Interested in advertising to hundreds of South Brooklyn parents through Bay Ridge Families? With a successful year of helping local families through our handy resources behind us, we are happy to offer updated opportunities to advertise and reach parents in Brooklyn and beyond in our weekly kids' events roundups (here's an example), our annual publications (including Activities & Classes for Babies & Toddlers, Activities & Classes for Grade Schoolers, Summer Camps, Birthday Parties, etc), and more!
All resources are published on usjapanfam.com & promoted as follows:
• E-mail list serve (550+ members)
• Local Facebook parenting groups (5K+ members)
• US Japan Fam Blog (4K UVM, 12K PVM)
• US Japan Fam’s social media (20K+ followers) - FB / Twitter / IG
• Bay Ridge Families’ social media (1,900 followers) - FB / Twitter / IG
Our weekly kids' events roundups and annual "Summer Camps" publications have already transitioned to blog format. Our two annual "Activities & Classes" resources were published as PDFs last year (downloadable here) and will be updated and published in blog format soon!! Don't miss your chance to advertise in those!!
Here are the ad options and how they will appear on the web. All are clickable through to your specified website or e-mail address! Annual documents will be updated and re-promoted throughout the year when new businesses open or close, or significantly change their programs.
A. Small Square (1000 x 1000 pixels):
1 - Clickable ad in "Weekly Kids' Events Roundup" on usjapanfam.com
B. Banner (2000 pixels wide x 1000 pixels high)
1 - Clickable ad in "Weekly Kids' Events Roundup" on usjapanfam.com
C. Large Square (2000 pixels x 2000 pixels)
1 - Clickable ad in "Weekly Kids' Events Roundup" on usjapanfam.com
Other Advertising Options:
D - Sponsored Blog Post - $100
Your copy or mine, published on usjapanfam.com and promoted across @usjapanfam & @bayridgefams social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - 22K+ followers)
E - E-Blast - $75 (or $25 if combined with sponsored blog post with same content, i.e. $125 for e-blast and blog post with social promotion included)
Your copy and image e-mailed out to our list serve (550+ subscribers)
F - Social Media Only Campaign - $40
Your copy (& image) or mine, posted across @usjapanfam & @bayridgefams accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - 22K+ followers).
Here's our roundup of the kids' activities and family-friendly events going on in the Greater Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn for the week of June 28 - July 4, 2017!! Don't forget to sign up for our e-newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay in the loop of all the local goings on!!
All the links and ads below are linked, so click away for more details and to double check before heading out for an event (time changes, cancellations, and mistakes do happen on occasion).
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28:
THURSDAY, JUNE 29:
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Here's our roundup of the kids' activities and family-friendly events going on in the Greater Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn for the week of June 21 - 27, 2017!! Don't forget to sign up for our e-newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay in the loop of all the local goings on!!
All the links and ads below are linked, so click away for more details and to double check before heading out for an event (time changes, cancellations, and mistakes do happen on occasion).
Register for Learn to Swim lottery!!
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21
THURSDAY, JUNE 22
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Still looking for a great summer camp program in Brooklyn for your little one? We're thrilled to be working together with Worldtots to introduce you to their very exciting program aiming to broaden the horizons and enrich the minds of children ages 2 - 5 in the comfort of their brand new school in Bay Ridge!
Each week, Worldtots' Little Traveler Summer Camp will immerse children in a different country's culture through art, activities, snacks, songs, dances, games, and language! This fun, interactive, and educational program will even have students stamping their "passports" in each country, creating handmade souvenirs, and taking home a photo album of memories at the end of the summer!
Worldtots' summer camp runs for 6.5 weeks from July 6 through August 18 at their brand new facility, located at 6813 8th Avenue. Here are the options and fees:
Worldtots is also registering children for their new English-Mandarin dual-language preschool starting this coming Fall, and is hoping to be able to offer UPK soon, as well! You can read more about their preschool here.
So, what are you waiting for!? RSVP for a private tour at www.worldtots.com/tour or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 718-745-6813 for more information!
Disclaimer: I'm no sellout guys! Though I was compensated to write this post, thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
Here's our roundup of summer camp options for kids in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn!! You'll local find camps grouped by type, and at the bottom camps that are further away with busing options to our neighborhood. Though we did our best to research and summarize, some information may be missing, outdated or inaccurate. Please contact programs for full details and leave a comment or e-mail us with questions, corrections, or to add your program!
Greater Bay Ridge: Traditional / Multi-Focus
Bay One Summer Camp @ Bay One Preschool (7106 3rd Ave)
Ages 3 - 5 years. July 6 - August 30, extended day and sibling discount available. Outdoor playground and garden. All meals provided.
