From the hottest cool weather fashion to Fall cleanup hacks, and even an amazing natural gel for quick muscle and joint pain relief after spending hours raking up leaves, I hope you enjoy my latest roundup helpful, "10 Fall Trends That'll Do a Body Good" - Let's go!!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Responsival. Below you'll find affiliate links (marked with ** or "shop now" images). As an Amazon Associate, I receive a small commission from qualified purchases made after clicking these links. Ya girl's gotta fund her family's travels somehow - thank youuuuu for understanding!!
Fall cleanup is no joke. It's one of the only things I miss about city living: not having to spend hours and hours raking leaves - it's EXHAUSTING!!! But there is a hack - you've got to invest in an amazing leaf blower, the lighter the better. With 75 mph of wind speed powers and weighing only TWO POUNDS, ZoomBroom** Lightweight Cordless Stick Blower is pretty much the best combo of lightweight and powerful leaf blower on the market!!
But you don't have to take my word for it - it was listed in Good Housekeeping's 2023 Best Cleaning & Organizing Awards! You still gotta get all those leaves to the curb or into biodegradable bags, but this powerful blower will save you TONS of time and energy!
2. Doctor Hoy's Natural Pain Relief Gel:
This oil-free all-natural gel features Witch Hazel and timed release menthol for 2-5 hours of muscle and joint pain relief, and reduction of inflammation. The perfect treatment of everything from your monthly cramps to sore muscles after a hard workout or raking leaves! The pain relief gel is available in roll on or tube, and they also have Arnica boost and a hot/cold therapy pack!
3. Have FUN with Fitness!!
We know it's important to exercise our body, mind, and spirit. We need to get the heart pumping and the muscles moving! If you find working out tedious and boring, let this be the year you find something fun and exciting!! There are so many kinds of workouts and classes to choose from, but one at the top of my MUST TRY list is Bungee Assisted Cardio (aka Sling Bungee / Bungee Fitness / Aerial Bungee). You may have seen this on TikTok - you're harnessed in and let the bungee ropes help you lunge, dance, leap, and fly across the room. It's a low-impact, high-intensity cardio workout and it looks like SO much fun. It's been gaining momentum over the past couple of years, so you may be able to find a class near you, just search for a "bungee fitness near me" or something like that! If any one is in northern NJ or NYC and wants to try a class with me, leave a comment, I'm SO IN!
4. Metallic Boots
According to Glamour's "12 Fall 2023 Fashion Trends You’ll Actually Want to Wear", metallic footwear is IN this fall! But this roundup is all about products that will do your body good, so of course we're looking at warm, comfy and supportive metallic fall footwear. Take a look at these fun and shiny chelsea boots, flats, and rain boots!
5. Take your bedding to the next level
From a thick plush comforter to a cervical support memory foam pillow that cradles your neck, now is the time to get take your bedding to the next level so you'll be warm and cozy all winter long! But don't stop at upgrading your comforter and head pillow. If you need help with hip, neck, or back pain, you may want to give these half moon and knee support pillows** a try!! And if you need an extra layer during winter, we LOVE this 10x10 plush blanket** over our comforter, it adds warmth and also acts as a weighted blanket, SO comfy and cozy, and it's perfect over our queen so we're never fighting over blanket LOL!!
6. Elevated Athleisure
According to Glam in their "20 Fall 2023 Fashion Trends To Know Now" article, "elevated athleisure is going to be one of this fall's most wearable trends, and we're here for it"! What's this mean? Take your typical super comfy athleisure (yoga pants and sports bra set or hoodie and sweat pants) and elevate with a necklace or bag, heels or boots, or swap out the spandex leggings for leather! Here are some fun items to inspire:
7. Heated Vest
Whether hiking, horseback riding, raking leaves, or waiting for the kiddos at the bus stop, a rechargeable heated vest is going to keep your core warm without restricting your movement, so we are LOVING this technology! There are many brands out there, I love this heated vest by Doace** (see my demo video below). Wear it as is in spring or fall, or layer under a bigger coat to stay toasty warm all winter!!
