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Westchester County Staycation Fun {For Tweens}

With all of the recent snow storms we’ve had, for many Westchester County families, this upcoming Spring break has been significantly shortened.  Some of you may have booked your vacations weeks ago.  However, for those of you who have not, here are some ideas to make the most of those few days off.  There is lots of fun to be had close to home.  Enjoy some Westchester County staycation fun with some of these great ideas, especially useful to entertain the tweens!

A Maze in Pottery – Spend some time painting pottery!  With over 300 different items to paint, everyone in the family will be able to find something!

Bounce & Trampoline Fun – Sit and watch your kids tire themselves out as they bounce and jump.  Local venues include Bounce (Poughkeepsie), Bounce U (Elmsford) Rockin’ Jump (Yonkers), Rockin’ Jump (Mount Kisco), and Sky Zone (New Rochelle).

Bowling –  Westchester County has several bowling alleys including Bowlmor (White Plains), Cortlandt Lanes (Cortlandt Manor), Homefield Bowl (Yonkers), Jefferson Valley Lanes (Jefferson Valley), Roc ‘n’ Bowl (New Rochelle) and Spins Bowl (Mount Kisco).

Escape the Mystery Room – With nearby locations in Yorktown Heights at the Jefferson Valley Mall and in West Nyack at the Palisades Center, this is a fun family outing for older children.  You can get more info and read about our family’s experience.

Hudson River Museum – Enjoy a trip to the Hudson River Museum.  April 2 through April 6 students on break are welcome to enjoy a FREE planetarium show when accompanied by an adult.

Ice Skating – If you haven’t had enough cold weather fun, Westchester County is home to several ice skating rinks. Check out our guide to ice skating in Westchester County for all the info.

iFLY –  Do you have adventurous kids?  They might enjoy indoor skydiving!  iFLY Westchester is located in the Ridge Hill Shopping Center in Yonkers.

Muse Paintbar – With locations in White Plains and Yonkers, at Ridge Hill), enjoy an afternoon of painting.

Palisades Climb – Inside the Palisades Mall, your kids will enjoy exploring the 75 elements that make up the world’s tallest indoor ropes challenge course.  Read all about the fun that our family had!

Spins Hudson – Recently opened in Peekskill, Spins Hudson has laser tag, a ropes course, arcade and bocce and shuffleboard.

Sporttime USA – Although a little dated, there is a lot of fun to be had at Sporttime USA.  There are lots of video games, batting cages, lazer tag, and even a couple of rides (Bumper Cars, Himalaya Roller Coaster and Mini Twister).

 

 

 

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Brunch and a Broadway Show! {Charlie Palmer at the Knick and SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical}

(Thank you to the Charlie Palmer Group and SpongeBob the Broadway Musical for hosting us.  As always, all opinions are our own.)

Dinner and a movie makes for a great date with your significant other.  If you are looking for a fun day out on the town with your child, how about brunch and a Broadway show?!  My children love breakfast foods. I know if we go out for breakfast they will always find something on the menu that they will enjoy. And, really, who doesn’t love bacon and eggs? For a super special parent-child outing, seeing a Broadway show is a real treat! Enjoying brunch before a weekend matinee ensures that you don’t get home too late.  This is especially important when seeing a Sunday show, when your kids probably have school the next day!

My 9 year old son and I recently took a trip into New York City for a mother-son brunch and a Broadway show date.  We started with brunch at Charlie Palmer at the Knick.  This family-friendly restaurant is located on the fourth floor of the Knickerbocker hotel, in the heart of Times Square.

The decor of the restaurant is modern but inviting.  As my son noted: “This is the fanciest-looking restaurant I’ve been to!”  Chef Charlie Palmer creates American cuisine that is sourced locally from the Hudson Valley. For those on the hungrier side, the breakfast menu includes both a Continental and American Breakfast.  The a la carte menu includes a couple of different omelettes, pancakes, waffles, french toast and more. The restaurant also has a different children’s menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Although my son sometimes orders from the adult menu, he opted for the buttermilk pancakes with fresh strawberries from the kid’s menu and added a side of bacon. After seeing the portion sizes, he could have likely finished a meal off the adult menu. As it was, he devoured his pancakes in record time. Breakfast is his favorite meal!

