The Mint Chip Mama’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide!

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The Mint Chip Mama - 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

#holidaygiftguide #mtholiday

Can you believe the holidays are right around the corner? Thanksgiving is creeping up quickly and before we know it snow will be falling and presents will be everywhere!

The Mint Chip Mama - 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

I put a lot of time and love into my blog posts and Facebook page (where I post something fun daily). So many places and products have crossed my path that I absolutely LOVE. Thought it would be fun to share them with you and help in the eternal search for holiday gifts.

The Mint Chip Mama - 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

I also think the best gifts are experiences so you’ll see that’s the biggest section below. How much would YOU love if someone got you a gift certificate to one of the local attractions you’ve been dying to try? To me that’s the best gift – it keeps on giving all year long and you don’t have to find a place to put it in your closet.

Enjoy!

Experiential Gifts Because You Have Enough Stuff

Camelback Mountain Skiing & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark in Tannersville, PA

Crayola Experience in Easton, PA

Diggerland in West Berlin, NJ

Eden Resort & Suites in Lancaster, PA

Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA

Splish Splash in Calverton, NY

Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in Lancaster, PA

Whitaker Science Center in Harrisburg, PA

Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia, PA

Adventureland Season Pass in Farmingdale, NY

Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA

The Ride Manhattan Tour (Midtown or downtown)

Big Apple Circus tickets

ParkWhiz (nationwide)

NYBG Holiday Train Show in Bronx, NY

Wildlife Conservation Society Membership in New York City

Puffs The Play in Manhattan

Hershey Park in Hershey, PA

The Mint Chip Mama - 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Books

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck

The Complete Book of Fashion History

The Golden Girls Adult Coloring Book

How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kids

The Little Book of Hygge

American Presidents Activity Book

My Very Own Trucks

Adventures in History (Playmobil) 

Tuck Everlasting

The Mint Chip Mama - 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

For Your Male or Female Friend Who Has Everything

The Swankey Beverage Tote 

Pic’s Peanut Butter

Bug Bite Thing

Raisels

Luxe Bidet

GH Cretors Popped Corn

Aladdin Glass Mason Jar Drink Dispenser, 32 Oz Insulated Tumbler & Mason Cups

Avocado Hugger

Barbuzzo Wine & Martini Glass

A Hole Paperweight

Bracelet Flask

World’s Softest Socks

Stainless Steel Drinking Straws

Eco Nuts Wool Dryer Balls 

Jessica’s Natural Foods Granola

O-Venture Key Ring

Oilz+ Shea Butter Moisturizer from Scrubz Body

Bondi Unique Flexible Cell Phone Holder

For The New Mom

Fridababy Bitty Bundle

UPPAbaby Universal Infant Carseat Cabana

REMI – Baby monitor, sleep trainer, nightlight, bluetooth speaker

Babyganics products – especially the individually wrapped Hand Sanitizing Wipes

Fisher-Price Healthy Care Booster Seat

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For the Seasoned Mom

GB Pockit Stroller

Mabels Labels

Mixed Pears Food Scissor

Fun Stuff For Kids

Tomy John Deere Lawn & Garden Set

Crayola Color In Socks

H2OGo! Splash Blobz

NameBubbles Customized Wall Decals

Cobra Paw

Kudo Banz

Sleeping Queens

TriceraTACO Taco Holder

Roller Coaster Challenge Logic & Building Game

Perfection

Table-Time Look & Learn Tablecloth

RSDubs Ribbons Hair Accessories

Moluk Plui Bath Toy

Battleship

Stand N Swing with chain

Sequence Game

The Mint Chip Mama - 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

For Your Breastfeeding Buddy

PumpEase Handsfree Pumping Bra

Glamourmom Nursing Tanks

The Comfy Cradle

Evenflo Breastpump

The First Years Breastflow Milk Storage Organizer

May everyone’s holiday season be filled with joy!

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The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center – a Top Family Destination in PA!

