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Apple Picking at Soons Orchards

Is it even fall if you don’t go apple picking?! This is an annual family activity for us. However, we don’t have a favorite orchard and instead every year like to try a different orchard in the area. This year we went apple picking early in the season at Soons Orchards in New Hampton.

The Orchard

Soons Ochards has been growing apples since 1910. They currently grow 55 varieties on their 30 acre orchard. The apples available for picking depend on when in the season you visit. It is important to note that the orchard is down the street from the Market. Like us, many guests mistakenly arrived at the Market, only to discover that we were in the wrong location.

The Experience

Due to COVID, Soons Orchards require timed reservations for apple picking and prepayment in advance. There is also a $1.00 per person charge. When you arrive an employee will check you in and give you your prepaid bag(s).

Apples Ready for Picking Today at Soons Orchards

There is a posted sign that notes the apples that are ready for picking that day, along with their flavor profile. It is recommended that you take a picture on your phone so you can refer to it while picking.

Apple Variety signs at Soons Orchards

There are signs at the end of each row that note the types of apples that are growing. Rows that have apples that are not ready for picking are roped off.

Rows of apples at Soons Orchards

Soons Orchards U-pick orchard is only five acres, which is a lot smaller than other orchards we have visited. The rows of apple trees are 700 feet long. They are narrow and social distancing cannot be practiced when entering and exiting the rows. Please also be cautious when walking as the ground is uneven in areas. We found that for some apple varieties we had to walk a fair distance down the row to find ones that we could pick. Although you won’t do a lot of walking, comfortable shoes are recommended.

Soons Orchards - reaching for the highest apples

They do not have or allow pole pickers. We found many of the best looking apples at the top of the trees. While climbing trees is prohibited, we found a way to pick those hard-to-reach apples!

Soons Orchard Apple arch

We found this cool looking branch arch and of course had to take an apple picking break to take some photos.

If you are looking for a no frills, apple picking experience, give Soons Orchards a try. Be sure to visit the farm store down the road for produce, baked goodies, including cider donuts, and more. We bought some plain, cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar cider donuts. Unfortunately, they do not serve hot, fresh donuts and cider wasn’t ready for the season yet.

Soons Orchards Family Selfie

The Details:
Soons Orchards
634 County Route 50
New Hampton, NY

U-Pick Apples: open now on weekends and holiday Mondays 10 AM – 4 PM
through the mid to end of October. The last entry is 3:30 PM. Check their website for the most up-to-date information.

Price: $18 for peck bag
$28 for a 1/2 bushel bag

*Check their U-Pick page to see what apples are currently available for picking

*There is a port-a-potty at the orchard

Soons Orchards Farm Store
23 Soons Circle
New Hampton, NY
(845) 374-5471

Open daily 9 AM – 6 PM

Orchard Hill Cider Mill Tasting Room

Hours: Thursday 12 PM – 6 PM
Friday & Saturday 12 PM – 8 PM
Sunday 12 PM – 6 PM

You may also enjoy reading:

Hudson Valley Pick Your Own Fruit Guide

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Clover Brooke Farm Llama Alpaca Hike {Hyde Park}

Earlier this summer I was scrolling through Instagram where I first learned about the Clover Brooke Farm Llama and Alpaca Hike. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to add it to my summer bucket list.

Summer was quickly coming to an end and I still hadn’t booked a visit. These hikes are held rain or shine so I was hesitant to book tickets too far in advance, for fear of rain. We finally had a free weekend where the weather was looking beautiful and I went online to purchase tickets. Unfortunately, the llama/ alpaca hikes I was interested in only had one ticket available. I knew that my 14 year-old daughter would love this experience, so I direct messaged Clover Brooke Farm on Instagram and asked if they had a wait list. Andrea’s message let me know that they don’t. However, she let me purchase a ticket share, which allowed me and my daughter to share an alpaca for a slightly reduced ticket price. So off to Clover Brooke Farm we went!

From northern Westchester County, Clover Brooke Farm is about an hourlong drive. People come from all over for this experience, as there were at least two groups who traveled from Long Island on the day of our visit.

Clover Brooke Farm is a family owned, 25-acre farm. Current owners Andrea and Mike purchased the farm in 2015. Their main purpose is to be an animal fiber producing farm. However, they also welcome visitors and make additional income through programs like llama/ alpaca hikes, warm & fuzzy animal visits and yoga on the farm.