8. Cozy Coat
In fall you want to stay warm but look cute, no better way to do that than in a fuzzy teddy bear jacket, faux fur coat, or thick oversized cardigan!! Here are some top rated amazingly awesome ones to add to cart:
9. House Slippers
If you're not an outdoor-shoe-free household yet, get on board, because your home will be so much cleaner!! But don't worry, you don't have to be barefoot (which can be quite cold and uncomfortable during the colder months)! On the contrary, this is the time of year to make sure you have great cozy house slippers on hand that will benefit you in a number of ways:
10. Comfier Gardening Hacks
If you love flowers, fall means hitting the garden to swap out dying summer flowers for hardier ones like mums! We've got some favorites to help you tend to your garden with more comfort and style! From a knee saving pad** (for gardening and giving kids/pets baths) and protective gardening gloves to rain boots and sun hats, check these out:
It's that time of year... time for TOYS TOYS and more TOYS!!! I'm heading to event after event to bring you the best toys for Christmas 2023!! The first event of the season was The Toy Insider's 2023 Holiday of Play! Be sure to watch my highlights video with some great toy demos, with affiliate links to all the toys below to help you get your shopping done!!
Disclaimer: Affiliate links below - as an Amazon associate, I receive commission from qualified purchases made after clicking below links, they help fund the blog - thank you!!!
My favorite toys in order of appearance in the above video:
1. Beast Lab from Moose Toys
2. Dog-E Interactive Robot Dog
3. Style Bae
4. Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Interactive Dobby
5. Firefighter Dolls
6. NeeDoh by Schylling Gumdrop, Nice Cube
7. Fingerlings Luna Unicorn
8. Tamagotchi Uni
9. Hot Wheels Rift Rally
Toy Insider's HOT 20 List:
Toy Insider's 12 under $20 List (i.e. great birthday and holiday gifts!!)
The Toy Insider's STEM 10:
Have a tip about 2023 hottest toy or trending products?? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email!! I have a few more fun toy events coming up including 2023 New York Toy Fair, so stay tuned!!
Tomorrow (Saturday, September 9, 2023 from from 9AM - 3PM) Cedar Grove NJ is holding their annual townwide garage sale!!
They provided a PDF list of homes participating, but they're in alphabetical order BY STREET NUMBER, not by street or area... so I thought I'd help myself and others out by plotting them in Google Maps below.
Feel free to use this tomorrow, and leave a message below or email me if you're on the map and want to add photos or description of some items you're selling to the map!!!
**HOW TO USE MAP**
1. click top right icon "view larger map"
2. click on address to get more info or directions
As a non-driving twin mom who had 3 kids under 3 years old for a hot minute, I know ALL. THE. THINGS. about hauling multiple kids around the city to parks, restaurants, and schools, and what features are essential in a good stroller. A self-proclaimed "stroller addict", this is actually my FIFTEENTH stroller / wagon review. You're with a pro here ;) So let's get going!!
I'm here to show you everything you need to know about the Gladly Family Anthem2 Wagon Stroller, which I was paid to review, but please know my reviews are always 100% unbiased - all thoughts and opinions are my own! Click below to watch the full unboxing, assembly, and demo, and read on for detailed info, photos, and links to buy the Anthem2 (2-seater) or Anthem4 (4-seater) wagon strollers!
(Full disclosure: affiliate links are included below - you don't pay more but I receive a small commission from qualified purchases after clicking)
Features I love on the Anthem2 Wagon Stroller:
Who is this wagon stroller best for?
BUY the Anthem2 and other Gladly Family Wagons Strollers & Accessories here:
NY & NJ area moms, dads, kids, and kids of all ages - let's go to the Circus!!! Circus Vazquez that is! No animals, just SUPER talented humans performing for you at a number of nearby locations over the next couple of months!
Circus Vazquez, now in its 54th year and run by the five Vazquez brothers (third generation of their family to manage this circus), is returns to the NYC area with its brand new 2023 production featuring new thrills, new laughs and new excitement!
Circus Vazquez, featuring incredible performers from Mexico, Columbia, Mongolia, Chile, Ukraine, India and the U.S., is the largest family-owned circus in the United States! They'll be making SIX stops in New Jersey, Long Island and New York City including a first-ever stop at Randall's Island! Presented in English in the largest tent currently touring in the U.S., and it's climate-controlled with bathrooms, concession stand, and lots of great light up and spinny merch of course!
Watch our fun highlights video from when we went to see Circus Vazquez in Paramus NJ last year to see the awesomeness you can expect!
Enter to win a FOUR PACK of tickets
to your choice of upcoming shows in NJ or NY!! Details follow:
Whether you're looking for exciting outdoor adventures, historical tours, foodie activities, Amish encounters, or just want to relax and swim at a beautiful hotel in the quiet farm-filled rolling countryside of Pennsylvania, Lancaster County is the perfect destination for your next multigenerational family vacation. Seriously, from babies to grandparents, there are endless options here for everyone!