Brooklyn Chinese-American Assoc. (BCA) Summer Camp @ various schools
Free, M-F 8am-5pm, K-5th grade. Activities include arts & crafts, leadership training, martial arts, and more.
Bunny Hill Summer Camp @ Bunny Hill Preschool
For ages 2-5 years, 8am-3pm July 5 - August 11 (6 weeks), $1500. Activities including gardening, water play, art, music and experiments. $100 off if you sign up at an open house.
Camp BounceU @ Bounce U (6722 Fort Hamilton Pkwy)
Ages 4-12. Activities include bouncing, sliding, playing games, creating art projects, etc. Sessions are Monday-Friday, 9:30AM-12:30PM and 1PM-4PM. $59.99 per half day session, $99.99 per full day session, $529.99 for full week full day. BYO lunch or purchase for $5.
Fontbonne Body & Soul Summer @ Fontbonne Hall Academy (9901 Shore)
1 week long classes in July & August for volleyball, basketball, cheer, writing, creative dance, and more! For boys and girls entering 2-9th grades. $175 - $300 per week.
Kidz Summer Culinary Camp @ Little Language & Kidz Cooking Studio (7921 7th Ave)
Ages 4-13 (mixed groups). 10am-2pm, includes daily hands on culinary activity, lunch, music and group dancing, games, painting, and more. $225 per week, July 10 - August 17. Maximum 12 children per day.
Kings Bay Y Summer Camps @ Ft. Hamilton Army Base & Kings Bay YM-YWHA
Ages 2 - teen. Camps for preschoolers, STEM, basketball, swim, Hebrew dual language, teen travel, inclusion, and sleepaway! Early bird, sibling, and referral discount. Transportation and extended day available. $480-540 per week up to $2,950 for full summer (prices vary by age and schedule).
LES Summer Program @ Lutheran Elementary School (440 Ovington)
1 - 7 week long full (9 - 4pm) or half day camp for children ages 3 - 10 years. Activities include music, creative movement, gardening, and literature-based art program. Extended day available. From $165 for 1 week of half day to $1,750 for 7 weeks full day. (2016 info)
Marks JCH Summer Day Camp @ 7802 Bay Parkway (7802 Bay Pkwy)
From 2 years old through grade 9. Inclusion camp for children with special needs. Offers transportation and extended care. Sibling discount. Swimming, activities from dramatic play to sports to jewelry making and learning about to Israeli culture and Jewish values. Rates from $830 - $3,280. June 29 - August 18.
NIA Free Middle School Camps @ Various Locations
FREE!! Running July 5 - August 3 Mondays - Thursdays 8am - 2pm for students going into 6th through 9th grades.
NYC Parks Summer Camps @ Various
For ages 6 - 13, children will engage in sports, fitness, outdoor adventure, and take part in many of New York City’s rich cultural and educational opportunities. Running July 5 - August 18, $500 per child for 7 weeks (9-5pm) and $575 for extended day (8-6pm). Lottery held March 3 - 12.
OLG Summer Camp @ Our Lady of Guadalupe (7201 15th Ave)
6-week program for ages 5 to 11 held July 3 - August 11, 9am-3pm (extended day available). Daily program includes pool time (2.5’ and 5’), arts & crafts, movie time, various sports, and board games. Drink and snack provided, BYO lunch. $150/week, sibling discount available. Registration at rectory 4/25 & 5/22 (6:30-8pm).
Park Slope Day Camp @ Adelphi Academy (8515 Ridge Blvd)
For children entering K though 6th grade. Other locations offer Pre-K (Carroll Gardens, North Slope, Park Slope, & Windsor Terrace). Traditional camp activities like sports, drama, music, martial arts, gymnastics, horseback riding, swim, and trips. 8am - 2:30pm, extended day and transportation available. From 10 days ($1,500) to 8 weeks ($3,624).
Poly Prep Summer @ Poly Prep (9276 7th Ave)
Options include summer experience day camp (with pool time), performing arts, academics, learn to swim, and more, for Pre-K & K ($525/week) through high school (3-17 years). $3,225 for 6-week full day “summer experience” program (9am-3:30pm - extended day available). Learn to Swim, ages 2-16, $215 for 1.5hrs 2 days a week. Other programs and prices on website. Lunch and transportation available.
The Ridge Creative Center @ First Free Evangelical Church (939 83rd St.)
Runs 9 weeks, you pick your days or weeks. Projects derived from student exploration of arts, culture, language, history and science. Full day 8am-4pm, extended day available.
Stepping Stones Preschool Summer Camp @ Stepping Stones (245 86th / 9321 Ridge)
For ages 2 - 6 years. Facilities include safe surface playground with sprinklers and central AC. Activities include field trips, dance, arts & crafts, music, science experiments, and more. Full day M-F for $1,396 - $1,500 per 4-week session or $2,652 - $2,850 for 8 week session. Half day and selected days available from $484 - $496 per session or $920 - $942 for full summer (2 half days a week).
