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A Visit to Kalahari Resort {Poconos}

I’m not a huge fan of water parks. I have flashbacks of growing up visiting Water Country USA with my family. Not wearing contacts at the time, I just remember not being able to see anything and water constantly splashing in my face. Fast forward to today, where I am a parent of two kids, ages 10 and 13, who really like water parks. Our winter trip to Pine Ridge Dude Resort wasn’t as much of a hit as I had anticipated. So, during the kids February break we decided to take them to Kalahari Resort.

Kalahari Resort is located in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. In the area is also Great Wolf Lodge and Camelback Resort, both of which we have never visited. My sister has visited both Great Wolf Lodge and Kalahari with her two children and recommended Kalahari over Great Wolf Lodge, given the age of my kids.

As the name implies, the Kalahari is an African themed resort. This theme is carried out throughout the whole resort, from the names of the attractions to the decor.

We booked a one night stay at Kalahari, arriving on a Monday and leaving Tuesday. We surprised the kids and didn’t tell them where we were going until we arrived. While room check-in isn’t until 4 PM, you can arrive at Kalahari as early as 9:30 AM, when the water park opens, and enjoy a full day at the waterpark. The resort is approximately a two hour drive from our home in northern Westchester County. I didn’t think it was necessary for us to get up at the crack of dawn, but we aimed to leave our house by 10 AM. We stopped on the road for lunch before we arrived at Kalahari. But when we pulled up to the resort around 1 PM and saw the line of cars……we wished we had left super early.

I thought arriving on the Monday of February break wouldn’t be too bad. However, I stood in line for thirty minutes, waiting to check in. At check in we all received wristbands that were both our admission into the water park as well as our room keys. You can opt to have the ability to link a credit card to the wristband so you don’t have to carry around cash or a credit card, but we chose not do this. Our room wasn’t ready but I was told that I would receive a text when it was. In the meantime, we were free to enjoy the water park.

We had packed a bag with our swimsuits knowing that we could enjoy the water park before getting to our room. But first we had to drop our luggage off in the storage room. That also had a line and a bit of a wait. When we finally got the luggage dropped off and changed into our suits there were no large lockers available to store our bag and my pocketbook. I volunteered to stay and sit with the bags while my husband and kids went off to enjoy the water park. Unfortunately, we had to walk around the park for several minutes before finding an available chair!

The water park itself is humongous! It occupies over 220,000 square feet with more than twenty attractions. There’s a large play area for little kids, a basketball pool, and lots of water slides!

My husband and kids had a great time enjoying all the thrill slides. I think they rode ALL the slides, even the Tanzanian Twister, (the second to last photo on the right), that they dubbed “The Toilet Bowl.” Some of the extreme tube rides, like the Barrelling Baboon, required two or four riders, so I had to go. And just to note, these slides are a bit scarier at night in the dark!

The lazy river wasn’t quite so “lazy” when you’re packed in and pushed by kids trying to race by. When I finally was able to enjoy the water park my own kids enjoyed pushing me under the waterfalls!

There’s a large wave pool, an indoor-outdoor heated spa, a Flowrider wave simulator and more. If you’re hungry while at the waterpark, you don’t have to leave, as there are six different dining venues where you can purchase food or drinks. This includes two swim-up bars for adults 21 and over.

During the afternoon I kept checking my phone waiting for the text that our room was ready. After spending several hours at the water park we decided to ask if the rooms were ready. The check in line was just as long as it was when we arrived, if not longer. Luckily, there was a staff member standing in the lobby who told us that if we didn’t get the text, our room wasn’t ready. She gave the kids complimentary arcade cards to help keep them entertained.

The arcade at Kalahari Resorts is also huge. And it’s conveniently situated, so that you can’t get to the water park without walking through it. The kids enjoyed playing in the arcade on several different occasions, as there is almost any game there that you can think of!

By 6 PM we were getting hungry. Kalahari has several restaurant choices onsite. We opted to go to B-Lux, their most recent addition, which specializes in burgers, shakes and fries. I ordered the Mushroom Swiss Burger, my husband had The Cheese Head Burger (beer battered cheese curds, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and Wisconsin cheddar), my daughter the BBQ Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese and my son had the pepperoni pizza from the children’s menu. We all agreed that the mac & cheese was the best dish of the night. Service was good and the food was actually decent. We just wish that our room had been ready so we could have showered and changed before dinner.

After we ate dinner we got our bags from the luggage storage room. We made our way to our room to discover that our bands hadn’t been keyed properly and we couldn’t get into our room! My husband made the trek back down to the lobby and got his band fixed so we could get into our room. We stayed in a Desert room. The room was large with two queen beds and a sleeper sofa. It has a microwave and mini refrigerator in the room. We didn’t spend very much time in the room.

Besides the water park and arcade, there is a lot to do at Kalahari. There is an Escape Room, mini-bowling, Virtual Reality and 7-D Motion Theater and more. Before we left the next day we played a round of Black Light Mini Golf. There’s also a spa and salon and fitness center, which we didn’t try during this visit.

We visited the Great Karoo Marketplace Buffet for breakfast. There was a bit of a wait to get a table. Our server though, again, was super friendly and attentive, even with the crowds. The food at the breakfast buffet wasn’t impressive but they have something for everyone.

For lunch we shared a pepperoni pizza from Cafe Mirage. Again, not super impressed, but we reminded ourselves that we were at a waterpark. Double Cut, a steak house, and Sortino’s Italian Kitchen looked promising though. Hopefully, we will get to try those on a possible future visit.

We visited Kalahari in the winter. When the weather is nicer, there is a smaller outdoor waterpark and Gorilla Grove Treetop Adventures which includes a ropes course, zipline, 36-hole miniature golf course and a Gorilla Express mini train ride.

As I mentioned, my kids really enjoyed our visit. There is a lot to do for their tween/teen age group. We are thinking of giving Kalahari another try, possibly in the spring or fall…..and NOT during a holiday weekend! We’d like to visit Gorilla Grove Treetop Adventures and enjoy the waterpark when it’s still not outdoor pool weather.