I ordered the Midtown Eggs Benedict.  Two poached organic eggs were served on a potato rosti with Bearnaise sauce, surrounded by chunks of lobster.  This was a decadent and delicious dish!

After we had ordered, a basket of pastries was brought to the table.  We enjoyed these after our brunch to end our meal on a sweet note.  My son especially enjoyed the chocolate-filled croissant. The flaky layers of pastry filled with a sweet chocolate filling was delicious!

I’m not going to lie.  Prices at Charlie Palmer, even for breakfast, are on the higher end of the price spectrum.  My eggs Benedict was definitely a splurge, priced at $26. However, if you are going to have a parent-child date, it’s nice to be a little fancy and treat yourself!

We had 11 AM reservations, which gave us plenty of time to eat before our 1 PM show.  Our food arrived quickly after we ordered.  However, we were not made to feel rushed at all.  After finishing our meal, we sat a bit while I enjoyed my coffee. Service was excellent, with our server being attentive but not annoyingly so.

Charlie Palmer at the Knick is super close to many of the Broadway theatres.  After our delicious brunch, we only had to walk a couple of blocks to the Palace Theatre to see the show. “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?  SpongeBob SquarePants…..”  If you have tweens you are probably very familiar with that song!  Did you know that the Nickelodeon television show made its Broadway debut this past December?  I have to be honest, my son really wanted to see this musical.  Me?  Not so much.  I’m not the biggest fan of the animated talking sponge.  But guess what?  I am here to tell you that you don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy the musical.

As soon as you enter the Palace Theatre you are transported into an underwater wonderland.  From beginning to end, guests are treated to a feast for the senses.  Giant fluorescent set pieces glow under black lights. The cast are dressed in bright, colorful costumes. The continuously changing sets are filled with lights, smoke and more.  There are lots of sound effects and the songs are catchy. Most songs were written by artists like Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Plain White T’s, T.I. and more, specifically for this production.  The show ends with bubbles, confetti and bouncing beach balls.

One of the first things you will notice once the show starts is that SpongeBob is not actually shaped like a sponge.  Ethan Slater, does a phenomenal job in taking on the role of SpongeBob.  He has the voice, gestures and even the laugh spot-on!  Although you don’t have to be familiar with the characters from the show, it helps, so you can fully appreciate how well the show was cast.  There is even a story line to the musical.  Bikini Bottom is in danger of being destroyed by a volcanic eruption.  While most of the residents want to leave, SpongeBob with the help of his friends Patrick and Sandy attempt to save their beloved home.

Although the audience was mostly comprised of families with children (right around my son’s age or younger), I think this show will appeal to the masses.  For anyone who loves a good Broadway production, you will not be disappointed. SpongeBob SquarePants the Broadway Musical is a fun and entertaining show.  This is a perfect musical for a parent-child/family day out and both my son and I give it two thumbs up!

The Details:

Charlie Palmer at the Knick
The Knickerbocker Hotel
6 Times Square
New York, NY 10036
(212) 204-4983

Hours: Breakfast 7 AM – 11 AM, Lunch 11:30 AM – 2 PM, Dinner 5 PM – 10 PM

Price:  $$$ (breakfast – most entrees between $16-$30)

SpongeBob SquarePants the Broadway Musical
The Palace Theatre
1564 Broadway (47th and Broadway)
New York, NY 10036

Show Dates and Times:  7 PM Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 PM  Wednesdays, 8 PM Fridays, 2 PM & 8 PM Saturdays,  1 PM & 6:30 PM Sundays

Prices:  (Depend on day/time, seat choice and availability)  Tickets start at $49 balcony seating.

28 Days of February Family Fun

(This post contains affiliate links.  Please read our Disclosure Policy for details.)