Before you start your llama/ alpaca hike you get to meet some of the farm animals up close. The animal tour is approximately 30 minutes where you meet goats, sheep and some llamas and alpacas. This is an interactive experience with lots of petting and picture taking!

After the farm tour, we were then given our llamas or alpacas. Each llama and alpaca has their own distinct personality which is fun to see. The animals have fun names too, like Ringo, Biscotti, Prince Caspian, Twist and Shout. On our visit, only two llamas were available. Since we had a share ticket, my daughter and I shared the responsibility of walking Twist, a white alpaca.

The one mile hike takes about an hour, over a well worn path through fields, up hills and into the woods.

There’s a photo-op about halfway through the hike, where Andrea will take your group picture with your phone or camera.

This was such a unique and fun experience! My daughter loved it and had such a great time. If you are looking for something different to do with your family, friends or a day date with your loved one, check out Clover Brooke Farm’s Llama Alpaca Hike and Farm Experience!

The Details:
Llama Alpaca Hike and Farm Experience at Clover Brooke Farm
175 Ruskey Lane
Hyde Park, NY

Times: Llama Alpaca Hike and Farm experiences are offered:
Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays: 10 AM and 12 PM
Wednesdays: 10 AM

Tickets: $43/person but must be purchased online in advance
Ticket shares: $30/person – must be purchased with a full price
ticket and needs approval from Andrea

*Participants must be a minimum of 8 years old.

*There is no indoor bathroom. There is a compostable outhouse on the property.

*Bug spray and hand sanitizer are available for use prior to the hike.

*Closed toe shoes are recommended as it is a hike.

*At the end of the hike you are given a complimentary bottle of water.

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A Walking Tour of Bannerman Island

Walkway over the Hudson

Westchester County Outdoor Mini Golf Guide

One outdoor activity that both my tween and teen are always up for is playing a round of mini golf. While it’s often a vacation activity for us, there isn’t much vacationing currently happening. Since mini golf is a fun, social-distance-friendly family activity, we decided to check out the various courses in Westchester County. Read on for information, ratings and our reviews of each of the courses we visited.

Please remember to check with the locations directly for the most up-to-date information.

Brookside Mini Golf at Tibbetts Brook Park (Yonkers)
355 Midland Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10704
(914) 557-5046

Course: 18-hole mini golf course
Cost: $8/person (cash only!)
Hours of Operation: July – August – 12 PM to 6:30 PM (daily)
September – November – 12 PM – dusk (weekends)
Parking: $5

Rating:
Atmosphere: 4/5
Creativity: 3/5
Difficulty: 3/5

Review: The Brookside Mini Golf course is located in Tibbetts Brook Park, a Westchester County Park and has been operating since 2002. It is a short walk from the parking lot, past the pool house, to get to the golf course.
We visited on a Saturday and there was a constant flow of visitors.

The course was recently renovated and it shows. The putting greens were in good condition and most of the waterfalls and water features were running.

There were a couple of obstacles including the a loop (that we saw at every mini golf course!), a clown mouth and a bridge.

There was lots of plants and bushes planted throughout the course, giving the course a nice “curb appeal.” This is the only mini golf course that has a par for each hole printed on the score card. Unfortunately, the holes are not numbered here. However, following the cement path leads you to each hole.

To keep germs to a minimum, you can choose the color ball you want, but the attendant hands the ball and club to you. Once you are finished playing, everything is wiped down with sanitizing wipes.


There is a limited food menu including pretzels, pizza and nachos as well as various frozen ice cream novelties. However, we thought $5 for a Chipwich or a SpongeBob ice cream pop was a bit steep.

If you want to make a day of it, bring your suits and enjoy the pool and slides (Be sure to check first if they are open. During our recent visit, the pool was closed. There is a separate admission for the pool).

Charles J. Cook Park (Cortlandt Manor)
293 Furnace Dock Road
Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567

Course: 9-hole mini golf course
Cost: Free, but only open to Town of Cortlandt (and Village of Buchanan and Croton) residents
Hours of Operation: Closed Mondays
Tuesday – Friday: 2 PM – 7:30 PM
Saturday & Sunday: 12 PM – 7:30 PM
Parking: Free

Review coming soon!