We've been going to Lancaster PA annually for 6 years, driving just 3 hours from NYC and now from NJ (our old getaway guides are listed at the bottom of this one). We just love the area and all if has to offer! So kick back and enjoy our highlights video from this summer's trip below (we brought my parents along for the ride this year for the first time) and read on for more details and links, which we hope will be very helpful in planning your own family's visit!!
DISCLAIMER: We were not paid but were provided free tickets, accommodation and meals in exchange for inclusion in our roundup. All thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased :) HUGE thank you to our partners on this trip, including Cartoon Network Hotel, Dutch Wonderland, Turkey Hill Experience, Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, The Amish Village, Smokehouse BBQ & Brews, and Discover Lancaster - the latter which is a GREAT resource when planning your visit, definitely check out their website, request a visitor's guide, and/or stop by their visitor's center!!
WHERE TO STAY!
Cartoon Network Hotel is the ultimate in kitsch meets cool accommoddations, and you can't beat the location if planning to go to Dutch Wonderland. You can literally walk from the hotel to the theme park and save the DW $22 parking fee (not to mention they have discounted DW tickets for hotel guests and you could even go back to the hotel for a couple hours to rest or let your toddler nap in the room). They have modern and fun cartoon-themed rooms, VR / arcade / and other great activities for kids down in the lobby, indoor and (seasonal) outdoor pools & splash zone, on-site restaurant and coffee shop (the latter turns into a bar at night), gift shop, and more!
This was our 2nd time being hosted by Cartoon Network and we just love it there! Last time we stayed in the Steven Universe Dream Suite and this time we got the Ben 10 Suite (watch the room tours below). SO SO SO thoughtfully designed with great art work, fun wall paper and bedding, and they give you tremendous space with suites featuring a primary bedroom and bathroom, living room and dining area with kitchenette, and a kids' area with 2 bunk beds (each bed has its own TV which is 1,000% my kids' favorite feature in the hotel). Cartoon Network Hotel is hands down my #1 hotel recommendation for families visiting Lancaster. It's such a fun spot, both kids and adults will love it!
BOOK YOUR STAY:
You can book a 384sqft King, Double, or Family room for 2-4 people (from about $147/night) on any site including Kayak, Booking.com, Priceline, Expedia, Hotels.com, etc. But if you have more than 4 people (like my family) you'll want to book a Dream Suite (max 6 or 8 people depending on the suite, from $399/night) directly on CartoonNetwork.com.
WHAT TO DO!
We've been visiting Dutch Wonderland annually since our twins were just 2 years old (when I was first invited to join their Influencer Ambassador Program) and we always have THE BEST TIME!!! It's so fun to back year after year and see them grow taller (see the photos above!) and enjoy different rides and activities each time. Last summer, my oldest kiddo (at 9 years old) was finally tall enough to ride every big ride in the park, which was a really exciting day for him because he finally got to go on their thrilling wooden Kingdom Coaster! This year? He rode it FOUR TIMES (and we all rode my favorite coaster, Merlin's Mayhem) THREE TIMES!
Awarded the Golden Ticket for Best Family Park by Amusement Magazine in 2019, 2021, and 2022, Dutch Wonderland celebrated its 60th Birthday this year! We brought my parents along for the first time this year and they thoroughly enjoyed many of the rides, and while we were off getting soaking wet in Duke's Lagoon and water slides, they explored the gentler rides such as Sky Ride, Monorail, and Turnpike.
While they have top notch big kid/adult coasters, little kid rides, animatronic Dinosaur "island", really exciting (and hilarious) diving shows, and all that fun, they're never crazy crowded like Disney. Most rides have no wait at all. I think the Double Splash Flume was the only time we waited more than 10 minutes in a line this trip! And there were a few that we rode 2-3 times in a row because there were no lines! Can't beat that at a theme park!
Summer hours are generally 11am-7pm daily from beginning of June through August with weekend hours here and there throughout the year including special Halloween Haunting and Winter Wonderland events. General admission $69.99 but they seem to always have some discounts available (currently an "end of summer" 35% off online), and kiddos under 3 years old are always FREE! Check their calendar and current discounts before booking your trip!
This was our second time attending one of the children's theatre lunches at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre and it was just as wonderful as last year's experience!! We got there around 11:30 to get our tickets, the buffet lunch opened at about 11:45. I can't speak of the dinner shows, but the lunch shows for kids has very KID FRIENDLY food i.e. things like chicken nuggets and corn dogs, cup cakes etc. There is a good salad bar, and coffee :) Staff is very quick to keep food available, clear your plates, refill drinks. Overall we enjoyed the food and it's a fun part of the experience - I definitely recommend getting the lunch + show ticket rather than just the show.
