Our Visit to Letchworth State Park

Our Visit to Letchworth State Park

Our family is down for riding bikes, walking, easy hikes, and just taking in the views. I wouldn’t say we are the “most” outdoorsy people around, but we definitely enjoy nature. In a time where it’s very easy to be distracted by electronic things, I’m happy that our kids are engaged and enjoy exploration around parks and trails. Western NY is full of some of the best parks in the country including, Letchworth State Park. 

A short 30 minute ride from Rochester, NY, Letchworth State Park has been voted one of the best attractions in New York State. Sometimes referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East” for the magnificent scenery, it was also in the past named the “Best State Park in the US”.

Out Visit to Letchworth 

I can’t recall having ever been to Letchworth Park before this visit. I wanted to take the kids especially so they could get a glimpse at their first major waterfalls. The Genesee River runs through the gorges that host three major waterfalls and a bunch of smaller ones as well. In addition there are 66 hiking trails, a massive pool, a nature center, you can go kayaking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, ride a hot air ballon and in the winter skiing, and snowmobiling. You can even camp at the park in a cabin, RV or tent. The Glen Iris Inn is a restaurant and Inn located on property in the park. Not really what I would consider to be kid friendly, but a nice place for a date. 

All about the water

Letchwortth Falls
Middle Falls

We didn’t intend to do all of the wonderful things they have at the park, we just wanted to hike an easy trail and see the waterfalls. Luck would have it, we chose an extra hot day, so the mist from the waterfalls was a welcome reward when we got close enough.

We entered the park at the south entrance. Just driving through the 17 miles park can take about 20-30 minutes. If you stay on the main park road, it is easy to park and get out at the various overlooks, which is what we did.  Getting in and out of the car also allowed for water breaks and AC. 

After stopping at a few of the overlooks to check out the views, we made it to Middle Falls. Parking is easy near the Glen Iris Inn and a short walk down to the falls. It’s a pretty cool view to be able to take in how massive and powerful the Middle Falls are. Measuring in at 107 feet, it is the tallest of the falls in the park. 

You can also park near Upper Falls and take a bit of a walk to get a closer look. We didn’t have a stroller and on the return trip up the stairs the three year old gave up on walking. So the husband ended up with an extra 30 lbs weight to carry (aka Camryn). Nonetheless, since it was our last stop for the day, it was a nice way to end things. 

Letchworth Park

Throughout the park, bathrooms were easy to find. We brought snacks from home so we didn’t visit the concession stands. 

Overall, it was a nice way to spend a few hours away from home and screens. 

Family Road Tripping to Cedar Point Amusement Park

Family Road Tripping to Cedar Point Amusement Park

My first trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park was a summer vacation with my family when I was about 15 years old. I was long overdue for a return visit when we decided to take our family road tripping to Cedar Point Amusement Park.

Located in Sandusky, OH, Cedar Point Amusement Park is the oldest operating theme park in the US. The park boasts 18 dollar coasters and 71 rides – which is a world record for most rides – on over 334 acres.

Inside the Roller Coaster Capital

Nicknamed the Roller Coaster Capital of the World, the park does not disappoint when it comes to thrill rides. The 18 roller coasters within Cedar Point are some of the highest and fastest around. In fact, it’s the only amusement park in the world with six coasters that are at least 200 feet high.

The Magnum XL-200 was the first hyper-coaster and first ever coaster to top 200 feet. At 205 feet, it reaches a top speed of 72 MPH. My seven-year old niece talked her dad into riding the Steel Vengeance coaster with her. After her trip on the 205 foot high, 74 MPH mixed wood and metal coaster, she stuck to the kiddie rides for the rest of the trip. She’s a champ for doing it though!

On my first trip years ago, I did brave the Corkscrew and the Raptor coasters. Neither myself, husband or kids are really into thrill rides these days.

Magnum XL-200
Magnum XL-200

Plenty for the Littles Too

It’s not all thrill rides at Cedar Point. There is plenty for the littles too. We took our time making our way through the Camp Snoopy area, a section with many “Peanuts” themed rides. There are plenty of kid and family friendly options. Closer to the main entrance, many of the old school kids rides are front and center. The slower paced motorcycles, police cars and dune buggies that take it easy on the little ones who prefer slow speeds.

In addition to the rides, access to Cedar Point Beach is included in park admission. If ripping through water slides is more your speed, the Cedar Point Shores Water Park hits you with all of the splishy-splashy summer fun you can take.

Travel to Cedar Point

Leaving from our home base of Rochester, NY, the drive to Sandusky is about 5 hours. From western NY to northern Ohio, the route on I-90 West cuts right through Cleveland and travels along the shores of Lake Erie.

