Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased :)
We just got back from a full (hosted) day at the Liberty Science Center and had THE. BEST. TIME! For the full experience of the new dinosaur exhibit and see what the entire center has to offer from the largest planetarium in the western hemisphere to hot wheels exhibit and and so so soooo much fun for the kids (and adults!), be sure to watch our highlights video here, then keep reading for details on their latest exhibition, Sue the T-Rex Experience!
I've always been into dinosaurs, I mean, who isn't!? I've seen my fair share of fossils and full-size replicas but honestly, Sue the T.Rex Experience at Liberty Science Center is a completely different ball game and you will LOVE. IT!
Upon entering the exhibit, you immediately find yourself face to face with the huge and menacing Sue, named after the paleontologist who discovered the fossils during a commercial excavation trip in South Dakota in 1990. Standing at 40 feet long and 13 feet tall at the hip, she is the most complete and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever found and has helped scientists learn more about T. rex than ever before... and now we can learn about her at Liberty Science Center!
They do a great light show on Sue, which is beautiful and educational - they highlight different bones as they talk about what each finding has revealed about her life, and death! This was fascinating, as well as the large movies they play on the opposite side of the room where you can watch daily life for her and other dinosaurs at the time, including some pretty action-packed fight scenes which my kids found especially captivating (me, too)!
Another highlight was the life-size replica of Sue enjoying a tasty meal (see above right image) - you can see the bloody tooth marks on her prey, you can touch the skin, it's just really breath-taking and makes it feel so incredibly real! Just next to it you can even take a whiff of what they think her breath smelled like. WARNING: it's revolting!!!! Watch our video to see our hilarious reactions! But as with everything at LSC, it's a fun learning experience - we learn her breath would have smelled horrible, of rotting meat, because they had small gaps between the teeth where meat would get trapped, and obviously, they couldn't brush and floss LOL!
While large and in charge Sue dominates the exhibit, there are some other fossils and replicas to see and learn about, like the life-sized Triceratops (above right)! Give yourself at least a few hours (if not a full day) to explore this exhibit and the rest of the museum. It's a great family-friendly trip!!
We hadn't been to Liberty Science Center (or any indoor activities like it) since the time I now refer to as #PrePandemic, so I was very curious to see how things would be handled. Rest assured, we felt completely safe! They took the kids' temperatures upon entry to the science center, masks are required for ages 2+ (regardless of vaccination status), they kept exhibits to a low capacity with short lines outside so they could maintain safety without crowds, and the cafe is closed, however they do have limited spaced out indoor dining seating (outdoor as well) and if you find yourself in a pinch they also have some vending machines with drinks and snacks.
Moving can be totally overwhelming, and expensive. But don't worry, I gotcha covered! I've moved internationally several times, and domestically with a toddler, and am now in the thick of selling our home and moving to a rental... with 3 kids... during a pandemic! PHEW! But anyway, this isn't a competition, I'm here to help you with a handy dandy checklist for moving to a new rental home - everything from how to search for a home to who to notify of change of address, booking a moving company, and much much more! Read on and leave a comment with any of your own tips, or questions!
**Disclaimer: there are some affiliate links below - You won't pay more but I'll receive a small commission from purchases made after clicking (it's one of the ways I fund the blog, of course)!
This is the time to go full on Konmarie - purge the heck out of your stuff!! Whatever doesn't bring you joy anymore or you haven't used it in a year, go ahead and sell, donate, or toss!! For inspiration, you can read or listen on Kindle to Marie Kondo's books "The LIfechanging Magic of Tidying Up" & "Spark Joy" (affiliate link) or you can watch her Netflix show "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo".
FIND A NEW RENTAL HOME:
NOTIFY YOUR LANDLORD:
Check your lease and make sure you are giving your landlord property notification. Most require one month's notice. If breaking your lease and leaving early, you may still be responsible to fulfil the full term's rental fees, even if you're not there!! This happened to us when leaving our last rental, but management clarified that if I found a new tenant we'd be good. Thankfully I posted the rental in a local Facebook parenting group and within 2 days found a new tenant for them. PHEW!!
