Sometimes accidental, sometimes part of a tantrum or burst of energy, there's no denying that little kids are prone to messes. But I'm here to share with you a very easy way to cut down on snack time messes, with the help of Munchie Mug, who sponsored this blog post and is part of our huge $400 value jackpot Back to School Giveaway (enter to win here!!).
Munchie Mug snack cups are proudly made in America with FDA food-grade compliant materials, and the plastic parts are #5 recyclable! They are BPA / Phthalate / PVC free and top rack dishwasher safe. They come in 16oz and 12oz (both with 4" diameter), with 2 types of tops. They're really durable too. We got our first 3 two years ago. 2 got lost along the way but 1 is still going strong, and we just added 3 new ones to our arsenal! I simply cannot sing their praises highly enough. We went through a half dozen or so type of snack cups and Munchie Mug is hands down THE BEST!!
The stay-fresh lid will seal it up for snacking later, but the main lid is where the magic is, folks. It's made of overlapping fabric (food grade polypropylene/spandex blend fabric) that makes it spill-proof and SHAKE-PROOF!! Be sure to watch our demo video (with a fun blind-folded game at the end) to see it in action - shake it as hard as you can, upside down, throw it across the room, this baby is NOT going to spill a single snack!! Do note, it's not mischief-proof - my littles eventually learned they can squeeze the fabric open to dump snacks out. But kids will be kids. At least there will be no ACCIDENTAL spills. The fabric also makes them super soft and great for sensitive little hands. Got eczema or sensory issues? No problem!!
The tops come in a rainbow of colors to choose from, and the base cups come in a couple of cute designs, including ABC, 123, and clear, and are recommended for ages 10 months and up. The lids also feature a little cutout that make them easy for little hands to hold onto, easy for a caregiver to carry several at a time (i can hang onto 3+ per hand!), and you can thread a sippy cup leash to attach it securely to a stroller or car seat.
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!
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!
If you have a city slicker family like mine, you like to get away every once in a while and let your kids experience different environments, am I right!? For your next family vacation, I highly recommend the uber family-friendly Pine Ridge Dude Ranch all-inclusive resort in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, named one of the top 10 family resorts in the USA, just a quick and easy 2.5 hour drive from NYC! Watch our highlights video and keep reading for more details about what you can expect, and don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY at the bottom for your chance to win 1 night at Pine Ridge Dude Ranch, named the #1 East Coast Dude Ranch!
Disclaimer: We were provided a complimentary stay in exchange for our review, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own and complete unbiased!
Most activities are complimentary, including indoor and outdoor pools with water slides (no kiddie pools unfortunately), bounce pillow (my husband's favorite), playground, petting zoo (my son's favorite), rock wall, archery (watch the video, I was worse than my 3.5 year olds, yikes!!), tractor rides, paddle boats, sports and board games, after-dinner activity (like meeting a new baby animal or feeding horses), marshmallow roasting at the campfire, and nightly entertainment like magicians and comedians (though it starts at 9pm which was just too late for my kiddos), and really fun activities led by the social director throughout the day (things like line dancing, inflatable horse races, and water balloon battles).
Most packages also include a trail ride (ages 8+) and daily pony ride for younger kids, and extra experiences can be purchased such as private riding lessons, "own a horse for the day", hands on barn experiences, and more. If you need some kid-free time, they do have a half day camp for kids ages 3-10, which is extra ($35 for 1 kid, $55 for 2 kids, $70 for 3 kids). Other extras include the arcade, lasertag ($10/person), paintball ($35/person), and massage.
The ranch is well themed - very rustic with Western decor to the max! All staff were outfitted in flannel shirts and cowboy hats (and all were incredibly friendly and helpful!), most guests wore cowboy boots, it was kitsch in the best way! We were provided a large room in the Dakota wing that included a king bed, XL full bed, and bunk bed (which my kids went nuts for!). It was spacious, even with luggage, a stroller, and one of their cribs you still wouldn't feel cramped. It was also nice and quiet, which I find to be hit or miss at hotels - I always bring ear plugs but was pleasantly surprised to not need them at the ranch! The grounds were large with lots of greenery, but never more than a 5 minute walk between activities.
The food at Pine Ridge was SO GOOD!!! Check-in is at 2pm so your first included meal is dinner, from 6-7PM, which always includes a salad bar and a few entrees to choose from, as well as dessert (jello, ice cream, and a pie or cake). Breakfast, from 8-9:30AM, is buffet style with delicious hot treats such as eggs, bacon, pancakes with fruit topping, selection of cereals and oatmeal, fruit and yogurt bar, and pastries. Lunch varied, from 12:30-1:30PM, sometimes buffet style in the dining room and sometimes outdoor BBQ, and is your last meal on check-out day. They also have some food and beverage options that aren't included: alcohol in the dining room or at other bars, a Starbucks kiosk, poolside bar, and Chuckwagon Grill & Snackbar (open from 2pm). That said, we found eating their 3 meals a day was plenty and we didn't need to purchase extra.
DEALS & RATES:
Pine Ridge Dude Ranch by nature, as an all-inclusive resort, is not cheap vacation, but it's also not as expensive as you might think. Rates in summer go for as low as $209 per adult per night ($69 - $99 per child), and just $149 per adult per night in September! You can find some great deals on their website here, for example 50% off your 3rd night, 10% off for military and first responders. And don't forget, pretty much everything is included (except for tips), so when you calculate that, as well as not having to pay for air fare to an all-inclusive in the Caribbean let's say, it really is a great bang for your buckaroo!! They also have day passes if you live nearby or are staying elsewhere. These are $40 per adult, $20 per child, and include lunch, a pony ride per child, indoor / outdoor pools, tractor rides, bounce pillow, petting zoo, basketball, tennis, bocce, shuffleboard, and more. An extra $25 per trail ride.
Enter for your chance to win a one-night stay for 4 people in the Rafflecopter box below! Open to US residents ages 18+. The more actions you take, the more chances to win you will accumulate. GOOD LUCK!