Playland Park (Rye)
1 Playland Parkway
Rye, NY 10580
(914) 813-7010

Course: 18-hole mini golf course
Cost: $5/per person
Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Closed Mondays
Parking: $10

Rating:
Atmosphere: 5/5
Creativity: 3/5
Difficulty: 2/5

Review: Playland Mini Golf wins hands down for best atmosphere. Nowhere else in Westchester County can you play miniature golf with views of the Long Island Sound. With the boardwalk and the beach right next to the course, it feels like you’re on a vacation.

I mean, look at how close to the water you are! At $5 per person, it is also the cheapest miniature golf course. However, you do have to pay $10 to park, so the overall cost is comparable to the other courses.

Each hole was easily identifiable by a number.

The course itself is a tad run down. Some of the holes had patchwork and mismatched putting green material. It was the easiest of the courses we visited though, with three of us getting holes in one.

There are some fun features, like this waterfall, a gazebo and a well.

Playland Mini Golf is the only course that enforces social distancing. They only allow two to three groups on the course at a time. A new group cannot start playing until the previous group has gotten to hole 9, the waterfall. It is likely you will have to wait for a little bit to play. They also wipe down and sanitize the balls and clubs before you play.

Overall: This was a fun golf course with beautiful views. Definitely worth a visit.

Saxon Woods Park (White Plains)
1800 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
(914) 924-4644

Course: 19-hole mini golf course
Cost: $9/adult, $7/children under 10 (Cash or credit)
Hours of Operation: June – September – 12 PM to 8 PM

Parking: Free

Rating:
Atmosphere: 4/5
Creativity: 3/5
Difficulty: 3/5

Review: The Saxon Woods Park Mini Golf Course is located in Saxon Woods Park, a Westchester County Park. It’s part of the 700-acre property that includes the county’s largest swimming pool, ball fields, an 18-hole golf course, playground and hiking trails and is run by Powell Catering Service.
We visited on a recent Saturday and there was a constant flow of visitors. There was even a birthday party that was being set up during our visit.

This was one of the few courses that we visited that had rules posted for play.

This mini golf course sits inside a natural forest and stream area and has the most shade of all the courses we visited. Unfortunately, it sits adjacent to Mamaroneck Avenue, so you see and hear all of the traffic going by.

Each hole was labeled with a number. This was the only course we visited that had flags in the holes to help identify the target.

There are frozen ice cream novelties for purchase at the admission booth and a food concessions stand next door.

Overall: This was one of the nicer mini golf courses that we visited with a not-too-difficult course.

Yorktown Golf & Baseball (Mohegan Lake)
2710 Lexington Avenue
Mohegan Lake, NY 10547
(914) 526-8337

Course: 18-hole mini golf course
Cost: $7/adults, $5.50/children under 12
Cash or credit (4% credit card fee)
Hours of Operation: Spring & Summer – 10 AM – 8 PM

Ratings:
Atmosphere: 2/5
Creativity: 1/5
Difficulty: 3/5

Review: Established in 1994, this miniature golf course is only one of the attractions at the Yorktown Golf & Baseball Center. The facility also houses a 2-tiered driving range and eight batting cages. Unfortunately, the miniature golf course does not appear to have been updated since it was built. During our visit, the waterfall and ponds were not filled, leaving empty cement structures. The putting green is separated from the cement. The score cards do not have a par printed, nor did we see a maximum number of strokes. However, we limited ourselves to a 5 stroke max on each hole. We found some of the holes (1 and 15) especially difficult.

Overall: This is a bare bones, miniature golf course that is in need of some major upkeep. The course lacks fun features and was our least favorite of the courses we visited.

Magazzino Italian Art {Cold Spring}

Have you ever driven by a place numerous times and never realized what exactly it was? That was our case with Magazzino Italian Art. This art museum is located right on Route 9 in Cold Spring. It was co-founded by Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu and opened on June 28, 2017. The 20,000 square-foot museum features postwar contemporary Italian art displayed in 8 galleries.

Magazzino welcomed guests for the first time in 4 months on July 10th with multiple safety measures in place. Admission is by timed reservations only and parties are limited to a maximum of six guests. Guests must wear a mask at all times.