Tiny Tots Summer Camp @ Tiny Tots Playhouse (243 88th St)
**They told us their program is only for their regular day care students**. 6 week full day program for $2200.
Treasure Island Summer Camp @ Treasure Island (347 74th St)
Day camp for ages 2.5 - 5 years, focusing on a play-based curriculum as well as sports, zumba, yoga, and more. Prices vary from $800 up to $2,000 for 6 weeks 5 days a week full time (8:15am-4:15pm).
Worldtots Little Traveler Summer Camp @ Worldtots (6813 13th Ave)
Each week, children ages 2-5 will learn about a different country's culture, art, snacks, songs, dances, games, and languages! 6.5 weeks (July 6 - August 18), $950 for half day (9-12), $1680 for full day (9-3) extended day available.
Greater Bay Ridge: Art / Music / Dance / Theater
Art & Clay Camp @ The Painted Pot (8009 3rd Ave)
Ages 6-14. Small group setting, focusing on clay hand building / sculpture, painting pottery, mosaic techniques and acrylic painting on canvas! Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm, extended day available. $595/week or $125/day. BYO lunch.
Bay Ridge Ballet's Elementary Ballet Camp @ Bay Ridge Ballet (127 Bay Ridge Ave)
Ages 5-8 ballet camp held July 24-28. $475, 9:30-3:30 (extended care available). Classes and activities include Elementary Ballet, Broadway Jazz, Junior Choreographers Class, Tumbling, Dance Education, Arts & Crafts, and Snack-times & Lunch.
Brooklyn Theatre Camp @ Our Lady of Angels School (337 74th St)
Ages 5-14, 9am-3pm, extended day available. Acting, singing, dancing, theatre, and performance opportunities. $215 per week or $50 per day. Transportation available. (2016 info)
Crossroads Arts Camp @ Gymnasium at High School of Telecommunications & Arts Technology (67th & 4th)
FREE for ages 5 through teen, meeting Sundays from 10:30AM-noon
DGR Live Out Loud Summer Camp @ DG Rockers Guitar & Music School (7207 Fort Hamilton Pkwy)
Ages 5-13, July 3 - Aug 11, 9am-3:45pm. $2000 for 6 weeks (early bird, sibling, & friend referral discounts available). Activities include guitar / vocal class, academics, kickboxing & kung fu, meditation, board games, field trips, cooking & art classes, and more!
Intro to Dance Summer Program @ Beyond Dance (8717 3rd Ave)
A two-week summer program (4 classes - Aug. 8, 10, 15, 17) offering an introduction to dance styles for ages 2.5-4, 4-6, and 7-10 years.
Music Box School Camps @ The Music Box School (9402 Fort Hamilton Pkwy)
Music camps for ages 3 through 13 years. $340 per week for 3-6 years, $380 per week for 4-7 years, $750-780 per 2 week program for 7-13 years.
Summer Art Camp @ The Art Room (8710 3rd Ave)
Art camp covering painting, drawings, sculpture, clay works, craft inspired works, etc. Running Monday - Friday 9-1:30pm ($475 per week, $90/day) for ages 4-12 years, includes snacks.
Theater Camps @ Dimensions on Stage (7601 3rd Ave)
Weekly camps teaching singing, acting, dance, improv, and character study, for ages 4-14 years, culminating with a performance for family and friends on the last day. $240 - 412 / wk.
Theater Summer Workshops @ Acting Out! (7426 15th Ave)
1 - 5 week acting, singing, and theater-related workshops for ages K - 17 years. $149 (1 hr per day), $195 (1.5 hrs per day), $199-$325 (2-3 hrs per day) per week.
Summer Creative Arts & Music Program (SCAMP) @ Leif Ericson Day School (1037 72nd St)
Ages 3-12, activities include painting, writing, publishing, puppet making, performance opportunities, making & playing musical instruments, singing, water play, and computers. Full day (9am-4pm) and half day (9am-12pm), 3-5 days a week, extended care and sibling discounts available. $200 - $300 per week (2 week minimum).
Summer Dance & Theater Camps @ Danceworks (7116 13th Ave)
Ages 3-12, 10am-3:30pm 3 days a week. Boys dance free! Theater, hip hop, jazz, tap, lyrical, ballet, acro, & audition prep. See ad on next page for more info!
Summer Stage @ Bay Ridge Prep (8101 Ridge Blvd)
4 week program (July 17 - August 10) hosted in partnership with Jeff Samaha Theater Productions/Ridge Chorale, preparing kids for and culminating in a full theatrical production! For kids ages 9-17, beginners and up. $700 per student, sibling discount available.