You continue sitting at your table during the show which started at around 12:45. They chairs are padded and comfortable, we simply turned them to face the stage so our necks wouldn't give us trouble. There was an intermission, which was appreciated since my kids had been drinking their pink lemonade non-stop!
The sound, the singing, the dancing, the set, the acting - was all top notch! Just terrific performances by all!! This was a summer show and I believe involved the children's theatre camp program, so had some younger actors included, as young as 11!! They all did so great, we just loved it!!
After the show, and I'm not sure if this is for every show or not, but they had a Q&A on the stage so kids (and adults) could ask questions to the cast, and after that the cast came out to the lobby and outside so you could take photos and talk to them. SO COOL! My kids, myself, my husband, and my parents all just absolutely loved this entire experience.
Can't recommend this place highly enough, whether you live in the area or just come for vacation like we do every year!! You can find their main theater 2023 schedule here (including Guys & Dolls, Escape to Margaritaville, and A Christmas Carol), 2024 schedule here (including Mousetrap, The Addams Family, Ragtime the Musical, The Full Monty, The Sound of Music, Jersey Boys, Hairspray, and White Christmas), and their children's theater schedule here (including Santa Claus the Musical, The Rainbow Fish Musical, The Sponge Bob Musical (Youth Edition), and Frozen Jr.)
You can't come to Lancaster and not do at least one Amish-centric activity or tour, but there are SO many to choose from! So, let me make it easy for you in saying The Amish Village is a GREAT one!! We're grateful to Discover Lancaster for coordinating tickets for us to showcase their Amish Village and Farmhouse Tour.
Our guide was so informative, teaching us about Amish life, culture, and religion as she guided us through an old Amish home. One thing that really stuck with me was the meaning I never realized about their women's clothing! At 16 years old, girls are given a white apron to wear to show they are of age to start dating (they encourage dating for a full 2 years before marriage since divorce is verboten). Once married, they're given a black apron to show they're married, since they don't wear any jewelry, including wedding rings or flashy buttons. So interesting!!
It was also fascinating to learn they do use some electricity, just nothing that ties them to a grid. So, utilizing propane gas and hooking up modern appliances to lawn mower motors for example, are quite popular. As are using peacocks as alarm systems, ha! Who knew, they're REALLY LOUD (watch the video!!) After the tour of the house we wandered around the property where they have some lots of animals, an Amish school house, wagons to climb into, and some yummy treats - I highly recommend getting some homemade whoopie pies!!
If you have time, you may want to get a more extensive tour such as their Premium Package Tour that includes a 90 minute narrated bus ride! See ticket and tour options here!
If you love ice cream, Turkey Hill Experience is a MUST DO. When they say that unlimited ice cream samples are included with admission, it's no joke. But they're not samples, they're FULL CUPS, and you can go back for as many as you want, of whatever flavor(s) omgggggg so good!!! Also, unlimited samples of a wide selection of teas and lemonades. Crazy thing is, the ice cream wasn't even the favorite part for my kids!!! It was all of the interactive activities like decorating their own ice cream containers, and filming their own Turkey Hill commercial using a teleprompter, microphone and green screen!!
For me?? It was the Taste Lab where we were schooled about all things ice cream and Turkey Hill and made our own ice cream with a bazillion flavorings, sauces, and mix ins!!! This place was such a fun stop, I can't believe we've been to Lancaster so many times and had never been here before!! General admission is $13.50 but you should definitely get the combo ticket with Taste Lab ($22.50). And be sure to give yourself at least 2 hours to enjoy it all (and make space to get down enough ice cream LOL).
WHERE TO EAT!
Smokehouse BBQ & Brews
Located in a serene area of Lancaster County on the 10 acre Plain & Fancy Farm, Smokehouse BBQ & Brews is a must for BBQ lovers, and really convenient if taking Aaron & Jessica's Amish Buggy Rides or visiting The Amish Experience - they're all on the same property! If their menu doesn't have you drooling, I don't know what will. We were treated to the "create your own platter" and it did not disappoint. I can honestly say, the BEST BBQ OF MY LIFE. So so good! My kids are extremely picky and they were eating off my plate after devouring their kids meals. I couldn't believe it! Don't forget to save space for Shoofly Pie, a Lancaster County favorite!