BOOK A MOVING COMPANY:
There are TONS to choose from. Some are for local / same day service only, others specialize in long distance moves. Last time we moved within Brooklyn we were very happy with Shlepper's, and this time around they gave me the best quote again! Shleppers and Flatrate are both very popular and will give you a detailed quote (either coming to see what you have ahead of time or currently doing it all over the phone - you tell them exactly what's going, and be specific as you can). They don't charge hourly and won't hijack your stuff until you pay additional fees (yes, I've heard of other companies doing this, if you can believe it!!!). There are some companies going green, too, using biodiesel fuel and reusable boxes. You'll pay more but the Earth will thank you. And of course, if neither of your buildings have a stipulation about needing a licensed and insured moving company (mine does unfortunately), you can totally save $$$ by DIY moving - rent a Uhaul truck and pay some friends in beer and pizza!
BUY MOVING BOXES (and pack)
Book your moving company first since some will provide boxes. Movers Not Shakers, for example, is a "green" moving company and will drop off reusable plastic boxes and collect after the move. You should also check craigslist and FB marketplace to see if you can get free or cheap boxes from someone local who just moved - this will save money and the Earth! Otherwise, you'll have to buy them. You can find tons of options on Amazon (affiliate link), with other popular sites being Uboxes / Box Engine (who has really convenient kits based on home size, including bubbles, packing paper, tape etc), Uhaul, Home Depot, etc.
CHANGE HOME/RENTERS INSURANCE
If going from one rental to another, you'll probably be keeping the same insurance and just updating with new address. If going from ownership to rental or vice versa, it'll be more complex. For renters insurance, you're just covering your own property and liability. If you'll have a pool or trampoline or anything especially risky, make sure you're covered plenty (some companies cover these, some only if they're fenced in, and others not at all). During my own search, I found Allstate to have the best price (though that could be because we already have car insurance with them), followed by USAA (I'm a member thanks to my dad's military service), Lemonade, and Geico.
CHANGE YOUR ADDRESS / FORWARD MAIL:
There are a tonnnnnnnnn you need to notify of your address change. As more and more things go paperless, this becomes less of a headache, but it's still a headache. Most important notification is probably USPS since they'll forward items from your old to new address for 1 year. But... some things don't end up forwarded. So, do your best to notify all of the following directly:
FIX UP THE HOME YOU'RE LEAVING:
To avoid getting slammed with loss of your security deposit, be sure to check with your landlord what condition you're expected to leave your home in. You probably have to remove all nails, patch up holes, and paint back to neutral colors.
You'll need to schedule the date to stop previous utilities and start new ones. Gas, electricity, water, sewer, trash, phone, cable, internet, etc. Note that most internet providers will not let you out of a contract simply because you're moving, but rather only if they don't have service at your new home.
FIND A NEW DOCTOR/DENTIST:
This can be tricky depending on your insurance, but hopefully rather painless. You should be able to log onto your insurance's website to change your doctor and address.
UNENROLL / ENROLL IN SCHOOLS:
You'll need to official unenroll from your old school and have them transfer records to your new school, where you'll need to register. Note that if you have younger children in Pre-K - 2nd grade, their birthday could mean they get held back or skip a year. For example, in NYC the age cutoff is December 31 and for most of New Jersey it's October 1. In some places children will be assessed and it'll be a discussion between parents and administration, but NYC public school system is very strict about not allowing a child to be held back when entering Pre-K, K and 1st grade - they MUST be turning the correct age Jan 1 - Dec 31 (turning 4 for Pre-K, 5 for K, 6 for 1st grade), no matter what grade they last completed.
I'm so excited to be working with the world famous Harlem Globetrotters to promote their Pushing the Limits World Tour!! We've never been to a game before but have been provided tickets to one of their upcoming games here at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on February 16 (locally in NYC they're also playing Madison Square Garden on February 17).
This is more than a basketball game. It is more than a show. It is the one and only Harlem Globetrotters in an all-new, larger-than-life world tour. You'll be on your feet, out of your seat, laughing until it hurts and loving every moment. The 5th Quarter - The game isn't over after the final shot! Meet your favorite Globetrotter courtside after the game to get an autograph and photo.
Don't miss out - get your tickets today and save SAVE 25% for ALL Harlem Globetrotters Games with promo code FUNFAM. Must purchase 14 days before Game Date, valid for any game, expires May 1, 2020.
You can view their full schedule here - they'll be playing throughout the US, Canada, and even several countries in Europe!!