Young Dancers in Repertory Summer Camp & Classes @ Various
PS 127 (7805 7th Ave) - Free! 6 years through 5th grade. Details TBA in April.
YDR Studio, 5602 5th Ave. This year’s schedule and fees TBD, but 2016 was: 2 days / week, 1-2 hrs/week. $100/week - $140/4 weeks.
Greater Bay Ridge: Sports / Martial Arts
Bay Ridge Martial Arts Summer Camp @ Champions Taekwondo (7005 3rd Ave)
Monday to Friday (8:30am-3pm) July 10 - August 25. Martial Arts, arts & crafts, field trips, movies, etc. $150 per week. Limited to 10 students only!
Brooklyn Sports Camp @ Our Lady of Angels School (337 74th St)
Ages 4-16, extended day available. Sports and fun activities (such as bowling, billiards, and movies). $215 per week or $50 per day. Transportation available. (2016 info). Open house June 4 @ 1-4pm at 337 74th Street.
Crossroads Sports Camp @ Gymnasium at High School of Telecommunications & Arts Technology (67th & 4th)
FREE for ages 5 through teen, meeting Sundays from 10:30AM-noon
Little Gym Camp @ The Little Gym Bensonhurst-Dyker (8681 18th Ave)
Indoor day camp combining fun physical activity, games, and arts & crafts for ages 3-12 years. M-F 9am-12 and 1-4pm. June 26 - August 27. From $30 per day.
PSAL Summer Big Apple Games @ PS 186 & PS 176
Designed as an extension of the PSAL (Public Schools Athletic League), this program offers a variety of recreational opportunities for children from grades 4 through 12, including students with special needs. (2016. info)
Salvation Army Basketball Clinic @ 252 86th Street
FREE!! July 10 - August 10, Mondays-Thursdays 9am-12, ages 8-13.
Xaverian Sports Camp @ Xaverian (7100 Shore Road)
Basketball (2nd - 9th grade) and baseball (5th - 9th grade) for boys and girls. June 26 - August 4, Monday - Friday 9am - 3pm, $270-$300 per week. $9 per day for lunch or BYO. Transportation available from Staten Island & the Rockaways. Drop-off from 8:30 available, no after care.
Greater Bay Ridge: Academics
Academic Summer Camps @ Bayridge Learning Center (450 77th St)
Summer academic programs from July 7th-August 8th for 3rd - 12th grades, including courses on ELA, math, reading, science, creative writing, SHSAT, PSAT, and SAT/ACT.
FasTrack Camps @ FasTracKids Dyker Heights (7612 13th Ave)
Educational day camp experience for ages 2 years and up. Monday - Friday, half and full day, from $575 (M-F 10-12am) to $2,700 (M-F 9am-4pm) for 8 weeks.
Summer Enrichment Programs @ A+ Academy (6802 8th Ave & 710 57th Street)
Programs begin July 5 or 10th and run through August 18, include 3-7th grade program, SHSAT, PSAT, and SAT prep!
Xaverian XCEL @ Xaverian (7100 Shore Road)
Xaverian Community of Emerging Leaders, (XCEL) is a summer enrichment program that integrates educational, spiritual and leadership development for boys & girls entering the 8th grade. 115 seats available. Activities include TACHS prep classes, elective course options in robotics, film production, studio art, creative writing, and dramatics, and a variety of recreational activities in the afternoon. One day each week at an off-campus location using New York City as their classroom. June 26 - July 27, Monday - Thursday, 8:30am - 2pm. Application Deadline: April 3.
BEYOND BAY RIDGE (With Transportation)
Aviator Sports Summer Camps @ Floyd Bennet Field
For ages 3-14 years, campers will rotate through 5 activities a day (swim, arts & crafts, drama, go-carts, photography, etc), from 9am-5pm (extended hours available). Early bird and referral discounts available. Options from 1 week ($495-$570) to full summer ($2,685-$3,150). Bus transportation available, from $125 per week to $650 for entire summer.
Mill Basin Day Camp @ Mill Basin
Ages 3 years through 9th grade. 4-8 weeks, 3/4/5 days per week. 8:45am-4pm. Sibling discount and transportation. Activities include swimming, arts & crafts, dance, karate, sports, gymnastics, magic, video game room, baking center, IJAX (giant screen theatre) and computers. Prices range from $2,050 (3-5yrs program 3 days/week for 4 weeks) to $2,950 (8-9th grade program, 5 days/week for 8 weeks)
Mount Tom Day Camp @ New Rochelle, NY
Day camp for ages 3-14 years offering swim, sports, performing & creative arts, outdoor adventure, and horseback riding. Half, mini, and full days available for 2-8 weeks, ranging from $1,200 (2 weeks half day) to $6,900 (8 weeks full day). Transportation provided - in past they came as close as Park Slope and will consider a stop in Bay Ridge with enough interest.
