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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.

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Sahara Sam’s Oasis – New Jersey

I had won passes to Sahara Sam’s Oasis from a blogger giveaway.  I didn’t realize that the park, located in West Berlin, New Jersey, was 2 1/2 hours away from our house in Westchester County, New York.  So, when we recently took a trip to Philadelphia over the kids’ spring break we planned a stop at Sahara Sam’s on our way home.

We arrived pretty close to the 10 AM opening.  We had to use the Route 53 entrance, as the facility is in the process of expanding the outdoor water park area, and is slated to open this Memorial Day weekend.  We had our complimentary passes, however, one day tickets cost $29.95 and twilight tickets, valid after 3:30 cost $24.95.  If we lived closer to the park, we’d purchase an annual pass, which is currently on sale for $59.95.

Lockers

While at the desk, we rented a small locker to store our things.  The locker cost $7 to rent but we also needed to pay a $20 deposit, which we got back when we returned the key.   The lockers, pictured above, use keys, but they give you a waterproof key holder that you can wear around your neck.  The small locker was big enough for us to store a book bag that held changes of clothes for the four of us.

The water park was pretty empty when we first arrived.  We threw our towels on some chairs, but very little sitting was done on this visit by anyone except me!  Indoor cabanas are available to rent for $85 a day.  They honestly were pretty small, and like I mentioned, our family is not one to just sit and hang out, so this wasn’t a useful option for us.

We first headed to Congo Bongo, the lazy river that spans almost the entire length of the right side of the park.  There are a couple of waterfalls that I managed to avoid, as I was not quite ready to be soaked at this point!

Water Slides

After the lazy river we decided to try some slides.  Mount Kilimanjaro is the family slide, where the four of us were able to slide together in a giant tube.  There are two different Snake Eyes tube slides which you can ride in either a single or a double tube.  As there were super short lines, we rode these slides a couple of times.  Be warned that except for the family slide, you must carry your tube up the steps to the other slides.   None of us opted to try the Nile Mile body slide.

Tim-Buk-Tu, the large play area, pictured at the beginning of this post, is in the center of the park.  The kids loved being soaked by the water bucket and playing on the structure.  I liked that there’s plenty of seating in front of it, so I could sit and keep an eye on them while they played.

Crocodile Flats

The kids had a fun time crossing Crocodile Flats.  You have to hold onto the ropes as you traverse the lily pads to cross from one end of the pool to the other.  They also enjoyed Sam’s Slamdunker aqua basketball area, located adjacent to Crocodile Flats, and spent a lot of time in this area with my husband.  Unfortunately, there is not an inside wave pool, though one is being built for the outdoor expansion.  The aqua basketball area got pretty crowded with parents holding toddlers and little kids trying to swim.  So, you had to be super aware of the basketballs being thrown.

Flow Rider

I was super surprised that my daughter wanted to ride The Flow Rider, surfing simulator.  Waivers need to be signed prior to riding and riders need to be at least eight years old, so unfortunately, my son couldn’t ride.  After signing the waiver, which required a photo ID, my husband and daughter were given special wrist bands.  Riders are given approximately five minutes of “surf” time.  They both rode a couple of times and had a blast!

For little ones, Lizard Lagoon offers slides and bucket seats perfectly sized for infants and toddlers.

Desert Palm Cafe

Outside food is not allowed into the park.  The Desert Palm Café Food Court offers something for everyone.  They have pizza, sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and more.  We found there to be plenty of seating inside the food court, but if it is crowded, food is allowed to be taken into the park.

Menu

We found the prices to be on the more expensive side.  Burgers were $11 + and Italian Sausage or Polish Sausages were $10+.  The four of us ended up sharing a Family Fun Bucket for $32.  This came with 9 chicken fingers and way too many fries for the four of us to eat.  They accept credit cards but require a valid ID with it.  This policy held up the line as people had to run back to their lockers or bags and get their license.

Arcade

If you didn’t have enough fun in the water park, there’s an arcade that you can play in either before or after your visit.  The arcade is accessible without water park admission tickets.

As I mentioned earlier, the Beach Club Outdoor Water Park opens this weekend (Memorial Day Weekend) and stays open until Labor Day.  The outdoor park includes a pool, splash zone and wave pool.  The recent expansion also includes outdoor water slides and an indoor pool leisure pool.

We had a fun time visiting Sahara Sam’s Oasis and enjoyed getting in some water park and pool fun during the winter.  However, the park is open year-round with outdoor attractions available from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  The park is located in Southern New Jersey and is easily accessible from the Philadelphia and New York City areas.