Upon arrival, guests get a contact-free temperature check. They are also each provided an EGOpro device on a lanyard, that will quietly alert you if you get too close to another party. The museum has one way traffic flow that is marked with arrows. Guests are encouraged to take their time in each gallery as reservations include only one lap of the building, to provide a safe flow of foot traffic. Once inside, you can scan a QR code on their phone to access the digital museum guide for information on the exhibits. This was a nice feature.

Until September 7th, you can see the special exhibition “Homemade” in gallery 8. This exhibit features more than 30 works of art from eight New York-based artists that were created during COVID quarantine. It goes to show that challenging times can result in works of inspired beauty. We probably spent the most time in gallery 8 as it was the most relatable for us.

Make sure to leave time to stroll around the grounds after your museum visit. A variety of flowers are planted on the grounds, including lavender that smelled wonderful!

At the top of the hill, accessible from either the steps in the parking lot, or the gravel walking path from the museum, are donkeys! A baby was born just two weeks ago, but unfortunately, we didn’t get to see him, as he was hiding inside the shady barn.

Picnic tables and two tree swings are next to the donkey pen. You can enjoy a snack here and kids will have fun swinging.

It is evident, in the measures that they are taking, that the staff of Magazzino Italian Art takes the safety of their visitors seriously. We felt very safe and the 90 minute time allotment for our reservation was plenty for us to enjoy the exhibits.

I would not recommend this museum for families with young children, unless they are VERY closely supervised. There are a ton of fragile art pieces at their reach and on the floor. However, reservations are not needed to access the grounds.

Escape the summer heat with a visit to Magazzino and enjoy viewing Italian art!

The Details:
Magazzino Italian Art (museum)
2700 Route 9
Cold Spring, NY 10516
(845) 666-7202

Hours: Monday: 11 AM – 5 PM
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: CLOSED
Thursday: 11 AM – 5 PM
Friday: 11 AM – 5 PM
Saturday: 11 AM – 5 PM
Sunday: 11 AM – 5 PM

Admission: Free – but advanced reservations required

Parking: Magazzino has its own parking lot with free parking

Hudson Valley Pick-Your-Own Fruit Guide

Although we may be social distancing this summer, there is still a lot of outdoor fun to be had. I know many of us go apple picking in the fall. But did you know that there are many other pick-your-own fruit opportunities in the area, especially during the summer?! Use our Pick-Your-Own Fruit Guide to help you know what fruit is available to pick when in the Hudson Valley. Please note that some farms require reservations for picking and all farms are requiring face masks and social distancing. Different varieties of fruit are available at different times of the picking season. The farms offer fruit picking at different times during the growing season. So please check directly with the farm to find out what fruit varieties are available for picking and when.

Strawberries (Mid-Late June)
DuBois Farms (Highland)
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell Junction)
Greig Farm (Red Hook)
Jenkins-Lueken Orchards (New Paltz)
Kelder’s Farm (Kerhonkson)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)
Mead Orchards (Tivoli)
Ochs Orchard (Warwick)
Samascott Orchards (Kinderhook)
Saunderskill Farm (Accord)
Thompson-Finch Farm (Ancram)

Cherries (Late June – Early July)
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell Junction)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)
Prospect Hill Orchards (Milton)
Rose Hill Farm (Red Hook)
Samascott Orchards (Kinderhook)

Apricots (Mid-Late July)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)
Rose Hill Farm (Red Hook)

Nectarines (Early July – Late September)
DuBois Farms (Highland)

Peaches (Mid-Late July – Mid-Late August)
DuBois Farms (Highland)
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell Junction)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)
Rose Hill Farm (Red Hook)
Samascott Orchards (Kinderhook)
Wilken’s Fruit & Fir Farm (Yorktown Heights)

Plums (Mid-Late July – Early August)
DuBois Farms (Highland)
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell Junction)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)
Rose Hill Farm (Red Hook)
Samascott Orchards (Kinderhook)

Currants (Mid-Late July)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)

Gooseberries (Mid-Late July)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)

Blueberries (July – August)
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell Junction)
Greig Farm (Red Hook)
Halfway Acres (Campbell Hall)
Jenkins-Lueken Orchards (New Paltz)
Kelder’s Farm (Kerhonkson)
Mead Orchards (Tivoli)
Ochs Orchard (Warwick)
Rose Hill Farm (Red Hook)
Samascott Orchards (Kinderhook)
Saunderskill Farm (Accord)
Thompson-Finch Farm (Ancram)

Blackberries (August – September)
Greig Farm (Red Hook)
Jenkins-Lueken Orchards (New Paltz)
Kelder’s Farm (Kerhonkson)

Raspberries (Mid-Late July – Early October)
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell Junction)
Jenkins-Lueken Orchards (New Paltz)
Kelder’s Farm (Kerhonkson)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)
Samascott Orchards (Kinderhook)

We enjoyed apple picking at Wilkens Farm. It was a hot day but we picked apples and enjoyed cider dougnuts!