Quinipet Camp @ Shelter Island
Day, overnight, and sailing camps! Monday - Friday day camp for ages 4 - 12 years with half day ($425/week) and full day ($575/week) options. Activities include arts & crafts, beach fun, nature walk, nature education, team sport, playground, cooking and gardening. Sailing camp for ages 8-15 years, $700 for half day 2 week session. Overnight camp for ages 7 - 17 years, $700-$750/week. Will consider transportation to Bay Ridge with enough interest.
Shorefront Summer YM-YWHA Day Camp @ Brighton Beach
Ages 3 years through 9th grade. Creative activities, awesome aquatics, and great trips around the tri-state area. 9am-5pm, lunch provided. Extended day and transportation available. $550/week, $1,805 per session (4 weeks), and $3,102 full summer (9 weeks).
USDAN Summer Camp for the Arts @ Long Island
2 week ($1,950), 4 week ($3,900-$4,200), and 7 week ($5,250 - $5,750) programs for Pre-K through 12th graders featuring art, creative writing, dance, nature, theater, and more. 140 acre campus. Transportation included (current transportation offered as close as Park Slope / Gowanus, but can add Bay Ridge stop with enough interest.)
Young People’s Day Camps @ Flatlands
Private day camp for boys and girls ages 4-14 years, open July 5 - August 26. Activities include sports, arts & crafts, swimming twice a week at Tottenville Pool, and at least 1 field trip a week. $500 per week, early bird and multi-week discounts available, and free transportation (door-to-door to all parts of Brooklyn).
Here's our roundup of the kids' activities and family-friendly events going on in the Greater Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn for the week of June 14 - 20, 2017!! Don't forget to sign up for our e-newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay in the loop of all the local goings on!!
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We recently took a family vacation to Lancaster for a long weekend getaway and had the most amazing time!! It's a quick and easy 3 hour drive from New York City, so even if you can only spend one night there it could still be worth it. That said, we spent three nights and found it to be the perfect length of time - we left with tons of great memories but have plenty more to see and do if we come back again (and we definitely plan to)! Click below to watch our video montage, and keep reading for my "Family Vacation Guide to Lancaster" - I'll give you an overview of all we did, and mention additional places to consider as well (that sound great but we just didn't have time to get to)! Alrighty, let's go!!
Hotel: Lancaster DoubleTree Resort
Having heard great things about this hotel, the thing that really pulled us toward it was their indoor water playground, and it did not disappoint!! All 3 of our kids had a blast splashing around - the pool area and water itself were both pleasantly warm (no shivering babies, yay!!), and they even had an extra pool float for us to borrow!
The hotel and grounds are huge and exquisitely cared for, and staff was very friendly and helpful. Our room was large, easily fitting 2 Queen beds and 2 cribs, and the bathroom had a shower AND a jacuzzi!! The breakfast buffet was great and plentiful, though it's pretty much the same stuff every day so it got a bit boring by the third morning. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant (Cafe 24 Hundred) two of our three nights because we were just too exhausted and worried about dragging the kids to a restaurant and having them melt down and get them back in the car to get home. The dinner menu had a lot of options, our meals were superb, and prices weren't too bad.
They have a golf course and fitness center and daily kids programming - things like arts and crafts and movie time - some activities were free and some had an extra charge. And the cookies. Ohhhh the cookies - you'll get warm delicious chocolate chip and walnut cookies when you check in (and can get more when you check out if you ask nicely!).
The DoubleTree is one of the pricier Lancaster hotels, but for me, because of the great indoor pool, service, and lovely rooms, I felt it was totally worth the splurge and can't recommend it highly enough!!
Other Family-Friendly Lancaster Hotels to Consider (with pools/playgrounds):
If you have kids ages 1-10 and will be traveling to or live within a couple hours of the Lancaster area, Dutch Wonderland is definitely a must-visit! With rides accommodating even the smallest visitors and "thrill" rides for the bigger ones, a water park for the summer months, and live entertainment, it really is fun for the whole family!!
We brought our double wide stroller and found the park to be extremely accommodating - it is designed for families, after all! Bathrooms had changing tables (but bring your own changing pad!) Most rides had stroller parking areas. We ate lunch at the large Mill Stream Eatery and while most parked their strollers outside we didn't have a problem squeezing ours in and finding a spot at a table (it was PACKED at lunchtime though, consider eating off-peak hours!). No outside beverages or food are allowed, and they check bags and strollers before entering the park, but we didn't have a problem bringing all of our reusable water bottles and some snacks for the toddlers. There was a wide enough selection of food and snacks that we didn't really have a problem. Hot dogs, chicken fingers, pizza, the usual suspects. I found Bean Sprouts (view menu here) had the healthiest options, the Chicken Pesto Chango was delish!! Their website says to consult a manager on the day of your visit regarding food allergies, I imagine you would get the green light to bring your own food in that case.