Whether or not you're staying at Cartoon Network Hotel, if your kids love cartoons or Cartoon Network, this is worth a stop for dinner. Call ahead and see if you can request one of the "Dream Cube" pods, they're super fun for kids!! The dinner menu is not super extensive, but you've got the kid-friendly staples and for adults things like tangy chicken wrap and burger, and some great deserts too! Everyone leaves happy! And if you're lucky, you may get a meet & greet with Gumball or another character while you're there!
OTHER GREAT RESTAURANTS:
MORE FUN ACTIVITIES:
INDOOR ACTIVITIES (Rainy Day Backups):
See and read more in our past Lancaster family vacation guides:
Guest post provided by Stamford American International School
As the world grows increasingly globalized and interconnected, it’s becoming more crucial than ever to foster a sense of community in children. Community-mindedness can act as a moral compass, guiding them to become more empathetic and respectful individuals. It helps them develop a sense of belonging and instills values that nurture positive relationships. Interacting at length with their society paves the way for children to learn valuable lessons that they’ll likely use throughout their lifetime.
When it comes to developing community-mindedness and social consciousness in children, the parent’s role extends far beyond the confines of the home. Parents are the primary architects in developing children's understanding and care for the world outside their personal sphere. If you’re only just beginning this journey with your child, know that it requires effort, consistency, and dedication. However, rest assured that the rewards are immeasurable as you watch your child grow into an engaged and responsible citizen.
Here are four concrete things you can do to raise a community-minded child:
1. Send Them to a Community-Oriented School
A child’s school life involves much more than their academic performance. It's also about fostering an environment that encourages children to care about the world around them, especially considering that the school is likely to be the child’s first brush with larger society outside of the home. A community-oriented school that incorporates service-learning programs can thus be instrumental in nurturing these values.
Service-learning is an educational approach that combines learning objectives with community service. It provides students with concrete opportunities to help address community needs, thereby developing their sense of social responsibility. Service-learning activities give children the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world problems, transforming these lessons from mere abstract concepts to highly relevant parts of their lived experiences.
When choosing a school for your child, consider its approach to community engagement. Look for schools that have strong relationships with community organizations and promote participation in local events. The best international schools in Singapore, for instance, will likely have robust service-learning programs to help keep your child active and socially involved throughout their formative years.
2. Talk with and Show Appreciation for Community Members
As social beings, people understand and connect with the world through interaction, and children are no different. Encourage your child to converse with various community members, from the friendly postman who brings daily letters to the diligent street sweeper who keeps the surroundings clean. These interactions can enhance their understanding of the different roles people play in keeping a community thriving.
Teaching your child to express gratitude towards the people who help them every day is a simple yet powerful way of fostering respect for other people. Urge them to say 'thank you' to staff members at their school or service workers in shops and restaurants. Also show your appreciation and respect for the people around you openly because children learn best by observing the actions of those around them.
Moreover, consider setting up opportunities for deeper engagement. Maybe your elderly neighbor has stories to share about the community's history, or the local baker can teach your child about the baking process. These experiences can enrich your child's understanding of their community and the diverse individuals who contribute to its fabric.
3. Teach Them about Politics and Social Issues
It’s never too early for children to start learning about the political and social structures that influence community life. Teaching them about these issues early on promotes active citizenship and helps them realize that their actions can make a difference in their society, even in small ways.
Start with the basics of politics, such as what a government is, the importance of voting, and how laws are made. Use child-friendly resources such as books or educational TV shows to illustrate these concepts. Over time, you can ease your child into deeper discussions about more complex political and sociological concepts such as human rights and social justice.
When discussing social issues, find ways to relate them to your child's experiences. For instance, don’t shun or shield your child from homeless people and instead use encounters with them as opportunities to talk about poverty and social services. Discuss news stories that highlight issues like pollution, racism, or gender inequality. Remember to keep these discussions age-appropriate, focusing on fostering empathy and understanding rather than overwhelming them with complex issues and technical jargon.
4. Find Age-Appropriate Volunteering Opportunities
Volunteering offers a hands-on approach to community engagement and allows your child to contribute to their community in tangible ways. In the process, they’ll also develop a range of useful skills such as teamwork and problem-solving. Look for volunteering opportunities that are appropriate for your child's age and interests. If your child finds they care deeply about environmental issues, for example, consider signing them up for a local tree-planting project. If they’re good with people, meanwhile, they could help out at a food bank or spend time with elderly residents at a nursing home.
Volunteering not only teaches your child about the value of service, but it can also expose them to diverse experiences and perspectives. They’ll have the opportunity to interact and even form relationships with people from a wide array of social and cultural backgrounds, many of whom they likely would have been unable to meet otherwise.