On this visit it was me, my husband, our two kids, my parents and cousin in our rented Chrysler Pacifica mini van. In a separate van my sister, niece, nephew and great niece and nephew. My sister and her crew actually left a day early and stopped in Cleveland for a look around and quick trip to the Cleveland Zoo. Once we arrived, we didn’t need to use our car for the duration of our trip.

For travelers who fly in, the closest major airport in Cleveland Hopkins International airport about 55 miles away. Another option would be the Toledo Express Airport, 65 miles away but with limited flight selection.

Places to Stay at Cedar Point

Hotel Breakers and the Lighthouse Point campground are located onsite with walking access to the waterpark, beach and amusement park. Nearby you will find the Express Hotel and Castaway Cay accessible via shuttle service or car. Although Express and Castaway are not onsite, they still qualify for the vacation package discounts and are Cedar Point properties. Guests staying at Cedar Point properties get one-hour early entry into the park, complimentary parking and ticket discounts.

Hotel BreakersHotel Breakers is a recently renovated beachfront resort with 669 guest rooms and suites. My sister and her crew reerved at suite at Hotel Breakers. They had a great view of the water, enclosed balcony, bedroom with 2 queen beds, and a pull out sofa bed. In addition there was a microwave and small fridge in the room. One of the best benefits is that you are just steps away from the beach. The easy access to to the water, day or evening gives more opportunities to create memories. There are evening activites on the beach including fireworks, parasaililng and jet ski rentals.

In addition to the awesome location, Hotel Breakers has five onsite restaurants: Perkins, TOMO Hibachi Grill, Surf Lunge, TGIFriday’s and a Starbucks.

Tiny House Living at Lighthouse Point

The cabins at Lighthouse Point are essentially tiny houses. After many episodes of Tiny House Hunters, the husband and I were probably too eager to give it a shot. There are multiple floor plan options available to choose from with the 156 cottages & cabins.

Water-front cabins can sleep up to six, family cabins up to eight and the Deluxe cabins can accommodate up to 10 people. For my group of seven, we chose a Deluxe cabin. The determining factor for us was having two bathrooms.

The two-level Deluxe loft cabin consists of a 42” flat screen, two futons, a bedroom (queen size bed with TV), two full bathrooms with tub/shower combos a kitchenette with a sink, microwave and small fridge, all on the first level. When you travel up to the second floor loft space, there are two separate sleeping places, each with a queen sized bed and two televisions. Complimentary wi-fi is included.

Linens and toiletries are included in the room. Another thing that sold us on the cabin experience was the outdoor patio space for each tiny home that includes a picnic table and charcoal grill.

My favorite part of the trip might have just been the cabin itself. It felt so cozy and comfortable. I loved the wood! The cabins was also very clean.

We spent a good portion of one evening at the Lighthouse Point pool. In addition to the swimming pool, the kids splash pad had many cool sprinkler additions to it. Our visit took place in late August when many schools were already back in session. Schools in NY start after Labor Day so we always have the chance to do late trips, when crowds have thinned out.

Spalsh Pad and Pool

Camping at Lighthouse Point

The cabins are located in the RV park that also has 145 full hook-up campsites. As aspiring RV owners, walking through the campsite, checking out the set ups and RV styles always gives us ideas of what we are working towards.

Cedar Point was actually one of the first trips we took in our family RV trailer all those years ago when I was a teenager. On that trip, my parents, my best friend and I spent three days camping at Lighthouse Point. We had an 18-foot Real-Lite travel trailer that was comfortable enough for the four of us. I remember the comfort and convinces of coming and going from the park to the RV and waking up to the smells of my mom making breakfast in the camper.

While you can hear the occasional screams from the nearest roller coster, the campgrounds were otherwise peaceful getaway from the excitement of the parks. The cottages are lake front, the cabins are in a section that surround small man-made lake and he RV hook up sites are all in the middle.

What to eat at the park

Inside of Cedar Point you will find all of your amusement park favorites, from Auntie-Anne’s/Cinnabon to Chick-Fil-A, Dippin-Dot’s to Dominos. When eating with the kids we stuck to the basics of pizza, fries and burgers.

Since this family road trip also dubbed as an anniversary trip for the husband and I, we ditched the kids for a nice meal at over at Hotel Breakers at TOMO Sushi and Hibachi. We failed to realize how busy it would be and didn’t make a reservations. Since I was hungry and didn’t want to wait an hour, we happily opted for a table were we could order from the menu. I’ve been to enough hibachi restaurants so I wasn’t too particular about needing to be at the table with the show.

Our food was fast, tasty and filling. Very similar vibe to an upscale hibachi places that I’ve eaten at in other places.