They have a really cool color-coded system based on height, so you can know exactly who can ride on what before getting in line. In fact, you can see right on their website, so you don't have a disappointed kiddo on your hands... Our 40" tall 4 year old could ride on most rides, but not all. He saw the swings off in the distance and we went racing toward them. He was so excited and rightfully so was really bummed when we got up to the "Flying Trapeze" and realized he was too short to ride, since he's ridden on those at other amusement parks. Oops!! There are plenty of rides that even babies can ride in a parent's lap, which is fun for families such as mine so we don't have to split up every time!
They are currently building Merlin's Mayhem, which looks like it is going to be one amazing rollercoaster!! However, it means a few other rides and attractions are currently closed due to construction. They are noted on their list of attractions, so you can plan ahead!
We went over Memorial Day Weekend and the longest line we had to wait was 30 minutes, most were more like 10 minutes and some we simply walked onto! My son's favorite ride was the Double Splash Flume, and he was really fascinated with the animatronic dinosaurs on Exploration Island, as well! My personal favorite was the Joust Family Coaster, which my son rode once with me and once with my husband. Our most memorable ride was definitely the Turtle Whirl since all 5 of us rode together and took a selfie video with all 3 kids screaming - it's HILARIOUS!!! You gotta check it out in our Lancaster Montage Video at the top of this post!!
You'll definitely want to schedule the whole day for Dutch Wonderland, and if you want to do Duke's Lagoon water park as well, I really recommend going for two days - one dry day and one wet day! There really is plenty to do, and you don't want to feel rushed. Bring a stroller or baby carriers and try to get naps in if you can. Our kids were too excited to nap, and crashed out hard in the car at 5pm, slept through dinner, transferred seamlessly to beds and slept through the night til 6AM! Nothing like a full day at Dutch Wonderland to wear the pants off your kids!! YES!!!!!
We are thrilled to be working with Dutch Wonderland on this review and to provide my readers with discounted tickets - just click here (code "Usjapanfamsblog17"!
I have never experienced anything quite like Cherry Crest Adventure Farm before - I wasn't sure what to expect and it totally blew us away. It was ah-may-zing, a definite MUST for any families headed to Lancaster area!!!!!
Set on a 300-acre working farm, they operate an "adventure farm" during the summer and fall months with "agri-tainment" for the whole family. From a little tractor-pulled little wagon train to huge air filled bounce pillows to mommy-and-me swings, it's one crazy fun activity after another! My personal favorite was the Hay Chute Slide which we enjoyed riding tandem with the kids (hiking up the huge hill has an added bonus of being a great glute workout LOL!!). There were lots of hands-on things the kids could do, like building houses with huge lincoln log-like planks, pumping water to race boats, and petting some small farm animals! And their 5-acre corn maze opens July 1!
It's not the best place for strollers since it's mostly grass covered with some hills. We left our stroller in the car, but you can manage with one, especially if it's all-terrain or if you stick to the main path. The bathrooms were nice, with changing tables, and there were plenty of food options and picnic table dining out in the sun or under cover. It was pleasant temperature when we went, but a rep mentioned they have huge fans with misters going on hot days to help cool guests off.
I highly recommend setting aside a good 4 hours or so to spend here, and know that you and the kids will be exhausted after a good half or full day of running around outside!
Strasburg Rail Road is America's oldest railroad, dating back to 1831!! Riding it along the Pennsylvania countryside and passing working Amish farms really gives you an authentically old-time steam rail experience! The train and its cars are not replicas - they are the originals, restored and in pristine condition (so, please respect their no food or drink policy, unless you get dining car tickets)!
The Strasburg Station is just a mile down the road from Cherry Crest Adventure Farm, so I can't recommend pairing these two together highly enough!! From Cherry Crest you can actually watch the train barrel down in front of you (I've got a great clip of this in my Lancaster Montage Video), it's quite exciting and a great way to get the kids psyched for a ride later in the day!
I saw some people fold strollers and bring them aboard, but I would recommend leaving yours in the car and carrying or wearing babies. It's a fairly short ride, 45 minutes round trip with a few stops but if doing the roundtrip from Strasburg you just stay on for the entire journey, which makes it nice and easy! The audio commentary is interesting and informative, and the sound system was great - we had no problem understanding them (unlike the subway in NYC haha!!).
We had coach tickets and found the coach cars to be plenty nice. Upgrades are just a few dollars to experience First Class, Open Car, Dining Car, etc. They also offer some cool packages such as a combo with Cherry Crest Adventure Farm and unlimited rides on the Strasburg Rail Road! They also have A Day Out with Thomas, check their schedule for when he'll be around!
