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Celebrating “40” at Cranberry Manor Bed & Breakfast {Poconos}

Dana and I are fairly new to the bed and breakfast scene. Besides our recent visit to Cranberry Manor, the only other bed and breakfast that we visited was a couple of years ago when he turned 40. When my 40th arrived last month, I decided that I also wanted to go to a B&B to celebrate my birthday. After a little research, we decided to stay at the Cranberry Manor Bed and Breakfast in the Poconos. It’s roughly a two hour drive from northern Westchester County, a perfect distance for a one night stay. Plus, all of the reviews I read were very positive.

Why a bed and breakfast?

Bed and breakfasts are small and intimate. They are usually old houses that have been renovated and restored to accommodate guests. A big plus is the “breakfast” part of a bed and breakfast. Not only is the home cooked meal included in the price of your stay, but it’s usually delicious and filling. But most importantly, bed and breakfasts cater to adults. All of the B&Bs that I’ve looked into do not allow children to stay.

Cranberry Manor Bed and Breakfast

The Cranberry Manor Bed and Breakfast is a house that dates back to the 1880’s when it was a boarding house. Its most recent owners Sharon and Ric Anderson have been running the bed and breakfast since 2007. Sharon formerly had a career in IT support. She and her husband moved up to Pennsylvania from the South for what she thought would be a tech job. But when that fell through, they ended up purchasing the bed and breakfast.

Cranberry Manor has a cozy, homey feel. I love the holiday tree that Sharon made out of grape vines and decorates for the different seasons.

There’s a community sitting room that has books, games and lots of brochures for local attractions and restaurants. The walls are decorated with antique Collier’s magazine pages that were discovered in the walls during a renovation! There’s a large dining room where guests dine for breakfast.

The dining room also has a billiards table that visitors are welcome to enjoy. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to play during our short stay.

There’s a Butler’s Pantry in the dining room as well. It includes a refrigerator stocked with sodas and bottles of water, and tea and hot cocoa can also be made at anytime. It was nice that, after returning from dinner, Dana was able to walk downstairs and make me a hot mug of tea. Sharon asked him what time we were planning to be downstairs the following morning; a fresh pot of coffee waiting for us when we came down.

Cranberry Manor has five different rooms, each uniquely decorated with a Victorian feel. My husband and I just happened to stay in the “Victorian Room”. It has a queen bed with a half-canopy.

There is a small seating area and a gas fire place. Although space is a bit tight for modern amenities, I would have enjoyed a larger television in the room. It was hiding with the cable box in the little nook above the fireplace.

Each room has its own private bathroom with both a shower and large soaking tub.

One of my favorite parts of Cranberry Manor is the large wraparound porch. There are a variety of seating arrangements, including a bench swing, several rocking chairs and cushioned seating areas. It was nice to be able to sit out there before breakfast and read, while we enjoyed a cup of coffee.

Breakfast

On Sunday mornings Sharon serves breakfast at 9 AM. Look at how pretty the place settings are!

Our breakfast started with sliced bananas drizzled with homemade caramel sauce.

We then enjoyed blueberry peach french toast, scrambled eggs and sausage. I was stuffed by the time breakfast was over. We were the only guests that night during our stay in September. So Sharon asked if she could join us for breakfast and we had a lovely time chatting with her.

Guests are given two keys when they arrive. One opens the front door and one that opens their bedroom. While Sharon and Ric live on property, they live in the space beyond the kitchen, separate from where guests stay. If you are in need of ideas of things to do or places to eat, Sharon is full of recommendations and information.

If you have never been to a bed and breakfast, I highly recommend giving Cranberry Manor Bed and Breakfast a try. It’s not too far away from Westchester County and is conveniently located to various Pocono attractions and restaurants.

The Details:
Cranberry Manor Bed and Breakfast
406 Cherry Lane Road
East Stroudsburg, PA 18301
(570) 620-2246

Price: $145 – $175 a night, depending on which room you choose and when you visit.

*Although some weekends require a two night stay, give Sharon a call. Depending on the date(s) of your visit, you may be able to stay for one night like we did.

*There is plenty to see and do in the area. But if you just want to relax and hang out at the bed and breakfast, you are more than welcome to do that as well.







Mom Escape to the Lodge at Woodloch

Crossing the state line into Pennsylvania, it’s as if the sign knew what my trip’s purpose was: “Welcome to Pennsylvania- Pursue Your Happiness” This solo mom escape was my very abbreviated, but much needed, respite from everyday life – my job, my kids and my husband. This was my time to focus on myself. For months, I’d been expressing to my husband that I needed to get away. “Go,” he said, supportive of my needs.

And so, after some research, I decided to visit the Lodge at Woodloch. The Lodge fit all of my requirements – a short driving distance from home, adults only, and a focus on health and wellness.

The Property:
The Lodge at Woodloch is located in Hawley, PA, less than a two hour drive from northern Westchester County. It is one of the three family-owned and operated Woodloch properties (the family-friendly, Woodloch Resort and the golf course community at Woodloch Springs are the other two) located on over 500 private acres.