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The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

@whitakercenter #whitakercenter Facebook

As a kid I was completely obsessed with science centers. They were my favorite place to go. On a class trip, with my parents, any way I could get to a hands-on science center simply made my day. The same excited butterflies recently entered my stomach when I found out The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center – located in Harrisburg, PA was in the path of our family vacation.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

As authentic as a good old hands on science center can get – my kids (and let’s be honest, I) had THE best time. OK, my husband too… and the baby. So we were five for five! We started our day on the third floor playing with light, sound, air, and everyone’s favorite – the giant bubble machine.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

We then moved on to what would be our home for the next two hours – the “tot” area – KidsPlace. I could not get my kids – ages seven and three – out of this amazing area filled with everything a kid could want to exercise their imagination.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

Even the baby got in to it!

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

Between the play ambulance, theatre (with multiple background curtains and really nice props), water play area, fish tank, big brick & slide structure, they were engaged and playing and content as can be. Guess what we were able to do? Sit down and just watch!

If The Harsco Science Center was nothing but this one area I’m convinced they would still think this was the highlight of our trip.

Also in this area was my favorite accessory to any good family venue – a nursing room! Part a mom’s refuge from her own children and part a quiet, private, cheerful place to breastfeed, it got a full A+ from me!

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

Heading down a flight, brought us to the “Move It” area with car races, die cut machines, and tons of play experiences.

Followed by the circus themed “Carnival of Health”, that was filled with interactive exercise games as far as the eye could see.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

Heading down another flight brought us to “Forces of Nature” where we learned about weather (including a hurricane simulation machine) and gravity. The kids loved lifting thousands of pounds with pulleys and having very fast wind blown in their faces! Since the last few months have been filled with crazy weather occurrences it was nice to have hands on demonstrations so the kids could actually learn about them.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

But here – the pièce de résistance – was the “Backstage Studio”, including a stop animation lab. Upon seeing this, my husband became giddy. It was quite possibly the most excited I’ve ever seen him at a place for kids. Normally the guy telling us it’s time to go – he sat down and created a whole movie for our kids which he proudly played. Forget them; I was excited to watch HIM enjoy it so much!

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

What we thought would be a fun back-up – in case of a rainy day while visiting amusement parks – turned out to be the highlight of our trip. I can’t recommend The Harsco Science Center enough if you will be in the Harrisburg, Lancaster, or Pennsylvania Dutch area. Rain or shine, this place will be a hit.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

As if their permanent exhibits aren’t cool enough, they have visiting exhibits as well (while we were there it was dinosaurs!). If you live in the area you can also take advantage of the wonderful programs they offer like Little Learners and a Parent-Child STEM Adventure program for kids 3-5. They also have Girl Scout programs and Girls in STEM programs.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

With the holidays coming, definitely check out the Holiday Celebrations including the seasonal Whitaker Wonderland – a sock skate rink, “snowball” pit, and Cranky Cars – from November 17, 2017 – January 28, 2018.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

Venturing past the little ones – The Whitaker Center offers movies on the giant screen (Central PA’s biggest if you’re keeping track!) and live performances (including comedians and musicians) at the Sunoco Performance Theater.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

We really did have the best time. Plus the kids got to learn a little science (ha ha- tricked them!). I can’t recommend this place enough. A great stop for Fall, Winter, or a place to add to your itinerary for next summer.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center - a Top Family Destination in PA!

***GIVEAWAY***

I’m not the only one who wants you to experience this amazing place, the kind people at The Whitaker Center want you to come as well! They’ve generously offered to give away to one lucky reader of The Mint Chip Mama a Family Four Pack of tickets!

To win, please comment below – what your kids would be the most excited to see (or learn about) at The Whitaker Center!

Winner will be picked Wednesday, November 1st, 2017, 5pm EST.

Please also take a moment to follow my blog & like my Facebook page where I share a little something special every day!

Kudo Banz – Wearable Positive Feedback!

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The Mint Chip Mama - Kudo Banz

If you’re a parent, I’m quite sure you’re familiar with sticker charts.

I am too.

Little pieces of bribery that bring so much happiness to both parties.

When I met the nice people from Kudo Banz last week I was very, very impressed by their expansion of this age old positive reinforcement tradition. Their idea was to create a wearable line of bracelets with all kinds of fun charms that your child can earn (instead of a boring sticker), and then unlock special, parent inputted rewards on their accompanying app.