There are cute children's rides and activities at Strasburg Station, as well as a cafe and other places to explore if you have time before or after your ride on the train. There's also free parking.
There are a lot of Amish tours and experiences to choose from. We decided to go with The Amish Experience and it was great, however not easy with the little ones... They have a 3D theater where they show a movie about a young Amish man's dilemma over choosing to join the Amish church or leave family behind for the modern world. It's set in a barn-like room with the film taking place on different walls, with sound effects and smoke and other special effects popping up in the room. It was neat, unfortunately our 1.5 year old twins didn't let us enjoy it and we didn't even last for 5 minutes of the 40 minute long film. Whomp whomp.
We then took the tour of the one-room one room school house and homestead. Its been a visitor landmark in Lancaster for over 50 years. It's been authentically created and filled with items you would see in a real working Amish school and house these days. I found the tour absolutely fascinating, hearing about their lifestyle, touching on everything from schooling (only 1st through 8th grade!!), to marriage (no white wedding dress!), to clothing, and of course church (they take turns hosting service in their homes). Again, the tour was tough with the little ones - not stroller friendly so if you have wild ones you may not find this the best family activity for you. We had to cut the tour short and do the walk of shame out of the building since our kids wouldn't stop screaming and running around trying to jump on beds and destroy the place. I hope to come back in a few years when our kids are old enough to appreciate it!
Other Amish / Pennsylvania Dutch Experiences & Activities to Consider:
When in Lancaster, hitting up an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch smorgasbord or two is a must!! We had dinner at the Bird-in-Hand Smorgasbord as it's one of the top rated ones, and it was conveniently located close to The Amish Experience and on the way back to our hotel! It had a great selection of food, and even had a cute Noah's Ark buffet (built by a local Amish craftsman) with special food for kids. For me, the jaw dropper was their dessert bar. Seriously, like 20 kinds of pie!!! OMG!!!!!!! So, just a heads up, if you go here - save plenty of room for dessert LOL!!
Everything is made from scratch, their Angus beef is raised on John Smucker's farm, milk is from Oasis (a local farmers co-op), and in season produce is sourced from local Amish and Mennonite farms. Many of their most popular dishes date back to Grandma SMucker, and all recipes are approved by the Smucker family!
It was stroller friendly with ramps and two huge dining areas with tables and booths and of course, high chairs and boosters. You can go with the buffet or order from a regular menu.
Other Pennsylvania Dutch Smorgasbords to Consider:
Kitchen Kettle Village is a cute little shopping area with over 40 shops, restaurants, and even lodging options. We enjoyed just meandering through at a leisurely pace. If you prefer, check out their list of things to do with kids. We found the casual Kettle Cafe to be quick, affordable, and delicious!
Other Activities to Consider:
Other Local Dining Experiences:
Have you been to Lancaster before - if so, I'd love to hear what your favorite family-friendly spots are!! Are you planning a vacation soon? Let us know if you found our guide helpful!!
Disclaimer: Although we received complimentary admission to some of the above mentioned activities in exchange for our honest review, all thoughts and opinions are our own and completely unbiased.
With summer kicking off soon (or already) for most children, the premier of American Girls' latest Amazon Original Special this week couldn't be more timely! An American Girl Story: Summer Camp, Friends for Life launches on Amazon Prime Video this Friday, June 9 in the US, UK, Germany, and Austria! I'm excited to be working with KidzVuz and Amazon again to review their latest AG special (in case you missed my review of their last one, check it out - American Girl Story: Ivy & Julie).
In Summer Camp, best friends Z and Paz are having trouble adjusting to life without their banned phones and computers at a S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art, & math) sleep away camp. But through the help of a mysterious new friend, they quickly learn to embrace time away from their devices, learning the importance of friendship and the need to experience and understand nature, since it is at the root of everything.
Explains one character to the girls, "Without observing the Burdock plants' hooks and loops, you can't invent that Velcro on your wristband. Without observing birds in flight, you can't invent an airplane. Without observing water lilies and starry nights, you can't paint some of the world's most beautiful paintings! Nature is one big laboratory and artist studio rolled into one!" In this short but sweet 30 minute video, you'll see girls making films, studying bugs, and even utilizing the scientific method to stay calm when scared of a possible ghost. It's not just entertaining, but promises to inspire girls and boys alike to get outside and explore, to build and experiment, and most importantly, to have fun while doing it!
American Girl is heralded for encouraging children to learn about history on a personal level, to explore other cultures, to test the limits and follow their hearts. Summer Camp is no exception and will be a fun and inspiring watch for girls, boys, and parents! There are also plans to bring character Z, short for Suzie, to life as an 18" American Girl doll!! You can shop the American Girl collection on Amazon (affiliate link).