Apples (Mid-Late August – Early November)
Barton Orchards (Poughquag)
DuBois Farms (Highland)
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell Junction)
Greig Farm (Red Hook)
Jenkins-Lueken Orchards (New Paltz)
Kelder’s Farm (Kerhonkson)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)
Mead Orchards (Tivoli)
Ochs Orchard (Warwick)
Rose Hill Farm (Red Hook)
Samascott Orchards (Kinderhook)
Saunderskill Farm (Accord)
Thompson-Finch Farm (Ancram)
Wilken’s Fruit & Fir Farm (Yorktown Heights)

Grapes (Mid-Late August – October)
DuBois Farms (Highland)
Kelder’s Farm (Kerhonkson)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)
Samascott Orchards (Kinderhook)

Pears (Mid-Late August – Mid-Late September)
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell Junction)
Lawrence Farms Orchards (Newburgh)
Samascott Orchards (Kinderhook)

Strawberry Picking at Saunderskill Farms

There’s nothing like biting into a juicy, ripe strawberry and enjoying the burst of sweetness that hits your tongue. In mid-June, there’s a short two to three week window, when strawberries are ripe for the picking at farms throughout New York State. For the second year in a row, we visited Saunderskill Farms in Accord, NY and highly recommend the strawberry picking here.

Saunderskill Farms is an eleven generation family-owned farm. The farm is a recipient of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Tricentennial Award” for being operated by the same family for over 300 years! Of course, this year, due to social distancing, strawberry picking looked a little different. Masks had to be worn and social distancing rules applied. However, it was the same enjoyable family experience!

When you arrive, go to the Farm Market to purchase baskets. This year, only quart baskets are being sold, for $5 each.

When you get to the enclosed field, you will see the rows of strawberry plants.

As you can see from this picture, the strawberries are in different stages of ripeness. So, you may have to do some searching. But there were plenty of strawberries! They were just hidden under the large leaves.

We filled these two quarts in about fifteen minutes! There were so many ripe strawberries. We discovered last year, that freshly picked strawberries do not last as long as store-bought strawberries. So we didn’t pick as many this year.

After you pick your strawberries make sure to stop back at the Market to do some shopping. You can find fresh fruit, vegetables, frozen fish and meat.

You’ll also find the farm’s homemade pickled vegetables, fruit butters and jelly as well as locally made honey, syrup and more. They sell soups, sandwiches and other food to-go and have tables outside, if you are looking to eat on site. At the Bakery you can pick up fresh cider donuts, homemade pies, pastries and other homemade baked goods.

We picked up some Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies and a piece of cherry pie to take home with us.

If you are looking for flowers and plants, make a stop at the greenhouse. Here you can find not only annuals, perennials and vegetable plants, but also seeds, fertilizer, tools and more.

You have a couple more weeks to enjoy strawberry picking before the season ends. Although we picked our strawberries quickly, we packed a cooler in the car to store them in. It was a beautiful day, so on the way home we stopped in nearby New Paltz for some lunch and walked around Main Street. It was a day out that the whole family enjoyed.

The Details:
Saunderskill Farm
5100 Route 209
Accord, NY 12404
(845) 626-CORN (2676)

Open: Tuesday – Sunday: 7 AM – 4 PM

Parking: There is plenty of free parking

Cost: $5 per quart basket

*Masks are required

*Social distancing rules apply

*Arrive early! By noon, the parking lot was packed and they were limiting the number of guests inside the Farm Market.






Indoor Family Fun During this Stressful Time

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Our nation is facing a pandemic and it looks like this is just the beginning of of what may possibly be a very long journey. While we’ve been advised to practice social distancing and avoid large crowds, being inside and having to entertain our children for days, if not weeks, can seem a bit daunting. Here are some indoor family fun ideas during this stressful time:

Yoga – The physical and mental health benefits of yoga are endless. If you’ve never tried yoga, now, in these uncertain times, is a great time to start. And why not get the whole family involved?!