Of course, stay tuned - I'll be posting a blog post and YouTube video of our experience at the game - I can't wait!! It's going to be a really fun show! Have you been to one before??
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links - you won't pay more but we'll receive a small commission from purchases made after clicking.
One by one, cities and states and countries around the world are hopping on board the train to Save the Planet. No matter how small, each step every person takes can make a difference. But let's be honest, sometimes it takes policy change to force individual change. This is why I couldn't be more thrilled to hear that NYC's "Plastic Bag Ban" is taking effect March 1, 2020!! That's right!!! Any retailer required to collect NY State sales tax will not be allowed to distribute single use plastic bags.
Retailers can, but don't have to, sell single use paper bags for $0.05. And many will have reusable bags for sale for those who forget a bag. But don't be this guy who ends up buying bag after bag because you keep forgetting!! This is rather wasteful, after all, which is what we're trying to avoid here! Stock up on a few great bags now - keep one in your work bag, your diaper bag, in the stroller, a few in the car, you get the idea!! Shop local if you can, and if you prefer to order online, here are a few cool ones we've seen, as well as a few other hacks like using a wagon or home delivery!
Self-Storing 2oz Polyester Fabric Reusable Bag
This super lightweight polyester fabric reusable washable bag weighs only 2oz yet can hold a max weight of 40 pounds. It folds into its own pocket for super quick and easy storage, with no extra bag to lose!
Ripstop Polyester Fabric Reusable Bag
Made of lightweight but durable ripstop polyester fabric, this washable and reusable bag squishes into a 4" carrier and can hold up to 50 pounds.
Washable Cotton Mesh Bag
Made of 100% cotton, these washable and reusable mesh bags hold up to 40 pounds and are great for produce shopping.
Cart or Wagon
Of course, you can go beyond bags. I have been LOVING my wagon - it carries my kids and their stuff, and it also carries my groceries, no bags required!! Many New Yorkers are used to the standard vertical carts, but they're not so practical as you have to be very careful with stacking your goods. My Wonderfold Wagon can hold up to 200 pounds, and it collapses so it doesn't take up too much space in our entry way! Get 25% off a W1 or W2 model at wonderfoldwagon.com with code "heathert25", or find on Amazon.
Home Delivery (Fresh Direct)
You may find this the push to do more home delivery, which will use more gas, and require a tip and possibly a delivery fee, but it sure is easy to shop from home! Personally, I'm a huge fan of Fresh Direct - they have same and next day delivery, and the bonus is that they use HUGE reusable bags. They'll pick up your last batch of bags with your next round of groceries, and in between you are free to use their bags as needed - I usually fold a couple and keep them in my wagon to organize local grocery shopping! Did I mention, THEY'RE HUGE and very strong!!
Consistently voted one of the best places in NYC to raise a family, I couldn't be happier that I made Bay Ridge my home 9 years ago. But it can be hard, moving to a new neighborhood or staying put but transitioning into parenthood. To save you some and energy, I've put together a list of the best resources in the Greater Bay Ridge Area (that includes Dyker Heights, Fort Hamilton, and a bit into Sunset Park, Industry City, and Bensonhurst) - basically, the places you could easily get to on foot or a quick 5-10 minute bus ride. Some of these resources are my personal go-tos, others are recommended again and again in local parenting groups, and some are sponsored and worth checking out!
OBGYN & CHILDBIRTH:
CHILDREN'S HEALTH & WELLNESS:
CLASSES & ACTIVITIES for BABIES:
BABY CLOTHES, GEAR, & PHOTOGRAPHY:
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored and provided by Jonathan Taylor of Northwestern Mutual NYC Midtown, as part of an advertising partnership with Bay Ridge Families' Ba(b)y Ridge MamaCon.
We live in financially uncertain times. Maybe you are young and have a growing family, are a soon-to-be-retiree, or are an aspiring business owner, and your financial future concerns you. Bonds, stocks, ETFs, whole-life insurance, term-life insurance, mutual funds, IRAs - the list of confusing financial terms that need to be navigated is daunting. With different advice coming from all over, how does one correctly navigate it all in such confusing and unstable times?