We just got back from our 4th Lancaster Family Vacation in 3 years and I simply can't recommend it highly enough as possibly THE BEST quick, easy, fun, and cultural getaway for New York City families! After just a 3 hour drive, you'll find yourself in serene Pennsylvania countryside, surrounded by farmland, Amish horse-drawn buggies, and countless family-friendly activities to choose from. It might feel overwhelming to plan your Lancaster Family Vacation, but we're here to help!! Below are the places we visited this summer and highly recommend for you to add to your agenda! Be sure to scroll through each photo gallery and watch each highlights video to get a better feel of what each place has to offer for both kids and adults! Additional activities and our past years' Lancaster family vacation guides are linked at the bottom of this post, as well.
Disclaimer: We were provided complimentary tickets in exchange for including most of these places in our guide, but we reached out to them with interest, and all thoughts and opinion are our own and completely unbiased!
Whether you have a train-obsessed child in your family or you just enjoy unique hands-on museums, the Railroad Museum of PA is sure to please! Once you enter, go straight to the elevator, upstairs, and across the bridge for an "OHHHHHH MY GOSH!!!!!" reaction from your entire party as you overlook the massive museum, with 100+ locomotives and cars from the 18th and 19th centuries!
After meandering your way through row after row of trains, some which you can board, and many hands-on-activities and learning stations, be sure to stop by the Stewart Junction, a special place for kids to build and play with motorized LEGOS, see huge model train displays, and more. We spent a good portion of our museum visit in that section, the kids couldn't get enough!
Located at 300 Gap Road, Strasburg PA, the museum is open Mondays - Saturdays from 9AM - 5PM and Sundays from noon - 5PM, but closed on Mondays in November - March. Admission is $10 per adult, $9 for seniors, $8 for youth, and free for ages 2 and under. They also have great membership options if you plan to go more than once a year!
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is right across the street from the Strasburg Rail Road, and whether or not you plan to actually take a ride on that (which we covered in our 2017 Lancaster Vacation Guide), it is really fun to just go over and watch the huge train depart, screaming whistles and all. There's also a great free playground over there, as you can see in our video below, and Strasburg Rail Road hosts A Day Out with Thomas, if you can time your getaway right!
If you end up getting rained out during your trip, or simply need a nice place to let the kids have some fun indoors, then Tiny Town Indoor Playplace is going to rock your world!! It is huge, brand new, so clean and organized and full of ways for your children to explore and imagine! It features a "Tiny Town" of 11 luxury play houses - we're talking an animal & human hospital, fire station, library, market, theater, Grandma's house, salon, and more! There were dress up clothes, books, toys - more than my kids could ask for in their wildest dreams. Not only did they have a blast, so did us parents!! Just watch my hubby trying to juggle in the video below LOL!!
I love how parent-friendly this place is as well, with a full coffee bar and snack bar (and you can BYO but keep in mind they're a nut-free facility), and lots of tables to spread out and relax (or work?) while the kiddos play. Shoes are kept on so no need to worry about whether or not you brought socks (a common mistake and added expense in summer)! They also have a little baby and toddler area gated off in the middle of the massive playplace.
Located at 533 Janet Ave in Lancaster PA, Tiny Town is open Mondays - Saturdays from 9AM - 4PM, and closed Sundays for parties. Admission is $10 for children (free for 12 months and under) and $8 for adults, and it's good for the whole day! So you can go and come back as you like!
This was our 4th visit to the best agri-tainment in the area, Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. Set on 25 beautiful acres with over 60 farm fun activities, games, and rides, it's always a highlight of our Lancaster vacations! But, this year was the hottest it's been during our visit - sunny and about 90 degrees! YIKES! They have a bit of shade here and there, and a huge mist fan which is nice, but it is outdoors with lots of walking and moving around, so take note. Thankfully our kids weren't bothered by the heat and I am incredibly glad we didn't cut it from our schedule - 100% worth the sweat haha!!
This year we were most excited to try their brand new Cherry Crest Feed Mill which is a giant kid and adult friendly obstacle course type thing with rock climbing, cargo nets, ropes and tires to balance and navigate across. Very fun!! We also were sure not to miss our tried and true favorites - the Hay Chute Slides, the Corn Crib (like a HUGE sand box filled with dried corn kernels instead of sand!!), the giant bounce pillow, and the Little Sprouts kids' village of outdoor luxury play houses.
We did nix a visit to their 24th Annual Amazing Maize Maze due to the heat (you can watch our trip through the corn maze last year here), but this year's "Man on the Moon 1969-2019 Corn Maze" design is in honor of their collaboration with NASA this year in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. Behold their "5-acre corny version of outer space":
From 1-3PM on Friday, July 19, NASA will broadcast LIVE from Cherry Crest on NASA TV, NASA's website, and the Discovery Science Channel, with NASA Astronaut Colonel Alvin Drew and NASA Chief Technologist Douglas Terrier introducing a special exhibit and programs on NASA Spin-off Technologies used by farmers today. There will also be a series of informal talks and photo ops with NASA astronauts on July 19 & 20! Learn more about that here! The NASA Apollo 50 Celebration is free and open to the public, but regular entrance fees apply for Cherry Crest Adventure Farm activities and fees.
Located at 150 Cherry Hill Rd in Ronks PA, their hours vary by time of year so check here, but during summer season they're closed Sundays and Mondays. Children ages 3 and under are free, and adults are $16 online or $19 at the gate in summer. It's pretty all-inclusive and you can easily spend half a day with just the basic pass, but there are certain add-on activities you can pay for individually or purchase a more expensive pass that includes them. For example, their priciest pass is $31 online or $35 at the gate and includes the Apple Blasters, Battle Zone, Paintball Range, hand-make rope or gem-mining, and a souvenir cup drink or kettle corn.