Families with young children can check out Cosmic Yoga. This is a yoga program targeted towards children ages 3+ and introduces them to yoga, mindfulness and meditation in a fun and entertaining way. With yoga-themed adventures like Frozen, Moana, Minecraft and Trolls, your kids (and you!) will have a blast.

Families with older tweens and teens may want to check out Yoga with Adriene. Not only does she have an episode, specifically targeted towards teens, but she adapts her episodes to all levels of yoga.

Virtual Museum Tours – Most, if not all museums are currently closed. However, you can take a virtual tour of these 12 museums located throughout the world.

Movie Marathon – Now is the perfect time to have a mass movie marathon. Have everyone choose a favorite movie and watch it. Or pick movies you’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t yet. If you can’t find your favorites on cable, Netflix, Amazon, etc. try your local library. At this time, most libraries are still open. You can put the movies on hold and have them sent to your local library.

Some ideas for families with younger kids:
*Check out Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 Kids & Family Movies and try to watch the ones you haven’t yet or rewatch your favorites.
*For those with Disney Plus, Disney is streaming Frozen 2 early…..why not watch them both?

Some ideas for families with older kids:
*watch (or rewatch) all of the Harry Potter movies
*do a Marvel movie binge
*do a Star Wars movie marathon

Podcasts – When you’ve tired of the screen, sit together and listen to a podcast. Here are some family friendly podcasts geared toward the 8-12 crowd:

Six Minutes – This podcast is a mystery adventure told in 6 minute episodes.

Smash Boom Best – This podcast is a debate show where topics like cat versus dog and pizza versus taco are battled out and one declared a winner.

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel – This podcast is a serial mystery, self-described as, “…Goonies, meets Spy Kids meets Stranger things for 8-12 year olds” performed by kids. W

Puzzles – I’ve written about White Mountain family puzzles in the past, as they have been a family favorite. The whole family can enjoy working on a puzzle together, since their family puzzles have pieces cut into three different sizes, small for adults, medium and large, for beginners. They have five different puzzles available in this collection. Otherwise, puzzles with fun pictures like Pets Rock, pictured above, are fun to work on as a family.

Art Projects – Do your kids have boxes of craft projects from birthdays and holidays stashed in their closets? Now is a great time to take them out.

Art is a great way for everyone to sit together but express their own creativity.

*Buy some canvases and everyone can paint their own pictures. If you have rocks or shells from your summer adventures, you can paint those too.
*Take a walk around your yard and find some nature materials. Create collages using what you’ve found.

Other purchasable art activities include:
*Coloring books (for you and the kids)
*Paint-by-numbers (for you and the kids)
*Paint-by-sticker (for kids)

Family Reading Time – There are different variations of family reading time that you can enjoy.
*You can all sit and take turns reading (or some family members can just listen) from the same book. Here’s a list from goodreads for some ideas!
*Or, everyone sits with their own book for a set period of time and enjoys some quiet reading time on their own.

Cook and or Bake – Spend some time together in the kitchen. Have the kids help you prepare dinner one night. Better yet, have them pick out a recipe that they want to try and help them with it. For something a little more fun and motivating, make a sweet treat!

A fun domino game perfect for family game night!

Board Game Time – Now is a good time to clean out the game cabinet and dust those board games off. Enjoy some of your favorites and if you have games that you don’t play anymore, take them out and donate them. If you’re in the market for some new games you can check out some of our favorites here and here, or some from this list.


2020 NYBG Orchid Show

Step into a colorful world of flowers at the New York Botanical Garden’s 18th annual Orchid Show. This year’s show is the masterpiece of floral designer to the stars, Jeff Leatham. Inspired by the kaleidoscope, Leatham transformed 30,000 square feet of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory into a dazzling, colorful feast for the eyes.

Thousands of orchids are on display at the orchid show. From pinks and purples to whites, yellows and oranges, you’ll see orchids of all shapes and colors, from all over the world.

The exhibit begins with a show stopping 10-foot tall mirrored orchid sculpture that sits below hanging rows of purple and pink orchids.

In the opening gallery you will also find the Leatham vanda orchid, named after the designer. Each gallery has its own unique color scheme and vibe.