Raising a child who cares for their community is a rewarding journey that pays abundant dividends for their character development. Empower your child with the right tools and experiences, and they'll undoubtedly find ways to contribute positively to their society both as they grow up and well into adulthood.
Guest post provided by RhinoRank.
Join us as we set out on a journey through the Buckeye State, a realm brimming with vibrant cultural tapestry and engaging heritage. From dynamic cityscapes to tranquil rural scenes, Ohio unfolds like a well-kept secret with countless tales lying in wait. Be it for the intrepid globetrotter or the intrigued local, unveiling the in-depth, genuine experiences housed within Ohio's cultural milieu is truly unmatched.
So, buckle up and embark with us on this excursion, deciphering the mysteries and strategies for immersing in Ohio's alluring past and present. Prepare to encounter fresh insights, awaken your senses, and craft lasting memories – because Ohio's cultural jewels are just yearning for your exploration!
Discovering the Cultural Depth of Ohio
Ohio is a realm with a profound cultural heritage, dating from its humble beginnings as a frontier settlement to its current prominence as a pioneering industrial and agricultural hub. Ohio's diverse populace is mirrored in its culture, boasting an array of traditional music, art, culinary, and customs.
To delve into an authentic Ohioan cultural expedition, consider several steps. Start with acquiring knowledge about the state's history, allowing a more profound understanding of the individuals shaping Ohio's culture. Next, explore some of the state's museums and historical landmarks, such as the world-renowned Cleveland Museum of Art in the heart of the state. This prestigious institution holds an extensive collection of global art, serving as a testament to human creativity and providing insightful glimpses into the lives and narratives of Ohioans of yore and today.
Further your experience by participating in a cultural festival or gathering. Ohio's communities celebrate their heritage with festivals that bring traditional music, dance, cuisine, and other activities to life. Don't hesitate to interact with the locals. Engaging in dialogue about their customs, preferred delicacies, or viewpoints on Ohio's present culture is among the most efficient ways to comprehend a culture.
Celebrations and Festivities in Ohio
Ohio houses a rich tapestry of holidays and events, each emanating a distinct charm. The thrill of Fourth of July fireworks in Cincinnati or the traditional German Christmas markets in Dresden offers something for all tastes. To fully enjoy these holiday and event experiences in Ohio, consider the following tips:
Experiencing Ohio's Natural Splendors
Ohio is a harmonious blend of cultural richness and natural allure. Whether it's the energetic metropolis of Cincinnati or the undulating landscapes of the Hocking Valley, Ohio has much to offer for exploration. Here are some suggestions for witnessing Ohio's best features:
By adhering to these tips, you can uncover the lush cultural and natural tapestry that is Ohio!
Exploring Local Commerce and Cuisine
Ohio provides countless opportunities to shop and dine in true local style. From lively farmers markets to quaint roadside establishments, the taste of the Buckeye State is never far away.
Numerous farmers markets, including the globally recognized North Market in Columbus, dot Ohio. These markets offer fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and more from local providers. Smaller farmers markets are dispersed across the state and should not be missed during your Ohioan adventure.
Casual dining options are also plentiful in Ohio, with a plethora of roadside diners and cafes offering hearty meals at affordable prices. These establishments are local favorites, providing an opportunity to enjoy traditional cooking and engage with Ohio's residents.
Discovering Local Art, Music, and Entertainment
Ohio is bursting at the seams with local art, music, and entertainment eager to be uncovered. Here are some tips for discovering Ohio's cultural richness:
Journeying through Ohio's culture offers an irreplaceable experience. By following these tips for genuine experiences, you can gain a deeper appreciation of this vibrant cultural tapestry and unearth the hidden jewels that make Ohio an extraordinary destination.
Whether you're intrigued by its history, keen on sampling local delicacies, or desire to connect with locals in their own environment, Ohio surely has something to offer everyone!
The breathtaking four diamond Crystal Springs Resort in northwestern New Jersey is THE spot for the ultimate high end luxury vacation. From golfing and spa treatments to gourmet dining and tastings in a $10 million value wine cellar, you can really go all out for a destination wedding, girls getaway, or family reunion. You may be thinking Crystal Springs is out of reach for your family, but think again. I'm going to show you how Crystal Springs can be your perfect multigenerational family vacation, even on a budget!! Watch my highlights video from our summer 2023 hosted stay below, and read on for my tips and tricks for enjoying paradise, without even leaving NY/NJ!!