This is when you can use some well-thought-out planning and direction that will help assure and solidify your financial future. “I understand the community’s specific financial needs,” says Jonathan Taylor of the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company. “My associates and I live that life and we can help our clients plan for those periods in their lives when they will need money, and use it both thoughtfully and wisely,” Jonathan says.
Jonathan Taylor is a Financial Advisor who says that he decided to join the team at Northwestern Mutual after studying their history and very successful track record in preparing their clientele for the challenges of the future.
For his part, Jonathan Taylor is a bright and articulate young man. Young Mr. Taylor is highly thought of in the community and is very much in demand to be consulted with by many young growing families, soon-to-be retirees, and business owners who are concerned about planning and securing their economic future.
“I often explain to people the power of small increments that are set aside consistently over time,” Jonathan Taylor says. “It is the power of compound interest and consistency that drive a financial plan and can help secure substantial savings and wealth.” He stresses the fact that even if one has a financial plan in place, circumstances change – a new child, new job, major expense, etc. – and the plan must adapt to the new circumstances. Therefore, he strongly suggests reviewing it on an annual or semi-annual basis.
One of the issues that Jonathan is focused on, of course, is the matter of his clients owning ample life insurance. “The loss of a member of our community is always a tragedy,” he says. “But life insurance can greatly alleviate the financial burden created by such a tragedy. While one would hope that it would never be necessary, life insurance is something everyone should have.”
Jonathan feels that this simple matter needs more emphasis in communities and schools; unfortunately, each time a tragedy occurs a promise is made to pursue this avenue and then it is just as quickly forgotten.
In response to this need, Jonathan has developed different programs where individuals, families, businesses, and other institutions have created life and disability insurance programs for their members. Inexpensive plans are set up for the various members of the groups and can assist them in starting their financial planning journey.
Through a network of specialists, another prime focus of Jonathan’s practice is holistic financial planning. While understanding the anxiety that can accompany long term planning, Jonathan emphasizes the importance of maintaining a long-term strategy. He also stresses the fact that “money under the mattress” isn’t necessarily a viable solution. “Inflation and rising costs diminish the purchasing power of money,” he notes. “A sound investment plan can combat this problem.”
Jonathan concludes: “I’m excited to educate and assist our community in this important need. A financial plan can easily be implemented if given the proper thought and time.”
Jonathan can be contacted through his website, by e-mail at Jon.E.Taylor@nm.com, or by his cell number at 347-723-7428. Consultations are free and can be arranged at the client’s location and time of convenience.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored and provided by Vicky Simegiatos Dance Company.
We always want to broaden our children’s horizons and expose them to all of the great culture that New York City has to offer. Here are ten reasons why your family will love the Vicky Simegiatos Dance Company’s presentation of The Nutcracker (ticket information at bottom of post).
1. The ballet opens with a lavish Christmas party full of boys and girls (played by your Bay Ridge neighbors), complete with toys and gifts, mischief and sibling rivalry. And a mysterious magical guest.
2. Your children will recognize many of the melodies. Music from the beautiful Tchaikovsky score has permeated pop culture.
3. You can introduce your children to the ballet without paying Lincoln Center prices or stressing that they won’t be able to sit still for a full length performance. The Nutcracker ballet is fun, fast paced and exciting.
4. There’s an epic battle scene, in which mice, soldiers, the Mouse King and the Nutcracker fight it out to save the ballet’s heroine, Clara.
5. The Dance of the Snowflakes and the Waltz of the Flowers are among the most beautiful dances in all of ballet. The Dance of the Snowflakes is breathtaking, performed as snow swirls down on the dancers who make up the corps de ballet - all Bay Ridge students. Waltz of the Flowers is enchanting, full of dazzling pink costumes which capture the beauty of spring time. Your children will be mesmerized.
6. The role of the Sugar Plum Fairy will be danced by international ballet star Maria Kowroski, principal dancer from New York City Ballet. Your children will have the rare opportunity of seeing her perform in this intimate setting.
7. An afternoon or evening spent at the theater is the perfect way to take a break from all of the holiday preparations and festivities. You can just sit back and let the magic of the ballet sweep over you. The Historic St. George Theater is an ornate jewel, just intimate enough to give the audience a special experience with the performance. It’s located just a short drive from Bay Ridge.