The Mint Chip Mama - Kudo Banz

Is your kid a fro-yo addict? Well earn a Kudo Banz charm and you can unlock a special trip after dinner. Love swimming? Earn a charm, unlock a special trip to the pool! The parent gets to create the special treats the child can unlock on the app after the child earns the charm. They can be as unique as you want because who knows your kid better than you!

I tested out a sample with my three year old son. He is most recently obsessed with wearables and as you can imagine grabbed this right out of my hands.

The Mint Chip Mama - Kudo Banz

In the Starter Pack – which is enough for two children – you get a hardcover storybook (with a great story of a clever Grandma teaching her grand kids how much fun it is to earn positive reinforcements), two bracelets (with three Kudo spots each), six Kudo charms, a carrying pouch and the Kudo Banz app.

The Mint Chip Mama - Kudo Banz

You can also expand your set with other fun charms – my son’s favorites were the dinosaurs and superheros.

The Mint Chip Mama - Kudo Banz

It was great – the next day we organically found ourselves in a situation where he needed to behave for a few hours (that was a HUGE ask) but since he was chomping at the bit for the Kudo Banz I had me a strong bargaining chip. Know what? He actually behaved!

The next morning we opened the box – met by much excitement, and carefully chose the red bracelet.

The Mint Chip Mama - Kudo Banz

Next, he got to pick the type of charm he wanted and to pull it out from the mystery bag (this was so exciting to him I can’t convey it in words).

The Mint Chip Mama - Kudo Banz

He got a blue dinosaur. It was pretty amazing.

The Mint Chip Mama - Kudo Banz

Finally, we put it on his bracelet!

The Mint Chip Mama - Kudo Banz

Bam! Earned positive reinforcement. Now, he wants to know what he can do next to earn another one. I have to admit, it is pretty genius. It was great watching him show his bracelet with pride to everyone we met the next day. HE earned it. HE picked it. HE’s wearing it. I love it!

The app is a great component as well. The parent can choose between three and eight rewards for the child to earn unlocking something different with each charm.

You can also fully customize the rewards wheel the child “spins” and track their progress on the colorful map! They had me at using his picture as the “start” and “end”.

Fun for parents, fun for kids, and maybe with this – they’ll actually listen.

I wonder if it would work on my husband… you took out the garbage, you get a charm! Kidding honey..

Cherry Crest Farm – A Great Family Destination!

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The Mint Chip Mama - Cherry Crest Farms

We were so lucky to visit Cherry Crest Farm on our last trip to Lancaster, PA. We saw the farm last year as we passed by in the Strasburg Railroad, but it wasn’t until a friend highly recommended it that we made it a “must see” this time around. I get why, this place was fantastic!

To be honest, we loved it even more than expected. From the huge and legit corn maze (read: we had to sit through a corn maze orientation), to the tons of “old school” games and rides and slides, to the local food, to the pig races – we had to pull the kids out of there.

We began our day immediately heading to the Pedal Cart Track where my daughter, who is notorious for wanting to drive anything anyone will let her – got her fill.

The Mint Chip Mama - Cherry Crest Farms

Next, we headed to The Amazing Maze to see what the hubbub was about. As Corn Maze first-timers, we were really impressed and opted for the beginner trail with our three kids – ages 7, 3 and 1. Besides seeing real ears of corn growing in the real corn husks, there were little hidden surprises and fun “corny” signs everywhere! My kids loved finding these Ninja Warrior places, or fun maze puzzle piece stations.

Completely worth mentioning here is the love Cherry Crest Farm puts into this maze. This year’s theme was Charlotte’s Web and from an aerial view that’s just what you got. Plus with color coded ropes in the maze you could tell which part of the design you were in the whole time. Their 22 years of a-maze-ing designs are proudly displayed at the entrance.

Next, we headed to “The Courtyard” Area. Here my kids spent a TON of time playing with the Rubber Duck Race and going through the Straw Bale Maze. When my daughter told me she wanted to go on their “Website” I took a moment to say we’re not looking on phones while here. Then I saw her pointing and laughed. You have to say, Cherry Crest Farm has a good sense of humor!