An American Girl Story: Summer Camp, Friends for Life will be available for Amazon Prime members to stream on Amazon Video starting Friday, June 9. If you don't already have Amazon Prime, you can get a free 30-day Prime trial here!! And check out the trailer below!!
This post was sponsored by KidzVuz for Amazon Studios, however all opinions are my own.
Hey everyone!! After 48 weekly roundups via downloadable PDF, we're switching things up a bit and trying it out blog style!! We hope this will be easier for everyone, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail us with your feedback! You can still find our annual resources here, including Summer Camps, Classes & Activities for Babies & Toddlers, and Classes & Activities for Grade Schoolers!! Also, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter so you'll get notified when our weekly roundup goes live, and follow us on Facebook and @BayRidgeFams on Twitter, and Instagram!!
Alright, now on with your family-fun planning!!
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The NYC Ferry just started service from Bay Ridge a few days ago and we couldn't be more thrilled. A way to get out of the neighborhood with kids, without having to collapse a stroller or lug it up and down subway stairs? HALLE-FREAKING-LUJAH, am I right?! Game. Changer!!
My family of five took our first journey on it today, roundtrip from Bay Ridge to Brooklyn Bridge Park, so I thought I'd share our experience and some tips for those of you who haven't ventured out on it yet!
1. Download the NYC Ferry App
On the app, you can view the "real-time" schedule (boats every 30-60 minutes) and also purchase tickets, which saves you time if you're running to catch the boat or don't want to leave your kids alone at the back of the line while you run ahead to buy tickets from the machine! It's pretty cool the way it works - you purchase tickets on the app and then when you're about to board you activate them. You show the screen as you board the boat to show how many active tickets you have, but nothing is scanned, they'll simply expire in 1 hour, which I guess is how the whole "free transfer" works if you're jumping to another line for a different destination? You can use the "trip planner" part of the app to see where to transfer, and unfortunately it looks like transfer timing may not be so great - for example you can transfer at Sunset Park to get to Rockaway, change at DUMBO to get to Williamsburg and 34th Street in Manhattan, or change at Wallstreet to get to Astoria or the Bronx, but you may have to wait a while unfortunately!
Good news: you can go directly from Sunset Park to Governor's Island from Bay Ridge in the summer, and if you plan to drive to the ferry, there's lots of free parking at the pier at Sunset Park.
2. It is Stroller-Friendly!
There was concern over whether or not you could keep your kids in the stroller on the boat, since the website says the boats have designated stroller parking areas. But, after having taken a ride, I can say yes, you can keep your stroller with you - on the bottom inside (temperature controlled) deck anyway. There are some seating areas at the end that can fit a bunch of strollers with the kids still in them. In addition, the two aisles are very wide so it doesn't seem like parking a single stroller next to a seat on the aisle would be a problem either - you can see someone's done that in the picture below right.
3. Consider Dramamine
We've taken quite a few ferries and I've never before experienced this amount of rocking. My son, who gets car sick, felt rather ill. By the time we finished our 40 minute journey I wasn't feeling great either, thinking back on it I probably should have avoided using my phone and instead kept my eyes on the horizon. Anyway, if you or your family experience motion sickness, consider taking a dramamine or wearing sea bands.
4. They've Got it All
A few of the seating areas have little tables you could use for eating or playing games. I saw a few outlets around so if you were in dire need to charge a phone you could. There are bathrooms, and a changing table for the babies!! There were signs that wi-fi is coming soon. And there was a nice concession stand with all kinds of snacks, alcoholic (and non-) beverages, iced coffee, and even some random games like UNO. They really thought of everything!!
5. Only 149 seats...
With Bay Ridge being the first station of the South Brooklyn line, there's probably not a big problem getting on the next ferry, except maybe during rush hour. But returning home is another story. We got on around 5:30pm at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1 Station and noticed them counting how many people came off the boat, and then announced they could take on 28 passengers. Well, lets just say there were plenty of people who did not get on and weren't too thrilled with having to wait an hour for the next boat. Ouch. So... don't wait to run to the dock at the last second. Consider getting in line with PLENTY of time to spare, or sending ahead someone to take one for the team and wait in line for you.
6. Great views!
Sure, it's not free like the Staten Island Ferry, but it offers amazing views and a fun travel experience unlike anything you'll find on the MTA buses and subways, and for the same price! From Bay Ridge, you get a really great view of the Statue of Liberty and South Brooklyn. If you can part with your stroller and the weather is nice, head up to the top deck and breath it all in!
So, what do you think? Have you ridden the new NYC Ferry yet? Is it opening up new possibilities for you to travel alone with your kids, as it is for me? Do you plan to switch your daily commute from bus or subway to ferry?? Leave a comment below!!
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!