The morning before our departure we all met for breakfast in Hotel Breakers at Perkins. Perkins is a breakfast place similar to an IHop or a Cracker Barrel. You can get breakfast anytime of day and they have the most awesome pancakes! We no longer have a Perkins location in upstate NY so we were pretty excited to see an old familiar face in breakfast that didn’t disappointment.

Going back again

We will be going back again to Cedar Point. The short drive from upstate NY, the reasonable ticket prices and the campground make you feel as though you are getting multiple vacations in one.

LEGOLAND New York is Open

LEGOLAND New York is Open

After a year long delay, LEGOLAND New York is open for business. In addition to Legoland, the LEGOLAND Hotel also opened in August 2021.

Legoland New York was made with kids in mind

LEGOLAND New York is the 3rd Legoland resort in the United States, joining California and Florida. There are a total of ten LEGOLAND Parks across the globe.

These theme parks were all designed with kids age 2-12 in mind. Since the Kent Krew littles are 8 and 4, this was a perfect place for us. Even if your kids are not LEGO fanatics (mines are not), there is something for all adults and kids alike. You know because at LEGOLAND, everything is awesome (pun intended).

Legoland entrance
Welcome to Legoland

What you will find at LEGOLAND New York

Located in Goshen, NY, LEGOLAND New York is just 60 miles north of New York City. You can catch a flight to any of the major NYC or NJ airports and drive to the park in 1-2 hours (of course traffic could make it longer). You can easily extend your trip and spend some extra time in NYC or in the gorgeous green (in the summer) Hudson Valley.

We live in Rochester, NY so the trip to LEGOLAND New York was a quick 4.5 hour ride south for us. We actually drove to NYC first. It was the first trip to NYC for the kiddos and their chance to see the “city” with the big buildings. The highlight was an view of the Empire State building from the sunroof and an authentic slice of NYC pizza. 

LEGOLAND New York has seven themed lands spread across 150 acres: Brickstreet, Bricktopia, LEGO NINJAGO World, LEGO Castle, LEGO City, LEGO Pirates and Miniland. 

We did explore all seven lands. We spent about 4 hours at the park before the kids started to wear down. The majority of our time was spent in LEGO Pirates, Miniland and LEGO City. 

Making our way through the park

We arrived a few minutes before the park opened. Although there was a line, it moved rather quickly to get inside. You have to go though the security scanner of course. We were able to have a backpack with two water bottles and some snacks with no problems. 

Parking was simple and easy. You actually just drive right in and follow the directions and parking lot attendants to the next open spot. You pay on your exit. Parking is $20 when you pre-pay and I was told $25 if you pay on exit. If you pre-pay, you can scan the barcode on your receipt to get out, otherwise you can use a debit/credit card to pay and get out.

You enter the park on Brickstreet. You are greeted by the Lego store, or The BIG Shop as it is called. There you can find unique LEGO sets and items that are only available in the store. I fully intended to purchase sets for the kids but they didn’t seem too interested. The prices weren’t too bad, but since the kids didn’t ask I didn’t offer!

Brickstreet is also where you can find things like stroller rentals, locker rentals and guest services. The first ride of the day you see will be Brick Party, or what most people would call a merry-go-round. Camryn and I happily hopped aboard.

We then moved into Bricktopia where Camryn enjoyed the Duplo Express train. I’m pretty short so I was able to squeeze onto it with her. On our way out of the park, we made another pass through Bricktopia to ride a few more attractions including DJ’s Dizzy Discor Spin which did make me a little dizzy. 

Miniland Will Blow Your Mind

Miniland is a collection of miniature Lego builds of landmark places in the world. I think it was likely my favorite of the parks. The details, the intricate nature of the builds, the complexity was so good. Even while walking slowly and taking your time, it’s just so much to take in. From the NYC skyline, the San Fransisco Bay Bridge, the Las Vegas Strip, monuments in Washington DC, and so many others.  

We found the pizza in LEGO City

My son is a super picky eater. We eat pizza multiple times per week. So, his favorite thing was no surprise, eating at Brickolini’s Pizza and Pasta found in LEGO City. The pizza and pasta restaurant is a buffet. It costs a little over $50 for the four of us to access the buffet and unlimited soft drinks.  A bit pricey considering the day before we had 2 slices of NYC pizza for $9 and feed all our of us! 

The pizza selection was good and pretty tasty. The pasta was bland. They do have Coke machines that let you create and mix any flavor of Coke products you like.  I wasn’t too impressed by the dessert options either. The food definitely wasn’t the high point for me. There are other eatery options in the park that we didn’t try.

I’ve heard great things about the famous Apple Fries, but unfortunately didn’t get to try them. 

The other highlight of LEGO City were the Driving School and Junior Driving School. After looking at YouTube videos of the park before visiting, my son had already determined he wanted to ride that ride and the Fire Academy Ride. The Fire Academy wasn’t opened due to staffing.