Looking to get hands-on with some adorable farm animals, then you gotta schedule a tour at Verdant View Farm, a pasture-raised grass-fed beef farm and bed & breakfast, family-run currently by its 4th generation of farmers! They have a selection of tours to choose from, including the Farmer's Apprentice Tour which we did (watch below for a good laugh and to learn a good bit, too!) as well as homemade ice cream tasting and demo, artisan cheesemaking and tasting, goat's milk soap making, and farming 101.
I wasn't really sure what to expect, and it was a HOT day, but we just had the most interesting and fun time, and learned a lot about raising cows on a dairy vs. beef farm, that most of the corn in Lancaster is actually for the animals (what!?!?!), and general life on the farm. We got to milk a cow, bottle feed baby cows, hold chickens, and play with baby goats (who climbed on our backs - ouch)!! For such city slickers as ourselves, this was just such a unique experience we will never forget!! You can even book a room there for a more immersive experience - you can help collect the eggs they'll serve you for breakfast, and have milk fresh from the cow, can you imagine!? Talk about Farm to Table! I'm definitely going to consider this for our next trip to Lancaster!
Located at 429 Strasburg Road in Paradise PA, tours are held Mondays - Saturdays in June - August and Saturdays in Spring and Fall, and go for about $10 - $25 per person.
Last year we stayed at Bird-in-Hand Family Inn (read our review and see our tour here), and this year we were thrilled to go back for their amazing authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking Smorgasbord dinner followed by their "Magic & Wonder: IMAGINE" show! You can buy tickets for the show only, but I highly recommend the package including the Smorgasbord (packaged prices for $21 - 27 for children, $39 - $49 for adults). I recommend giving yourself 90 minutes or so to eat before the show starts. We sat down for dinner at 4PM, finished around 6PM, killed some time at their huge free on-site playground, and our show started at 7PM. Timing was perfect!
The Bird-in-Hand Smorgasbord is huge with a great variety of foods, a little kids' section with staples that'll suit picky kids' tastebuds, and a to-die-for dessert bar! The whoopie pie cake, omg guys, a must! If you're not up for a buffet, you can always order a la carte, check out their menu here!
The Bird-in-Hand Stage's website touts "broadway-style music theater and magic shows" and it's no joke. The entertainment was top notch - illusionist Brett Myers was spectacular! The fun starts off in the lobby where one of the magicians is doing small tricks for the kids (and selling cool magic tricks to take home as well). The main show itself was exciting, breath-taking, hilarious, and all-around highly entertaining!!! Unfortunately we were not allowed to film or take pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it, or better yet, go see it for yourself! Do consider your schedule and kids' naps and bedtime though. Our 3 year old twins hadn't napped that day and we went to the 7PM show so you can imagine, it didn't go completely smoothly and we did have to escort ourselves not-so-quietly out of the show before it ended. But, this is life with 3 littles!! The night was fun while it lasted!
This is our 3rd year in a row participating in Dutch Wonderland's summer blogger campaign - it's always exciting to receive their e-mail inviting us back, I'm not sure who's more excited, me or the kids! They call this 43-acre family amusement park a Kingdom for Kids and it really is! My kids absolutely adore it there! I think it's ideal for kids ages 3 - 8, but there is still plenty to do there for littler ones (many rides allow babies in lap) as well as older kids and even adults! Their thrill ride Merlin's Mayhem, for example, is my personal favorite, and you must be at least 42" to ride. We hit the park when they open at 10AM on Sundays and have never dealt with a line for the first hour or two. This allows my son 2-3 rides on Merlin's Mayhem in a row, and then we cram in as many rides as we can before lunch time!
If you get to the cafeteria by noon, it's still pretty empty and you can have a relaxed break eating pizza, grilled cheese, gourmet sandwiches, you name it. Then back to the pavement for more rides, and don't forget to catch some of their live shows, which are another chance to rest your feet a bit. I'm a huge fan of their diving shows, especially "A Dragon's Tale" which had great music and I found it, actually, kind of hilarious!! Be sure to sit in one of the front rows if you enjoy a refreshing splash or two!
With fabulous live shows, over 35 rides, Duke's Lagoon water park, and animatronic dinosaurs in Exploration Island, you really do need to plan a full day at Dutch Wonderland to get as much in as possible. For families coming from NYC, this is even feasible as a day trip (bonus - the kids will sleep the entire ride home!!). If you plan to spend a good amount of time in the water park, I recommend a day and a half or 2 full days at Dutch Wonderland. Or you could go for a season's pass!
Regular pricing is $44.99 for visitors ages 3+, but you can get a special $5 discount with my code here!!
Lancaster's original buffet and restaurant, Miller's started 90 years ago with a simple dish of chicken and waffles, which is still available in their massive smorgasbord and on their a la carte menu today!! It's a must-try, for sure, and you will not be disappointed with their large selection of items cooked from scratch and sourced from local farms! The dinner smorgasbord is $25.49 for adults (they have a $3 off coupon on their website), $9.99 for ages 10-12, $6.99 for ages 4-9, and free for ages 3 and under. You'll find a carving station, grilled veggies, soups, salads, appetizer station, and my favorite, the dessert bar where you can grab a pre-cut piece of cake or pie, or have them slice a warm pie for you (my personal recommendation is the Chocolate Pecan Pie!!!!!), and don't forget to have them add a scoop of ice cream!! We find Miller's the perfect place to visit after a long day at Dutch Wonderland. Then, we pile in the car with pleasantly filled bellies and let the kids sleep the whole drive home! Amazing end to an amazing family getaway!!
So, what do you think of our Lancaster Family Vacation Guide!? Have you been before, or are you planning a trip? Don't miss our past Lancaster vacation roundups here:
A list of activities, restaurants and accommodations you may want to consider in Lancaster (not a complete list, by all means, check out to Discover Lancaster for help researching & personalizing your itinerary):
Amish / Pennsylvania Dutch Experiences & Activities:
Family Friendly Accommodations:
Nothing ends the excitement of a road trip quicker than a car sick kid, am I right!? Two of my three kids get horrible motion sickness, and while we still stress about it every time we're heading to the car, we have found a few hacks to help prevent car sickness, as well as some products that help make the occasional vomit a little easier to deal with. Being the mommy blogger I am, I'm happy to share those tips with you now (and hope you'll leave a comment with your own advice!!).
Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links - you won't spend more but we'll get a small commission from purchases made through our links.
Our favorite products for preventing and dealing with car sick kids:
Looking for a kid-friendly indoor waterpark near NYC or Philadelphia? We just took a day trip to Sahara Sam's Indoor & Outdoor Waterpark in West Berlin, NJ and simply cannot recommend it enough. We received our tickets free in exchange for an honest review, but don't worry - I'm no sellout and always tell it like it is haha!! Be sure to watch our quick highlights video (below) and then keep reading for more details!!
Just a quick 90 minute drive from Brooklyn, Sahara Sam's couldn't be a more perfect kid-friendly day trip from NYC! They're open year-round with the indoor waterpark, arcade, and birthday parties, and the outdoor waterpark area opens in summer.
Bring your bathing suits and towels, no outside food or drinks, and pack smartly as you can fit a good amount of stuff in the large locker ($15), or possibly the small locker ($10) - they take credit card, don't worry. The lockers are good all day, you can go in and out of them as much as needed which is great if you're like me and want to take some quick photos or videos here and there and then keep your camera safe (and dry) in between, or grabbing your wallet as needed for lunch and snacks!
They do have complimentary life jackets for infants through 90 pounds, but you may want to bring your own if not arriving early - when we were leaving at 3pm they didn't have any available.
The food was standard kid-friendly amusement park type food - pizza, hot dogs, chicken fingers etc. We got the 16" pizza, about $16, which fed our family of 5. Great price, and delicious! The restaurant room does not require you to get dressed or wear shoes, which lets families keep their lunch break as quick and painless as possible haha! They also have a full bar within the water park room, and a large arcade, although you do have to be dressed with shoes to go in the latter.
Their Lizard Lagoon (baby & toddler area) has a wading / splash area, some small fountains, a double slide, and a wall around it that parents were all hanging out on. Very cute and all 3 of our kids spent a lot of time in there.
The Tim Buk Tu Adventure Playland in the center of the main room was awesome, with one of those HUGE buckets that dumps water every couple of minutes, a few small to medium sized slides, and various water play activities.
Their lazy river is GREAT!!! When we went early in the morning, there was no line and we could actually board our tubes in the zero entry part making it super easy for an adult to get on and load a child in your lap. Later in the afternoon it got really busy and actually made me a bit nervous doing it with our party of 5. Once you get a tube and get yourselves on it's nice to float around, but the getting on and off amidst all that chaos, with 3 little ones to worry about, it's really tough (unless the adults in your party outnumber the kids, then it's no problem)!
They have a bunch of large water slides, all minimum 42" to ride, which meant we had to take turns going with our 6 year old so that someone could stay behind with our 3 year old twins. But the slides were awesome - SO much fun!!!! Our favorite, we nicknamed the "Superman" slide but it's actually called Tut's Twisters and it's 2 slides where you go head-first tummy down on a mat, very unique and thrilling!!
The entire indoor waterpark was nice and balmy, 84 degrees year round! I was nervous about water temperature, as that can make or break a waterpark trip in my opinion. But the water was actually super nice, luke warm, not chilly at all (except for a separate room that held Tut's Twisters and a large pool - that room and the water were quite cool) - everything else, from the lazy river to the kiddy pool, were really nice temperatures! No shivering - phew!!
Tickets will run you about $30-40 per person (get a discount when purchasing in advance online) and if you plan to go at least twice in a year (you will, trust me) get the season's pass, which is a GREAT deal!! They're on sale now for $47.99 (regularly $84.99). Use code SSBUY3 to buy 3 or more and get them for $44.99 each
What do you think? Have you been to Sahara Sam's before? Do you have another amazing family-friendly day trip from NYC to recommend? Check out my massive list of the best getaways from NYC with kids here (many include links to my personal reviews and YouTube videos)!
When searching for a family-friendly hotel to split up our long drive from NYC to Montreal, I happened across Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark. We are all familiar with Six Flags - we think roller coasters, theme park, fun summertime day trip for the family. But did you know they have an amazing lodge with a HUGE indoor water park just 3.5 hours north of NYC, in the heart of the Adirondacks and Lake George area!! Click below to watch our YouTube video for a tour of the facilities and to see our crazy kiddos having a blast!!
It's quite affordable, too, with room rates from just $199/night, including waterpark access (if not staying overnight, you can also purchase day passes for the waterpark for $44.95 per guest and under age 2 is free, and seasonally of course also tickets for the amusement park). They have lots of kid-friendly activities going on during the day, including a Kids Klub with arts and craft and story times, a huge arcade, and 2 full-service restaurants on site (including Johnny Rockets). Something we didn't do, and I regret (so there WILL BE a next time...) is their Adventure Trek - basically you rent a wand and venture around the hotel on a mission of unlocking games and adventures, and all your points accumulate and will be there when you come back for your next stay! Sounds super fun!!
They had the lodge beautifully decked out for the Holidays, and have an adorable set up for photos with Santa. While it's brutally cold outside, it's summer year round at Great Escape Lodge and the perfect time to schedule your getaway!
The lodge is great, in a beautiful area with lots going on, but the indoor waterpark is what really makes Great Escape Lodge stand out as a great family vacation destination in my opinion. There's a little toddler area with baby swings and slides, a kid's area where you must ben 36-54" to ride the slides, and several body and raft slides for taller kids and adults (most were 36 or 42" and taller), a group raft slide (2-4 people per raft), and even a wave machine where you can boogie board or surf!!! I was too scared to try it but deeply regret that, so yet another reason we'll have to go back soon!! (Be sure to watch our YouTube video to see my hubby giving boogie boarding a go!!)
