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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The day after Halloween seems to unofficially begin the start of the holiday season. While that may be a little early for us, there is something special about the December holidays. Advent calendars are a fun way to count the days until Christmas. Although you don’t start opening Advent calendars until December 1st, now is a great time to start shopping for them. We have rounded up Advent calendars for everyone in your family to help you enjoy counting down the days until Christmas!
Disney Tsum Tsum Advent Calendar – Tsum Tsum fans will love this Disney advent calendar. It includes 18 tsum tsum figures, 6 large, 6 medium and 6 small. It also comes with 6 holiday themed accessories.
Haribo – Maybe stretching this in the Pop Culture category, but Haribo gummies are super popular. This calendar comes with 24 individually wrapped gummy candies in a mixture of fruit and cola flavors, marshmallow, licorice and gums.
Super Mario Brothers – This calendar has 24 days of surprises. Each numbered door has either a figure or accessory behind it.
Bonne Maman – We love Bonne Maman! This calendar has 24 1 oz. jars of fruit spreads and honey. This set includes holiday exclusive flavors like rhubarb & strawberry, purple fig with cinnamon and more. This set is sold out on their site, but is currently available at World Market.
Jerky Advent Calendar – This calendar includes 12 days of jerky. There are a variety of different brands and types of jerky, which totals to almost 2 pounds worth.
David’s Tea – This David’s Tea calendar has 2 servings of tea per day and includes 24 loose leaf teas like Candy Cane Crush, Gingerbread, Let It Snow and more. There are many other tea advent calendars available
Joe & Sephs Popcorn – This popcorn calendar has 24 days of snack size popcorn. There are 12 unique flavors, including Strawberries and Cream, Chocolate Orange and Banoffee Pie, so there must be two of each flavor. However, the popcorn ships from England.
BYOB Hot Sauce – This set contains 25, 2 oz. Christmas-themed hot sauces. Each has a different Christmas label and are made from peppers including Scorpion, Ghost Pepper, Banana, Habanero and more. Perfect for the hot sauce lovers in your life!
YAWN Coffee – This YAWN coffee advent calendar has 24 sachets of specialty coffee and comes in either ground or whole bean. This is the only 24 day coffee advent calendar. Unfortunately, the company is based out of and ships from England. However, there are many 12 Days of Christmas coffee sets including this Christmas Sampler, this K-cup Christmas sampler and more.
NYX Sugar Trip – This Advent calendar comes with *** NYX also has a Love Lust Disco Greatest Hits Lip Advent Calendar as well.
Macy’s 25 Days of Beauty– This calendar has 25 beauty products including masks, makeup, creams and more from brands like Clinique, Origins and Sunday Riley.
Alcohol Themed Calendars
Hard Seltzer Advent Calendar – This calendar contains 12 curated hard seltzers from brands like Truly, White Claw, Henry’s and small-batch hard seltzer brands.
Aldi Wine Calendar – This calendar contains 24, 187 mL bottles of wine. The wines come from all over the world (Italy, France, South Africa, USA, Chile, Argentia and more) and include a variety of red and white wines. They are only being sold in store though and customers are limited to 2.
Heritage Distilling Spirits Calendar – This calendar has 24, 50 mL bottles of spirits. It includes vodka, bourbon, gin, rye and whiskey. Due to shipping restrictions, this calendar can only be shipped to a few select states.
Voluspa 12 Days of Gifting Candle Set – This 12 scented votive candles set includes scents like Prosecco Rose and Violet & Honey. The candles are made from coconut wax and come in pretty glass votives. Each candle has a 15 hour burn time.
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I’m ending the month with a wrap up of some of our October Favorites! We are talking food, entertainment, family fun and more. I even quizzed the kids about their favorites this month to share with you!
Is it fall without eating cider donuts?!
Dana’s favorite, besides the donuts, were the pierogies we enjoyed for lunch from Helena’s Specialty Foods. Homemade, with different fillings, like jalapeno bacon and Farmer’s cheese.
Earlier this month we had gone to lunch down in the city with Dana’s family. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant and I got to enjoy this Chicken Vermicelli, which is one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes.
And I can’t forget about this chicken sandwich I had from the Phoenicia Diner. I love a good crispy chicken sandwich and this one didn’t disappoint. It was topped with spinach, Swiss cheese, smoked tomato jam and a chipotle aioli.
We didn’t go apple picking this fall, but we finally did not one corn maze, but two at Kelder’s Farm!
We also visited the Catskills. We were hosted by the Emerson Resort & Spa and had such a nice fall weekend away.
We tried the Catskills Rail Explorers for the first time too, which was a lot of fun. I am all about new experiences for the family.
We hiked Giant Ledge, which I believe is the tallest hike that we’ve done so far. And we got to enjoy this amazing view! Fall foliage wasn’t at its peak, but we still felt like we were on top of the world!
Date nights are few and far between…..something we need to work on. However, this month, we enjoyed seeing An American in Paris at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. Before kids, we used to see Broadway shows in NYC all the time. Now, we don’t get down to the city very often. Neither of us had seen this show before, so it was a fun night out.
