Disclaimer: We were provided complimentary tickets to Dutch Wonderland and Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in exchange for our promotion, but all thoughts and opinions are our own - we LOVE them, have been going for years, and know you'll love them, too! This post also contains affiliate links, you won't pay more but we receive commission from purchases made after clicking.
We missed our annual trip to Lancaster last summer, we all missed ALOT of things last year, am I right?! But it made our trip this year that much more special! And to top it off, we also met my best friend (and her family) who I hadn't seen in 3 years!! See the WHOLE vacation in this super fun video here, and read on for more details!!
Lancaster is one of our favorite family vacation destinations, for 3 reasons:
1. The landscape
It's absolutely beautiful, so peaceful, with rolling hills and endless farmland! Also, I may be a tad fascinated with Amish culture and lifestyle...
2. Dutch Wonderland
Possibly the best amusement park out there for toddlers and younger kids, with everything from chill rides to exciting diving shows, and even a small water park. There are many rides where you can hold babies and little ones in your lap. By around 2-3 years old, they're tall enough for most rides, at least going together with an adult. My oldest is 8 and finally tall enough to ride the wooden roller coaster with the highest height requirement. My 5 year olds are tall enough for the 2nd highest cutoff ride, Merlin's Mayhem, a super exciting SMOOTH metal roller coaster. Look at the below photo of our first trip in 2017 and our latest trip in 2021 - the kids have grown SO much!!
We're still not out of the pandemic, but I should note that most people at the park were NOT masked, and it did get crowded. The waterpark was too crowded for our comfort (you can see in our video) so didn't venture in there, but other than that we didn't feel uneasy, especially being outdoors. We got there right when they opened at 10am and were able to ride Merlin's Mayhem (our favorite roller coaster) twice in a row without any line and didn't have to wait more than 5 minutes until afternoon, when it got a bit more crowded but still not crazy, for a super nice Sunday in August I was pleasantly surprised!
We just love going back year after year! We haven't noticed any change in rides since we've been going, but it's fun seeing how the kids change each time - what they're excited to ride or see again, and what they're suddenly tall enough to do.
3. Cherry Crest Adventure Farm
We've been going to Cherry Crest for years now and every time they have added new things and expanded and my mind is blown in the best way all over again!! It's basically 25 acres of outdoor adventuring "agri-entertainment" fun on the farm - we're talking HUGE fast potato sack slides (a 6-lane slide is new this year and amazing!!!), jump pillows for kids AND adults, petting zoo, tractor rides, shooting apples and paint balls, Sproutsville kids' town (expanded this year with many new buildings - see the video), and so so so much more!!
Their epic corn maze was voted #1 in the country last year!! Be sure to click here and vote so they win again this year. Above center is an aerial view, this year's 5-acre corn maze with 2.5 miles of trails has a theme of "Hometown Heroes", and throughout the maze you can learn about how local and national emergency services keep our communities safe!
Cherry Crest is open daily through the summer (closed Sundays/Mondays) in July & August, and open Thurs-Sat from September 11 - November 6. Check out their calendar here!
We've stayed at several different Lancaster hotels over the years, you can see them mentioned in our previous annual guides (our 2019 guide, our 2018 guide, our 2017 guide - you can see TONS of other activities and restaurants in those as well).
This year we chose the Wyndham Lancaster Resort and it's our new favorite!! Here's why we loved it:
1. Huge and newly renovated - modern, clean, super nice! We got a pool-view balcony room with 2 queen beds and I was surprised how big it was! Could fit an extra bed but we decided to keep it roomier and just had our 3 kids sleep sideways in one of the queen beds, easy peasy!
2. Great heated zero-entry outdoor pool with lounge chairs IN THE POOL. It was in the 90's when we arrived and the pool was actually a bit too warm, felt good but not refreshing. I've never said that about a pool in my life LOL, it was like a warm bath, would have felt really nice on a normal day in the 70s-80's but in a heat wave, I wanted icey water!
3. Nice indoor pool with 9' deep end, nice for jumping and diving!
**note: NO LIFEGUARDS! You have to sign a ton of waivers at check in.
4. TODDLER ROOM!! See photo below and in our video. My kids are 5, 5, 8 and loved it here. And it was amazing for our friend's 2 year old because he could just roam free with no worries. It's a great space to take your kids when they wake early, to let your partner enjoy a sleep in!
5. Super cute outdoor playground. Note: it's not gated in, so you'll have to stay close to your little ones if they're runners!