The lazy river was probably my favorite, a bit awkward to manage with toddlers but we figured out a way to kind of perch one on each of our tubes, and our 5 year old floated along alone with or without a tube - they have free life vests for the kids to borrow! There were showers and changing rooms down there, but the lockers cost $17, so my recommendation is to leave valuables up in your room and just bring the bare minimums down to the waterpark. Also, they said the room is 82 degrees, but the water was a tad chilly, so just keep that in mind, especially if anyone in your family is very temperature sensitive, you may need take quick breaks to dry off or warm up with a hot shower. Though, we were there during a record breaking cold spell, so I'm not sure if the water/air temperatures were typical or not. Despite the shivers, we had an absolute blast!!
Looking for more family vacation and weekend getaway from NYC ideas?? Check out my massive list here!!
Family vacations are so important, for making memories and experiencing new things together, but if I'm being honest, as a mother of 3 small children, they sometimes don't quite feel like vacation to me. I just kinda feel like I'm parenting in another location, and deserve a vacation after coming back from the vacation! But this past weekend, we found the answer to our vacation woes. A super duper family-friendly ALL-INCLUSIVE resort near NYC that includes, wait for it, CHILD CARE!!! This amazing place is none other than Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, New York, just a quick 2 hour drive north from New York City (or hop on Amtrak and they'll have a shuttle pick you up from the station!).
Full disclosure, we were provided our stay free of charge in exchange for our review and promotion. But don't worry, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased - I'm no sell out!!!
Watch our fun video here and keep reading for details on the Rocking Horse Ranch accommodations, activities, food, and more!!
The main grounds of Rocking Horse Ranch are pretty compact, which made everything super convenient! Our room was located in the Main Lodge and we could get to the pool, dining room, arcade, and theater without going outside! And it was just a quick walk outside to the other areas including the playground, stables, day care, fun barn, etc.
They have rooms accommodating 4 - 6 people. We got the "Main Lodge AA" room for 6 people, which included 2 queen beds and a bunk bed, which my kids were over the moon for!!! Our 5 year old took the top bunk (which has built in rails) and our 3 year old twins shared the bottom bunk (I simply pulled 2 wooden chairs over to use as a makeshift rail and it worked like a charm. But frankly, everyone was so exhausted after a full day on the ranch that they crashed quickly and slept like the dead. The room was spacious and included a TV, fridge, shower/bath, toilet, 2 sinks, coffee table, dresser, and tons of hanging / storage space.
The room, like the entire hotel, had a fun ranch / cowboy / Wild West theme, and seemed newly renovated. Everything was in immaculate condition, super clean, and honestly impressed the heck out of me!
As you would expect at an all-inclusive resort, all meals were included. Breakfast and Lunch were buffet style, and dinner was sit down and order off the menu, however there was no limit on how much you could order. On your first day, you must make a dinner reservation and that same time will remain your dinner time for your entire stay. We struggled with what time to sign up for, not wanting it to cut into our fun activities and also not make us rushed to get to the 8pm nightly entertainment! We settled on 6:30PM and it was perfect. The dining area itself, just like the rest of the hotel, has a beautifully decorated rustic cowboy type theme, complete with dozens of antler chandeliers, views of the surrounding forest, and a gorgeous fireplace (bring your cameras, this is one of the many great spots in the hotel for some family photos)!
Breakfast was delicious, featuring eggs, pancakes, french toasts with strawberries, bacon, eggs, danishes, oatmeal and yogurt stations, tons of fresh fruit and individual cereal boxes, bagels, etc. You can also order eggs anyway you like, we got a bacon and cheese omelet that was ah-may-zing (be sure to scroll through the food gallery above)!!
Lunch had some standards like hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and DIY sandwiches, pastas, make-your-own bar like tacos, sloppy joes, etc. The fun part about lunch is the Character meet-and-greet. Even though they weren't well-known characters from TV, our kids were so excited to hug and high-five Betsy the Horse, a Prospector, and a Cowboy (see below)!
Dinner consisted of a soup, a salad, 2 appetizers, 6 or so main dishes, and 2 sides. Menus of all meals are posted before each meal outside the dining room, just in case you want to go over it before sitting down at the table, which can be a crazy time for families like mine! You could order as much as you wanted, and even order basics not on the menu that might be more picky-kid-friendly, pizza for example. As hard as it is with all that endless food to devouer, I encourage you to SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT because they have a to-die-for selection of pies, as well as soft serve ice cream sundae bar, cookies, etc. YUMMMMMMM!!!!!
There are two self-serve drink bars in the dining room, with all kinds of sodas, whole milk, chocolate milk, water, and flavored waters. A separate server comes around in case you want to order alcohol at dinner, which is not included. There is also a 24-hour coffee / hot chocolate / pastry station located in one of the common areas near the lobby - all free, of course!
At Rocking Horse Ranch, child care (or "day camp" if you prefer) is free of charge for ages 3 - 12, and $12 per hour per child under the age of 3! No reservations needed, just drop-in between 9am - 5pm and pick them back up whenever! Use as long or as often as needed during your stay! It was SO AMAZING, I don't ever want to go on "vacation" again without a child care option LOL! Not only was it great to get some (free) alone time with my husband, but the kids LOVED it there! They actually begged to go back!! They have 2 rooms, one for ages 0-5, and one for ages 6-12. They have tons of age-appropriate activities in the rooms, but they also give the kids the option to go on trips outside to the various activities. They took our kids moon jumping, to see the animals, to the play ground, etc!
PONY RIDES & HORSE BACK RIDING:
Now, it wouldn't be a RANCH without some horses and other animals, and they are certainly in abundance here! With over 100 horses to ride, they're able to guarantee a free daily trail ride to every guest (must be 48" and above, under 48" can take pony rides). You'll need to select a time (same daily) for your ride, but you can also get extra rides waiting standby at other ride times. We met some girls who were riding 3 times a day! They accommodate any level, from first-time beginners (like us) to intermediate (walk-trot) and advanced (walk-trot-canter). You can attend a demonstration to learn more about the horses, the stable, and how to ride, or you can wing it as we did - the staff will give you a 30-second instruction about how to hold the reins and control the horse, and then you're on your own to keep your horse in check as you head out with a group on your 45 minute trail ride.