February will be here in a couple of days.  Although it is a short month, with Valentine’s Day, the Olympics and President’s Day/February break, there is a lot going on!  Here are 28 days of February family fun!

1. February is Black History Month.  Published this month, read Young, Gifted and Black with your kids to introduce them to 52 Black heroes from past and present.

2.  Will the groundhog see his shadow today?  Tradition says if he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter.  If he doesn’t, we can expect an early spring!  Here are twelve Groundhog Day picture books that you can read with your kids.

3.  Have a video game day!  Have your kids show you their favorite video games and play with them.  My son’s current XBoxOne faves include Cupheads and Marvel vs. Capcom.

4. Today is the Super Bowl! Make some of these snacks for your game day party while you cheer on the Eagles or Patriots!  While I’m not a football fan, I will be watching the half-time show and the commercials.  Take a sneak peek at some of the commercials!

5. Today is World Nutella Day!  Here are 60 ways you can use using this delicious hazelnut spread.

6. Check out the new shows coming to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime in February and plan some binge watching.

7.  Valentine’s Day is in a week.  Have you made or purchased your child’s Valentines?  If you need some ideas, here are over 50 Valentines you can print at home.

8. The 2018 Winter Olympics begin tomorrow in Pyeongchang County, South Korea.  Have your child find South Korea on a map.  Pick out some sports that your family will watch and cheer on Team USA!

9. Today is National Pizza Day!  Make homemade pizza for dinner.  We love this Onion Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza with Balsamic Glaze.

10. Take a family road trip!  Hop into the car and visit a new-to-you nearby town.  Have lunch or dinner out, and explore the sites.  Enjoy being a local tourist.

11.  For many kids, breakfast is their favorite meal of the day.  Start your Sunday off by going out for brunch!

12. Make some chocolate playdough (that you can’t eat!) and then make some chocolates in these heart-shaped molds that you can eat!

13.  Today is Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras!  Read some of these Mardi Gras books with your kids and make a King Cake!  In the United Kingdom, today is also known as Pancake Day.  Celebrate with pancakes for dinner!

14. Happy Valentine’s Day!  Plan a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt for your kids with a sweet treat for them at the end.  Have heart-shaped everything today!  Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make Valentine’s pancakes for breakfast and heart-shaped sandwiches for lunch.  Shape pizza dough into a heart shape for dinner tonight!

15. Add these recently released middle grade children’s books to your book collection or borrow them from the library:  The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (January 23),  Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire (February 6), Checked (February 6), The Unicorn Quest (February 6),  Marabel and the Book of Fate (February 6), Payback on Poplar Lane (February 6) and The Midnight Gang (February 27).

16. Have a family game night.  We are enjoying Sushi Go Party!

17. Today is National Random Acts of Kindess Day!  Challenge your kids to show kindness.  Some ideas include give 5 compliments today, hold the door for the person behind them and/or help someone in need.

18. Visit a museum.  Science museums are a family favorite since they are so hands-on and fun for everyone.

19.  Happy President’s Day!  Here are seven ways to celebrate with kids.

20. Plan a family movie night!  Some popular children’s movies being released on DVD this month include Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie (February 13), Wonder (February 13), and Coco (February 27).  And for mom time, A Bad Moms Christmas (February 6).

21. Make a bird feeder and hang it outside a window to watch the birds (and possibly the squirrels!) eat.

22.  Today is National Margarita Day!  Make a kid-friendly alcohol-free frozen margarita for the kids…..and maybe ones with some alcohol for the adults!  You can serve them in these fun glasses!  It’s also National Chili Day.  This Slow Cooker Beanless Chili is a great way to celebrate!

23. Have a family date night out and go to an Escape the Mystery Room.  Read about our fun experience doing this.

24. Read a chapter book together as a family.  Take turns reading a couple of pages.  My son and I are finishing up The Lost Hero and will soon be reading A Wrinkle In Time.  I want to read it before the movie comes out next month.