6. On-site restaurant, bar, and Starbucks. Pro Tip: the Starbucks has a microwave (our room didn't), it also has a little food pantry where you can buy cereal, snacks, etc.
7. Located across the street from Cartoon Network Hotel and Dutch Wonderland, walkable to many restaurants including Applebees. Very close to the outlets and TONS of stuff! That said, it's in a busy commercial area, not the quiet peaceful areas of Lancaster where we've stayed before.
We also dropped by Cartoon Network Hotel because I've been curious about it since it opened recently! It looks like it was an old motel that got bought up and gut renovated in a really fun and kitsch way. We peaked into an open room and it was small, no wonder they have a max 4 guests policy. The outdoor pool and splash area look great, and we ate dinner at the Cartoon Kitchen, which looks more like a cafeteria than a restaurant, but we got a private BenTen themed "pod" (3 walled room with a TV at the end of the table) and had fun. The food was good, drinks were strong and yummy, they have a FAB gift shop if you have CN loving people in your life, and they had meet and greet with a couple of characters, however there was a no-touch policy, covid related probably. I definitely recommend either a stay or a meal there!
MORE FAMILY VACATION INSPIRATION:
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Primary but all thoughts and opinions are my own :)
Looking for CUTE and QUALITY clothes for babies through big kids? Look no further than Primary and shout it out loud with me y'all: EVERY COLOR FOR EVERY KID!!!!! YESSSSS!!!!! Primary does not have boys and girls listings and I couldn't love that more. You simply shop by size (from newborn through 14Y, and some coordinating tops for grownups, too), by color, or by clothing type (ex. underwear, tees, dresses, etc). On their FAQ page, they say, "Clothes and colors don’t have genders, so it never made sense to us to organize them as if they do. We make dresses for kids who wear dresses, pants for kids who wear pants, PJs for kids who wear PJs. We make the clothes, but kids make the choices."
We have a $75 gift card to Primary.com in my 2021 Back to School Giveaway, enter to win that at the bottom of the post, but FIRST, check out our family's ADORABLE unboxing and fashion show of some coordinating threads we just got from Primary!
We decided to go with the "Lollipop" coordinating colors, since they were nice and bright and a color kinda between red and hot pink that we all love! I was a bit disappointed the "Lollipop Henley Tee" we got for my son wasn't a 100% match to the reds in the rest of our clothes. It's "heathered" and actually says that in the product description which I didn't bother reading, whoooops! But it still works, let's him stand out a bit, and maybe good for us to not be so obnoxiously matchy matchy LOL!
On the left, Emi is wearing the Swing Tee (on sale now for $9.50) and Skinny Jeans ($29.50) in dark wash. She usually wears a size 5 so we went for the 6/7 and it's a bit big but fits nicely. The size 6 skinny jeans fit great! Emi is a great example of why kids clothing shouldn't be sorted by gender. She would choose big brother's baggy hand me down tee and soccer shorts over a dress any day. She can't explain why she likes what she likes, and doesn't like what she doesn't like. She just does! I wasn't sure if she'd go for the Swing Tee because she usually vetoes any kind of frill or poof, but she likes it, and LOOOOOOOOVES her new jeans! Phew!
In the middle, Mia is wearing the Recess Dress (on sale now for $12.50) and purple leggings part of the Raspberry Mix 3-pack of leggings ($36). She's quite petite and usually wears a 4/5; this dress is a 6/7 which is why it's kinda swimming on her, but hey, we'll get a few years' wear out of it!! She can't stop spinning and swirling in this. She's hilarious! She's team skirts and dresses for life I think!
As mentioned above, Kenzo on right is in the Lollipop Henley Tee (on sale for $12.50). He usually wears a size 8 and the size 8/9 and it fits perfectly. He's also wearing the slim jeans ($29.50), size 8. He usually fights me on jeans, choosing joggers instead because, obviously, they're more comfortable! (I hear ya kid, I live in my leggings!) But these have more stretch than jeans he's worn before, so I think he's sold. Which is awesome because he's going back to school in September after 1.5 years at home and I really don't want him at school in jogging pants every day. But, then again, probably not a battle should be worrying about!
Below I've got my son's slim jeans next to my daughter's skinny jeans. Obviously they're different sizes but you can see the skinny leg is slightly more tapered at the ankle. They both feature adjustable waists with elastic and buttons inside. AND they both feature real pockets, real belt loops, real zipper, and a FAKE OUTTER BUTTON - yes, they snap! EASY PEASY. They're both a great denim material with a good stretch to them (73% cotton, 25% recycled polyester, 2% spandex).