I hope my review of Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos wasn’t too negative. My kids had a great time and loved our visit. As parents, after investing our time and money, we expected to have a good experience. Almost all of the online reviews that I had read about Kalahari prior to our visit were reviews by bloggers who had hosted stays. Our stay was not hosted and I hope I gave you a realistic review of the resort, especially during a holiday break.

The Details:
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions
250 Kalahari Blvd.
Pocono Manor, PA 18349

Rates:
Room rates vary by date. They include waterpark admission as well as complimentary access to the fitness center.

Tips:
*Try to avoid going during school and holiday vacations.

*Check the website for deals and specials.

*Bring your own beverages (water bottles, juice boxes, etc.) and snacks to save money.

*Free towels can be picked up at a kiosk. However, they are small. We saw many people in the park who brought their own beach towels.

*Remember a waterproof phone case if you want to keep your phone with you.

*There are a limited number of cabanas and bungalows for rent, if you’d like a reserved area for your family to be able to relax in.

*When budgeting for your trip, keep in mind that all food and drinks and activities (minus the waterpark) have additional costs. The price of your trip can add up quickly!

*There are several shops where you can purchase souvenirs as well as water shoes and waterproof phone cases. Of course, these are priced much higher than if you purchased your own outside the resort.


The Roxbury Motel {A Hidden Catskills Gem}

The Catskills are a region in the Hudson Valley, approximately 100 miles northwest of New York City. It is made up of four counties and is home to the Catskill Mountains and the 600,000 acre Catskill Park. The town of Roxbury is located at the eastern end of Delaware County and has a population of less than 3,000. As you travel on state Route 30 and drive into the town, it looks and feels like you are stepping back in time. The entire Hamlet of Roxbury is on the National and State Register of Historic Places. And right off state Route 30 on Bridge Street is the Roxbury Motel.

I first discovered the Roxbury Motel while searching for lodging in the Catskills. When my husband and I decided to go away for a couple of days to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, I thought the Roxbury Motel would be a great place to stay. It’s an easy trip and not too far from home, a little over two hours away.

When you hear “motel” please do not envision rundown or cheap. The Roxbury Motel is anything but! Owners Greg Henderson and Joseph Massa first opened the motel in 2004. After several expansions, it now consists of two main buildings, North and South. Altogether, there are two studios, five themed studios, five big king rooms, seven kitchenette rooms and eight suites, plus the Digs. As you will quickly discover during your visit, lime green is their signature color!

What really drew us to the Roxbury was the themed rooms. Inspired mostly by television shows and movies from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, each room has a different theme and a unique name like Fred’s Lair (Flinstones), Samantha’s Cloud (Bewitched) and The Wizard’s Emeralds (Wizard of Oz).

I told my husband to pick the themed room that he wanted to stay in and he chose Maryann’s Coconut Cream Pie (room #27). For fans of Gilligan’s Island, this room is a reference to an episode (episodes?) in which she bakes a coconut cream pie. Greg and Joe really put attention into ALL the details of the room. From the round bed with the whipped cream pillows, the three framed and signed Maryann photos, to the SOS spelled out in shells. Every room detail is on theme. However, the real piece de resistance is the pie crust and meringue ceiling, which makes you feel like you’re in a pie.

Even the bathrooms carry out the room theme. The toilet is in its own room. There are double sinks and a deep tub with double showerheads. The Roxbury provides a selection of bath toiletries from the LATHER aromatherapy collection. This line of products are 100% vegan and contain no animal by-products or parabens. If you really enjoy them, full-size products are available for purchase in the main office. Staying in the Maryanne’s Coconut Cream Pie room, we also received a tub of coconut body cream to take home with us

The kitchenette rooms come with a mini fridge and a microwave. This is great if you want to store leftovers, pop some popcorn to have while you watch a movie, or chill your hard cider (or wine) that can be purchased from Roxbury Wine and Spirits down the street, which is what we did! The refrigerator is also stocked with wine and champagne for purchase.

The Roxbury serves a Continental breakfast, which during our stay included cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, cold cuts and cheese, croissants with a variety of spreads, fruit and several different pastries. There’s several different seating areas to enjoy breakfast. There are chairs and tables inside the office and in the enclosed porch area. When the weather’s nice, you can dine outside on the deck. There’s also a small dining room in the Roxbury North.

Coffee, tea and hot cocoa are available throughout the day in both the main office and the dining room in the Roxbury North. They also put out cookies and other snacks in both places that you can nibble on throughout the day.

The Roxbury’s Shimmer Spa consists of a spa in the North building and a spa in the South building. We pre-booked a couple’s massage before our we arrived, so we enjoyed complimentary access to both spas. Otherwise, it’s a $10 fee per person, per stay (not per day!) to enjoy both facilities.

When we entered our motel room on arrival, two fluffy bathrobes and slippers were waiting for us along with the spa key. Since we don’t frequent spas very often, we have very little to compare it to. The website notes that the Shimmer Spa isn’t a huge full-service spa. The South spa has a jacuzzi and sauna. While the North spa has a steam room, a reading library and is where the massages take place. The Shimmer Spa is appropriately named, with lots of shimmer and sparkle! The painstaking attention to detail that went into the room designs, was not forgotten at the spa.

The spas are both pretty small. We had the jacuzzi and sauna to ourselves. We spent part of the day in the North spa reading books and enjoying the sunshine (and snacks) before our massage. There was another couple using the space as well. We visited during the week in March, but I can see the spas getting crowded during peak times.

Although there isn’t a restaurant on-site, Cassie’s (during the day) and Chappie’s (at night), is a short walk right up the street. We visited for lunch one day and dinner another and can say that the food is good. Otherwise, the Roxbury provides a list of restaurants in the area in the info binder in your room. They include driving distance and type of food served.

A stay at the Roxbury is just plain fun! There tend to be a lot of repeat guests, which I know we will soon be. A couple of miles down the street from the Roxbury Motel, Greg and Joe are currently building the Roxbury at Stratton Falls. This property will consist mostly of themed cottages and a larger spa with a pool. You can bet that we are planning to visit this property when it opens!

The Details:
The Roxbury Motel
2258 County Highway 41
Roxbury, NY 12474
(607) 326-7200
Check the website for more information!