The property consists of the main Lodge as well as Little Lake Teedyuskung, a Cranberry Bog and lots of wooded forest. Blackmore Farm is walking distance from the Lodge and supplies some of the produce used in the restaurant.

There are also functioning hives, with bees that help pollinate the garden and will eventually provide honey for spa treatments and the restaurant.

As I pulled up to the front gate, Robert was there with a huge smile and a warm and welcoming greeting. He checked my name off a list of incoming guests and directed me to the Lodge entrance. Once I arrived, the valet was there ready to take my bags and park my car. When I approached the front desk to check in, they greeted me by name and welcomed me with a
complimentary refillable water bottle, labeled with my name to avoid confusion with the other guests, and a tote bag. Every employee who I encountered during my visit was always friendly, helpful and had a warm smile.

Activities:
The Lodge at Woodloch is an all-inclusive resort with meals and activities included. However, some of the art classes do have fees. What drew me to the Lodge was the variety of activities they offered. With a focus on mind, body and soul, there is something for everyone. The daily activity schedule is conspicuously posted all throughout the Lodge. However, I’m the personality type who printed out the activity schedules for each day of my stay and highlighted all of the activities that I wanted to do!


The third floor of the Lodge contains the three exercise studios (Oak, Linden and Willow) as well as a cardio gym, rowing room and sitting area with a snack and hydration station. One thing I noticed is that there is no shortage of quiet sitting areas. They are everywhere throughout the Lodge and Spa.

I wanted to take advantage of all of the different fitness classes they offered. The first day, I enjoyed Drums Alive with Ashley ,where we drummed to upbeat music using exercise balls placed in step risers. This was such a fun and energetic class. I took a Splash Dance class with Christy using weighted poles in the water and basically pole danced in the pool. I’ve never taken a pole dancing class, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. It was, needless to say, another fun class. Later in the day, I took a Journaling for Self-Discovery Class with Susan, where I was given inspiration and resources to help me journal. I ended my evening with an after-dinner evening kayak ride with Ryan.

I started the second day with an 8 AM Chakra Meditation class with Alicia. One of my goals this year was to start meditating. I’m hoping this class helps inspire me to start my journey. Next, I took a Barre class with Retta. I’ve taken barre classes before so knew what I was getting myself into! Right after that, I took a Tower Power Class with Alicia. This is a Pilates class using a Tower (an apparatus attached to the wall). While I’ve taken Pilates classes before, I had never taken a Tower class. I really liked it and felt movements were more controlled using the resistance springs. Immediately after, I took my final fitness class of the day: the Great Wall of Yoga, again with Alicia. I really enjoy yoga and have taken classes at my local gym and have practiced at home. Using adjustable straps in this class took it to the next level, as I was practicing yoga while literally hanging off the wall! In the afternoon, I took The Ritual of Tea class, as I’ve started drinking more tea, especially in the evening.

I didn’t take any of the “Creative Discovery” classes during my stay. It’s not because I didn’t want to. I just didn’t have enough time. Many of the classes they offered were two hours. During my visit, classes included Zendoodle, terrarium building, Dot Mandala Stones, Pebble Art, Patchwork Painting, Basic Calligraphy and Decorative Lettering, Decorative Birdhouses and more. Most art classes had a nominal $10 fee.

For those drawn to nature, there are many outdoor activities including guided hikes, Bog Talk, Basics of Birding, Forest Bathing, Basics of Mountain Biking, Forest Yoga, Garden Tour, Tenkara (a Japanese style of fly fishing) and more. As you can see, there is plenty of wildlife in the woods. On a short walk around the property I saw three deer and was able to get pretty close to them! There is also an archery range and an outdoor exploration center called The Lily Pad that has kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and more.

There is also a Lotus Labyrinth on the property. This is a peaceful place for meditation and quiet reflection.

Every instructor was friendly, encouraging and patient, whether there were two people in the class or 15. They were also all very punctual: starting class on time and ending promptly so you had enough time to get to your next activity.

The Spa:

The spa has separate women’s and men’s retreats that include showers and changing rooms, saunas, steam rooms and whirlpools. There are also a couple of different sitting areas in the spa as well.

The Aqua Garden has an indoor pool where the aqua fitness classes are held. However, the most remarkable features of the Aqua Garden are the two heated soaking pools with HydroMassage Waterwalls. I might have spent the majority of my spa time here! There is also an outdoor whirlpool which is open year-round. The changing room has walls of digital lockers. Inside each locker is a fluffy spa robe. At the spa desk you can request a pair of sandals. It was nice to be able to store my things while I was at my spa treatment and the Aqua Gardens and not have to worry about carrying a key.


The treatment rooms are in the downstairs area of the spa, as well as the co-ed Whisper Lounge which includes an outdoor porch and rocking chairs. Relaxation and comfortable seating are the big focus here!