My husband is 5'7" and usually wears a Men's Small - the Small Classic Fit Tee ($18) fits him perfectly. I'm 5'8" and usually wear a women's Small or Medium - the Small Slim Fit V-Neck ($18) fits me perfectly. You can see in the below photo (I hope) how they are cut slightly differently, I would say they pretty much correspond to traditional sizes in Men's for Classic and Women's for slim fit, which has shorter and more narrow cut arms/shoulders, and a shorter cut length. Ours don't seem any different width wise, or not significantly. They're both super soft loose fitting tees, not skin hugging or anything.
We had fun picking out our coordinating family outfits, and look forward to doing more Back to School clothes shopping with Primary (they have washable cotton masks with removable filters for adults and kids, too)!!!
Don't forget, you can win $75 shop credit to Primary.com in our $500+ Value Jackpot Back to School Giveaway running through August 17, 2021!!
Enter to WIN Here!!
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Mabel's Labels but all thoughts are my own and unbiased. Affiliate links are included below - you don't pay more but we receive a small commission from purchases made after clicking. Thank you for stopping by!! :)
It's August and that means it's BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING GO TIME!
But don't worry, it's just 3 easy steps:
STEP 1: Get your back to school supply list(s) from the teacher(s).
STEP 2: Buy all the things.
Pro Tip: If they mention a brand name, there's usually a reason, such as it being superior and longer lasting, or least likely to break their pencil sharpener. If it says 8-pack and you can only find a 10 pack, take a breath, it's OK, they're not gonna kick your kid to the curb over that. For me, with 3 kids and no car, ordering online is easier. I usually compare prices and availability and buy through Amazon's Back to School page, Target's Back to School page, and/or Walmart's Back to School page. The school supply lists can be long and it can get expensive. Take a break and have a laugh with my 2 favorite Back 2 School videos of all time:
STEP 3: Label all the things.
Pro Tip: Save time and sanity by ordering Mabel's Labels, which are customizable, washable, and super durable - they will last all year, and then some! Trust me, you're not gonna wanna be hand writing your child's name with a Sharpie on every one of the 40+ crayons, colored pencils, markers, and pencils, not to mention water bottle, lunch box, scissors, glue sticks, erasers, ruler, folders, tissues, disinfectant wipes, binders, headphones, masks, backup clothes/socks/undies... Mabel's got a label for EVERYTHING! Their Back to School Label sets are a great place to start!! Get 20% off their Back to School Labels with this link! Beyond traditional labels, they've also got silicone bottle bands, allergy alerts, emergency IDs, metal bag tags, and SO MUCH MORE!
You can win $50 shop credit to MabelsLabels.com in my $500+ value jackpot Back to School Giveaway running through August 17!! More on that below!!
But first... watch my fun unboxing video of a Back to School swag bag sent to me by Mabel's Labels! You can learn about some other really great brands and products, such as Bumkins' reusable snack bags and a biodegradable flower petal confetti party popper for celebrating the first day of school!! And you'll learn some more about Mabel's Labels and why as a parent or teacher, you need them in your life!!
ENTER TO WIN!!!
my $500+ value jackpot 2021 Back to School Giveaway (including $50 shop credit to MabelsLabels.com) running through August 17!! Click to enter to win! US residents 18+. Good luck!
Some Back to School essentials we think you'll love!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Seenda but all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
If you're suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, or wrist and shoulder pain like I am, or just looking to upgrade your computer accessories, you've stumbled upon the blog post for you! I'm here to review the Seenda wireless vertical ergonomic mouse and bluetooth backlit keyboard, which are part of my HUGE 2021 Back to School Giveaway (link at bottom of post to enter to win the $500+ value jackpot, along with a 20% off discount code for Seenda products!)
Be sure to watch my unboxing and review video here, and read on for more details:
I've been struggling with increasing discomfort in my wrist and pointer finger due to spending more and more time at the computer editing videos, and have been looking into getting an ergonomic mouse so was really excited to get to review the Bluetooth Rechargeable Ergonomic Vertical Mouse from Seenda. So far I'm loving it, here are a few of the key features that really stood out to me:
Next up we have the Seenda wireless bluetooth backlit keyboard which I got for my son but honestly it's SO COOL I may have to keep it for myself... Here are the features I'm loving:
BUY IT on Amazon (affiliate link)
How cool are these? Best gaming mouse and keyboard for sure, but great for anyone - from youtubers like myself to daily use or at work, kids and adults alike!
Get 20% your first purchase on seenda.com with code "USJAPANFAM" (valid through August 17, 2021).
