, when the kids are home they tend to bicker a lot. Somehow, when we are out and about doing things, almost no fighting occurs.  We truly get to experience quality family time.

Can Be as Expensive or Inexpensive as You Want

Although we are big believers in experiences over things, we are still on a budget.  Our kids don’t have lots of “stuff.” We’d rather spend money having memorable experiences than buying new toys that become unused after a couple of weeks.  Even completing our bucket lists we have found ways to save money.  Instead of going to major league sports events, we have attended local ones. For Christmas, we asked our families to give us a state park pass and a membership to a local historic organization as gifts.  Other ways to stay on budget include looking on Groupon and local sites for both activity ideas and discounts!  Trying a new restaurant at lunch instead of dinner can help keep costs down too, since prices tend to be cheaper and restaurants often offer lunch specials.

Some seasons we don’t complete our bucket list.  And that’s okay, we just move the items to next year’s list.  In fact, this winter was one of the first times we completed every activity on our family’s seasonal bucket list!

I would love to hear if you create family bucket lists and if so what activities have you done or would like to do?