To get from the desert gallery to the rain forest gallery you will walk through a kaleidoscope tunnel of color. Teens will love the Instagrammable photo ops!

In the rain forest gallery, orchids decorate colorfully painted bamboo posts. There’s also a staircase where you can get an elevated view of the rain forest.

One of the last galleries, “Rise and Shine”, features arches of orchids in shades of orange, yellow and red. Below the arches sits a giant reflecting pool.

You can visit the NYBG Orchid Show now through April 19th!

The Details:
NYBG Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Gardens
2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10458-5126
(718) 817-8700

Dates: February 15 – April 19, 2020
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday and select holiday Mondays, 10 AM – 6 PM
Parking: $20

Tickets:
Weekdays: $23/adults, $20/seniors (65+), $20/students w/ID, $10 children (2-12), Free/children under 2
Weekends and Monday Holidays: $30/adults, $28/seniors (65+), $28/students w/ID, $15/children (2-12), Free/children under 2

Tips:
*Get there early! We arrived a little after the 10 AM opening and it was crowded.

*Dress in layers. Although we visited in February and it was cold out, the temperature inside the gardens was very warm!

*Strollers have to be parked outside the Conservatory.

*If you think you’ll be visiting the garden again during the year, it’s cheaper to purchase a membership.

*Food is available for purchase at the Pine Tree Cafe (casual eatery) and the Hudson Garden Grill (sit down restaurant).

*Enjoy a 25 minute tram ride around the gardens, included with your admission. Hold on to your admission ticket, as you will need it to board the tram.

*Because it is winter, there is not much blooming in the outdoor gardens. This was a quick trip for us and even with the tram ride, our visit was about 2 hours.

Snow Much Fun in the Hudson Valley! {A Life Well Lived}

New York has finally had its first snowstorm of 2020. Once it snows, there’s a very high chance that more snow will make an appearance……still waiting on that though! However, I am not a winter person. As beautiful as snow falls are, I honestly hate winter and the cold! I do like the family to participate in seasonable activities though – since we get to experience all four seasons, we might as well make the most of them! We will hopefully get to enjoy some of these ways to have “Snow Much Fun” in the Hudson Valley this winter!

Quick and Easy Ideas that you can do at your house or nearby:

1.Build a snowman – Buy a snowman making kit to have on hand for the next snow fall. Or collect and set aside a spare hat, scarf and gloves so you are all ready to decorate your snowman when the time comes.

2. Make snow angels – Don’t forget to take a pic of your creations!

3. Have a snowball fight – Make sure everyone has waterproof gloves for this activity! If you want to make perfectly sized snowballs super quickly, you can get a snowball maker kit.

4. Go sleigh riding – We have a big hill at our elementary school that kids love to sleigh ride down. My son has a new sled and can’t wait to try it out!

5. Build a snow fort – I’m not sure that my kids have ever made a snow fort! This Sno-Brick Maker can help construct snow forts!

6. Snow art – The snow is their canvas with these sno markers.

7. Make maple syrup candy – We tried making this many years ago and I burnt the syrup. We are due for another attempt and this recipe looks easy enough.

8. Make frozen bubbles – Take your bottles of bubbles outside and blow them to enjoy some bubble fun. The temperature has to be below freezing for the bubbles to freeze. If you don’t

Ideas that require a little planning and/or travel:

9. Skiing and/or snowboarding – There are many mountains within driving distance to enjoy skiing or snowboarding. Thunder Ridge Ski Area is located in Patterson, nearby in Putnam County.

10. Ice Skating – there are plenty of places in the Hudson Valley to ice skate – both indoors or outside. Check out our ice skating guide.

11. Snow Shoeing – This activity is on my winter bucket list! I’ve never snow shoed before, but it looks like a good winter workout!

12. Tubing – Tubing is a fun activity for the entire family! We enjoyed tubing at Mount Peter, but several ski mountains offer tubing. Most places require you to reserve a time slot, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Activities that require more planning and require travel outside the Hudson Valley:

13. Ice Fishing – Ice fishing is a winter activity that requires a lot more planning and preparation. First, the ice needs to be four inches thick. Second, you need to get a fishing license. Then besides fishing poles, there is also special equipment like ice safety picks, ice cleats, a chisel, rescue rope and more. To find out more information and locations where ice fishing is allowed, check out the NYS DEC site.

