Now that school has started, it’s not as easy to go away with the kids. Plus, COVID is making travel even more difficult. Fortunately, there are many fall weekend getaways close to Westchester County that are perfect for both families or couples looking to rest, recharge and have some fun! I am sharing 7 weekend getaways that we think families will enjoy.
Crystal Spring Resort – This is the only New Jersey weekend destination that we have traveled to so far, but it’s a good one! Your family may never want to leave the biosphere pool. They offer both complimentary activities and those that have an additional cost. There are several onsite restaurants to choose from.
Emerson Resort – The Emerson Resort is located in the Catskills and is perfectly situated for some fall foliage viewing. This resort is also dog friendly if you want to bring your pet with you. Here you can find the world’s largest kaleidoscope. They offer several onsite activities and also have a spa. The Catskill Rail Explorers and plenty of fall hikes will keep you busy when you’re not enjoying the resort.
Kalahari Resort – If you don’t want to have to worry about the weather, take a visit to Kalahari. You can enjoy the indoor water park, arcade, mini golf and more. With several onsite restaurants, you won’t have to leave the resort. And if the weather is nice, they also have an outdoor treetop adventure course.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania – Only three hours from most of Westchester County, Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a great weekend getaway. Experience “Pennsylvania Dutch Country” for an educational and fun experience.
Pine Ridge Dude Ranch – Pine Ridge Dude Ranch is great if your family enjoys horseback riding. This is an all-inclusive dude ranch experience with both outdoor and indoor activities to keep the family occupied.
Villa Roma Resort– Villa Roma Resort offers a variety of activities for families with kids of all ages including go karts, a bowling alley, a zip line and more. Dinner and breakfast are included in the price of your stay.
The kids are back in school and busy schedules are the new norm. So when the kids had a couple of days off from school, we decided to enjoy some fall family fun at the Emerson Resort & Spa in Mount Tremper, NY. The Emerson is an easy drive from northern Westchester County, less than two hours away.
The Emerson is conveniently situated for visiting the nearby towns of Phoenicia and Woodstock to the East or Belleayre and Hunter Mountain to the West. However, if you’re looking to simply enjoy some rest and relaxation, it’s perfect for that as well!
The History of the Emerson Resort and Spa
The Emerson Resort is located in Ulster County, in the Eastern part of the Catskills, and borders the Esopus Creek. Once you arrive at the resort, you will quickly discover who it was named after. Every room has books of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poems, and quotes from these poems decorate the walls of the Resort.
The Resort sits on what was originally an 1840 dairy farm owned by the Riseley family. Part of the original building was transported onto the current property. Over a century later, it was developed into tourist destination Clinton Corners, which included a variety of shops, a restaurant and the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope. After a move and various renovations, it is now the Emerson Resort & Spa as we know it.
There are two different lodging options when visiting the Emerson Resort. You can stay in the Lodge buildings, which are more rustic, Adirondack-style rooms.
The second lodging option is the Inn, which features more contemporary, Catskill chic type accommodations. We stayed in room 502 of the Inn which was perfect for our family of four. This Royal Suite room has two queen beds.
I enjoyed a soak in the large whirlpool tub and we all enjoyed the waterfall shower with adjustable side sprays. Although we did question the window looking into the bedroom! Luckily, the blinds close for privacy.
During the afternoon, our balcony was a perfect place to enjoy some reading time, while listening to the tranquil sounds of the Esopus Creek. And in the morning, my husband and I enjoyed our coffee with a beautiful view!
Fall evenings in the Catskills can get chilly. We enjoyed sitting nearby our room’s gas fireplace in the evening. On the second night, we enjoyed a family game night in front of the fireplace as well. The kids really enjoyed the complimentary snacks (peanut trail mix and granola bars) and water available in the room. The water came in handy on our outings. It’s important to know that there is no cell phone service in the area. Thank goodness the Emerson has complementary wi-fi!
The Emerson Resort is very family-friendly . Although it is a resort and spa, we noticed many families with children visiting. For dog owners, the Resort is also pet-friendly! It was fun seeing guests walking the property with their dogs.
The spa at The Emerson Resort is spread over 6,000 square feet and is only for adults. Reservations are recommended prior to arrival if you wish to enjoy a massage, facial or one of the other treatments they offer. All overnight adult guests can enjoy the fitness room, sauna, steam room and outdoor salt water hot tub. The entrance to the spa is one of the few decorative pieces that remains after a major renovation in 2016. The hand-carved imported doorway was too fantastic to change .
