Category Archives: Berks County

Summer To-do List Update

Quick update on the Summer to-do list and two additions! With 5 days off over the holiday weekend I had a lot of time to cross off some of my to-do list:

  1. Knoebels we went the Friday before 4th of July for the second year in a row and it seems to be a great day to go, low crowds during the day, walk right onto kiddie rides and the big kid rides didn’t seem to have very long lines either. Later in the evening, right around the time we were getting tired anyway, it started to get more crowded. The same thing happened last year, probably the result of two things: 1) people leaving the pool/water park 2) cheaper evening all ride bracelets. Money saving tip: on weekdays you can buy ride bracelets, about $20 for little one’s like Hailey (under 48″ I believe) and then the ‘rents can use tickets to get on a few rides (we used $18 in tickets between the two of us). We didn’t make it over to the pool that day, next time. (On a sad note, there was a tragedy at the Crystal Pool on Wednesday, very sad).
  2. Lehigh Valley Zoo, Hailey and I visited on Sunday afternoon and I renewed our family membership while we were there. The otters were sleeping so we missed seeing them swimming around but the penguins were having a blast in their pool. Bad parenting move: I told Hailey to stand on the bench so she could reach the goats at the top of the fence and two goats almost knocked her off the bench…oops. And of course I snapped a picture first before catching her. She had a blast though!
  3. Kutztown Folk Festival Hailey, my mom and I went here on Tuesday, it still runs through July 10th. We had a good time, I spent too much money on who knows what, Hailey was just interested in the bouncy rides and the tractor train. The highlight of the trip was when my mom yelled at all the customers at the kite stand ” You realize they are all MADE IN CHINA…DON’T YOU?!?” It was pretty funny…I see where I get it from. She has a good point too. All of the other stands are pretty much handcrafted goods, then you have this huge sea of lawn flags and kites in the middle of it all, and everything is manufactured in China. It’s one thing if you go to a big box store, it is sadly expected, but at a craft show it is inappropriate, yet they are there every year. My best purchase was a (handmade in the USA) wooden spatula. I’ve been looking for a non-plastic, non-metal spatula for flipping eggs. This should work out well.

All this extra time on my hands over the weekend also gave me the chance to think of a couple of things I missed on my original list:

  1. Hershey Park, I haven’t been here since my 6th grade field trip. Someone just told me that it’s about $50 regular price to get in here so I’ll be looking for some good discount tickets. Hailey loves chocolate and I think she’ll not only enjoy some of the rides, but the chocolate tour.
  2. Ringing Rocks, Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County, this is a great free thing to check out. Bring a little hammer and you can bang on the rocks and they ring like bells. It’s a nice bonus to a day hike.

So that’s a total of 5 things off my list and 2 new things added…looks like it will be a busy summer.

Summer To-do List….before it’s gone…

I can’t believe it’s already the last day of June! I’ve been meaning to throw together a list of things I’d like to get done this summer, not really a bucket list because, with two exceptions, these are things I’ve done before. It’s more like a summer “to-do” list. Some I do just about every year, some have become more recent traditions, others I haven’t done in many years and want to head back. Some I have actually already crossed off my list because…well…I did them before I got around to putting this post together. I’ll knock those out first. Some of these are in the Lehigh Valley, other’s are road trips. They are all family friendly and are either primarily outdoors or at a minimum have an outdoor component.