Prior to my visit, I booked the Rosemary Awakening, the spa’s signature treatment. The treatment starts with a rosemary and mint body polish (exfoliating scrub). A quick shower is followed by a full body massage with shea butter and essential oils. The treatment ends with a scalp massage and a foot massage. Amy, my massage therapist was great. She explained each step of the treatment and checked in to make sure I was enjoying myself. Even though I was completely unclothed for the treatment, she was so adept in draping the towels and sheets that I was never exposed or uncomfortable. Needless to say, this treatment was AMAZING and left me feeling so relaxed.

If full body treatments aren’t your thing, the spa offers facials, massages, sleep treatments, FLOAT therapy and more. You can also visit the Lotus Salon for hair cuts and styling, or to get a manicure or pedicure.

The Accommodations:

I stayed in room 322 during my visit. The room is a Veranda Classic Standard with a King bed. There is a large flat-panel TV and a mini refrigerator. There is also a comfy chair and a rocking chair in the room (again, plenty of cozy seating!). The room also has a desk with a salt lamp on it, which I thought was a nice touch. The bathroom has double sinks, a marble walk-in shower and a private toilet.

The best thing about this room was the private veranda with this view! During the day I kept the veranda doors open and enjoyed listening to the rock garden waterfalls. I woke early and enjoyed drinking my morning coffee on the veranda while I read my book. This was extra special quiet mom time!

The Food:


Executive Chef Josh Tomson, graduate of the French Culinary Institute in NYC, leads the dining team. He incorporates farm-to-table dining into the menus and tries to use local products, including produce from the onsite Blackmore Farm, whenever possible. All meals are served in Tree, the onsite restaurant.


Three meals are included in the price for each night of your stay, (dinner on the day of your arrival and breakfast and lunch the next day). There are menus for each meal where you can choose from several different options. Each selection is labeled as to whether it is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-friendly or contains nuts. Many of the items can also be made gluten-friendly or vegan upon request. They have daily specials at each meal as well. Dinner starts with an amuse bouche and then includes an appetizer, salad, main course and dessert. My dinner started with a chilled strawberry soup amuse bouche, then I chose the Colossal Crab and Shrimp Cocktail, the Signature Salad and the Seared Scallops with a Green Pea Puree. For dessert, I had that night’s special: a Skillet Cookie topped with Vanilla Gelato and Chocolate Sauce.

For breakfast the next day, I enjoyed an Open Faced Mushroom Omelet and some fresh fruit from the buffet. The buffet also had a yogurt and oatmeal bar, as well as a variety of baked goods and even a frittata. For lunch, I ordered the Lobster & Crab Roll, which, according to my waitress, is one of their most popular dishes. I had a small bowl of Potato Leek Soup and made a salad from the salad bar.


As a self-proclaimed foodie, I thought the food was quite good. The presentation was beautiful. Portions aren’t huge, but they are satisfying. All of my seafood dishes were excellent. At lunch and dinner there were several options that looked good and I wished my husband was there so we could share dishes! I found dessert and the sweets offered at the snack bar to be so-so.

I have to admit, eating was the only time during my stay that I felt awkward visiting by myself. I don’t think that I’ve ever previously dined alone in a restaurant setting. I brought my notebook to take notes of my visit and a book and I was okay, but it did feel a little uncomfortable. If you prefer, room-service is available for a small fee.

During my stay, the majority of the guests were women; either groups of friends or mothers and daughters. My daughter is still a couple of years short of being old enough to visit, but I can see us visiting the Lodge together. In the meantime, my husband will hopefully accompany me on my next trip here!

If you are looking for a mom escape, I highly recommend visiting the Lodge at Woodloch. Whether you choose to visit solo, like I did, or with a group of friends, your stay here will be super relaxing and fun…everything you need to rest and rejuvenate yourself before returning to reality.

(To see lots more pictures of my visit, please check out my Lodge @ Woodloch Instastories! I received a media rate for my stay as well as a complimentary spa service to facilitate my review. As always, all opinions are my own.)

The Details:
The Lodge at Woodloch
109 River Birch Lane
Hawley, PA 18428
(570) 685-8500

Check-In Time: 4:00 PM
Check-Out Time: 12 Noon
However, you can participate in the classes and activities and/or make spa appointments earlier/later than the check-in and check-out times. Luggage can be stored in the bell hop closet until your room is ready or you are ready to leave.

*This resort is for individuals ages 16 and older.

*It is recommended that spa treatments be booked in advance. They do book up quickly.

*Activities on the schedule marked with an asterisk (*) have limited space and require guests to sign up in advance with the spa concierge. Please be courteous and call the spa concierge to cancel an activity or class that you signed up for but are unable to attend.

* Dinner is served from 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM but reservations are required. Casual dress is recommended. While resort bathrobes and/or workout attire can be worn in the dining room for breakfast and lunch, it is not permitted at dinner.

*Alcohol is available during meals at an additional cost.

*The Lodge encourages guests to unplug. Cell phone use is not allowed in public areas.

*Gratuities are included in your package rate. However, I did leave a cash tip for housekeeping and the valet.

*Check out their website for specials and deals.

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.


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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 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 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.)

You may also enjoy:

2 Day Philadelphia Itinerary with Kids


A Weekend in Cooperstown

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).