Books: I didn’t read as many books as I usually do this month. But, out of the four books that I did finish, three of them were four star reads! This month, I recommend, After The End, Three Amazing Things About You and Someone We Know. I’ll be writing full book reviews in my October Reads post on November 12. Dana’s been listening to ALL the audio books on his commute to work. His favorite this month was The Science of Motivation by Brian Tracy.
Movies: We didn’t watch too many movies this month but both my husband and I really enjoyed Rocketman.
Television: I have been watching the second season of Working Moms (Netflix). I’ve also started watching for the first time, Fleabag (Amazon Prime) and Schitt’s Creek (Netflix). My husband and I have watched two of the four episodes of David Chang’s new show on Netflix Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
Beauty: For the past four months or so, Dana’s been sporting a mustache and beard. It took awhile for me to get used to it, since I’ve never been a fan of facial hair on him. But it really suits him and it’s grown on me. His favorite this month has been Bedhead For Men Fuel Around beard oil. He uses it every morning after getting out of the shower.
The Kids October Favorites:
TV – She’s been binge watching Friends and Breaking Bad (Netflix). This was the first I’ve heard of her watching Breaking Bad! #Badparent
Book – Her favorite book this month was The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It’s been sitting on my to read bookshelf for years. She’s beaten me to reading it.
Food – One of her favorite meals this month was Egg Roll in a Bowl, which I have posted on the blog.
Clothing – She’s been living in her hoodie sweatshirts. She doesn’t have a particular favorite. She just likes them oversized.
Makeup – My daughter wears more makeup than I do….basically because I wear none. Even though she’s been blessed with long, beautiful eye lashes, she makes them stand out even more with L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Makeup Lash Paradise Mascara, which is her favorite.
Video Games – He’s been playing Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 on the Xbox nonstop. He also recently started playing Overwatch again because of the special Halloween event.
TV – When he’s not playing video games, he’s watching Naruto on Netflix.
Book – His favorite book this month is actually the manga series One Piece. Do you see the theme here? (He’s obsessed with all things Japanese.)
Clothing – Not sure if it qualifies as “clothing” but he’s been loving his Halloween costume. He’s been wearing his Akatsuki cloak and headband ALL the time.
Food – His favorite dinner was blueberry pancakes. If this kid could eat breakfast for every meal he would!
Family Fun – The top on his list was the corn maze!
We have not been hiking or doing many outdoor activities with the recent heat waves. But we know that fall will be here before we know it, bringing some cooler weather. Therefore, we want to post about our recent hikes so you can start to plan some outdoor family activities for when the weather gets a little more comfortable. A great family hike can be found at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve is located in Kerhonkson, New York (Ulster County) and is about an hour and fifteen minute drive from northern Westchester County. Warning, this is a very popular state park! On a beautiful day in mid June, we had to wait about fifteen minutes just to enter the park, since the parking lots were full.
The Preserve is over 22,000 acres with over 50 miles of hiking trails. You will not be able to see it all in a day! I am a waterfall lover and I wanted to visit Minnewaska State Park Preserve after hearing about Awosting Falls.
From the parking lot it’s a short walk to get to the trail heads. We first started on the Awosting Falls red-blazed trail which lies adjacent to the Peter Kill stream. There are a series of smaller waterfalls, that of course we had to photograph! As you walk further down the trail there’s even a spot where you can stand above Awosting Falls.
The trail heads downhill into the woods before you arrive at the bottom of Awosting Falls. The falls are 60 feet tall and plunge into a large, clear pool. The amount and strength of the falls depends on the rainfall. Fortunately, the day of our visit there was a rewarding waterfall.
After spending some time taking in the beauty of the falls we continued our hike. We returned back up the way we came to the beginning of the red trail. We then switched to the orange-blazed Sunset Carriageway Trail towards Lake Minnewaska. This was about a 20 minute uphill hike to the lake.
But the views are amazing! And if you really want to, you can drive to the upper parking lot, skipping this hike altogether. Lake Minnewaska is less than one-half mile long and is surrounded by white cliffs. If you’re feeling really ambitious you can hike around the lake. We weren’t feeling very ambitious…..or more like our children weren’t feeling it.
I didn’t realize that visitors can swim in Lake Minnewaska, or I would have had the kids wear their bathing suits. The swimming area is roped off and staffed by lifeguards. Luckily, it wasn’t super hot the day that we visited, so we sat on the dock and enjoyed a snack and water break. There’s also a bathroom across from the lake if you need a rest stop. After our snack break we continued on the red trail until we reached the start of the blue trail, Castle Point Carriageway. At this point we decided it was a good time to turn around and make our way back to the car.
Like I mentioned, Minnewaska is very popular and was very crowded the day we went. Trails were filled with hikers, dogs, (SO many dogs! We felt a little left out that we didn’t have a dog to hike with) and mountain bikers. Although horseback riding is allowed on the trails, that is one thing we didn’t see on our hike.