I'm not gonna lie, I was rather terrified. Those horses are huge and while they're tame and more or less know what to do because they do the same trail ride several times a day, you had to be careful not to let your horse get too close to the next horse or else they might spook each other or bite or whatever, oh my gosh it was very nerve wracking for me. There are wranglers riding along with the group though, and they gallop over to come to help out within a few seconds (nothing major happened on our ride, just a few horses got out of line to munch on some grass and occasionally a rider needed help getting back in line). I'm very proud of myself that I did it, despite my fear, but we decided not to go back for a second ride haha! My sore butt thanked me.
Our kids, on the other hand, were absolutely in love with their pony rides!! The last time Emi had a chance to ride, a year ago at 2 years old, she was so petrified she wouldn't even touch the horse. But this time, she was so happy to be up on that pony. All of them were. And my heart nearly exploded with the cuteness of it all!!!
Rocking Horse Ranch has a great indoor water park area with a big pool in the lower section (with a fun bobbing platform area to walk across), a nice splash area for the younger crowd in the upper section (with 1 small and 2 medium sized slides), and a MONSTER of a water slide for the older kids and adults. That slide is 250 feet long, and let me warn you, you go FAST!!! It is really really fun!!! I was shocked my 5 year old was brave enough to go it alone, but he did and he loved it, rode it about 5 times during our stay!!
The water and air temperatures in there are kept at a balmy 85 degrees fahrenheit, so no chills to worry about, and they also have great life jackets for the kids to wear (for 30-50 pounds). Down one flight of stairs (which isn't kept as warm, so you'll need to dry off or bundle up) you'll find bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, and saunas. Or you can run through the hallways from your room to the pool in your bathing suits, as we did haha!
ACTIVITIES, ANIMALS, & ENTERTAINMENT:
No matter your age or interest, you will find plenty to do at Rocking Horse Ranch, and nearly all of it is free of charge for guests (the only things I ran across that cost extra were alcohol, arcade games, and mining camp, but anything that costs extra will be noted so on the daily activity guides).
In the indoor Fun Barn (pictured above) you'll find a bouncy house, large jungle gym with lots of foam ball shooting devices, badminton, ping pong, and electric rock climbing. Outside of that, you'll find 3 moon jumping trampolines (pictured below) and a rock climbing platform.
Near the stables, you'll find an enormous playground (pictured above), indoor BB shooting range & archery, Highland Cattle, zebra, camel, pigs, donkeys, and goats. You can watch a silversmith make horse shoes (they have over 100 horses, each needing new shoes every 6-8 weeks - be sure to watch our video to see them putting new shoes on a horse, it's fascinating!!).
Our favorite activity was definitely the mountain tubing. They have a "Magic Carpet Lift" that brings you and your tubes up, and fly down down the huge hill at super speed!!! You cannot double up in one tube, but even our 3 year olds were fine riding solo. Sometimes they'll let you go double with 2 tubes (1 person in each) and 1 person holding the leash of the other tube. We enjoyed that as well. At night they light it up in fun colors and it brings it to a whole new level of fun!
Inside the main lodge, in the basement, you'll find the Lucky Horseshoe Arcade with pay-to-play machines as well as 2 lanes of free mini bowling, and a fun interactive floor game.
Down the hall from the arcade, you'll find the Silverado Saloon where they have daily activities such as scavenger hunts, trivia games and nightly live entertainment (we saw a great magician there).
In the summer they have more outdoor activities open up including an outdoor pool and water slide, and in winter they have snow tubing and skiing! They also have a softball field, tennis courts, horseshoe pitching, basketball courts, shuffleboard courts, horse-drawn wagon or sleigh rides, and you can take a shuttle to a golf course and the Walkway Across the Hudson!
Seasonal, of course, they make a killer haunted house, with nighttime tours as well as "not as scary" (but still super creepy and gross) day time behind the scenes tours, which my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed. They tell you how they made it, how they mange from above the crowds, use trap doors etc. Be sure to watch my video for some of the cool behind the scenes tour!
So there you have it, our family vacation at Rocking Horse Ranch in a big amazingly fun nutshell!! I'm not going to sugar coat it, this is not a low-budget vacation. But you can find deals and make a splurge, because honestly, it's SO worth it!!! Prices I've seen on their booking page range from about $349 - $979 per room per night, but don't forget, this includes EVERYTHING during your stay!
What do you think?? Is this on your list of places to visit? Have you been before? Have another place to recommend for us to try out? Be sure to head on over to our great FAMILY-FRIENDLY DAY TRIPS & WEEKEND GETAWAYS FROM NYC page for some other great destinations!!
We enjoyed our weekend in Lancaster last summer so much (see here) we decided to pretty much copy cat our own trip again this year! As far as budget-friendly family vacation destinations within a few hours drive of NYC go, this is one of the best. A MUST for any NY / NJ / PA family with kids in the range of about 2-10 years old.
In exchange for our honest reviews, we were provided free admission to Cherry Crest Adventure Farm & Dutch Wonderland, and complimentary accommodation at Bird in Hand Family Inn, but don't worry, all opinions are unbiased - we don't sell out guys! Read on for details on each place, and don't miss our 2 great videos below!!
Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is one of the most unique places we've ever been. It's outdoors, set on 15 acres of peaceful beautiful Lancaster farmland, chock full of 50 kinds of activities, games and rides that encourage movement, creativity, and teamwork! Children 2 and under are free, and others can get a day pass for $17 ($30 ticket allows you to come back an unlimited amount of times in the year - open from end of May til start of November!), and there are a few other passes that include extras such as apple launcher and shooting range, which are great but not necessary for families with young kids in my opinion.