Rates: $90-$698 depending on room choice and date.

Tips:
*For suburbanites like us, the Roxbury Motel felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. Be prepared to drive to any area attractions.
*Cell service is basically non-existent. My husband had to take a work call on the room phone. The wi-fi worked well though.
*Every room has a DVD player. The office contains a DVD collection of over 400+ movies that you can borrow. Or, like us, knowing there was a DVD player in the room, we brought our own movies that we wanted to watch (BlacKkKlansman and Outlander Season 1!).
*The office also has a game closet if you are looking for something to do.
*For more photos of of the Roxbury and of our trip, check out our “The Roxbury” instastories!




A Weekend at Pine Ridge Dude Ranch

One of my greatest joys in life is traveling and experiencing new things. As a parent, one of my biggest goal’s is to help my children learn to value experiences over things as well. This past Christmas, instead of giving the kids “stuff” Santa left a note telling the kids that they were going to spend a night at the Pine Ridge Dude Ranch.

Pine Ridge Dude Ranch is located in Kerhonkson, New York. The ranch was formerly known as Pinegrove Ranch. In April 2018, it changed ownership and became the Pine Ridge Dude Ranch. It’s only about an hour and a half drive from northern Westchester County. Since my kids recently discovered a love of horseback riding, my husband and I thought that they’d love a stay at a dude ranch!

Pine Ridge Dude Ranch is an all-inclusive resort. Meals, activities and one horseback ride (with most packages) are included in the price. We stayed in a Wyoming room, which included a king size bed, a full bed and a bunk bed. There was more than enough sleeping space for our family of four.


Check-in time is 2 PM the first night of your stay. We arrived around 3 PM and stayed for just one night. The resort has a small arcade, an indoor and outdoor pool, a bounce pillow, climbing wall, mini golf course, tractor rides and more. In the winter, they offer ice skating and snow tubing, weather permitting. During our stay, it was super cold, but there was no substantial snow, so neither of these activities were offered. It was really too cold out to enjoy the bounce pillow and I’m not sure the climbing wall was even open during our stay. My husband and son enjoyed a swim in the indoor pool though!

When you check-in you are assigned dining times. Dinner is the first meal that you are served the day of your arrival and the menu is posted outside the Round Up Corral each day. We were given the 6 PM dinner, 8 AM breakfast and 12:30 PM lunch times. I liked that we were assigned to our own table and had the same server and table for every meal. I’m not sure that I’d be happy with an 8 AM breakfast time every morning, if we were staying for more than one night. So much for getting to sleep in!

For dinner, my husband and I both had the ribs, my daughter chose the Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner and my son chose the Parmesan Crusted Tilapia for our dinner entrees. There is a salad bar available at both dinner and lunch as well. We were surprised at the quality of the food served. For the amount of people they were serving in such a short period of time, the food was decent. Soda and iced tea are included with the meals, but they have a wine and beer list, available at an additional charge, for those who wish to have an alcoholic beverage with their meal.

Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style. Breakfast included scrambled eggs, french toast, sausage and potatoes, as well as a variety of pastries and muffins. Cereal, yogurt and oatmeal were also available. There was also a chef making made-to-order omelettes in the dining room. Lunch included cold cuts and bread to make sandwiches, chicken nuggets, as well as soup and the salad bar. The lines got a bit long since everyone enters the dining room at the same time, but moved fairly quickly. If you are hungry between meals, food and beverages are available for purchase at the Trails End Cafe and Chuckwagon Grill. The Trails End Cafe even sells Starbucks.

Pine Ridge has a social director that runs organized activities during the day including arts & crafts, a photo scavenger hunt, and various competitions. Unfortunately, the weekend of our visit was super cold. I’m not sure how many of the organized activities took place, since several of them were supposed to be held outside. Lazer Tag and Paint Ball games are available for an additional charge and sign-ups are done in the main lobby the evening before. My 10 and 12-year-old weren’t very interested in partaking in most of the activities. But we did all enjoy participating in the Bingo game. At the lobby they have a closet filled with lots of board games that you can borrow. We ended up playing a few rounds of mancala while waiting for our lunch time.

The night of our stay, the evening activities included a DJ dance party, a bonfire and a magic show. We did a quick stop at the bonfire, again because it was FREEZING out! Guests were coming out with cups filled with marshmallows for roasting. I’m not sure if these were free or an additional cost, as we were still full from dinner and not interested in partaking. We arrived at The Bullroom early to get a seat for the magic show. The DJ dance party was still going on and the dance floor was filled with only children, most under the age of 10, dancing. The magician put on a great show that we all enjoyed.

The day of our arrival we had to go to the lobby at 5 PM to sign up for our horseback ride the next day. We got there a little after 5 and stood at the end of a VERY long line, which we waited on for over 30 minutes. By the time we got to the desk, there were only two time slots available that could accommodate the four of us. We chose the 3 PM ride to give us more time to enjoy the resort during the day.

Pine Ridge has a LOT of horses. We enjoyed visiting the horses throughout our visit. However, we discovered that petting the horses is discouraged. Children are required to wear helmets, which they provide, on the trail ride. Being very novice riders ourselves, my husband and I both opted to wear helmets as well. The resort offers different trail rides for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders. The day of our ride, all rides were walks (beginner rides) since the trail was so muddy.

One of the wranglers assigns each rider a horse. From mount to dismount the ride is approximately 45 minutes long. Our family all liked the horses we were assigned. We rode Pixey, Hunter, Dallas and Shorty. I didn’t enjoy like that the wranglers did not keep our family together for the ride. They had us mount our horses at different blocks. After you’re on your horse, you are left on your own until the ride starts. My husband and I were separated from our children by several other riders. The wranglers also seemed to bunch up together near the front and end of the line, not really checking to make sure that we were all doing okay. I also found the size of the group to be too large. I think there were at least 30 riders, which impacted the 45 minutes. They do have a no cell phone policy while on the ride. I was happy to see that this is strictly enforced. One woman was warned that her phone would have to be taken away after she was given several reminders that cell phone usage was not allowed during the ride. The wranglers are happy to take cell phone pics at the end of the ride for you. Pine Ridge also has a professional photographer taking pictures that you can purchase.