The Preserve is located on the Shawangunk (“Gunks” to the locals) Mountain ridge, which is more than 2,000 feet above sea level. Altogether we hiked about four miles and saw some beautiful views. However, we never made it to the peaks of any mountains. For more serious hiking and trail tips, I highly recommend checking out Hike the Hudson Valley’s write up on the park. Mike writes super informative hiking guides for trails throughout the Hudson Valley, which we have referenced many times!
We didn’t get a chance to visit the Nature Center or to see Lake Awosting, another lake in the Preserve, where swimming is also allowed. Plus, with all of the hiking trails available, there are plenty of reasons for us to make a return trip.
The Details: Minnewaska State Park 5281 Rt. 44-55 Kerhonkson, NY 12446
Hours: Park hours vary by season. Please check out the website for the most up-to-date information.
Parking: $10 per vehicle or free with the Empire Pass
Notes: *There is a Nature Center that is open on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Columbus Day. Hours are 10 AM – 12 PM and 1 PM – 4 PM.
*If you are visiting the park to go swimming, park in the upper parking lot, or you will have a decent hike ahead of you to get to the lake.
*Again, check out Hike the Hudson Valley’s guide to Minnewaska State Park Preserve for information on hiking the trails!
*Minnewaska State Park Preserve has a carry in, carry out policy. Make sure if you are bringing food in to also bring a bag to store your garbage.
Playland Amusement Park has been a Westchester County icon since 1928 and is a National Historic Landmark. There are even seven original rides that pre-date 1930 that are still running! For those not from the area, you may have seen parts of the park if you’ve watched the movie Big or Mariah Carey’s 1995 “Fantasy” music video.
Located in Westchester County, Playland is conveniently located off of I-95 and offers a full day of family fun. With 50 rides, it is great for families, as there’s something for everyone. Kiddyland has over 20 rides and is geared towards toddlers and younger children. Most Kiddyland rides have a minimum height requirement of 36″ but will allow smaller children to ride with an adult. Katy the Kat makes daily appearances and has a comedy show that takes place in Kiddyland.
For older children and adults, there are plenty of thrill rides. Double Shot, Super Flight, Wipeout, the Yo-Yo, Skyflyer and the Thunderbolt are some of the attractions that adventure seekers will enjoy.
On the Derby Racer the horses imitate the motion of a steeple chase horse. Only two known original rides of this type are still in existence, one of them being here. Don’t let the horse fool you into thinking this isn’t a thrill ride. From personal experience, this was my least favorite ride, due to the speed and fear of falling off the horse. Did I mention that there’s not safety belt? It’s hold on for dear life! This ride, as well as the Carousel, are on the National Register of Historic Places. Just last week, the county Board of Legislators approved financing for restoration of these two rides. I can’t wait to see what the restored Derby Racer will look like!
And of course, riding the Dragon Coaster is a must! This wooden roller coaster has been running since 1929 and is a Playland original! For hard-core coaster enthusiasts, this is not a super fast, thrill ride. However, it’s an historical one.
For the first time since 2008, Playland has a new ride. Part roller coaster, part spinning ride, it is currently called Disk’O 24 by the manufacturer. However, Westchester County residents have been asked to submit names for the new ride and a Westchester Camp group will be choosing the winning name from the submissions.
There is plenty of food to be found at Playland. Louisiana Kitchen has fried chicken, chicken tenders and fried seafood. There’s a Nathan’s that sells hot dogs and fries, a Smash n’ Shake Express that has burgers shakes and Pizza Village.
There’s also lots of treats available including funnel cake, cotton candy and ice cream. You will not go hungry during your visit!
There are lots of games to play and an arcade if you are looking to take a break from the rides. This is an old school arcade with 25 cent skee ball machines!
There’s daily entertainment and concerts throughout the season. During the summer, there is a fireworks display every Friday night. On select nights there is also a laser light show set to music. For some close-to-home summer family fun, a trip to Playland is a must!
Playland Amusement Park
1 Playland Parkway
Rye, New York 10580
Parking: $10/car ($15/car holidays and special events)
Admission: $30/adult ($25 for Westchester County residents with proof of residency) wristbands
$20/junior (under 48″) ($15 for Westchester County residents with proof of residency) wristbands
Free/children 2 years old and under
Spectator (no rides)/$10 (Free for Westchester County residents with proof of residency)
**In 2019 every Westchester County town, city and village gets its own Town Day. With proof of ID, each resident receives a special coupon booklet that offers special discounts.
**On select nights, admission is $20 from 5-10 PM.
Fun Cards can be purchased with a spectator admission to go on rides. It costs $1 per point, with rides costing 5-6 points each.
Open now through September 8, 2019 Hours: (please check the site for specific dates and hours. The park opens earlier and stays open later on selected dates throughout the summer) Closed Mondays Tuesday – Thursday: 11 AM – 10 PM Friday: 12 PM – 11 PM Saturday: 12 PM – 11 PM Sunday: 12 PM – 10 PM
*No outside food or drinks are allowed in the park.
*There’s a fireworks show on Friday nights in the summer at 9:20 PM (July 12 – August 30).
*Check the entertainment schedule for concerts.
*Lockers are available for rent.