  1. Longwood Gardens, Kennette Square PA. I did this one Father’s Day weekend (Saturday) and we sprang for the fireworks tickets. When I ordered them I thought they were a bit pricey but they were soooo worth it! It was a 40 minute display with fireworks, fountains and music (check the schedule for the themes). I plan on doing a full write up one of these days, including some of the pictures I took, but for now I will say we loved it, it wasn’t overly crowded even though it was a Saturday and we had beautiful weather. Also, be sure to check the website for the calendar that tells you when fountains are running. If there is a drought the fountains may also not be running. Trust me, you really want to see the fountains.
  2. Iron Pigs I love Coca-Cola Park, and the Iron Pigs organization does a great job at keeping you entertained. Even if you aren’t a huge baseball fan, just get general admission tickets and enjoy the great food, entertainment, good beer, and even the playground for the kids. Tip: If you have a smart phone they have bypass lanes at this park, super helpful when the lines are long. I actually already crossed this one off my list already too…but who knows maybe I’ll be back yet this summer.
  3. Knoebels, Elysburg PA. I love this amusement park. It’s about a 2 hour drive away, short enough for a day trip, or you can camp there. I’m headed here for a day over the holiday weekend, there were no camp sites available (I wasn’t really expecting any, I called a week before 4th of July weekend). The best way I can describe Knoebel’s is that it reminds me of Dorney Park before Cedar Fair ruined it. No admission fee, pay for the rides you go on, good mix of kiddie and grown-up rides, food isn’t too expensive and there is a water park too. Oh and a bonus…very few hoochie mama’s at this park, and most kids, even teenagers, have parents close by.
  4. Lehigh Valley Zoo, I love this zoo because you can choose to spend an hour or a whole day here. No travel, no traffic, no lines, no crowds, no fuss. My favorites are the penguins and the river otters. There are lots of opportunities to get up close to the animals too. Last year I was attacked by a lorikeet, which of course my husband and daughter got a huge kick out of. I recommend buying a membership, your admission for a year is included and you get 1/2 admission to participating partner zoos (including the Philadelphia Zoo).
  5. Kutztown Folk Festival PA Dutch food, all sorts of crafts, demonstrations, petting zoo’s and entertainment for kids. I don’t recommend bothering with the bounce house area, it is way too hot. Even if you aren’t a quilt person, check out the quilt barn. It’s air-conditioned, trust me. Also, after last year’s fiasco, I will be leaving Chris at home this year. He thought he would like it, I told him he wouldn’t, I was right, he complained the entire time. The festival runs July 2-10 this year.
  6. Peddler’s Village, Lahaska PA (Bucks County, near New Hope) I haven’t been here in about 10 years. I’d like to go back but this trip will be more for me than for the family. Lots of shopping and quaintness.
  7. Philadelphia Zoo This place brings back lots of childhood memories for both me and my husband. It’s been two years since we brought Hailey here, so I think its time again. This zoo does however have all the driving, traffic, and crowds that the Lehigh Valley Zoo does not. I’m sure I’ll be bitchy and crabby by the end of the day, but it will be worth it. The trade-off is the size and diversity of animals. Don’t forget Lehigh Valley Zoo members get 1/2 admission, bring your membership cards!
  8. The beach. Probably the Jersey Shore again, last year we went to see Lucy at Margate on a weekday. It was super quiet and no Snooki sightings. I’d like to do something similar again this year, Hailey loved the beach.
  9. Baltimore Inner Harbor, MD. I mostly want to go to the Aquarium, but that is indoors, so I’m saying all of Inner Harbor so it meets the “outside component” requirement for this list. I haven’t been here in over 10 years and I think Hailey is old enough now to appreciate it.
  10. Blueberry Festival, Burnside Plantation, Bethlehem PA. You kind of have to like crafts, history, or blueberries to enjoy yourself here. Lucky me I like all three!
  11. Hawk Mountain, Kempton PA. I haven’t been here since I was in college. I’ll probably check this out closer to the end of summer in September. The chances of seeing a bald eagle are better then.
  12. Lancaster County. I’d like to check out some of the furniture stores, or at least go back to Shady Maple. I haven’t been there since college either.
  13. Martin on Main, Nazareth. This is only one of two on this list that I have never been too. I understand there are crafts, music, food and such. It coincides with the first Saturday of Musikfest and I’m usually pretty busy that day. This year though I’m going to try to make it.
  14. Easton Farmer’s Market. I love farmer’s markets, especially ones that are in city center’s and not on parking lots. This is one of my favorites, lots of urban charm here.
  15. Lunch at Starter’s Clubhouse. The pictures on the deck look so nice, I need to check this out, this is the only other one on this list that will be a first for me. Maybe I’ll play a round on the executive course too…I’ll have to dust off my clubs.