8. Here’s what Alastair Macaulay, legendary dance critic of The New York Times, has said about our Nutcracker:
9. Ballet is not just for girls. Male pro athletes train in ballet to become more agile and to get more height and hang time to their jumps. Our boys are great dancers too! Your boys are going to want to watch them work.
10. It’s not unusual to see children leap to their feet during intermission, swept up by the magic, acting out the dances that they just saw. Who knows? Before the night is through, you just may find that your young son or daughter sees themselves as a budding ballet dancer too. You’ll leave the St. George Theatre singing the melodies, and they’ll stay with you throughout the Christmas season.
Did you see The Nutcracker when you were a kid? What were your favorite memories?
The Vicky Simegiatos Dance Company presents The Nutcracker at the Historic St. George Theater on December 22, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Tickets are going fast!
For further information, visit our website (includes a Groupon Deal), call 917.860.4025 or 718.612.9475, email email@example.com, or download our PDF flyer:
As a mommy blogger in South Brooklyn with 3 small kids and an often traveling husband, attending influencer events is a rarity for me, but one I always move mountains to attend is MomTrends' Moms' Night Out aka #MTNightOut! This was their 4th one and I'm excited to share with you what a fun night we had learning about the latest from Parents Magazine, Clorox, and Dove - basically, brands every mom needs in her life! Read on to see the unique activities they had us doing (spoiler: I made a snow globe, and my own perfume!?!? what!!!)
This blog post is sponsored by MomTrends, Parents Magazine, Clorox and Dove and contains affiliate links - we'll receive a small commission from purchases made after clicking some links.
Jump in a blow up bathtub fully dressed!? Sure, why not - anything for the Gram, am I right!? But first, I got to play with WikkiStix, which we always bring for our kids to play with when we go out to eat; and also make GREAT non-candy Halloween or Birthday Party Goodie Bag treats FYI. Used the WikkiStix to decorate my very own bath caddy, which included Baby Dove Tip to Toe Babywash (affiliate link), of course!
Did you know babies are born with a living protective layer of microflora on their skin, known as their microbiome? Unique to each baby, the microbiome works to maintain skin’s health while also helping with skin’s natural protection and nourishment. Baby Dove is uniquely made with prebiotic moisture and 100% skin-natural nutrients to gently nourish your baby’s delicate microbiome! A moisturizing, hypoallergenic baby wash made free from dyes, parabens, phthalates, & sulfates, this one by Dove is a great tear-free baby body wash and shampoo that’s suitable for newborns through big kids!
CLOROX® DISINFECTING WIPES
We've been big fans of Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes for years now - they always save my sanity, helping me quickly disinfect countertops after cooking, and of course everything from door knobs to light switches to remote controls when someone has anything from the common cold to strep throat! In our small Brooklyn home, the kitchen table is where we spend a good part of our family life - eating meals, doing homework, and of course, arts and crafts galore! There's nothing like cleaning it down with Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, knowing it's free of food, glitter, glue, and germs, and ready for us to start a new project! I also distributed plenty of tubs to my 3 kids' teachers with their back to school supplies! They kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, and remove common allergens around your home - if you ask me, you can never have enough Clorox Wipes!
At Moms' Night Out, Clorox helped me keep it clean while constructing my very first ever DIY Snow Globe!!! We picked out cute little creatures, glued them onto the base, waited for them to dry, then added glycerin and glittery snow and water to the globe, and secured it all together. Et voila - wintery wonderland of my very own!! With a Christmas Baby, my mind is all aflutter of how fun it'd be to do Snow Globes as an activity (and take home prize instead of traditional goodie bag) at his next birthday party!!
Whether you subscribe to their magazine or just catch their articles online, Parents Magazine is a great source for all things pregnancy, birth, babies, and parenting! At Moms' Night Out, we got to meet their brand new Editor in Chief, as well as the editors of their Food department and Parents Latina! We got to take part in 2 fun activities related to recent features in their magazine. We got to create our own scents with Julianne of Alchemologie (above), who teaches workshops in natural perfume blending, and provides perfume consultations, private classes, and fragrance parties at her shop, at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and at your choice of venue. It was a truly unique experience, and a bit overwhelming, since I don't wear perfume or know the first thing about the mixing of scents! Basically, we had to choose 2 from each of the 3 groupings she had, and I ended up choosing: Labdanum, Peru Balsam, Damask Rose, Jasmine, Rosewood, and Grapefruit. I named it US Japan Fam, of course, and it came out smelling quite lovely!
