Summer Fun at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom

(Thank you Dorney Park for hosting NY Foodie Family.  As always, all opinions are our own.)

Every summer NY Foodie Family tries to visit at least one amusement park.  Living in Westchester County, we have many choices within a couple of hours drive.  It had been several years since we last visited Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pennsylvania and decided to make a stop on our way home from Lancaster.

Dorney Park is both an amusement and water park.  We visited on a summer day at the end of June.  It was a sunny, but not hot day so we opted not to visit the water park.  When we visit an amusement park, we all get to choose a ride that we “must-do.”  As we walk through the park to one of the rides on our list, we will stop at other rides if the lines are short.

Well, we lucked out on our weekday visit.  The park was not crowded and there were very few lines for the rides.

We love visiting amusement parks now that the kids are older.  Having a 10 and 12-year-old means that they can go on all the spinny rides together, like The Kaleidoscope, while my husband and I watch.

Our family loves roller coasters and Dorney Park has seven of them.  This includes the mild Wild Mouse, which was my son’s ride of choice, and the Woodstock Express, the kiddie coaster in Planet Snoopy.  My ride of choice during our visit was the roller coaster Talon.  This is the tallest and longest inverted coaster in the Northeast and riders turn upside down four times.  This was our son’s first time riding an inverted coaster.  Although he was a bit nervous before riding this, he did enjoy it.

Another favorite ride was Steel Force, which was my husband’s must-ride list. This coaster has a 205-foot drop with speeds reaching 75 miles per hour.  I am not a fan of coasters with huge drops and sat this one out, while my husband and kids rode it.  Unfortunately, the day of our visit, Hydra, one of the other coasters we would have enjoyed was closed.  However, there were plenty of other rides to keep us busy.

For those with young children, Planet Snoopy has a collection of fifteen Peanuts themed rides that are perfect for them.

For thrill seekers, there are many “aggressive” thrill rides that will sure to please.  The kids weren’t quite up to riding The Meteor, pictured above.

During the summer, Dorney Park offers a variety of entertainment, including meet and greets, music and dance parties and more.  They have a separate entertainment guide with all of the show listings, locations and times.  Since we visited so early in the summer, the only show was Cirque Imagine.  Many compare this show to Cirque du Soleil, as it’s a 30-minute live show of acrobatics and artistry.

The park has a variety of food options where you can get burgers, pizza, chicken, hotdogs and more.  New this year is Burrito Cantina and the Tidal Wave Cafe in the Wildwater Kingdom.  Although there are plenty of food options, we didn’t find any really unique or interesting choices.  We had a late, big breakfast before we arrived at the park and weren’t super hungry during our visit.  At our daughter’s request, we ended up stopping at Chicke’s & Pete’s for some Crabfries.  There are plenty of amusement park treats including cotton candy, fried dough and ice cream.  For those that plan on spending a full day at the park, the park offers dining plans that may be worth considering.

Visitors can see life-sized animatronic dinosaurs in the park’s Dinosaurs Alive attraction. This walk-through experience costs an additional $5 and visitors can travel back in time to learn more about these prehistoric creatures.  The park also has lots of games and an arcade as well, for those looking for some non-ride fun.

Dorney Park is a fun amusement park that kids of all ages can enjoy.  The park is large enough that you can make a full day of it.  You can even spend a couple of days if you want to enjoy the water park as well.

The Details:

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
4000 Dorney Park Road
Allentown, Pennsylvania 18104

Hours:  Hours vary by day and month.  Check the website for specific dates.

Admission:  Ticket prices vary but are cheaper when purchased online in advance.  Daily tickets start at $42.  Check the website for additional info.

Parking:  $20 (credit card accepted)

Tips:

*Buy a refillable souvenir bottle when you enter the park (or purchase online for an additional $2 off).  You get to enjoy free refills on your first visit.

*The park may be crowded the day of your visit and you may not be able to enjoy all the rides and attractions that you want.  Have everyone choose a “must-do” ride to ensure the whole family has fun.

Hands-On Fun at the Lancaster Science Factory

 

 

(Thank you to Discover Lancaster for hosting NY Foodie Family.  As usual, all opinions are our own.)

If you are looking for some indoor family fun in Lancaster, make a visit to the Lancaster Science Factory.  This hands-on science museum is geared towards children in 3rd through 8th grade.  However, children of all ages will have fun interacting with the exhibits.

There are over 60 different exhibits that cover topics of electricity and magnetism, mechanics and motion, light and vision, fluid dynamics, puzzles and brain teasers, and more.  Kids are encouraged to build, touch and explore.