14. Snowmobiling – Snowmobiling trails abound in upstate New York. The Adirondacks have several different companies that rent snowmobiles and give tours.

15. Ride a bob sled – In Lake Placid, NY you can enjoy a bobsled experience. At the Olympic Sports Complex, a professional driver helps guide riders down the track at exhilarating speeds of up to 50-55 miles per hour. The ride is only about 40 seconds down 800 meters of the 1,500 meter track. Reservations are highly recommended.

16. Take a dog sled ride – Lake Placid also seems to be the only place in NY state where you can enjoy a dog sled ride. Weather permitting, Adirondack Wilderness Adventures and Thunder Mountain Dogsleds operate dog sled rides on Mirror Lake.

17. Horse drawn sleigh ride – The Adirondacks is the place for winter fun! Country Dreams Farm operates its sleigh rides in Lake Placid. Belgian Draft horses pull you in a sleigh through the woods and fields.

Westchester Winter Wonderland

Hey locals! Have you been to Westchester Winter Wonderland yet? This Westchester County attraction is a holiday family must-do. Located at the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla, this is Westchester Winter Wonderland’s 6th season of holiday family fun.

Bundle up and get ready to enjoy all that Winter Wonderland has to offer. When you first arrive, you will be amazed by all of the lights! The attraction is festive and brightly lit with all kinds of colorful lights.

The $20 admission price is all-inclusive. Entertainment, rides, ice skating and a visit with Santa are all included. This year, there are ten rides including a Fun Slide, Ferris wheel, Cyclone and more. Most of the rides are geared towards the younger kids. However, our family enjoyed a ride down the Fun Slide and on the Ferris wheel.

Make sure to enjoy some skating on the ice rink. As I mentioned, skate rentals and ice skating is included in the ticket price. Dana and my son enjoyed some time on the ice. Before skating, you are given a pink wrist band, which is basically a waiver acknowledging and accepting the dangers of the activity.

Do not miss the Winter Wonderland Circus performance during your visit. Even Dana and I were impressed with the juggling, acrobatics and other circus acts crammed into the tent.

If you are hungry, there is plenty to eat, including pizza, hot dogs, fries and more. Save room for the funnel cake, fries and popcorn too! Plus, there’s a heated dining tent where you can eat and warm up!

Families with young kids will want to make a stop at Santa’s Village at the North Pole. In this tent you get to meet Mrs. Claus and get your picture taken with Santa. Elmo was also inside available for hugs and pictures. This tent had the longest line of any attraction during our visit. Unfortunately, my 11 and 13-year-old would not go anywhere near this tent, even though it was heated!

Other attractions include Santa’s Reindeer, a hay ride that rides along the dam, and a train ride that travels around the Lights of Wonder display. There are a couple of game booths that have an additional cost.

The Lights of Wonder was my favorite attraction at Westchester Winter Wonderland. This is a large colored lights display that is choreographed set to holiday music. Each song has a different combination of lights. If it wasn’t so cold, I could have watched this all night long!

Make sure to visit Westchester Winter Wonderland before they close on January 4th! It’s a great way to enjoy some winter fun with the family!



(Thank you Westchester Winter Wonderland for hosting NY Foodie Family. As always, all opinions are our own.)

The Details:
Westchester Winter Wonderland
Kensico Dam Plaza
1 Bronx River Parkway
Valhalla, NY 10595

Hours: Fridays (5 PM -9 PM) Saturdays (4 PM – 10 PM) and Sundays (4 PM – 9 PM) November 29 – December 22
Monday – Friday (5 PM – 10 PM) Saturday & Sunday (4 PM – 9 PM) December 23 2019 – January 4, 2020
Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Tickets:
$20/ticket, Free/children ages 3 and under
Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time and are good for any day that Westchester Winter Wonderland is open. You can also purchase tickets when you arrive.

Parking:
Free – plenty of parking

Tips:
*Get there early to beat the crowds

*Dress warmly! All attractions are outside, except for Santa and the Winter Wonderland Circus. It was very cold the night we visited and we wished we had worn warmer socks and winter boots!

*Food is available for purchase. For price reference, funnel cake costs $6, fries cost $4 and a small cotton candy costs $6. Most food vendors accept both cash and credit cards, but there is an ATM if needed.

*Beer and wine is available for purchase.

*Strollers are not allowed in the circus tent and there is a stroller parking area.