Fortunately, my animal loving family got to enjoy petting the goats and baby calf in the petting zoo. Since it had rained the day before and snowed the morning of our ride, the ground was super muddy! We had our hiking boots on so didn’t mind walking in the muck to get to pet the animals. Honestly, I think the petting zoo might have been the highlight of this trip for the kids!

So, is Pine Ridge Dude Ranch the right trip for your family? That’s for you to decide. My family was good with our one night stay and were ready to leave. I discovered it would have been much cheaper to just take the kids horseback riding. I’m not sure how much the cold weather or the lack of activities that they were interested in participating affected their opinion. However, I’m glad to have finally experienced a visit to a dude ranch. There seemed to be many families during our stay who were repeat visitors. I’m not sure if the resort was sold out during our stay, but there was a good crowd of people.

The Details:
Pine Ridge Dude Ranch
30 Cherrytown Rd.
Kerhonkson, NY 12446
(866) 600-0859

Tips:
*You need to call to make reservations. They do not have an online system.
*Get to the horseback riding sign-ups early! The line gets very long.
*Bring your own snacks and beverages to keep in your room if you think you’ll be hungry in between meals.
*Gratuities are not included, so be sure to bring cash to tip your server, housekeeping and the wranglers.

A Weekend in Cooperstown

(Thank you Go Cooperstown for hosting NY Foodie Family!  As always, all opinions are our own.)

Cooperstown is a small village in central New York, most well-known for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  After a recent visit to Cooperstown, we can tell you that there’s a lot more to see and do after visiting the iconic museum.

Stay:

Lake ‘N Pines Motel kindly hosted our two night stay in Cooperstown.  This motel offers a variety of accommodations from rooms with one double bed to rooms with two queen beds and even 2 bedroom mini suites.  We stayed in Cottage 120, a 2 bedroom suite that is adjacent to the game room.  The decor is cozy with a look and feel reminiscent of our college apartments.

With a full kitchen and living room, there was plenty of space for the four of us.  For those staying in Cooperstown for more than a day or two, this suite is great to cook some meals, as dining out when traveling can get expensive.  The Motel has an indoor and an outdoor pool, sauna, hot tub, as well as a game room.  A complimentary Continental breakfast is served here.

On nice days, you can eat outside with beautiful views of Lake Otsego.  The village of Cooperstown is a short, approximately, ten-minute drive.

Visit:

The National Baseball Hall of Fame – People flock to Cooperstown from all over the world to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Even non-baseball fans will enjoy a visit to this museum.  Read about our visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Fenimore Art Museum –  The Fenimore Art Museum is well-known for its collection of folk art and the Thaw Collection of American Indian Art.  Read more about our visit to this museum.

The Farmer’s Museum – Across from the Fenimore Art Museum is The Farmer’s Museum.  Step back in time to 19th century rural life where you can visit historic buildings, see demonstrations and speak with interpreters.  Taking a ride on the Empire State Carousel is a must! Read about our visit to this fun and educational family experience.

Fly Creek Cider Mill – Fly Creek Cider Mill is a short drive from Cooperstown.  Enjoy lots of tasty food and cider samples, eat a delicious meal at the Snack Barn and watch apple cider being made. That’s just some of the fun you can have here.  Read about our tasty visit!

Cooperstown Beverage Exchange – Down the street from the National Baseball Hall of Fame is the Cooperstown Beverage Exchange.  This space, owned and operated by the Cooperstown Distillery, is both a tasting room and retail space.  You can sample and purchase their spirits, including vodka, bourbon, whiskey and gin.  You can purchase full drinks or cocktails to enjoy in the sitting area that they have.  In the evening, the space turns into a bar/cocktail lounge, with live music on many nights.

Eat: 

Doubleday Cafe – We asked an employee at the National Baseball Hall of Fame where he recommended we get lunch.  For a sit-down lunch, he recommended the Doubleday Cafe.  This cafe is a short walk from the Hall of Fame.  It was packed during our visit and rightly so.  The cafe offers a variety of soups, burgers, sandwiches and more.  They also have daily lunch specials – two of which we ordered including the Grilled Pastrami, Bacon & Provolone on Rye (pictured above) and the “Cafe” Burger with caramelized onions, blue cheese and bacon.

My husband was even able to enjoy “A Taste of Cooperstown Beer Flight” with his lunch here!

Fly Creek Cider Mill – If you plan to visit Fly Creek Cider Mill, which I recommend, make sure you eat lunch or an early dinner at the Snack Barn Restaurant.  They have a variety of value combo meals that include chips, beverage and a slice of pie.  Everything we ate here was delicious!

New York Pizzeria – We have plenty of amazing pizza places near us in Westchester County and all of the ones in NYC.  So, we had high expectations going into a place called New York Pizzeria.  We weren’t wowed by the pizza but it was decent.  The restaurant has plenty of seating, including an upstairs dining area.  They serve a variety of Italian dishes including different kinds of pasta, chicken and eggplant parmigiana, appetizers, salads and more.

As you can see, there’s lots to see, do, and eat in Cooperstown!  The village is about a 3 hour drive from Northern Westchester County, making it a perfect weekend getaway!

 

 

Weekend Getaway to Crystal Springs Resort

(Thank you Crystal Springs Resort for providing lodging accommodations for NY Foodie Family.  Meals were not included in our stay and were paid for by NY Foodie Family.  As always, all opinions are our own.)

Our family  loves to travel, visit new places and have new experiences.  However, our days (and weekends) have been super busy, now that school has started and we are deep into activities and sports.  A relaxing weekend getaway to Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, New Jersey is just what we needed.  From northern Westchester County, the resort is only a little over an hour away by car.

Crystal Springs Resort truly is a resort, housing two hotels (Grand Cascades Lodge and Minerals Hotel), six golf courses and housing developments.  Yes, you can own a house, townhouse or even a suite in the Grand Cascades Lodge.  Seasonally, there are up to ten different dining options available.

We stayed at the Grand Cascades Lodge.  This location offers several different room types including standard guest rooms and one and two-bedroom suites, including some that have fireplaces.