My husband and I even got in on the fun and made K’NEX Mini-Racers so we could race them against each other!

We tried our best to get the Giant Arch to stay but, even after several attempts, we were unsuccessful.  Only gravity and friction are preventing the foam arch pieces from falling on our heads. Which, of course, they all ended up doing in the end.

My ten and twelve-year-old kids enjoyed all of the exhibits.  We discovered that our daughter is an expert paper airplane maker at the Flight Deck exhibit.

I had fun playing around at the Minimal Surfaces exhibit!  You’re never too old for bubbles!

The museum is one level with an open floor plan.  I liked that each of us could be interacting with different exhibits, but we could see where everybody else was.

The museum isn’t large and can be visited in about an hour.  Since we had the afternoon free, we spent about 2 1/2 hours visiting.  During this time we saw many different families come and go.  Our kids were so involved interacting with the exhibits that we hated to disturb them.

This museum is perfect when visiting Lancaster, when you want to cool off,  warm up or stay dry (depending on the weather when you visit!).  Kids will have so much fun “playing” and learning at the Lancaster Science Factory.

The Details:
Lancaster Science Factory
454 New Holland Avenue
Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17602
(717) 509-6363

Hours:  Monday – Saturday:  10 AM – 5 PM, Sundays 12 PM – 5 PM

Admission: $9.50/ages 3+, Free/2 and under

Parking:  Free parking is available in the lot across the street from the museum

Tips:

*There is no food available for purchase at the Science Factory and no eating or drinking are allowed in the museum.

*There is a small gift shop – The Science to Go Store.

 

 

Where to Stay in Lancaster: Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn

(Thank you to the Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn for hosting NY Foodie Family.  As always, all opinions are our own.)

When visiting Lancaster, Pennsylvania there are many choices on where to stay.  From campgrounds to bed and breakfast inns, there are accommodations for every budget. On our recent visit to Lancaster, we enjoyed a stay at the the Hershey Farm Inn.  This is a great family-friendly lodging choice with lots of amenities.

The Hershey Farm Inn is not a chain hotel.  They have 60 rooms, located in three different sections of the property. The two-story Main Inn has the feel of a traditional hotel, with a central lobby and interior rooms.

The Carriage House is the Inn’s more budget-friendly lodging option.  These rooms are more motel-like with private outdoor entrances.

Our family stayed in the Amish Farm House.  This 2-story house has traditional standard rooms as well as couples suites and 2-room family suites, which we stayed in.

In our suite, the exterior door enters the master bedroom.  This room has a king size bed, a chair, dresser, television, refrigerator and coffee maker.

The kids shared the second bedroom, which has a double bed, desk and chair.  It was nice for them to have a separate space to themselves.  After putting the kids to bed, my  husband and I could stay up with the lights on and  not disturb them. 

There is one bathroom in this suite.  I really loved the decor of the bathroom.  However, I wish that the sink area was a little larger.  Due to lack of space, it was hard for everyone to keep their toiletries around the sink.

The Hershey Farm Inn & Restaurant offers more than just a place to sleep.  There is plenty to see and do on the 23 acres of property.  For kids, there are two different playground areas for them to climb and explore.

At the back of the property, there is a large fishing pond.  Many swans and geese were inhabiting the area when we visited.  If we had more time, I would have liked to sit in one of the Adirondack chairs with a book.  It was so quiet and peaceful here.

The Inn has farm animals including goats and a barn with chickens and a rooster that wander freely.  Feed is available for purchase in the main lobby.

My kids loved swimming in the pool the most.  My husband and I enjoyed sitting under the cabanas to keep out of the sun.  There is no lifeguard on duty, though, so parental supervision is a must.  The pool is open until 10 PM though so the kids even got in some night swimming!

The Inn is located right next to the Sight & Sound Theatre.  For guests that have tickets, there is a convenient walking path connecting the two properties.

The Hershey Farm Restaurant is located on the property and overnight guests receive complimentary breakfast at the Grand Smorgasbord.  The breakfast buffet has an omelet station and made-to-order eggs.  They also have french toast, pancakes, make-your-own waffles, bacon, sausage, cereal, baked goods and more.  You will leave stuffed!

There is also a large gift shop and outdoor market onsite.  The gift shop sells everything from souvenirs and toys to clothing and sports merchandise.  Before we left, I purchased several plants and flowers from the outdoor market.   Guests who would like to have lunch or dinner at the onsite restaurant can get discount coupons at the front desk in the main lobby.

When planning a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn is a great lodging choice for your family!