We also had the chance to create some adorable and yummy snacks that were featured in the magazine's Halloween edition, you can see a full list of their Spooky Halloween Snacks and Treats here - be sure to tag us on social (@usjapanfam) if you make some!!!
Such a fun night, and so happy to share it with all of you!! Let me know what you thought, or share your favorite goodie bag or party food ideas below!!
After dedicating time to my kids, my work, and my husband, let's face it, there just never seems to be any time left over for myself, or my mom friends. But that's silly. Of course there's enough time. You just have to get your priorities straight and MAKE the time! So, this week, I had myself a mom date and we had THE. BEST. TIME!!! And in true mom blogger fashion, I'm here to share it with you so you can be inspired and have an easy copycat mom date of your own!!
Disclaimer: This post is made possible by support from Mean Girls on Broadway. All opinions are my own. This post also includes some affiliate links - you won't pay more but we'll earn a small commission from purchases made.
Some of you out there may already be obsessed with the Tina Fey written "Mean Girls", watching the movie regularly since it was released way back in 2004. I myself had only seen it once and didn't remember anything about the movie other than it starred the infamous Lindsay Lohan (who apparently now runs a few night clubs in Greece and recently starred in her own MTV reality show!?). My point is, whether you know the story or not, you will absolutely LOVE Mean Girls on Broadway. Why? It's got everything!!
Now, I suggest this most highly for a super fun night out with your girlfriends and mom friends. That said, many boyfriends and husbands would also enjoy it, if they're into Broadway musicals. I wouldn't recommend it for kids, because of the dialogue and innuendos (teenage drinking, sex, intense bullying), but older teens would love it, and again, it has just such a great message about accepting yourself and others, and the special need for girls to support each other.
So, I took one of my best mom friends, Rhianon of Brooklyn Boy Mom & Known, out to Mean Girls on Broadway for a special Bloggers' Night they organized! We started across the street from the theater for fun drinks and yummy food at Haswell Greens (240 W. 42nd St) and got a little silly with their photo props (above)! Then we headed over to the August Wilson Theater (245 W. 52nd St), which has been decorated to get you into the Mean Girls / High School mood from the start! So many fun photo ops, even in the bathroom LOL (see below)!!
There's themed food and drinks for purchase at the theater, and of course TONS OF MERCH!!
So, aren't you just dying to go see this now!?!? You're in luck, cuz I got some discounts to give you - for the show AND for babysitting!!!!
Get tickets for Mean Girls on Broadway for as low as $59 with code MGBWAY here!
(The code can be used on Ticketmaster after you select your date, September 17 - November 24).
And if you need to get a sitter in order to make your Moms' Night Out happen, check out this offer!!
Your sitter search made simple! Join Sittercity and easily connect to local sitters. Join today and save 50% on a monthly membership.
**Pro Tip: Sign up for Rakuten (affiliate link / formerly E-bates) first and you'll get $20 cash back on your Sittercity spending!!**
To Redeem: Click the Sittercity link provided above and follow the steps to create a new account or log in from the homepage. Click “Upgrade” then select the 1-month Premium Membership option that shows the discounted rate of $17.50. Follow the steps to process payment for your new Sittercity membership. Discount offer is only valid for the first monthly payment cycle. Subscriptions are non-refundable and automatically renew at the original monthly subscription rate of $35 per month until canceled by changing your account settings or contacting us here. Offer is good for new Premium subscribers only.
There's absolutely no need to see the movie or listen to the Broadway music before you see the show, but in case you wanna get in the mood, here are a few fun items from Amazon to check out (affiliate links)
So fun, right!? Leave a comment below - are you obsessed with Mean Girls the movie? Have you seen it on Broadway or On Tour yet? What are some of your most memorable Moms' Night Out ideas!?
Whether you're planning a bachelorette weekend with the girls, a destination wedding, a corporate retreat, a golf getaway with your buddies, or a high-end family vacation, Crystal Springs Resort in northwest New Jersey will not disappoint! We were provided a night's accommodation in exchange for our honest review, and we loved it so much we're now looking into purchasing a unit! HA! Watch our YouTube highlights video here and keep reading for more details on their beautiful rooms, delicious dining options, amazing indoor and outdoor pools, and more!