We stayed in a one bedroom suite with a pull-out sofa in the living room.  There was more than enough room for the four of us. Plus, the suite had a kitchen, dining table and chairs.  If the weather was nicer, we could have enjoyed sitting outside on the patio, though the room that we stayed in (Room 101) didn’t have views of the property as it is on the ground level .  The lodge has several floors, many offering rooms with balconies that offer beautiful views.

The weekend of our visit was cold and rainy.  So, unfortunately, this limited the activities available to us.  Most of our time was spent inside at the biosphere pool.  This is Crystal Springs Resort’s 10,000 square foot indoor pool complex.  The plants and fountains create a tropical indoor oasis.

The kids had a fun time going down the slide countless times and wading around the pool.  I actually put on a bathing suit to bubble away in the hot tub.  Our family favorite was enjoying the heated outdoor pool. Our bodies were toasty while our heads were splattered by chilly raindrops!

Grand Cascades Lodge guests can enjoy the pool and activities at the Minerals Hotel, the sister resort, located approximately a ten minute drive away.  However, the biosphere pool is only accessible to Grand Cascades Lodge guests.  If our visit was longer we would have stayed to explore the Minerals pool and activities, but we wanted to take advantage of what the Cascades Lodge offered.

Speaking of activities, Crystal Springs Resort offers all types of activities, regardless of when you visit.  On your arrival, you are given a schedule of events.  Many of the activities do require a reservation and/or additional fees.  Unfortunately, the rain impacted the outdoor activities available to us.

I stopped by the Apple & Hard Cider Sampling while my husband and kids stayed at the biosphere.  Warwick Valley Winery and Black Dirt Distillery is located in Warwick, NY, an approximately 25 minute drive from the resort.  A representative from the winery shared samples of their rose, original apple and pear ciders.  I especially enjoyed the apple and pear ciders, as I prefer sweeter ciders.  Warwick is a beautiful town and I hope to visit the winery and distillery soon.

The kids took a break from the biosphere pool for the live animal show with Wallaby Tales.  This free show brings exotic and abandoned animals to the public.  The show was informative and we had such a great time petting Milkshake (the rabbit) and the chinchilla.  It was fun to watch Phyllis the groundhog eating a banana and discovered skunks are really cute when seen up-close.

Both Grand Cascades Lodge and Minerals Hotel have spas.  There’s a small 24-hour fitness center on the first floor with treadmills, ellipticals and other exercise equipment.  During our visit, I was suffering from some minor neck and shoulder pain, otherwise I would have participated in the Sunday morning yoga.

It’s important to note is that meals are not included in your stay.  However, there are several varied dining options at the two resorts.  My husband and I would have loved to dine at Restaurant Latour, the award-winning fine dining restaurant. With our kids in tow, this sadly wasn’t really an option for us.  We visited Kites Restaurant, located at the Minerals Hotel, for breakfast Saturday morning.  Although a shuttle between resorts is available, we opted to drive.

I believe I’ve mentioned how much my kids love breakfast!  Kites has a breakfast buffet, priced at $19.95 for adults and $9.95 for kids.  The buffet included the usual scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and cereal.  Our favorites were the bagel and lox station and the pastries.  I overheard the hostess mention to another guest that they can make omelettes, but there was not a station and this was not otherwise stated anywhere.  As far as breakfast buffets go, this one was average but we left full and ready for a day of fun.

After breakfast we called to make dinner reservations at Crystal Tavern.  The only time available was 5:30 PM.  Since we ate breakfast so late, we opted to skip lunch and instead treated the kids to a Chocolate, Raspberry, Banana Gelato  Shake from the Biosphere Cafe.  This little cafe is located adjacent to the Biosphere pool and serves salads and sandwiches, in addition to scoops of gelato, shakes, smoothies and more. The staff members went above and beyond when my husband mentioned the kids were sharing the one shake. They split the shake in two cups, each with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a striped paper straw!

We ate dinner at Crystal Tavern, located in the clubhouse at the Grand Cascades Lodge.  This family-friendly restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers children’s menus.  My kids opted not to order off the kid’s menu.  Instead, my son ordered the Smoked Salmon Toast ($12) which is an adult appetizer, but he had it for his main and my daughter had the CSR Burger with cheese ($19 +$2 cheese).  It’s a gigantic burger and was tasty but we opted not to add a fried egg for $4.  I enjoyed the Seafood Pasta ($28) and my husband had the Short Rib of Beef with manchego grits and garden succotash ($34).  Everything was delicious.

After our dinner, we headed back to the biosphere for movie night at the pool.  The kids watched a bit of Ice Age 2 from the pool (and I from the hot tub) and they also went back in the outdoor pool.  We finally headed back to the room to call it a night.

If you are looking for a relaxing, fun-filled weekend, Crystal Springs Resort is perfect.  It’s a great get-away for both families and couples, with enough activities to keep everyone entertained.   Even better, it’s only a short drive from Westchester County.

The Details:
crystalgolfresort.com
Crystal Springs Resort
Grand Cascades Lodge
3 Wild Turkey Way
Hamburg, NJ 07419

Minerals Hotel
1 Stonehill Drive
Vernon, NJ 07462

Tips:
*Check out their site, as they are always offering specials and packages.

*If you are in a suite and want to save some money, there is a fully stocked kitchen with dishes, cookware and even a block of knives.  You can bring food with you and cook in the kitchen of your suite.

A Tasty Time at Fly Creek Cider Mill

 

When you are visiting Cooperstown, NY, you must take the short 15-minute drive to the Fly Creek Cider Mill.  The mill was established in 1856 and is currently owned and run by the Michaels family.

I recommend arriving to Fly Creek Cider Mill early, especially in the autumn peak season.  You might want to first visit the Mill Store Marketplace.  Depending on the time of day and season of your visit, you may be waiting on line to enter the store.  There’s a good reason for this: they want your in-store experience to be a good one and limiting the number of guests inside minimizes crowding. Rest assured, though, the line moves quickly and cider samples and fun facts entertain you while you wait.

The Marketplace is a foodie’s dream.  There are over 40 different samples that you can try from salsas and dips to doughnuts and cheese.  The apple room is stocked with up to 12 different varieties of apples that you can sample.