The day of our arrival we enjoyed participating in a kaleidoscope making class. While you can purchase the same kits in the gift shop, it was nice to be guided through the process. After making our kaleidoscopes, our instructor, Jonas had us walk around the property to look for objects in nature that we could add to the kaleidoscope. It was fun to see how the different items looked while viewed through our kaleidoscopes. If you aren’t interested in making a kaleidoscope, the Resort also offers watercolor postcard painting or design your own t-shirt classes ($20 per shirt). Check the schedule to see which days the classes are offered.
The Catskills are truly beautiful. The Emerson really wants guests to explore and take in all the beauty of their surroundings. The grounds of the Emerson include 1.2 miles of trails and a small pond. There are several cruiser bicycles available (adults sized only, they do not have children’s bikes) and you can get helmets from the front desk. If you are interested in doing some bird watching around the property, you can also borrow binoculars at the front desk.
Twice a day, guided nature walks depart from the lobby. We enjoyed participating in one of these walks that takes you down to the Esopus Creek and along the property. The creek’s water comes from the mountain and leads to the Ashokan Reservoir. Weather permitting, swimming is allowed in the creek. The Emerson has partnered with the Ashokan Watershed and offers fresh water snorkeling on select dates during the summer! The resort even had its moment of fame as the recent movie The Dead Don’t Die, starring Bill Murray and Adam Driver, was partly filmed on the property!
In the warmer months guests can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. There are outdoor games including volleyball, horseshoes and corn hole. There’s a playground for younger kids and even a dog park for all of the four-legged visitors. And, of course, there’s a pool open during the summer.
All guests are invited to enjoy the Family Room in the Black Bear building at the lodge. We walked over one evening and enjoyed several games of intense and competitive family ping pong. There are also several fire pits throughout the property and s’mores kits are available for purchase at the front desk for guests to enjoy.
The World’s Largest Kaleidoscope
The Emerson Resort is probably most well known for housing the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope. The Kaleidoscope sits in the former silo of the Riseley Farm. It has a 50-foot virtual sphere that can reflect 254 images, which creates an illusion of over 3,000 images! Overnight guests are able to view a complimentary showing of Star Dust, a 10 minute experience that will dazzle your senses. Seating is available, but we all enjoyed laying down on the floor to view the show.
There are a variety of shops in the Emerson, including a toy shop, housewares and souvenir and clothing shops. However, you must take a visit through the Kaleidostore. There are a couple of fun, interactive exhibits to see. But the showstopper is the large collection of kaleidoscopes for sale at the Kaleidobar. Children are asked not to touch these and even I was afraid to touch some (most?) of them. There’s a kaleidoscope that costs $1,850! They are truly works of art!
The Emerson Resort has two restaurants onsite. Ralph’s Cafe is open from 9 AM to 5 PM (except Sundays when it’s open until 6 PM). Here you can pick up pastries, soup, sandwiches, salads and more. There is seating both inside and out where you can enjoy your food, or you can take it to go.
Woodnotes Grille is the sit down restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. Locally sourced ingredients are used to create delicious meals in what they like to call “Catskill Creative Cooking.”
We enjoyed dinner there one evening and some of the highlight dishes included this Black Angus Beef Brisket with Parmesan Twice Baked Potatoes and Wilted Swiss Chard…
…as well as the Pan Seared Beaverkill Trout with Lyonnaise potatoes and French beans. Most entrees are priced between $22-$26.
We enjoyed breakfast one morning at Woodnotes as well. The restaurant serves everything from Eggs Benedict and House Made Corned Beef Hash to Quinoa Granola and Avocado Toast.
Our second morning, we stopped at Ralph’s Cafe. Overnight guests can enjoy a free cup of coffee or tea each day of their stay. We purchased a variety of breakfast goodies to share before we headed out that morning. Everything is reasonably priced, including breakfast sandwiches.
We had a great stay at the Emerson Resort & Spa. Our weekend had a mix of relaxation, fun and exploration. With an eleven and thirteen year-old, there was enough to see and do during our stay to make it an enjoyable visit for the entire family. If you are looking for a quick weekend getaway to the Catskills, we highly recommend a visit to the Emerson Resort & Spa in Mount Tremper!
The Details: Emerson Resort & Spa 5340 Route 28 Mount Tremper, NY 12457 (845) 688-2828
Room Prices: Rates start at $224/night, depending on date and room type
*Be sure to check out the Emerson website for specials and packages.
*This is a dog friendly resort! You can bring your pet with you!
*There is a full service spa onsite as well as fitness classes (for a fee).
(Thank you to the Emerson Resort & Spa for hosting NY Foodie Family. As always, all opinions are our own.)
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 getaway. 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 Farmand Housefor 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).