Bucket List Update – Wine Trail, Long Trout Winery kicks ass!

Back in January I put together a list of things in or around the Lehigh Valley that I’ve always wanted to do but never got around to doing. My goal is to get as many of these crossed off the list as possible in 2011.

I crossed number 10 off of my list this past Valentine’s weekend. I went on the Berks Wine Trail Chocolate and Wine tour and not only visited one local winery but six! Although at one of them, Calvaresi, we  didn’t get a chance to actually taste anything, because everyone was hogging the tasting area and we left, but it was all good.

What a great day! Friends, Wine, Chocolate, and I didn’t have to drive. How could it not have been?

We started off at Pinnacle Ridge, which to me was most like a traditional winery. It’s in an old stone barn and the wines were closest to what I would normally drink at home. I brought home a bottle of Veritas which they describe as “A unique blend of our Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon — only produced in finest vintages. This is filled with aromas of toasty oak, vanilla, & black fruits; aged 16 months in American Oak.”

Next we went to Blair. My favorite part about this place was that you drive through the vineyard to get to the winery. I think this was the only place where I actually noticed the vines, you couldn’t miss them if you tried. Their wines weren’t my taste, but I did pick up a bottle of  Pinot Gris and this freezer bag contraption to make frozen Peach Bellini’s. I can’t wait for summer!

Then we were off to Long Trout Winery. I could have stayed here all day. They have a combination of grape wines and fruit wines, and surprisingly, as more of a dry red person, I kept trying mostly the fruit wines-they were soooo delicious. The place is a hippie haven and the tasting room looks like a cross between someone’s basement bar and a college bar like Shorty’s in Kutztown before they remodeled. The place is covered floor to ceiling in 60’s memorabilia, about 75% of it Beatles. I was in heaven! The people are friendly and it’s a really laid back atmosphere, even when the place was so packed you couldn’t move. The visitors even helped each other find the bottles of wine they were looking for and passed them across the crowd to the requester. They had three chocolate wines for the wine and chocolate pairing, countless berry wines, including a Bell Bottom Blueberry that was rather dry for a berry wine. The wine names are cute and creative (ie. Instant “O”, Forever Strawberry Fields, Yellow Snow) and the bottlenecks are tye dyed. They even have a disc golf field! They are also working on an addition that is more modern that the basement bar room, yet it should still match the vibe with its double doors that form a peace sign when closed and the wooden loft area. Hopefully people like the spaciousness of the new room and that will leave me more elbow room in the hippie bar! I left this place with 7 bottles, and I’m not even a sweet wine person!

Next was Bashore & Stoudt. They specialize in fruit wines as the fruit comes from Stoudt Orchards. This place was pretty crowded and there was a long wait in  line before you could taste anything. I’m not a fan of sweet fruit wines, and they were all very typical sweet fruit wines. I actually had to turn away samples because I was getting queasy from the sweetness. I saw other people enjoying them so if sweet is your thing, give it a try.

Next was Calvaresi, the inside was kind of cool because you could see the stainless tanks. I’m more of an oak wine person so I was not disappointed when we left before tasting anything because the visitors were hogging the wine tasting area.

The final stop was Clover Hill. They had a really nice gift shop and tasting area and a wider range of wine styles, which was welcome after all the sweet wines. They were having a big sale on their wine racks as well, up to 70% off. I believe it is still going on.

The only winery I was compelled to take pictures of was Long Trout. And most of them were of the memorabilia rather than the wine. The John Lennon picture is actually the wall paper…on the entire ceiling! If you want to check out more pictures click on the pictures posted here to go to my Flickr page.

I would absolutely go back to both Long Trout and Pinnacle Ridge. I’d also like to try some of the wineries on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail (Pinnacle and Clover Hill are on both the Lehigh Valley and Berks Wine Trails).