The Details:
The Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn
240 Hartman Bridge Road
Ronks, PA 17572
(717) 687-8635

Rates:  Vary depending on dates – please check the website for availability and prices

Location:  The Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn is conveniently located near the Sight & Sound Theatre, American Music Theatre, Strasburg Railroad, Dutch Wonderland, the Rockvale and Tanger Outlets, and more.

A Tasty Good Time at the Turkey Hill Experience

(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!

The Details:
Turkey Hill Experience
301 Linden Street
Columbia, PA 17512

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

Parking:  Free

Tips:

*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.

 

A Foodie Tour of Kitchen Kettle Village

 

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

(Thank you to Kitchen Kettle Village for hosting NY Foodie Family.  As usual, all opinions are our own.)

Kitchen Kettle Village in Lancaster, PA started as a backyard jelly business over 60 years ago. Today, it’s a bustling village with over 40 different shops.  It’s also a haven of deliciousness for food lovers!  NY Foodie Family experienced quite the foodie tour of Kitchen Kettle Village. There’s a reason why nearly a million people visit each year!

Our tour started with lunch at Kling House Restaurant.   Before being turned into a restaurant, this was the house of several generations of Klings and Burnleys, co-founders of Kitchen Kettle Village.  The restaurant consists of many small rooms and has a very homey feel. Breakfast and lunch is served here and, in nice weather, you can enjoy your meal outside on the Terrace.

Once seated, guests are served a dish of Pepper Jam and cream cheese spread with crackers (I had to find out what that bowl of deliciousness was!).

During our lunch, my daughter and I shared the soup of the day (a salmon and corn chowder) and the Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich.  I cannot gush enough about the cajun ranch dressing that came with this sandwich.  We were even dipping the kettle chips in it!

My son opted for the Nuts and Berry Salad and my husband had this Lancaster County Reuben.  Everything was delicious and I highly recommend dining here if you are looking for a sit-down restaurant for lunch.

After our delicious meal, we continued our foodie tour with a stop at Aged and Cured.  This shop sells locally smoked meats and cheese.  The store sells over 50 different types of cheese.  And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill cheeses; Aged and Cured sells cheeses like Smoked Swiss, Strawberry Chardonnay and Steakhouse Onion cheese, the majority of which are made locally.  Even better, you can sample almost every cheese they sell!

The only cheese made on-site is the fresh mozzarella, which is made every Friday and Saturday.  You can see the cheese stretching demonstration both days at 11 AM and 2 PM.  It was fun watching a bowl of cheese curds transform into a delicious ball of mozzarella!  I didn’t realize so many variables like the pH of the water used, the humidity and even the temperature of the room all affect how the mozzarella will turn out.

If cheese isn’t your thing, Aged and Cured sells plenty of cured meats.  There is a selection of jerky, beef sticks and more.  Once again, there are plenty of samples of each to try.

Our next stop on our food tour was Pepper Lane Fudge and Sweets.  This shop sells all different kinds of fudge, including chocolate, cookies and cream, chocolate marshmallow and peanut butter.  All of the fudge is made on site at the shop and sold in slices that weigh just under 1/2 pound each.  On our visit, we were able to sample the regular chocolate fudge.

We watched the beginning stages of a batch of fudge being made.  The chocolate first has to be heated to 234 degrees F.  Once the chocolate reaches temp, it is poured on a chilled marble slab to cool. Eventually, the fudge will be paddled to aerate it, which gives it its creamy texture. It’s then rolled into a five foot loaf, which they slice and sell.  Fudge tip:  Do not refrigerate your fudge!  It will keep in an airtight container for two to three weeks.

Next we enjoyed ice cream cones from Lapp Valley Farms Ice Cream. The ice cream is made at the Lapp Valley Farms dairy, located only a couple of miles down the street from Kitchen Kettle Village.  Jersey cows produce the milk that is used to make the sixteen flavors of ice cream served here.

We enjoyed the strawberry, butter brickle, chocolate chip cookie dough, and (not pictured) mint chocolate chip.  The ice cream was super creamy and delicious!

A visit to Kitchen Kettle Village is not complete without a stop at the Jam & Relish Kitchen.  This is how Kitchen Kettle originated and is the “heart” of the Village.  Over 90 different products are made onsite here and Monday through Saturday visitors can watch some of them being made in the open kitchen.  Unfortunately, we missed seeing the vidalia onion relish being made the day of our visit.

The Kitchen sells everything from jams and relishes to salsa, pasta sauce, dips and more.  The number of jams and jellies they make is astounding, taking up a whole wall of the store. And, of course, there are samples of all to try.  The only question is, what items won’t you want to take home with you?!

