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!
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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!!!
Here are some other posts we think you'll enjoy:
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 just got back from the most wonderful week in Puerto Rico, my third visit actually! This time it was "business" but mostly pleasure - after a few days of learning at Wanderful's WITS Travel Creator Summit in San Juan, I was hosted by Discover Puerto Rico on a 3 day culinary tour press trip in the central mountainous regions! I got to experience things I never would have thought about planning myself - we're talking a vegan Puerto Rican cooking class at El Grifo, a coffee farm tour at Hacienda Muñoz, and dining at absolutely phenomenal and unique restaurants including PyP Restaurant in Caguas, Cocina Abierta in San Juan, Ojala Speakeasy in Caguas, and a Lechonera on the Pork Highway in Cayey with Sofrito Tours. I'm drooling just sitting here remembering it all (see some of my highlight videos at the bottom of this post).
Puerto Rico is gorgeous. The food is delicious. The people are friendly. The beaches and rainforest are spectacular. There are endless cultural, historical, and just plan FUN activities to do for families, solo travelers, young, old, you name it.
That said, Puerto Rico isn't for everyone.
Is it for you??
Read on to find out!
Puerto Rico may not be best for your next vacation destination if...
1. You want to add stamps to your passport.
I get it. Having a passport full of exotic stamps is a flex. At one point I had to have pages added to my passport! Can you imagine!? But Puerto Rico is an American territory, meaning, if you're American flying from the USA, you do not need a passport! And even if you bring one, they wont' stamp it. So... if you are American and traveling to far off lands for new passport stamps is a requirement, I'm sorry, Puerto Rico is not for you. But... if you are American and don't have a passport, or enjoy the simplicity of flying to a truly gorgeous tropical island without needing your American passport, then go ahead and book your flight already!!
2. You want an all-inclusive resort.
I love a good all-inclusive resort. Sending the kiddos to the kids club and laying around on the beach sipping endless "free" mojitos all day is always a good time. But you won't find many (or any??) typical all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Rico. That doesn't mean there aren't endless amazing accommodation options, whether you're looking for adult-only or family-friendly resorts, many even have on-site snorkeling, water parks, five star restaurants, and more! From luxury resorts like the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort with an 18-hole golf course and Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve with a spa and kids club, to Villa Margarita where you get an entire house to yourself with a private beach and pool! While you won't find hordes of traditional all-inclusive resorts like you will in Cancun, many hotels in Puerto Rico have all-inclusive package options, so you can go that route as well. And if you want a more local experience, try renting an apartment or house through AirBNB or VRBO.
3. You don't like warm tropical climates.
Puerto Rico is a small island but it does have several distinctive regions, including beach, mountains, and rain forest! That said, none of these areas ever get below freezing, and most are warm or downright hot year round. For those wanting a hot and sunny escape during winter or spring break, it's perfect! But if you don't like warm tropical climates, Puerto Rico may not be for you. That said, you shouldn't take it completely off the table. San Juan, for example, rarely gets below 70 or above 90, but May through November are the most humid, so keep that in mind. Personally, I spent a week there in mid May and found it to be absolutely perfect weather! Visiting Old San Juan in the early morning (7am-10am) and then hitting the pool or beach for the afternoon was perfect! In the central mountain region, it was warm enough not to need a jacket day and night, but not at all hot, and zero bugs.
4. You don't like colorful, beautiful places rich in culture and history.
If this one applies to you, we can be friends, but I'm sorry, we can't be travel buddies! There's a time and place for just laying around on the beach, but part of traveling for me is really experiencing the culture and history of a place, feeling truly transplanted, and being surrounded by its beauty!! In Puerto Rico, you feel this ALL. THE. TIME! I especially felt it in Old San Juan. The colorful apartment buildings, the old forts, the cobblestone streets, it's just so gorgeous! You can wander around or book a tour to learn more. The Spoon Experience provides authentic cultural, food, and drink experiences in Old San Juan and is just SO much fun! Definitely look into these local tour guides and travel agencies recommended by Discover Puerto Rico to make the most of your trip!