Don't forget, you can win this mouse, keyboard, AND a Seenda laptop stand as well as a TON of other great stuff in my $500+ value jackpot Back to School giveaway runnning HERE from August 3 - 17!! Enter to win today!!!
It is still very unclear how school will look this coming year: full time in person, hybrid, remote, or homeschool again for some of us, but one way or another Back to School is right around the corner and I've got another amazing Back to School giveaway for you all!! One very lucky winner will receive the ENTIRE $500+ value jackpot!! Read on for info on each of the prizes and sponsoring brands, and enter to win in the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. Be sure to bookmark this page and keep coming back over the next 2 weeks because our dedicated reviews and youtube demos will be popping up daily, AND you can earn more giveaway entry points each day with various easy actions!
Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by the brands below, and affiliate links are included - you don't pay more but we receive a small commission from purchases made after clicking.
SEENDA KEYBOARD, LAPTOP STAND & MOUSE
If last year taught us anything, it's that computers are becoming more essential for everyone from toddlers through seniors! We're excited to be working with Seenda to promote their electronic accessories that make computer and tablet use more comfortable and more fun! Our grand prize winner will receive the following THREE amazing items from Seenda that work with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android (a $106 value!):
BUY THEM HERE: Amazon (affiliate link) or seenda.com (get 20% off with code USJAPANFAM through August 17, 2021 on their website, Aot amazon)
Don't miss my full blog review here and video demo below!
BURST ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH
Oral health is so important for our overall health, and confidence. Kids and adults can get cleaner teeth with a great electric toothbrush, which is why we LOVE our Bursts and know you will, too! Their sonic toothbrushes feature a 2-minute timer with a pulse every 30 seconds to signal when to move to a new quadrant of teeth, and have an amazing battery life (3-4 weeks on a single charge)!
Our grand prize winner will receive one toothbrush of their choice of color in either the Adult or Kid's brush:
BUY THESE and more (including water flossers, teeth whitening, charcoal toothpaste, kids toothpaste, refillable floss, and oral probiotics) on burstoralcare.com. Current deals available include:
PRIMARY $75 SHOP CREDIT
Whether shopping for the basics or a full back to school wardrobe, Primary is THE place to go with everything from tees and underwear to jeans and dresses to washable face masks and winter coats, in sizes newborn through 14Y (and even with some coordinating shirts for grown-ups). Their slogan is "every color for every kid" and I couldn't love this more. No labels, no slogans, no "boys" or "girls" colors or styles or assumptions. Simply shop by size or color and let kids be kids and wear what they love! Super soft and sustainable fabric, cute high quality and affordable fashion for kids. Make Primary your primary shop for kids' clothing! Our grand prize winner will receive a $75 shop credit!! AMAZING!!!
Don't miss my full review here of some fun coordinating family outfits we got!
WUBBA JR IMMUNITY BOX
We've been promoting Wubba Water for years now as an organic and healthier alternative to Pedialyte, and now they've come out with a line of doctor formulated children's supplements that we are SO excited about! Our jackpot winner will receive the Wubba Jr. Immunity Box, which contains the following:
BUY IT HERE: $58.99 on Amazon (affiliate link), direct from wubbawater.com, walmart.com, and at select Whole Food stores.
MABEL'S LABELS $50 SHOP CREDIT
It can feel a tad overwhelming receiving school supply lists mandating labeling every item, even dozens of individual markers and pencils! Thankfully Mabel's Labels has got your back!! With customizable labels in every size, shape, color, design, and function you can imagine! From fabric stamps and labels that are washing machine proof to dishwasher-proof labels and silicone bands that go around bottles to shoe sole stickers that help the littlest ones know left from right foot to emergency ID & allergy tags, they have EVERYTHING! We've been using them for years on our water bottles (and more) and have yet to have one peel off!! Our jackpot winner will receive $50 shop credit to help make their back to school prep a lot easier this year!
See my full review here of our 2021 Back to School haul from Mabel's Labels and some other amazing brands!