You must try some of the classic Chow Chow.  Consisting of sweet and sour garden vegetables, this is one of Kitchen Kettle’s top selling relishes.

The Bake Shop is connected to the Jam & Relish Kitchen and sells many different pies, cookies and other delicious baked goods.  You can even purchase a gingerbread cookie for 99 cents and then use the icings they have set out to decorate it.

We made a stop at The Olive Basin, to do some olive oil and balsamic vinegar sampling as well.  This is one of the newest shops to Kitchen Kettle Village.  The taproom  has over 40 different olive oils and balsamic vinegars that are bottled on-site.

While I highly recommend the Kling House Restaurant for lunch, if you are looking for a quick-service meal, the Harvest Cafe menu includes burgers, wraps, soups and salads.  Still hungry for more?! You can get all kinds of different popcorn from Pappy’s Kettle Korn.  If you need a caffeine boost, The Roasted Rooster sells a variety of coffee roasted in Lancaster County.  They also sell smoothies, iced coffees and other beverages.  If we weren’t already stuffed I would have tried a pretzel from The Pretzel Haus.  I can only imagine how good their hand-crafted soft pretzel rods but taste!

 

A buggy ride in Lancaster County.

After our foodie tour we were stuffed!  We stopped by AAA Buggy Rides for a horse and buggy tour before we left.  We enjoyed a 55-minute ride through the Amish Country and even passed through a covered bridge.  Our driver Susanna was a great tour guide.  She was very informative and even let the kids, who were sitting up front with her, each take a turn driving the horses!

If you need a place to stay, The Inn at Kitchen Kettle Village has 17 lodging rooms available including deluxe guestrooms and suites.  We didn’t stay overnight at the Village, but the Inn has received great reviews on both TripAdvisor and Yelp.

As you can see, Kitchen Kettle Village offers lots of tasty options for foodies.  It’s a very family-friendly attraction for kids of all ages.

 

 

2

Visiting the Pagoda at Reading

 

During a recent visit to Reading, Pennsylvania our family visited the iconic pagoda.  Situated on Mt. Penn, the 110-year-old pagoda looks down upon the city and is, “Berk County’s most famous cultural and historical icon and landmark.”

As you drive up Dureya Drive, it is a surprising sight to see the majestic pagoda appear.  The walk from the parking area to the pagoda is a photo-worthy view of Reading, even on a cloudy day.   It sits 620 feet above the city of Reading and is anchored to the mountainside.

The pagoda was commissioned in 1906 by William A. Witman, Sr. and was intended to be a luxury resort.  Completed in 1908, the resort never opened due to the denial of a liquor license and a bank foreclosure.  Witman eventually deeded the pagoda to local business owner Jonathan Mould and his wife.  They in turn “sold” the pagoda for $1 to the City of Reading in 1911, who has since owned and cared for it.

The pagoda is seven stories high.  You enter on the second floor, through the Pagoda-Skyline Gift Shop and Happy Cat Cafe.  The cafe sells a variety of snacks and drinks, with plenty of seating to sit and enjoy them.  Although there is no admission, donations are requested to visit the top floor of the pagoda.

There are several staircases, totaling 87 steps in total, to climb to reach the top observation level.  Decorating the walls of each level are framed postcards and photos of the pagoda through the years. The sixth level of the pagoda houses a small exhibit that details the history of the pagoda and includes a small number of artifacts.

The observation floor is a small space.  There are two coin-operated binoculars that give a close-up view of the city of Reading.  Hanging from the ceiling is an antique Japanese bell.  This bell was cast in Japan in 1739 and shipped to the pagoda in 1907.

During your visit, be sure to walk down the outside steps and walk around the base of the pagoda.  There are several benches where you can sit and enjoy the view.

A visit to the Reading Pagoda will probably take about an hour.  This is a unique attraction that should be added to your to-see list when visiting or traveling though Berks County.

The Details:
Reading Pagoda
98 Duryea Drive
Reading, PA

Current Hours: (please check with the pagoda or the website for up-to-date information)
Thursday –  2 PM to 6 PM
Friday – Sunday 12 PM to 6 PM

Admission:  Free – $1.00 donation requested (50 cents for children 6-12 years) to visit the top floor observation area

Parking: Free parking

Tips:
*Wear comfortable shoes.  If it’s a nice day there are hiking trails adjacent to the pagoda.

*Food is available for purchase at the Happy Cat Cafe.  Snacks are reasonably priced with bottles of water for $1 and hotdogs for $2 each.  Only cash or checks are accepted at the cafe.

*There are bathrooms at the base of the pagoda.

*For geocache fans, there are two geocaches nearby (although we could only find one).