5. You prefer driving or long haul flights.
If you refuse to fly, then Puerto Rico is probably not for you, though you can find San Juan as a port of call on some cruises originating in the US). And if you really want to do a long haul flight, Puerto Rico (from the east cost US anyway) is not for you... I've heard great things about the Qatar's QSuite which you can enjoy for 14 hours straight on a flight from JFK to Doha! But great news for the rest of us who like quick, easy, and cheap: San Juan is SO EASY to get to!! There are endless opportunities to fly non-stop to San Juan in 4 hours from all 3 of the NYC airports with JetBlue, Spirit, Delta, and United. Prices vary by season, of course, but I've seen direct roundtrip flights for under $200!!
So what do you think? Is Puerto Rico now on your radar for an amazing momcation, family vacation, or health & wellness retreat?? I hope so!! I can't wait to go back soon bringing my kids, husband, and parents along for a lovely multigenerational family vacation!!! See more of my vacation reviews and family travel tips here!
And to work on building up those airline miles, be sure to get you a points card (or several)!! I'm loving my Chase United card, within a month of getting it I already achieved my 60k bonus miles. Click my affiliate link here to read more about all cards they have (I'll get some bonus miles if you apply for a card).
I was sent a bottle of ElectriFresh to review as part of a sponsored campaign. I didn't know what to expect. I mean, it's just "electrolyzed oxygenated water" (i.e. water, salt, and electricity). HOW COULD THAT POSSIBLY WORK!?? Can it get rid of fish smell? Can it remove smell from towels? Get rid of cigarette smell and cat urine!??!
I told them, straight up, if it doesn't work, I can't do the review. Do you think it worked?? Well... you're here on the reivew so... HA! YES! IT IS AMAZING!!!!! Watch my fun video below and keep reading:
I don't understand the science behind it. I prefer to just call it magic. But check out the bottle label below - this electrolyzed deodorizer is safe for people, pets, and the planet. That's a win win win for me!!
Our guinea pig fleece liners that used to carry a very specific odor even after washing (if you have dogs or cats or caged animals and deal with pet urine you know what I'm talking about). But magically after a spray, these liners are fresh as they were new. WHAT THE WHAT!?? This spray will neutralize odors (not cover it up with perfumes!) - we're talking shoes, sports and gym equipment, litter boxes, pet odors and stains, fabrics, bedding, you name it!!
But you don't have to take my word for it. Buy a bottle of ElectriFresh** and try it out yourself (don't forget to come back and leave a comment letting us all know your thoughts!!)
**Above is an affiliate link - as an Amazon associate, I receive commission from qualified purchases made after clicking the link.
Want to read more from me?? Hit the main blog and scroll through awesome articles from family travel reviews to DIY hair tips, or search by category (on the side bar on a computer, or the top menu on a phone!)
Ever feel like you need a vacation after returning from a family vacation? Have you thought traveling with kids is just parenting in another location? Join the club!!! The struggle is real, but there are some alternatives to just powering through. Today I've got 4 amazing tips for scoring FREE childcare on your next family vacation so you can feel like you actually ENJOYED the vacation with your family - both your kids, your partner, and maybe even some alone time!! Watch my video below for all the details including multigenerational travel, all-inclusive resorts with kids club, traveling and co-parenting with another family, and bringing along a babysitter on your vacation!
Have more tips for planning and carrying out the most amazing family vacations, momcations, or solo travels?? Leave a comment below!!
Guest post provided by No nonsense
Being a mother is one of the most meaningful and rewarding roles a person can take on, but it’s also one of the hardest. Between managing the household, taking care of the kids, and other duties, most moms are practically working 24/7. It’s no wonder that maternal burnout is a real and recognized phenomenon. A recent survey by a US-based all-in-one parenting platform revealed that 93 percent of mothers in the U.S. feel burned out at least occasionally, and nearly 45 percent are burned out most of the time.