If your budget has no limit, go ahead and book 1-2 weeks in a huge suite (or house) and get excited to enjoy ALL the amenities without a second thought. Massages at Elements Spa, and tons of fee-based amazing activities like rock climbing, teddy bear stuffing, mixology class, 3 or 7-course Chef's Tasting menu at the adult-only Restaurant Latour, a private goat yoga class, tee time one of their 6 golf courses... sky's the limit!
If you're like the rest of us, you may need to justify vacation expenses and feel like you got as much as possible for your hard earned money. And I'm so excited to be the one to tell you, Crystal Springs has SOOOOooooo many free activities and amenities, if you plan your trip well, you will feel like you got an incredible deal, lived like the rich and famous, and come home with incredible memories (and photos)! Let's get to it!!
1. Book a Suite
I know I know, a suite doesn't exactly scream "budget friendly" but hear me out! For less than $100 extra per night you can upgrade from a standard room to a studio suite, and get yourself a full kitchen (no microwave but it has an oven, fridge, stovetop, coffee maker, and dishwasher), with dining table and sleeper sofa! If bringing kids, I highly recommend leveling up to a one or two bedroom suite - kids can watch TV or play quietly in their room while you sleep in. Now THAT'S how to vacation... so you don't get home and need a vacation after your vacation!!
2. Breakfast Credit
All rooms and suites come with $40 breakfast credit per night, and breakfast at Crystal Tavern is delicioussss!!! From french toast and fritata to acai bowls and cereal, you'll put that breakfast credit to good use!!
3. Indoor & Outdoor Pools
With 7 beautiful indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs at Grand Cascades and Minerals, swimming is probably the favorite activity for both myself and my kids at Crystal Springs, year round, and it's included with your stay!!
The 10,000sqft Biosphere indoor pool complex at Grand Cascades is absolutely stunning. You feel like you're in the tropics, surrounded by palms. With a fun water slide, aquarium, waterfalls, and a little cafe with snacks, gelato, and more. Just outside you'll find a swim out heated pool, another pool, and a life size chess board. So fun!! Do note: the German Foiltec roofing material allows nearly 100% light transmission, so you'll still want to use sunblock** and/or UPF swimwear** (**as an Amazon Associate, I receive commission from purchases made after clicking those links).
At the far end of Grand Cascades, past Crystal Tavern, you'll find the gorgeous (unheated!!) Vista 180 pool complex featuring an infinity pool looking over the gorgeous Appalachian mountains, a fun swirling whirl pool, waterslide, and 180* Cafe for snacks and cocktails!
Just 3 miles from Grand Cascades you'll find Minerals Resort, and you are free to use their amazing indoor and outdoor pools as well, which includes a cliff jump outside, underwater aquarium inside, and an outdoor splash pad!
Some important things to keep in mind regarding pools at Crystal Springs:
4. Free Activities
There are SO many free activities to do at Crystal Springs during your stay, just check their event calendar here for things like petting zoo, glow golf, movie nights, marshmallow roasting, self-guided hiking, wine cellar tours, scavenger hunt, koi fish feeding, outdoor game deck (foosball, pool, and ping pong), splash yard games, and more!! And don't forget, guests can also utilize the Minerals Sports Complex gym and attend classes for free - see the gym schedule here!! We're talking aerial yoga, bungee floating, spin, barre, Zumba, you name it! There are also endless fee-based activities if budget allows, like stuffed animal building, archery, clay shooting, golf, mixology class, paint and sip, VR games, IWall Exergaming, rock climbing, etc.
5. BYO Snacks, Booze, & Food
While delicious and worth a splurge IMO, food and alcohol bills can really add up when utilizing restaurant dining exclusively. If you're on a budget, I've got a great tip for you here! Wine Country, Walmart, and ShopRite of Franklin are just 4 miles away, so you can load up on snacks, booze, and groceries! There are also several fast food options as well as a pizzeria in that one complex, in case you're looking for quick and cheap :)
And don't forget, you do get $40 breakfast credit per night, so definitely use that! And you can find relatively affordable (and quick) grab and go options like $10-$16 sandwiches and salads, as well as fruit, pastries, popcorn and more in the coffee shop on both Grand Cascades and Minerals Resorts.
If you have the budget, you should definitely have a meal at each of the restaurants at Minerals and Grand Cascades. Restaurant Latour is definitely my favorite, absolute decadence, for adults only, get a babysitter and have an unforgettable dining experience here!! I love Crystal Tavern, too, with a great variety of food and prices to choose from whether breakfast, lunch or dinner. Gorgeous views as well! Springs Bistro is also delicious, their pasta and pizza are *chef's kiss*!! Kite's Restaurant, over at Minerals, is more casual and never disappoints! We've been to Crystal Springs 4 times but still haven't had a chance to dine at Chef's Garden, an al-fresco garden to table experience, because it's not open daily (check the schedule and go if possible!!)