The Mint Chip Mama - Cherry Crest Farms

But the piece d’resistance of this area was definitely the Lil Wagon Express. We went on it many, many, many times. But it is not just a wagon ride, it is a scavenger hunt to find hidden animals along the way. My son loved finding them. Every. Single. Time. (Hint, they were made of wood and didn’t move).

The Mint Chip Mama - Cherry Crest Farms

For the moms in the crowd I have to take a moment to compliment Cherry Crest Farm for not only having a lovely Baby Changing Area and Nursing Suite, but a bathroom stocked with what’s needed when it’s needed. You know what I mean. No quarters necessary (thank you!).

Enroute to the expansive area up the hill called “The Barnyard”, we stopped to take a picture on the Bucking Bronco. Not sure they made it the full 8 seconds, but Luke Perry would be proud.

This area was amazing! We could have spent an entire day just here. My kids high-tailed it to the Barnyard Jump for some intense jumping and then moved on to the Hay Chute Slide & Straw Bale Racer. The kids were able to walk up the hill themselves with their burlap sacks and then come shooting down. This was done a dozen times. I was ok with that because I didn’t have to walk up the hill even once (read: parenting win).

The Mint Chip Mama - Cherry Crest Farms

Next, my daughter tried the Giant Slinger. Now this is mean, but my favorite part was the power of the sling shot’s backfire shooting her onto her tush in a very surprising situation. She was not as amused as I was…

As big builder fans, our next stop was the Lil Cabin Builders area. Here the kids made life-size cabins out of huge Lincoln Logs. Next, they tried out their newly chiseled muscles on the Post Pounders and all the fun games out and about in the area.

The Mint Chip Mama - Cherry Crest Farms

Finally, we caught a pig race and wanted desperately to make it over to the new Battle Zone but just didn’t have enough time. But this is a good problem to have, it means we have to go back!

The Mint Chip Mama - Cherry Crest Farms

With three distinct seasons at Cherry Crest Farm– Spring, Summer, and Fall we can easily return and get to do even more. They’re open until November 4th, 2017 this season and honestly, I’m dying to go back for the Flashlight Maze and Pumpkin Festival. Plus – spoiler alert – the Fall has campfires and s’mores!

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They have some pretty unique events too throughout the year, including a Facebook Fan Day – where admission is free if you liked their page. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before!The Mint Chip Mama - Cherry Crest Farms

In my opinion, with the weather now cooler, and the summer traffic gone, Fall seems like the best time to visit Cherry Crest Farm. But then again, anytime would be a good time to go. Oh, Cherry Crest Farm – you had me at fresh squeezed lemonade and fudge.

The Mint Chip Mama - Cherry Crest Farms

***GIVEAWAY***

The lovely people at Cherry Crest Farm want you to visit too! They are offering one lucky reader of The Mint Chip Mama a family four pack of tickets!

To win, please comment below with the activity your kids are the most excited to try at Cherry Crest Farm and why!

Winner chosen Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 at 5pm EST.

Back to School 2017 with Momtrends!

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Back to School 2017!The Mint Chip Mama Back to School 2017 - Momtrends

#MomtrendsSchool

I’m not sure how the summer is almost over already and we are talking about school again. The good news is – for us moms who live vicariously through our children – we can still share in the excitement of new products! As a blogger I’m so lucky to be invited to fun events like the Momtrends Back to School Bash that took place last week in Manhattan. Without further ado, I present to you – fun Back to School items for your 2017 school year!

The Mint Chip Mama Back to School 2017 - MomtrendsI love when brands from overseas come to the US and still maintain their country’s look. Orchestra French Fashion for Kids does just this. With great quality and even better prices (omg! the sales they’re running right now!) you can dress your child like a little croissant, setting them apart from their friends. Chock full of tons of choices, my favorite was this super soft Junior shirt that knots in the front. I’m excited to use the $100 gift certificate I won to outfit my kids… and maybe myself too!