Perhaps you’ve experienced that feeling of overwhelming exhaustion at one time or another as you try to juggle your numerous responsibilities as a mother. If so, you may need to squeeze in regular breaks in your routine and adopt habits that can help boost your depleted energy and refresh your tired mind and body. Otherwise, there’s a high chance you’ll suffer from burnout and hurt your physical and mental well-being as a result. If you’re looking for ways to recharge your mommy battery, here are several ideas you may want to consider:
Practice a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night is non-negotiable if you want to revitalize your exhausted body and mind. After all, a good night’s sleep is the most powerful body recharger. It helps your body repair itself, it helps boost immunity, and it triggers the release of hormones vital to fighting stress, infection, and inflammation. That’s why you should do everything you can to achieve sufficient and high-quality sleep.
Train your kids to go to bed early and avoid staying up late watching television, using mobile devices, or doing other things that can reduce the time you spend in bed. More importantly, implement a relaxing bedtime routine to help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer. Perhaps you can take a warm bath, change into comfy clothes like an oversized shirt and soft cotton leggings, and listen to relaxing music to wind down and prepare your mind and body for sleep.
Reserve One Day for Yourself
If you want your battery to last for a whole week, you probably need an entire day to yourself so that you can decompress and nourish your body and soul. Perhaps you can ask your partner, in-laws, or your parents to take care of the kids on Saturdays so you have time to get a massage, have coffee with friends, go to the salon for hair treatments, or do anything that makes you happy and relaxed. You can also stay at home, if you want, and do your chosen self-care regimen therein. Whatever you choose, commit and enjoy the experience..
While it may appear to defeat the purpose of resting and recharging, incorporating physical activities into your regular schedule can be a remarkable way to boost your energy. That’s because exercise triggers the release of endorphins, the neurochemicals that improve mood, alleviate stress, and provide an overall sense of well-being.
Instead of making you feel tired after engaging in moderate-intensity physical activity, endorphins provide a natural “high” or a burst of energy needed to carry out your mommy duties afterwards. Moreover, regular exercise can help you sleep better at night, so you’ll feel refreshed and energized the following day.
Can’t squeeze in time to work out? Consider exercising with your kids. You can take a walk in the park, play tag in the yard, swim in the public pool, or follow kid-friendly exercise videos online. You can also do stretches or squats while waiting for the washing machine to finish a cycle or watching your children play.
Engage in Creative Hobbies
Recharging doesn’t only mean resting physically. More often than not, you need to recharge mentally to do your mommy duties properly and joyfully. To avoid being psychologically drained, consider engaging in creative pursuits, like quilting, photography, or watercolor painting during your free time. One study published in the Journal of Public Health found that creative hobbies are a meaningful vehicle for improving well-being. Find a hobby you’re interested in and make time to enjoy it.
Take Regular Mommy Breaks
Taking regular breaks from your busy day is necessary for you to be able to fight fatigue and replenish your energy. Learn to listen to your body. If you feel tired, stressed, and overwhelmed, let your children watch cartoons or play video games a little longer than usual so you can take a few moments to pause and do nothing. Close your eyes, light a scented candle, and relax.
Better yet, give yourself at least 10 minutes a day to pause and recharge instead of waiting to reach your limit before taking a break. Perhaps you can make afternoon nap time for your kids mandatory if you have small children to help you get that much-needed rest. Or maybe you can introduce an engaging activity like doing puzzles or painting to keep your kids preoccupied while you try to refresh yourself.
Hopefully, these tips gave you plenty of ideas on how you can recharge and acquire more energy to care for your kids and loved ones. Whether you adopt them entirely or modify them to suit your situation is up to you. The important thing is you exert effort and make changes to your everyday routine so you could protect your well-being. That way, you can avoid burnout and enjoy motherhood to the fullest.
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!