6. Come Early, Stay Late
I'll be honest, their 4pm check-in is painfully late, but you can come as early as noon and start enjoying all the fun on the property! Because both indoor pools have locker rooms and free lockers, you can even utilize the pools before check-in and after checkout giving you 2 FULL DAYS of fun with a 1 night stay, or 3 full days with a 2 night stay, which is our favorite bang-for-your-buck length of stay... or "staycation" if you're fairly local like we are! Ah-may-zing!!
7. Drive and Save!!
When traveling to a far away city or exciting location, you probably won't be spending much time at the hotel, so you can scrimp on accommodation and save your budget for other things such as tours, flights, and food! But when you come to Crystal Springs, the hotel IS the destination. It has EVERYTHING, with plenty of included activities to fill your entire day!
If you're in the TriState area you won't even have to worry about the cost of flights, the anxiety over delays and cancellations and whether or not they'll charge you for a carry-on, and you won't be spending half the day traveling!! Crystal Springs Resort is just a beautiful 1 hour drive from NYC, making it the perfect 1 or 2 night "staycation" getaway if you're short on time or budget, of course a week would be magical!! And... this is a "Condo Hotel" meaning you can actually buy a unit and they'll rent it out for you! I've been considering this for a while... sounds amazing!!!
8. Buy a Day Pass
A day pass won't make sense financially for a big family, but if you're coming up solo or with a few friends just for the day, it may be worthwhile to consider! Shop for Day Passes and other activity gift cards here!
Have any questions about Crystal Springs?? We've been FOUR TIMES (2019 & 2023 in summer with kids, 2021 in winter with kids, and 2020 on a "momcation") so I'm happy to answer any questions!!!
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From kids washing slime down the sink to postpartum hair loss creating a monstrocity in the shower pipes, drain clogs happen to the best of us. If you're wondering how to unclog a sink or tub, and how to keep it unclogged, you've come to the right. place!! Before calling an expensive plumber or trying DIY chemicals or a snake that could irreversibly damage your pipes, I have 2 great products to recommend to you!! Watch this video and read on for more, including links to purchase!!
**Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by Plungeroo but all thoughts and opinions are my own :) Also, affiliate links are included below - you don't pay more but we receive a small commission from purchases made after clicking
HOW TO UNCLOG A SINK OR TUB DRAIN:
STEP 1: Buy a Plungeroo Mini Sink Plunger!!
This thing is a true powerhouse, and at just about 6" tall, it stores away compacting under any sink, in a linen closet, you name it - ready to pull out and use any time, day or night! It has a plastic handle that makes it really easy to hold and to plunge, not the typical straight stick you may be used to, this one is super easy to use! The bottom part is a durable rubber, and will fit almost any sink, bathtub, or shower drain creating a strong seal and powerful force to drain the most stubborn of clogs - no chemicals or snakes needed!! What's more? They're non-toxic, rust resistant, and come in 3 great color options!! Click my affiliate link here to buy!
STEP 2: PLUNGE!
But it's not quite that simple. Whether plunging a toilet, a sink, a shower, or any other drain, the key is to fill the plunger with liquid. If you have enough in the clogged area, simply tip the plunger a bit to the side to let it fill up. If you don't have enough liquid, add some water (I know I know, filling up a clogged area MORE is counterintuitive but trust me). When you have the plunger filled with liquid rather than air, it will send a much more powerful force down into the drain. Before learning this tip a year ago, I could never plunge our toilet successfully. I made a huge mess, and ended up in tears having to finally call a plumber. But since learning this trick?? I am the plunging QUEEEEEEN!!!! Literally, nothing I can't plunge on the first try. No splashes. No drama. SO EASY!!!
RELATED ARTICLE: How to eliminate odors naturally with ElectriFresh!
STEP 3: PREVENTION
We can't prevent every drain clog or blockage, but we can certainly prevent many with a good drain cover!! Personally, I love TubShroom / SinkShroom / Kitchen SinkShroom, they come in stainless steel or silicone, they do a crazy good job at catching ALL YOUR HAIR out of sight!! It catches it under the top part so you don't have to see it til you pull it out to clean it! They make it in stainless steel or silicone, and different versions for tub, sink, kitchen sink, or combos:
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!