The Driving School attractions allow little drivers to make their way around and through obstacles all while driving mini cars. At the end, they get their “driver’s license”.

Get a little wet at the Splash Battle

Moving into the land of LEGO Pirates I was excited to see a few water rides. While we didn’t get on Splash Battle, the ride is set up so that you can engage with the riders. They can spray you with water cannons and you can try and spray them at the same time. It was a fun way to interact with the ride without going through a line.

The other pirate themed rides like Anchor’s Away! and Rouge Riders looked fun as well. The kids spent a fair amount of time running through the Shiver Me Bricks playground.

The Dragon Coaster

Since LEGLOAND was made for smaller kids, you won’t find a bunch of big thrill rides. If you are into thrill rides and coasters, check out my review of Cedar Point Amusement park, the roller coaster capital of the world.

There is one roller coaster though, the Dragon Coaster. Open to guests who are at least 4 years old and 42 inches tall. Camryn was big enough, but mommy might have convinced her otherwise (shhh). Although the coaster looks pretty tame, I just wasn’t up for it, or the line. She was a very understanding 4 year-old though. It’s a great first coaster for kids, and we will be riding it when we go back. If you have a smaller little, the Dragon’s Apprentice is for riders as small as 36 inches tall. 

The other rides in LEGO Castle like Merlin’s Flying Machines and Tower Climb look like fun too. We did explore the gift shop in the castle to find a few keepsakes. Also, there was another food court in this section of the park. 

Unfortunately, many of the smaller food stands throughout the park that have drinks, popcorn and ice cream were closed due to understaffing.

Lego Dragon Coaster
Dragon Coaster

Back to Bricktopia

When we reached Ninjago, we didn’t spend a lot of time there. There were some ninja training obstacles that my son found interesting but my daughter wasn’t entertained by. We passed through and headed back around to Bricktopia. 

The Factory is a ride exclusive to LEGOLAND New York! You get to experience what it’s like to be a Lego toy, getting boxed and shipped to your new home. We didn’t actually know it was a ride when we started walking in. We figured it out pretty quickly though. 

While waiting to get to the ride, The Factory has neat Lego builds that give you the idea you are in the Lego factory. When we reached the ride (which was quick because there was almost no line) we were a little concerned. 

The ride is dark and loud. For most kids, that’s fun but for some kids with sensory processing challenges it can be overwhelming. Luckily, I was able to offer my son a pair of shades and we ear buds and we made it through the ride okay. The ride itself was pretty cool and my husbands favorite part. 

Perfect Timing for a Visit to Legoland New York

Our visit was in late August 2021, about a month after the park opened. We chose to spend a few days in the Hudson Valley region of New York State and dedicated a full-day to LEGOLAND. I picked a Tuesday because according to the website it’s usually a less crowded day. Also, there was also a promotion on tickets for Tuesday visits at the time.

Tickets for adults (13+) are $79.99 and ages 3-12 $69.99. There are some discounts and promotions I saw on the Legoland website. Annual passes are $229 per person for a year. You can also get a discount when you book a package with a stay at Legoland Hotel. We did not stay at the Legoland hotel for this visit. 

I scored tickets through an employee portal at work at a huge discount! I paid $188 for all four tickets (including tax and an administrative fee). That was by far the best deal I found. 

Although the LEGOLAND Hotel looks awesome, it was a little pricey for the amount of time we would be there. We stayed at a nearby Fairfield Inn which hosted a lot of families visiting LEGOLAND that week. It was only about 1.5 miles away. There are a number of hotels within a few miles of the park.

LEGOLAND NY Hotel

Visiting LEGOLAND New York During COVID

During our visit to the park in late August, it was busy but not crowded. We were able to move freely without being shoulder to shoulder with large groups of people  I attribute that to the time of year (most other schools outside of NY were already back in session) day of week and many people still not knowing it’s open. 

Masks were not required but recommended. Given the park is mostly outdoors, I saw high levels of mask wearing by many families. The park was very clean and well stocked with hand sanitizer at rides, at bathrooms and throughout the park. While in line, there wasn’t too much social distancing, however, it wasn’t crowded so no need to be right up on each other. 

LEGOLAND is completely cashless. You can use credit cards or Apple pay only, which limits contact. Coming into the park, you can print your tickets to be scanned or just download your tickets to your phone to be scanned. 

Overall, we had a good time at LEGOLAND New York and we plan on going back. The staffing issues meant that there were a few rides that were closed. Also, it seemed live the rides that were operational, went very fast. The rides lasted 45 seconds to 2 min. Since there was only one person to operate the ride and do the safety check, I fee like they sped up things keep it moving.

We will make a return visit at some point. And, Camryn has already told me we are going to ride the roller coaster next time.