At the ripe old age of 2, there seems to be a lot of days (and nights) where our youngest runs the show. A few weeks ago, we took a road trip up to Knoebel's for the weekend. When we arrived Friday evening, we got settled in the hotel and began getting everyone ready for the usual bed routine. But in this instance, it turned out to be anything but the usual. Little man wanted no parts of going to bed and his protests were not silent but turned into raucous roars. 8:00 came and went, then 9:00, then 10:00. By 11:00 we wondered if we had made a tremendous mistake and should just head home. In addition to the squeals and desire to play coming from our 2 year old, our 5 year old was whining that his brother was keeping him awake. Thus began the night walk. I loaded Caleb into the stroller and walked him around the parking lot of our Bloomsburg hotel for 1 hr. Yes. . .you read that right. One entire hour of walking circles around a parking lot before he finally gave in and fell asleep.
Now amazingly, the next day at Knoebel's was wonderful. No fussy children and Caleb even took a nap in the stroller which is unusual. We figured that the exciting day at the amusement park would wear them out, but just to be on the safe side we let them play in the hotel pool for about an hour when we got back to the hotel. Then we started the bedtime routine again. This time, Brody was out like a light, but once again Caleb defied the odds and turned bedtime into playtime. Again, it took several hours and then a 90 minute walk in the stroller to finally get him to sleep. Meanwhile, this whole time the patience of me and my husband was wearing thin and we seriously questioned taking any more "vacations" this summer.
Don't get me wrong, the kids had an amazing time that weekend at the amusement park and enjoyed our stop at Indian Echo Caverns on the way home Sunday. We love seeing smiles on their faces and sharing the magic of childhood with them, which is a big reason we travel and like to explore new places. However, I don't consider this a "vacation" with the amount of work that goes into planning and executing the weekend. We relish the time with our kids that we spend and I love to see families traveling together, but maybe during that busy summer carve out a spa day for mom or a romantic overnight for mom and dad to truly enjoy a relaxing "vacation" that we all so desperately need.
From our house, we can be to Knoebels in about 3 hours which makes it just on the line of being a day trip. This time, my husband was on his way home from a fishing trip in Canada so I met him in Bloomsburg with the kids and we stayed in a hotel for the weekend. Our boys are 5 and 2 - perfect for loving the kiddie rides and the family amusement park experience. This trip really solidified 4 reasons that all young families will fall in love with Knoebels!
The Price - As I said, this might be the best bargain for families with young children around. Unlike most amusement parks, entry into Knoebels is free - yes, you read that right - FREE! Try finding that these days! Entertainment, like musicians and magic shows are all open to the public and included in your free entry. When it's time to ride the rides, you simply pay as you go for the rides you want. The kiddie rides are all very reasonable with most ranging in price from $1.00 to $1.50. You can buy tickets in books of $5.00, $10.00, or $20.00 and can even buy discounted tickets at places like local Weis Markets ahead of your visit. The paper tickets also never expire so the extra tickets we had from 2 years ago were still able to be used on this visit saving us even more money! During the week, the park offers a ride all day pass, but on weekends that is not an option. Now if you have older kids and teenagers that are looking for thrill rides, be warned that the big roller coasters cost $3.00 each per rider which can quickly add up.
The Location - Nestled among the mountains and trees of Elysburg, PA, you don't even realize you're approaching an amusement park as you pull up to Knoebels. The feel is more of a large carnival than an amusement park with lots of shade, a mix of gravel and paved walkways, and an overall "woodsy" feel. For those families that enjoy camping (unlike me. . .), there is a campground adjacent to the amusement park which is a popular draw.
The Food - Knoebels is known to have some of the best amusement park food around. We have never been disappointed in the quality of traditional park fare like pizza, hamburgers, and fries. They also offer a wide variety of options that are not as traditional in amusement parks including spaghetti dinners, meatloaf dinners complete with potatoes and veggies, and a delicious International Food Court. The prices are in line with what you would expect at an amusement park - not cheap, but not ridiculous either.
The Rides - The rides are perfect for kids of all ages. Our 2 year old enjoyed playing on the sliding board and the ball pit the best while our 5 year old ran from ride to ride eager to enjoy everything from cars, boats, trains, and much more. If you have older thrill seekers, there are several roller coasters including the Phoenix - one of best ranked wooden roller coasters in the country. The park also features a pool and water play area at a very reasonable price. So if you are planning to visit in the summertime, be sure to bring your bathing suits in case you want to cool off in the pool during your visit!
Overall, I highly recommend this experience for families - especially those with young kids. While I still love my visits to (also nearby) Hersheypark, this is a much cheaper alternative that has a very different "old time-y" feel. It's definitely worth the drive to check out on summer road trips!
One of the new stars in Cars 3 is Cruz Ramirez. She is a next generation trainer who is looking to take Lightning McQueen to the next level. What's really to love about her though is a girl who is strong, smart, and very real. Ramirez faces her own insecurities during her training of McQueen, but in the end she also learns that with encouragement from friends you can achieve even your wildest dreams. McQueen also finds inspiration from friends and a mentor of his old crew chief, Doc Hudson. The educator in me really enjoys how much these movies pay tribute to the "teachers" along the way and Cars 3 is certainly no exception.
Without offering any spoilers, I can say that this movie is endearing, inspiring, and fun for the whole family. Kids will love the laughs and the fast paced racing, while grown-ups will enjoy the heart of each character and may even find themselves relating to what it means to be getting older in a society that is rapidly changing around them. Be sure to check it out to kick off your summer season!
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