KitchenKettle 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).
LancasterScience 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.)
(Thank you to the Turkey Hill Experience for hosting us. As always, all opinions are our own.)
If you’ve perused my Instagram feed, you realize that my family loves ice cream. Turkey Hill is one of our favorite brands and we especially love their Double Dunker and All Natural Mint Chocolate Chip. But honestly, all the flavors are delicious! So, on our recent trip to Lancaster County, I knew we had to make a stop at the Turkey Hill Experience.
Located in Columbia, Pennsylvania, the Turkey Hill Experience is about a twenty-five minute drive from the heart of Lancaster. No ice cream or iced tea is actually made on premise. Instead, as the name suggests, this attraction is a fun-filled, interactive “experience.”
The Experience is housed in a beautiful, large brick building that was a former silk mill. You know you are at the right place when you see the giant cow greeting you. There are a couple of different admission tickets. Our family enjoyed the Triple Scoop – which includes the Experience, the Taste Lab and the Tea Discovery. It is important to note that the Taste Lab and Tea Discovery both require additional admission and a reservation time.
The Experience, located on the second floor, is self-guided. Visitors get to learn how Turkey Hill ice cream is made; from quality assurance, to packaging and freezing. In product development, guests can create their own virtual ice cream. Since the terminals can get backed up, we created our ice cream flavor as a family. Further into the experience you will arrive at a different area to design the carton for your ice cream.
Finally, if you choose, you get to star in a commercial. You stand in front of a green screen and read the provided script. A commercial is then created, starring you (or, in our case, one of our children!). You can get it e-mailed to you so you have it as a keepsake of your visit.
Of course, you have to sample all of Turkey Hill’s iced teas and lemonades. Unlimited samples are available, mostly of their different iced teas flavors.
There are lots of interactive exhibits throughout the Experience for visitors to engage with. How well do you know Turkey Hill ice cream flavors? You get to test your knowledge in this exhibit! There are also great photo opportunities and even a small ball pit for children six and younger.
I highly recommend adding the Taste Lab to your Experience. This was hands down our family’s favorite part of the visit! During the 45 minute session you learn more about Turkey Hill ice cream. You are then guided through the process of creating your own flavor.
Starting with a pint of vanilla ice cream, you get to add a flavor extract, inclusions and a variegate (what they call the syrups and sauces such as fudge, caramel, peanut butter, marshmallow, etc.). There are some tough decisions to be made. I mean, look at this wall of inclusions!
These were our delicious creations after we added our inclusions, but before we added the variegates and did the final mix.
After our delicious ice cream making adventure, we explored more of the Experience. There are several exhibits about Turkey Hill’s other main product: Iced Tea.
We also got to learn more about tea in Tea Discovery. During our thirty minute session we learned about and sampled six different teas. Honestly, I don’t think you’re missing out if you don’t participate in a tea tasting. Most of the teas we sampled were unsweetened and my kids didn’t enjoy them. For tea connoisseurs, do not expect freshly brewed tea leaves. However, you will get a short introduction to the history of tea and learn about different aromas and flavors of teas.
We were stuffed early on since we each devoured almost a pint of ice cream at the Taste Lab! So we didn’t go to the ice cream sample room until the end of our visit. The day’s flavors included vanilla, Dutch chocolate, chocolate mint chip, fruit rainbow, chocolate peanut butter, orange cream swirl, salted caramel and Graham Slam. You get one sample at a time, but can go up as many times as you’d like.
You can’t miss the giant gift shop at the Turkey Hill Experience! It literally takes up most of the main floor. They sell everything from ice cream scoops and bowls to t-shirts and flavored lip balm.
If you have family of ice cream lovers, then the Turkey Hill Experience is for you! This is such a tasty and fun attraction that the whole family will enjoy!
Hours: Please check the website for details. Hours vary by month and day.
Admission: Varies depending on what activities you’d like to participate in. The Experience only starts at $9.95/adults, $9.50/kids 4-12 and senior citizens, Free/military and kids 3and under Taste Lab; $5.45/person, Tea Discovery $3.45/person
*Plan to spend around three hours at the Experience if participating in both the Taste Lab and Tea Discovery. The recommended times are 60-90 minutes at the Experience, 45 minutes at the Taste Lab and 30 minutes at the Tea Discovery.
*Try to arrive closer to opening on weekends. We arrived at opening and there was plenty of parking. By the time we left around 12:30 the Experience was filled with a lot more people and the parking lot was full.
*If you know what day you will be visiting the Experience you can purchase your tickets online and reserve your time for the Taste Lab and/or Tea Discovery.