Here are my families' personal favorite things to do at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm:
Starting July 3 you can visit their 23rd Annual Amazing Maize Maze, "a gigantic, 5-acre Board Game Madness design created from 2.5 miles of paths and tricky turns!! This sounds SO COOL and we hope to go back later this summer to finally check it out (the past 2 times we've been was technically "spring" seasons, before the maze opens).
**Edited: We finally went during Labor Day Weekend!! Check out our video highlights from the Amazing Maize Maze and more!
CLICK BELOW TO WATCH
highlights from Cherry Crest Adventure Farm!
Whether seeking thrill rides, toddler & baby friendly calmer rides, animatronic dinosaurs, water park, or shows - Dutch Wonderland has got them all!!
We found our 36" 2.5 year old twins could ride a ton of things this year, compared to last year. And our son, now 46" could ride all but 1 ride that he wanted to, except for wooden Kingdom Coaster (minimum 48"). You can see the height requirements for all rides here, and at each ride they'll have a sign up so you can quickly see if your kids can ride.
I was shocked that my son was tall enough for the new hanging Merlin's Mayhem rollercoaster, but the way the seat is built and with the backup old-school lap belt, it felt super secure and i wasn't the least bit nervous of him flying out. If you have a kid tall enough (minimum 39", under 48" must ride with a "responsible rider") definitely prioritize it, that ride is super smooth and crazy fast. SO much fun!!
I'm totally bummed both times we've been, late May last year and early June this year, it wasn't quite warm enough to use their water park, which looks amazing. So, we're hoping to go back later this summer! Also very unlucky was the massive rain storm that met us at the park - it started pouring after just 3 hours. After checking the radar, we called it a day at 1pm and heard later they ended up shutting down the park at 2:30pm.
We did squeeze in a show and were very impressed with the level of entertainment. The story was the "Adventures of the Frog Prince", and included lots of silly but skilled divers. My son enjoyed sitting in the front row (by himself) and getting soaked! Don't worry, they paint the benches by color code so you can sit in a dry or wet section, as per your heart's desire! You can check out showtimes before visiting here.
Kids 2 and under are free, but don't worry, there's still plenty they can do as many rides allow children of any height as long as they can walk (but keep in mind, not many allow lap babies). For ages 3+ you can get a day pass for $45 or a season pass from $97~, and you can even get a season pass that combines Dutch Wonderland and Hershey Park!! Also, keep your eyes peeled in the spring for early bird discounts!
CLICK BELOW TO WATCH
highlights from Dutch Wonderland
& Bird in Hand Family Inn!
Last year we stayed at the Doubletree, which was wonderful - we especially loved their indoor splash zone at the pool. But this year we wanted a bit more of a local experience and we were HIGHLY impressed with Bird in Hand Family Inn, our new recommendation for the best family-friendly hotel in Lancaster!!
Featuring 2 indoor pools & a jacuzzi, a zero-entry outdoor pool, one of the most impressive playgrounds I've ever run across, a delicious breakfast buffet and dinner smorgasbord (with ala cart menus as well), live evening entertainment (not included), free tours of Amish farms, set in an incredibly quiet and beautiful backdrop, you really can't go wrong with the Bird in Hand Family Inn. All this and rooms go for under $200 a night!! Total win!!
We got a double queen room with a view of the pool - it was clean, modern, and comfortable. We did have a bit of hallway noise at one point, but nothing too bothersome (we're New Yorkers, don't forget haha). The buildings are a bit spread out but we enjoyed walking around to explore, there's farm land all around, you'll hear Amish riding by in their buggies, and Waters Edge Mini Golf is right on site as well! They also sell different packages and experiences, such as hot air balloon rides, wine tastings, and talks on Amish History and Beliefs.
Live close by or are considering a longer Lancaster vacation than just a weekend? Here are some other great places to check out:
Amish / Pennsylvania Dutch Experiences & Activities:
Pennsylvania Dutch Smorgasbords:
Other Local Dining Experiences:
Have you been to Lancaster or any of these places? Planning to go soon? Have another place to recommend? Be sure to leave a comment below!! And if you live in New York City or the Tri-State area, don't miss my massive list of the best family-friendly destinations with 3 hours drive of NYC!!
We were just hosted for a long weekend at the family-friendly all-inclusive Woodloch Resort in The Poconos and had THE BEST TIME!! Not being a cold weather kinda girl, I was a bit nervous, but it was just as awesome as when we went in summer (see that review here). For a taste of what activities and food to expect, keep reading, and don't forget to watch our highlights video on our YouTube channel!
OUR RIDE THERE:
Last time we journeyed to Woodloch, we took the bus and got a complimentary shuttle from the station to the resort. This time, we rode in style!! We were provided a beautiful 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE from Toyota for the weekend. With seating for 8 passengers and producing a 280 hybrid system net horsepower with 30 city mpg and 28 highway mpg, the Highlander was just what we needed for our familiy of 5. Using the LATCH system for our twins' Combi Coccoro car seats (affiliate link) and our 5 year old sandwiched between them in his Mifold booster (my blog review here), we were able to easily fit all 3 in the center row. This meant I was able to hand them snacks and screens, and it was extremely helpful when my son got super car sick on the way home. Thankfully mama had thought ahead and brought some metal bowls just in case the Dramamine didn't do its job!
The 2018 Highlander has great cargo space, especially with the back row folded down (or you can utilize the back row's 60/40 split). It earned the "Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle" (SULEV) rating, which is surprising for a SUV, and its electric on-demand all wheel drive with intelligence (AWD-i) made driving on curvy mountain roads a dream (except for aforementioned carsickness...). With a MSRP starting at $36,670 it's a great option for families needing safety and space!
OUTDOOR WINTER ACTIVITIES:
There was a lot of snow, but we didn't cross a single slippery step. They do such an amazing job of clearing paths and roads, even the go carts were safe to race around the track! My kiddos loved simply playing in the snow, but we all had a blast on their complimentary Snow Tubing run!! It's a hike up the hill lugging the tube (especially with a toddler bumming a ride) but a great way to burn off that morning's breakfast LOL! We didn't partake in their "Winter Olympics" but watched others for a bit and it looked like a lot of fun!