The kids especially loved sampling the many different types of fudge they make including Rocky Road, Carrot Cake, Toll House Cookie and more.

Fly Creek Cider Mill is a licensed New York State Farm Winery and bottles apple wines and hard ciders.  Samples of their wines and ciders are available in the marketplace.  I am a big fan of hard ciders and enjoyed both their Original and Apple-Raspberry varieties.

As you make your way through the Cider Mill you get to see the apple cider production up close on the second floor.  Apple pressing only takes place on weekends and the frequency of pressing is based on apple cider sales.  Over 20,000 gallons of cider are made each fall!  While we were visiting, the apples were in the process of being pressed and the juice collected. A gift shop that sells all kinds of items from mugs and decorative items to soaps, dishes and more is also on the top floor of the marketplace.  They have a large Christmas ornament selection as well.  If you run out of your favorite Fly Creek Cider Mill snacks and condiments after you return home, they have an online store where you can purchase more.

Make sure you leave room after all that sampling for lunch or an early dinner at the Snack Barn.  There are so many tasty meal and treat options available.  Our family enjoyed a late lunch and split the Pot Roast Sandwich ($13.99) and BBQ Pork Sandwich ($12.99) Value Combo Meal.  Both of these sandwiches were delicious and I highly recommend.

Each value meal comes with kettle-cooked chips, a beverage and a full-sized slice of pie.  We opted for the Apple Caramel Nut and Fruits of the Farm pie.  I’m not a big pie eater and I was devouring these!

We opted to upgrade our soft drink to a cider slush with one of our meals.  I had never seen or heard of a cider slush until our visit.  It was so good and I highly recommend.  It was sweet and refreshing, a perfect fall treat!

We enjoyed some live music while eating our lunch then we walked around the rest of the property.  Behind the mill is Millpond, home to lots of swans.  There are feed stands where you can purchase food for the swans and ducks.  Next to the Snack Barn is Tractor Land, a play area for younger kids.  For $1 you can purchase a rubber duck and participate in duck races.

A large collection of John Deere tractors and vintage equipment is on display throughout the property.  Make sure you take the short trip to Fly Creek Cider Mill when visiting Cooperstown, NY.  You are in for a tasty good time!

The Details:
Fly Creek Cider Mill
288 Goose Street
Fly Creek, NY 13337
(607) 547-9692
website

Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM every day

Parking:  Plenty of free parking is available in the lot across the street from the Mill

Tips:
*Tour the Cider Mill and visit the marketplace first.  When we visited, we received a coupon for the Snack Barn, but we had already eaten.

*Check the Fly Creek Cider Mill website before you visit for additional coupons.

*Arrive early!  We arrived around 1:30 PM and it was super crowded.  We waited on line to enter the mill and marketplace for about 10 minutes.

*We spent about 2 hours during our visit here, including eating a late lunch.

Experiencing 19th-Century Rural Life at The Farmer’s Museum {Cooperstown, NY}

(Thank you to The Farmer’s Museum and Go Cooperstown for hosting NY Foodie Family.  As always, all opinions are our own.)

Founded in 1943, The Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, New York is one of the oldest rural life museums in the United States.  When visiting Cooperstown, a trip to this museum will be a fun and educational experience. Visitors get an opportunity to experience rural life of the 19th-century through exhibitions, interpreters, demonstrations and more.  Be sure to check out the Daily Activities schedule on the day of your visit, to enjoy special demonstrations, tours and hands-on activities.

You enter the museum through the Main Barn.  The exhibitions change in this space, but currently on view is Barns: Cathedrals of the Countryside and Grow: An Exhibit to Get You Gardening.  There are hands-on activities in the Grow exhibit for young children to interact with.

After you exit the Barn you will see the Empire State Carousel.  Our family visited and rode on many carousels last summer, traveling around New York State.  The Empire State Carousel is, by far, my favorite carousel of all time.

The Empire State Carousel was opened in 2006.  Known as the “museum you can ride on”, this carousel pays tribute to everything New York State.  Almost 1,000 volunteer artists and artisans contributed to this carousel, which includes canopy murals, hand-carved mirror frames, quilted banners and over 25 hand-carved carousel creatures to ride. You can literally spend hours just walking around the carousel and taking in all the intricate art that details the people and places important to our state.  Each of the unique carousel figures also portrays a state significance. for example, the rabbit my daughter rode on represents the NYC Easter Parade.  Carousel rides are $1 per rider.

After visiting the carousel, we walked through the Historic Village.  The Village is comprised of over 20 different buildings, including a blacksmith shop, a tavern, a printing shop, a general store, pharmacy and more. More detailed information about each building and its provenance can be found on the museum’s website. Each building has been relocated from rural areas throughout New York and has been restored.

Many of the buildings have historic interpreters that will answer questions and demonstrate their crafts.  We enjoyed watching the blacksmith make needles the day of our visit.  We also got to see the printer make a flyer at the print shop.

The kid’s favorite part of the Farmer’s Museum was the Lippitt Farmstead.  This living farm includes two barns, six outbuildings, a smokehouse and the family house.  My kids LOVE animals and visiting the Children’s Barnyard was such a treat.  They got to meet Bear, a calf who wasn’t quite two weeks old the day of our visit.

They also loved seeing the chickens, turkeys, sheep, pigs and horses that live on the farm.

The weekend of our visit was Fiber Arts Weekend at the Farmer’s Museum.  This weekend is focused on exploring the world of natural fibers through demonstrations, mini-exhibits and hands-on activities.  The kids had a fun time making felt balls, which would have been a toy for young children in the 19th century.  Throughout the year, the Farmer’s Museum has seasonal events for an additional charge. Upcoming programs include Ghost Tours, Thanksgiving at the Farm, Candlelight  Evening and a theatrical production of “A Christmas Carol”.

The Details:

The Farmer’s Museum
5775 State Highway 80
Cooperstown, NY
website

Hours:

March 31 – May 7
Open Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed Mondays. Limited buildings open.

May 8 – October 8 (Columbus Day)
Open Daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

October 9 – October 30 
Open Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Closed Mondays. Limited buildings open.

October 31 – March 31
Closed for winter except for special programs and events.