Located on a spectacularly beautiful 4,000 acre piece of land with a mountainous backdrop, just 47 miles from Manhattan, it's no doubt Crystal Springs Resort has been named New Jersey's #1 four-season resort. Featuring 2 hotels, 2 spas, 9 dining options, 6 golf courses, a sports club, indoor and outdoor pools, horseback riding, an adventure center, and meeting & event venues, as well as ski-slopes nearby! So whether you arrive by car or book a private plane with Jettly, you are sure to have a great time here!!
Upon entering the Grand Cascades Lodge for the first time, as you can see in our video, we were completely overwhelmed with how beautiful and luxurious the Adirondack-inspired facilities were. With three young children, we were a tad intimidated, initially thinking this place must be too nice for our crazy kids, and we would spend the entire stay fretting over their noise and behavior. Thankfully it wasn't the case, and we were happily surprised to see the number of families with young children there! We quickly relaxed with the understanding that guests there for a quiet spa retreat, business meetings, or other kid-free indulgences would find themselves at one of the many places for adults only - such as Latour restaurant (kids must be 12 years or older), the pool hot tub areas, spa, bars, etc. While I would say this isn't a hotel made FOR kids, it is most certainly family-friendly, so don't let their AAA 4-diamond award and grandness of the resort scare you away! They have some family activities here and there, including a nightly fire pit marshmallow roasting, Saturday daytime shows, animal educators, pony rides, summer movies on the lawn, free putting course and evening glow golf, life-size chess, mountaintop adventure experience (approximately $50 per adult, $30 per child; with paddle boarding, archery, fishing, hiking, and a lake with white sand beach), KidSole (learn to fly trapeze & circus ninja warrier training), to name a few!!
Our room was absolutely fabulous, with a full kitchen, grandfather clock, huge balcony, Jacuzzi tub and full shower, indoor and outdoor dining, flat panel TVs, indoor and outdoor gas fireplaces, washer & dryer, it felt more like a beautifully furnished rental home than a hotel room! In fact, both Grand Cascades Lodge and Minerals Hotel are what they call "condo hotel", meaning you can buy a unit (which are shockingly affordable, especially compared to prices here in NYC) and the management company will rent it out on your behalf when you aren't there, leaving you with a full-service luxury vacation home that potentially pays for itself. I'm currently obsessed with this idea and figuring out how to make it happen for my own family!
We were provided a suite and an adjoining room in the Grand Cascades Lodge, where overnight accommodations include complimentary use of the Biosphere Pool Complex as well as facilities at the Minterals Sports Club, just 3 miles away by free shuttle at Minerals Hotel, with 7 indoor/outdoor heated pools, sauna, steam room, indoor running track / tennis / raquetball / basketball, a 6,000 sqft fitness center, and more. Alternatively you can book a (cheaper) room at the Minerals Hotel, but you won't have access to the Biosphere Pool Complex over at Grand Cascades Lodge in that case.
The pools at Grand Cascades Lodge (GCL from here on out) and Minerals Hotel (MH) are everything you could ask for and more! Each place has a large amazing indoor pool, so you'll have a splashing good time no matter what time of year. They also have outdoor pools, some were heated to wonderfully warm bath temp and others were cool but not uncomfortably so. GCL's 10,000 square foot indoor Tropical Biosphere was of course, the most impressive, with its massive palm trees, it will certainly be a standout on your Instagram feed! The ambience is magical, you feel you've been transported to the jungle, not northwestern New Jersey! It also features a 140' waterslide (min 48" to ride), grotto-like jacuzzi (age 16+), underground aquarium, and cave-themed sauna & steam room. I didn't realize at the time, but keep in mind the retractable roof is made of "advanced German Foiltec roofing material, allowing nearly 100% light transmission for year-round tanning"... so don't forget the sunblock!
If you take a left out of the Biosphere, less than a 5 minute walk away you'll find two more pools in the Vista 180 Pool Complex. One is very luxurious with infinity pool edges and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. There's a cafe next to it, offering a selection of quick eats and yummy cocktails!
The other pool out that way was my son's favorite, with a water slide and a really unique "rotational current vortex pool" (we dubbed it the washing machine), where the jets cycle swimmers around and around. I've never seen anything like it and it was really fun!! Even our 3 year olds in their puddle jumper floaties were loving it. They have life guards all around, but stay close to little ones or children who aren't strong swimmers because those jets are strong and our toddlers ended up getting dunked quickly a couple of times.