Some of their outdoor activities are seasonal and thus closed during winter (such as lake and outdoor pool activities, horse-drawn wagon rides, and snow covered play grounds) but others are year round, weather permitting. We had a blast driving the go carts, even our twins got to ride along this time!! They also have a new outdoor covered 9,000 square foot synthetic ice skating rink, with skate rental ($5 per 2 hours) and walkers for little ones to learn to skate with.
INDOOR YEAR ROUND FUN:
Our go-to indoor activities at Woodloch are the bumper cars (1 rider per car, 40" and up can drive - this was the first time our son was tall enough and he looooooooved it!!!), Woodloch Forest Indoor Playground (a multi level climbing structure for ages 3+ though our 2.5 year olds did ok with our help, with zip line, slides, rolling barrels, you name it - SO fun for the kids and parents, you'll have to watch our video to get a better feel of it; they also have a 5 and under section for the littlest ones), and the Toddler Room (a small play room with TONS of toys, and parents can kinda sit back and relax). Our kids love the "kiddie cars" (electric kid-sized SUVs) but to be honest they make me really anxious since the kids are HORRIBLE drivers and crash into each other and parents as they try to supervise. It's hilarious, but nerve wracking haha!
And of course, the indoor pool complex!!!! Be sure to set aside at least 2 hours for this on the daily. There's a huge room with a big pool, a few hot tub options for various ages (one is adults only because it's so hot, one is 1' deep wading/infant pool), and one is an all ages not-too-hot hot tub LOL). In another section is a decent sized kid's area with lots of little water jet activities, and 2 teeny water slides. In a completely separate room, and not to be missed, is the Splash Zone with a huge double cork screw water slide (you must be 42"+) and 300 gallon bucket that tips over every couple of minutes!! They have a rack of PuddleJumpers and life vests to borrow (though I didn't notice any for under 30 pounds, so you may want to bring your own baby float or be prepared to carry babies and smaller toddlers)!
There were some new activities we didn't get a chance to do, but definitely worth mentioning!!! They have a new Escape Room (ages 13+) and mini bowling (extra charge for both).
You don't have to get a meal plan at Woodloch, but I highly recommend splurging for it (you can get a 2 meal or 3 meal plan). The food is phenomenal and meals are a highlight of our trips there!! A different character greets your children at the entrance for each meal, 2 of our 3 kids were over the moon about this, I loved seeing their faces light up as they run over and give hugs and high fives to them (our more reserved child was terrified of all except the "human" characters i.e. Minion was a no-no, but Captain America was great!).
Breakfast doesn't start til 8:30AM though, and if you have early 5-6AM risers like we do, it's pure torture waiting for food, and none of the activities open til 8-10AM, so consider bringing snacks to munch on and activities to kill time in the early morning - or make use of their cable TV and free wifi.
I can't even go into all the yummy food we had, so I'm including a slide show of some of the meals below. You're given a table that will be yours for the entirety of your visit, which is cool because you don't have to figure out seating and where to put the high chairs and all that, and the kids enjoy being the leaders and taking the family to your table each day!!
Each breakfast you'll have a HUGE crumb cake waiting for you on your table. Lunch and dinner have a selection of entrees to choose from, but each meal is all you can eat, so you can select multiple entrees or custom order such as a half size of 2 different ones. Some side items are family style, and Sunday lunch is a buffet. They also have a selection of kid-friendly staples such as pizza, chicken tenders, PB&J, and grilled cheese. They have crayons and coloring booklets if you ask, and their high chairs are really great, escape proof for my little Houdinis!!
We were provided 2 nights in an Edgewater Suite in Springbrook on the main Woodloch Pines property. It was the perfect location in winter because we could get to the pool complex without going outside! And it was just a 5-10 minute walk to the dining area, indoor playground, and bumper cars, and a 10-15 minute walk to the go carts and ice skating area.
They do have a shuttle that goes around the property every 20 minutes or so, but mostly we walked because we were lucky with beautiful, albeit cold, weather and enjoyed walking around the property. Last time, we had our double stroller with us and found it doable, though some of the paths are quite steep!
The room was spotless, with gorgeous lake views from the living room (with balcony) and bedroom! A sleeper sofa and matching love seat, and they installed bedrails on both of our queen beds so we could co-sleep with our kids without worrying about anyone falling out! Every plug not in use had a baby proof cover on it - they really think of everything! The room also had 2 bathrooms (one with a shower, one with a tub) which was a treat since our own home only has one bathroom!!
So, pretty ahhhhmayzing, am I right!? It should go without saying that Woodloch is by no means considered a "budget" vacation. But you get what you pay for, and you get a LOT at Woodloch! You could spend well over a week here without doing all of the free activities they offer! With a 3 meal plan for a family of 4 during peak vacation times, you could easily spend over $1K for 2 nights (but don't forget, that covers your room, food, and activities!). That said, there are certainly ways to score a better deal, so check out the "exclusive offers" page on their website occasionally - off peak rates start at $159 per adult per night (plus tax and 15% gratuity that gets divided by all the staff).
Some offers they currently have going on include:
Have you been to Woodloch or any other family-friendly resorts or destinations? Leave a comment below and let us know!! And don't forget to check out our fun highlights video of our trip below (be sure to subscribe!)
DISCLAIMER: While we were provided complimentary room & board by Woodloch and a complimentary vehicle by Toyota in exchange for our reviews, all thoughts and opinions are our own - completely honest and unbiased - we're no sellouts!! We only share what we truly loooooove!!
About Me ^_^
I'm a NYC mom blogger, Influencer, YouTuber, & Entrepreneur living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1)! My blog is chock full of humor, honesty, family travel & product reviews, and giveaways galore! It's also home to Bay Ridge Families, with weekly local kids' events roundups and annual guides for families here in South Brooklyn!