Admission:
$12/Adults and Juniors (13-64), $10.50/Seniors (65+), $6.00/Juniors (7-12): $6.00, Free/Children (6 and under) Admission is also free for active military and retired career military personnel.

Parking: 
Free parking is available in the lot on the property.

Tips:
*Food is available for purchase at the Crossroads Cafe.  Soup, chili, drinks, baked goods and more are sold here.  You an also opt to walk across the street to the Fenimore Art Museum and have a meal, while enjoying beautiful views of Otsego Lake, at the Fenimore Cafe.

*Our family spent approximately 2 1/2 hours here during our visit, which included making felt balls during Fiber Arts Weekend.

Folk Art and More at the Fenimore Art Museum {Cooperstown, NY}

(Thank you to Go Cooperstown and the Fenimore Art Museum for hosting NY Foodie Family.  As always, all opinions are our own.)

Driving by the Fenimore Art Museum, located on Route 80 in Cooperstown, you might assume it’s a giant mansion.  And you’d be right.  Avid art collector Stephen Carlton Clark donated Fenimore House to the New York State Historical Association for its new headquarters and museum in 1939. The museum’s origins date back to 1899. The country estate of Clark’s late brother was built on land that was once owned by James Fenimore Cooper.  Today, it houses a large collection of American Folk Art and Native American Art.

The first floor of the museum includes the Main Gallery, which has one of the largest folk art collections in the country.  The art includes Indian Maiden (pictured above) a Cigar Store Figure, paintings, weather vanes, carvings and more.

The Cooper Gallery is also located on the main floor.  For more than seven generations, the Cooper family has had ties to the Lake Otsego area.  The most well known Cooper is probably American writer, James Fenimore Cooper.  His book, The Leatherstocking Tales, features the iconic story The Last of the Mohicans.  This gallery displays many of James Fenimore Cooper’s personal effects and possessions.

The lower level of the museum houses the Thaw Gallery of American Indian Art.  Eugene and Clare Thaw, residents of Cherry Valley in Otsego County, were avid art collectors and dealers.  In the late 1990’s the couple moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and and began collecting Native American Art.  They amassed a large collection over the years and donated their entire collection to the Fenimore Art Museum.  New objects have been added to the collection, which now numbers over 850 pieces. Also on the lower level are several galleries that host the various temporary exhibitions.

My husband and I both agreed that our favorite exhibit at the museum was the temporary exhibit Seen & Unseen: Photographs by Imogen Cunningham.  Photography was not allowed in this exhibit.  However, Cunningham (1883-1976) was considered an experimental photographer and one of the pioneers of the art.  Her photographs on display reflected this, covering a depth and breadth that was truly amazing.

We found the Education Room, up on the second floor near the end of our visit.  With comfortable chairs, my husband and I sat and relaxed, perusing some of the library of art books.  The kids enjoyed sitting at the tables drawing and had even more fun using the photo station to create still lifes and practice their photography skills (my son’s picture is above).

Also on the second floor were additional temporary exhibitions including Hamilton’s Final Act: Enemies and Allies, The Barber Surreal: Eugene Berman’s Reimagined Barber of Seville and Thomas Cole and the Garden of Eden.  As you can tell from just the names of the exhibits, the Fenimore showcases a wide variety of art.

Along with the Education Room, the kids really enjoyed the family scavenger hunts.  The Fenimore Art Museum has two different scavenger hunts.  One’s in the Main Gallery and one is in the Thaw Gallery of American Indian Art.  These scavenger hunts make the kids take a closer look at the different works in the gallery to gather their clues.  There is a fun prize at the end of the scavenger hunt.

The back of the museum overlooks Otsego Lake and has beautiful views.  We were prevented from accessing the rear areas on the day of our visit, as there was a wedding ceremony taking place.  But, on a normal day, you can walk around the outside grounds.  We were able to walk the property in front of the museum and see the giant Haida Totem Pole.  The museum acquired this totem pole in 2010, after Eugene Thaw commissioned the work from Haida artist and carver Reg Davidson.  The pole, standing 3o-feet tall, sits on the front lawn of the museum.

The Fenimore Art Museum is a community museum.  Not only does it house the exhibitions described above, but it offers lecture series, community exhibitions, painting and photography workshops and more. Although the museum is small, the changing exhibits and special program offerings, give visitors many reasons to return.

The Details:
Fenimore Art Museum
5798 Route 80
Cooperstown, NY 13326
FenimoreArt.org

Hours:  May 8 – October 8, daily 10 AM – 5 PM October 9 – December 30, Tues. – Sun. 10 AM – 4 PM, Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Admission:  $12/ Adults and Juniors (13-64), $10.50/Seniors (65+), Free/Children 12 and under

Parking:  Free parking along driveway in front of the museum and and side lot

Tips:

*Plan to spend approximately 1 1/2 hours or less on a visit with kids.

*You can purchase food at the Fenimore Cafe, which is open seasonally.

*Docent tours are available daily May 26 through September 3 and Saturdays and Sundays March 31 through May 25 and September 24 through December 30.  They last approximately 4o minutes.  Check the website or admission desk for times.

National Baseball Hall of Fame {Cooperstown}

Most people automatically associate Cooperstown, NY with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and rightly so.  The little town attracts big crowds of baseball fans from all over the country.  Since 1939, the Hall of Fame has been showcasing its extensive collection baseball memorabilia and housing stories of baseball’s greatest legends.  But, as you will see, you don’t have to be a die-hard baseball fan to get caught up in the excitement!

Full disclosure: I’m not a mega baseball fan but I’ve been to my fair share of games.  I was raised as a Yankees fan and it was fun to see so much historic Yankee memorabilia on display.  My parents and in-laws are on opposing sides for a Subway Series (Yankees vs. Mets fans) and my kids aren’t really loyal to either team.

But what do you do when you visit the museum with two tweens who also aren’t big baseball fans, but you have a husband who is?  You split up.

We arrived right before the 11 AM guided tour of the Plaque Gallery, which my husband joined, and met up with him in the gallery at the end of the tour so we could walk around.  This is really a sight to see, where plaques featuring the greatest baseball players of all time, hang on the walls.