BUY YOURS on mabelslabels.com - current promotional offers:
MIFOLD COMFORT GRAB & GO CAR BOOSTER SEAT
If you travel, carpool, or have a rotation of other adults driving your kids around, then a mifold comfort grab and go car booster seat is a must! Compact enough to go in your glove compartment or a child's backpack, with a thick enough cushion to be comfortable, mifold comfort works by positioning the car's seatbelt in the proper places across the child's lap and between their shoulder and neck. Directions are included in the strap on the mifold, and it's easy enough most kids can do it on their own after a couple of uses (my 8 year old is a pro!). At just $39.99, the price is right, too. (Designed for kids at least 4 years old, 40-100 pounds, 40-59 inches). See our 2 latest reviews embedded below, including a demo of my 8 year old installing it himself :)
BUY IT on Amazon (affiliate link) or mifold.com
Kids weren't built to "sit still" for hours on end, and Bouncyband has created products with that in mind. From the original Bouncyband which attaches to the feet of a chair so you can literally bounce your feet while sitting, to a whole line of amazing products loved by kids, parents, and teachers! These can help kids stay in their seats, relieve anxiety, and improve focus (pro tip: they work for adults, too!!) Our jackpot winner will receive one product, their choice from the following:
BUY THEM on Amazon (affiliate link) and bouncyband.com
Kids and kids at heart all love bubbles. And what's better than bubbles? Bubbles that taste good!! HA! Say hello to BubbleLick Premium Flavored Bubbles - made with FDA approved ingredients, bottled in a FDA registered CGMP certified and allergen-free facility, invented and developed by top pediatric allergists and food scientists! They work with bubble machines and toys, too! Our jackpot winner will receive a 4-pack of BubbleLick in the following YUMMY flavors:
BUY THEM on BubbleUniverse.com ($24.99 for a 4 pack, 2.5oz each)
COLOR FUSION NAIL POLISH MAKER
Trying to get those nails back-to-school-ready, or just wanting to have some fun playing nail salon? Then the Make It Real Color Fusion Nail Polish Maker is for you! Mix colors to create up to 200 nail polishes, or use the app to find a specific color to mach and provide complementary color suggestions. Bottles and brushes for storage included! Featuring unscented water-based nail polish in glossy and shimmer finishes.
BUY IT on target.com (affiliate link) for $24.99
MUNCHIE MUG SNACK CUP
Munchie Mug snack cups are not only spill-proof, they’re also SHAKE PROOF! The unique lid features 2 overlapping pieces of fabric, that are extremely effective at keeping snacks in, and they’re much gentler on the hands than traditional plastic snack cup tops! What’s more? Free from BPA/Phthalate/Lead/PVC and proudly made in the USA, these are the only snack cups your kids will ever need – a staple in every car, stroller, and home! Our winner will receive one in their choice of size (12oz or 16oz) and color (subject to availability), a $18.50 value! Don't miss our fun demo videos below!
UNOFFICIAL HOGWARTS COOKBOOK FOR KIDS
Getting meals on the table is an extra challenge during the back to school rush, but how about getting your kids involved with some amazing Harry Potter themed dishes with The Unofficial Hogwarts Cookbook for Kids!!?? Featuring 50 easy-to-follow low-mess recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts, Potterheads and non-Potterheads alike will love this cookbook! Let this one inspire your family to cook together over the weekend to create freezer meals to eat during the week, your kids to make their own lunches for school and after-school snacks! YUM!
BUY IT for Kindle or Hardcover on Amazon (affiliate link) for $12.79
SQUEASY GEAR SNACK POUCH
Say hello to the world's best pouch! Squeasy Gear's Squeasy Snackers are seriously amazing - with a removable spill-proof insert (that totally works!!), these are great for pureed baby food, yogurt, applesauce, and even liquids!! They're dishwasher & freezer safe, made of 100% food-grade eco-friendly bacteria-resistant silicone self-standing for easy filling, and turn inside out (handy when for cleaning flax seed and other tricky items in your smoothies!). You can see my review here - yes, it's from 7 years ago and we are STILL using the same pouches, they seriously never die!! Our jackpot winner will receive 1 pouch, their choice of size (16oz, 6oz, 3.5oz) and color, a $16.99 value.
BUY THEM on Amazon (affiliate link)
Is that an amazing giveaway or what!? Enter to win it all in the Rafflecopter app below. You just need to comment on this blog post and tell the app you did so to enter. But each additional action you take is an extra entry point, and some you can come back and get more points daily so be sure to bookmark this post!! Giveaway will end at 11:59 PM ET on Tuesday, August 17. Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email and have 48 hours to confirm before another winner is chosen. US residents only, ages 18+.
ENTER TO WIN HERE:
About Me ^_^
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1). This blog is chock full of product reviews, family travel guides, and giveaways galore! It's also home to Bay Ridge Families, and several guides focused on kid-friendly activities and guides to South Brooklyn, Hudson Valley, and New Jersey, as well as family-friendly destinations beyond the NYC area (check the menu bar!)