25.  Celebrate the end of the 2018 Winter Olympics with a Korean dinner.  Either go out for Korean BBQ or Bibimbap (one of my favorite dishes!) or make Korean food at home!  Maangchi and Kimchi Mom are both great websites to find recipes.

26. Today is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.  Have your children retell their favorite fairy tales.

27.  Plan a trip out to the movies.  Family-friendly movies coming to the big screen this month include Peter Rabbit (February 9), Monster Family (February 9), Early Man (February 16), and The War With Grandpa (February 23).

28. If it is winter and COLD where you are, go outside and fascinate the kids with Frozen Bubbles.

6 Fun Games for Family Game Night {Tween Edition}

6 fun games for a tween family game night that parents won't mind playing.
(This post contains affiliate links.  Please read our Disclosure Policy for additional information.)

We are a big gaming family.  Although my husband and son enjoy video games, I’m not talking the electronic kind.  I’m talking about board games.  If my daughter had her way, we’d play board games every night.  Finding a board game that is fun for EVERYONE, including the adults, can be challenging.  It has to be easy enough that the kids can win, but also have a high interest factor for the parents, so we don’t get bored to tears.  Here are some of our newest game additions and a couple of family favorites.

A fun domino game perfect for family game night!

Mexican Train – This is a domino game where the object of the game is to get rid of all of your dominoes.   Our set came in an aluminum case that stores the dominoes.  You can play a quicker game and just do a round or two.  Or, you can play 13 rounds, in which the game can last hours!  This game is recommended for ages 8+.  We first learned about this game from my parents and we often play on family vacations to their Rhode Island beach house.  This is a great multi-generation family game.  I recommend that you purchase domino holders, if your set doesn’t come with them.  They are super helpful in keeping your dominoes organized when playing.

An award-winning maze strategy game perfect for family game night.

Mine Shift – This is a maze strategy game for 2-4 players.  It is recommended for ages 8+.  The object of the game is to be the first player to move all four of your jewels from one side of the board to the opposite side. This is a Mensa Select game winner and a 2018 Toy of the Year Finalist.  Our first time playing took about 25 minutes.

A fast-paced matching game perfect for family game night.

Spot It – This is a fast-paced matching game for 2-8 players.  It is recommended for ages 8+.  Each card has only one matching symbol to another card.  You need to “spot” the matching symbols and call it out.  Believe me, it is not as easy as it sounds.  When you’re competing with others and under stress, it can be difficult to spot the match.  The instructions come with eight different game variations that can be played.  We usually play each game one time and all games can be played in about 20 minutes.

A fast-paced dice game that is fun for tweens and adults.

Sushi Dice –  This is a fast-paced dice game for 2 – 6 players.  It is recommended for ages 6+.  Two players go head-to-head, rolling their set of six dice, to try to complete one of the sushi platter cards.  When they have all the matching items they ring the bell and the next round begins.  However, you mus beware of the black skulls.  If you roll one and your opponent sees, you have to re-roll all of your dice.  If the players not actively rolling the dice spot both players with black skulls, the game ends.   The first player to win five sushi platter cards wins the game.  This is a quick game and can be played in about 15-20 minutes, depending on the number of players.

A fun pass the cards game for tweens!

Sushi Go Party! – We first played this game at a school-sponsored family game night.  My son enjoyed it so much he requested it for Christmas.  This pass-the-card game is for 2-8 players and recommended for ages 8+.   In this game, you win points by selecting different sushi combos.  However, since you pass cards, you never know what you will end up with.  There is a card-only version available.  However, the Sushi Go Party! game comes with a board and pawns for help to keep score as well as a menu board that allows you to customize games and play different variations.  The game consist of three rounds and can be played in about 30 minutes.

Wits and Wagers is a fun guessing trivia game for the whole family!

Wits & Wagers – This is a trivia game, where you don’t actually need to know answers.  You just have to be able to guess well!  It’s for 4+ players and is recommended for ages 8+.  Someone reads a question that everyone answers on their mini dry-erase board.  Then everyone bets on which answer is closest to the actual answer.

What is your favorite board game for family game night?

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.

 

 

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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?