While my husband was taking the tour, the kids and I were working on completing the scavenger hunt.  I love it when museums have these for kids to do.  It helps them focus on some of the major exhibits and forces them to stop and read some information.  It also helped that there’s a prize offered once it’s completed.

Beginning with the exhibit Taking the Field:  The 19th Century, visitors are led through a timeline of baseball’s history.  Other major exhibits in the timeline include: Babe Ruth: His Life and Legacy, Diamond Dreams: Women in Baseball, Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience, Viva Baseball! (focused on baseball in the Caribbean Basin countries) and ending with Whole New Ballgame, which details baseball from the 1970’s to present day.

It was fun to walk through The Locker Room and see all the Major League Baseball teams’ recent uniforms and equipment.

Fans of all ages will enjoy testing their baseball knowledge with the baseball quiz kiosks located on the third floor.

Families with young kids will enjoy making a stop at the The Sandlot Kids’ Clubhouse.  This room has books, television shows playing (including a Dora the Explorer baseball-themed episode) and other fun activities for little ones.  Even my older kids loved the baseball mitt seats!

You must be sure to watch the film Generations of the Game.  Located on the second floor of the museum, the film plays every hour, on the hour.  Did I mention that I’m not really a baseball fan?  This film had me tearing up!  You get to see some of the highlight moments of some of the Hall of Famers.  Their love and passion for baseball is truly inspiring.

Every July, during Hall of Fame Weekend, new members are inducted into the Hall in a special ceremony.  The special weekend also includes an awards ceremony and a Parade of Legends, among other festivities.  This past July, new inductees included Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.  It was interesting to learn that there’s not a set number of inductees each year.  From a ballot of recently retired players, four different voting panels choose the inductees.

I’m glad that our family was finally able to make a visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  As a New Yorker, it seems only fitting to visit this iconic museum that’s really not too far from home.

The Details:

National Baseball Hall of Fame
25 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326
1-888-HALL-OF-FAME

Hours:  Open 7 days a week (except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day)
Labor Day – Memorial Day:  9 AM – 5 PM  Extended Hours Memorial Day – Labor Day

Admission: $23/adults, $15/seniors, $12/children (7-12) & veterans, Free/children (6 and under) & active/career retired military

Parking:
  Paid parking in nearby lot.  Free parking available in three lots throughout Cooperstown with Trolley service ($2/per rider per day).

Tips:

*Food is not served at the museum.  There are plenty of restaurants and cafes along Main Street, where you can go for lunch or dinner. When you leave you can get your hand stamped so you can return during the day.

*Expect to spend a minimum of 3 hours at the museum. Baseball fans will probably spend a lot more time!

 

 

1

A Weekend in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Lancaster County Pennsylvania, a.k.a. “Pennsylvania Dutch Country” is a fun, family destination.  With a large Amish community, visiting here is both an educational and fun experience.  Only 3 hours from most of Westchester County, Lancaster makes a perfect weekend destination.  Read on to see all the fun that can be had in two days.  You can check out the links to read more detailed posts about each attraction. When planning your visit, it is important to note that many attractions in Lancaster are closed on Sundays. Two days didn’t give us enough time to see and do everything, but that’s only the more reason for us to return soon!

Stay: at the Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn.  This Inn is a great lodging choice for families, with several different types of sleeping accommodations.  This is not a chain hotel and is situated on 23 acres that includes a pool, two playgrounds and even some farm animals.  The property is spacious with walking paths and a pond.  There is also a restaurant, garden shop and large gift shop onsite as well.

Eat: The Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn has a restaurant on the property that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Breakfast at the Smorgasbord is complimentary with an overnight stay and the front desk offers discount coupons if you choose to dine at the restaurant for lunch or dinner.  We had a dinner and breakfast here and were highly satisfied with both.  The buffet offers a plentiful variety of delicious options including fresh baked goods and desserts.

We also had a delicious meal at Federal Taphouse in Lancaster.  This is a great restaurant for beer lovers, as they have 100 beers on tap.  The menu is very family-friendly with wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches tacos and more.  We tried the Sweet Corn Pizza with creamed spinach, sweet corn, bacon, house tomato jam and ricotta salata.  Yes, it was as delicious as it looks and sounds. We then rounded out our meal with a variety of appetizers with a house made soft pretzel with beer cheese fondue, stuffed meatballs and poutine.  It was a carb-filled feast!

Visit:  The Amish Farm and House for an educational and fun experience.  On the guided house tour you will learn about the Amish history and heritage.  You can take a bus tour that will drive you through the Amish countryside. Make sure to leave time to enjoy the 15-acre farm.  My kids could have spent all day here feeding the goats and visiting the different farm animals.  They also had a great time riding the scooters and enjoying the newest attraction, Tractor Trails, where they pedaled cars around a track.  The gift shop sells a variety of handmade Amish goods and on the weekends.  (located approximately five minutes from the Hershey Farm Inn).

A foodie tour of Kitchen Kettle Village in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

Kitchen Kettle Village – Kitchen Kettle Village is made for foodies! We had such a delicious time visiting all the different shops and eating our way through the village.  There’s a reason why nearly a million people visit each year.  There is something for everyone here, with 40 different shops selling everything from jams and fudge to quilts and Christmas ornaments.  (located approximately 12 minutes from the Hershey Farm Inn).

Lancaster Science Factory – If you need a place for the kids to burn off some energy, this is the place.  With over 60 different hands-on exhibits, kids will (and adults!) will have a great time at the Lancaster Science Factory.  While smaller than many other children’s science museums that we have visited, the exhibits held the interest of my two tweens for quite some time. (approximately 15 minutes from the Hershey Farm Inn).

Turkey Hill Experience – Although not in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Turkey Hill Experience is not to be missed.  As fans of Turkey Hill ice cream, this attraction was a family favorite.  We got to create our own ice cream flavor in the Taste Lab and learn about tea in the Tea Discovery.  In the actual Experience, we had endless samples of teas and ice cream (approximately 25 minutes away from the Hershey Farm Inn).

(Thank you to Discover Lancaster and the above attractions for hosting NY Foodie Family.  As always, all opinions are our own.)