Over at Minerals Hotel Pool Complex, you'll find heated indoor and outdoor pools, a 12 foot cliff jump (don't miss my husband doing this in our video!!), underground aquarium, steam room & sauna, jacuzzis and cold dip, moonshine bar and twisted treat ice cream bar! Unfortunately, neither location had a "kiddy pool" per se, the pools were all 3-4 feet in the shallowest areas, though Minerals does have a large "splash yard" near their outdoor pools.
There were 9 dining options to choose from, so whether you wanted a pool-side burger and Frosé, a gourmet pizza and bottle of wine, or an adult-only award-winning fine dining experience, you'll find it all right on the premises! You can find menus (and kids' menus), hours, and locations all on the website, making it easy to plan ahead or research quickly just before each meal. Reservations are recommended at most, but we didn't bother and had no issue (but keep in mind we were there mid-week). We arrived super hungry at around noon on Tuesday and our room wasn't ready for us until 4pm, so we had a quick casual lunch at the Biosphere Cafe, the only thing we could find open. The food was good, a smoked salmon sandwich ($15) for myself, the Gardener sandwich for my husband ($13), and a chicken finger basket ($14) for the kids, however it was uncomfortably warm and humid in there, it's like a greenhouse basically, which is great for swimmers but not so much for hot and sweaty fully-clothed travelers trying to down some food! Still, it got the job done and we were off to the pools!
For dinner, we went to Springs Bistro, cuz the kids had a hankerin' for some pizza and I was intrigued by the authentic Italian cuisine Tuscan-inspired menu. The littles devoured a couple of baskets of complimentary warm bread and rosemary salted butter while hubby and I indulged in some delicious wine ($12/glass), before the main course arrived. We got 2 "personal pizzas" ($13 each) for the kids to share, I had a "pizzetta" topped with prosciutto, fig, red onion, and pecorino romano ($18 and possibly the best pizza I've ever had in my life, opinion only partially influenced by extreme hunger and Riesling-induced buzz), and Ryoji had the tagliatelle ($28, with littleneck clams, pancetta, and crushed tomato - as delicious as it was beautiful). The Bistro is located on the first floor, beyond the lobby and at the exit to the patio, which meant we could take turns bringing the kids outside to get out some energy, leaving the other to enjoy some quiet alone time with their wine! Bonus: they boxed up our leftover pizza which the kids chowed on the next morning while watching TV in the living room, letting us sleep in a bit!
For breakfast, we headed to the Crystal Tavern, a short walk down the corridor to the Clubhouse, where I found a list of SEVEN corporations scheduled to host events at Crystal Springs that day! WHOA! We peaked into a few ballrooms and other spaces, some were decked out for what looked like would be amazing rehearsal dinner or wedding reception venues, others great for business meetings and conferences. The view from Crystal Tavern was beautiful, and we thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast there. My son was begging to order Fruit Loops, and was shocked that he loved what I ordered even more! To share, we got pancakes with whipped vanilla butter and berry capote ($12), açaí bowl ($12), and pork belly lardons and aged cheddar omelet with fried potatoes ($12). Breakfast of champions, if you ask me!
We took our last meal (lunch) at Kite's American Grille, located within Minerals Hotel. It is a great spot to grab a casual meal after spending the day at the pool! My husband got their vegan Beyond Burger ($16), I got the short rib grilled cheese ($16), and the kids shared their kid's pizza ($12) and hot dog ($12). As was the case with the other restaurants - service, food, and ambiance were all on point and we had a great final meal to fill our bellies and allow the kids to sleep the entire drive home (which was 2 hours thanks to heavy rain and rush hour traffic).
Amazing easy relaxing luxurious vacation for New Yorkers, am I right!? It's hard to include the "relaxing" part when you have young kids on vacation, but husband and I both agreed this was the most relaxing hotel stay we've had since having kids, and we really can't wait to go back!!
Head to their website to book your next getaway!! Room rates start from $199/night in Minerals Hotel and $299/night in Grand Cascades Lodge (more for the suites, of course), with special packages and deals popping up from time to time!
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!)