The Mint Chip Mama Back to School 2017 - Momtrends

My kids happen to LOVE raisins. They also happen to love watermelon. When I saw these cute packaged Raisels I knew they’d be in heaven. Raisels are sour, fruit-flavored golden raisins grown in California and infused with 100% RDI of Vitamin C. They were so delicious I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I was excited to watch my daughter’s face the next day when she tried them. She loved them as much as I had expected! Individually packaged and so eye popping Raisels are a great addition to any lunch bag.

Of course you can’t talk about Back to School without actual school products. I LOVED these bluetooth emoji speakers and lipstick highlighters from Staples. I also love this shark backpack and matching folder. It’s the perfect size for my son entering pre-K.

The Mint Chip Mama Back to School 2017 - Momtrends

The ever evolving American Girl world is moving on up with the ages with this new set of Smart Girl’s Guides including A Smart Girl’s Guide: Drama, Rumors & Secrets: Staying True to Yourself in Changing Times and A Smart Girl’s Guide to Liking Herself, Even on the Bad Days. These books seem appealing not only to the pre and pre, pre teens but should be mandatory reading for some of their mothers too (oops! did I say that?).

My baby loved these new snacks from Nosh and I LOVED the packaging. Look at these faces! How can you say no to those faces? All of their munchables are made with all natural, certified organic ingredients (like premium Japonica Rice) in fun, foodie flavors (like beet & strawberry). Their website has a great feature to find out the right product for your needs.

Another delicious brand, Kite Hill, was both new to me and an immediate favorite. All of their dairy free products were DELICIOUS with their cream cheese style spread being my favorite. Like I want to rub it on my face good. Even more exciting to the fans who flocked the table were the yogurt tubes (above) that were making their public debut! Coming to stores at the end of August, these almond milk yogurts are not to be missed.

The Mint Chip Mama Back to School 2017 - Momtrends

We were lucky enough to have a patch bar waiting for us from Twelve Little – a great bag company with all kinds of beautiful coordinating items. I of course picked the pizza patch. This large, insulated lunch bag will be a great addition to our school bag army.

One of the most creative displays was from Name Bubbles. Set up like a large lost and found, they had items in a big bin that we had to look through to find which one was ours. Not only did I “lose” this great mint water bottle, I “found” this awesome unicorn name label! Clearly these tie-dye labels are my favorite, but I have to admit I LOVE these personalized wall decals even more!

The Mint Chip Mama Back to School 2017 - Momtrends

If your mornings are anything like mine (read: hectic) you may also be excited to see these Morning Rounds from Ozery Bakery. With fun flavors like cranberry orange your french toast can get to the next level. Even better for my crew are the One Bun rounds for our pizza making nights. Pizza patch… pizza making… Do you see a pattern?

Hand washing and smelling nice are two things not to be missed when starting a new year. I was excited to get some new Bath & Body Works products to try. Their foaming soaps are some of my favorites. Extra credit here for the mint flavor!

I don’t actually know if this product was a fun add on to Raisels or something for us to learn about but I literally screamed when I saw it. As a HUGE fan of the often hard to find collapsible lunch container I freaked out to find this in my hands. Go Raisels!

The Mint Chip Mama Back to School 2017 - Momtrends

As we all know school is demanding and it is so important that our kids take a break to play every now and then. These games from Hasbro – like Mouse Trap, Cranium Sculpt-it, or one of my all time favorites – Perfection – will give them the break they need. I love finding pockets of time to play games with my kids. Not always easy with crazy schedules, and you know – general exhaustion, but sitting and playing games is something we all love.

The Mint Chip Mama Back to School 2017 - Momtrends

And there you have it! Fun products, delicious food, new companies, what more could we as Moms want for the new school year? Except maybe a few more hours in our day…!

Happy Back to Schooling!

Splish Splash – Long Island’s Award Winning Waterpark!

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Splish Splash

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

@SplishSplashWP #SplishSplashWP

My husband and I recently got to relive our youth by taking our children to the 96 acre water park Splish Splash – an award winning water park practically in our backyard!

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

Located on Long Island, only a short distance from where we live, we spent the day shooting around in water tubes, descending down twisty slides, and laughing our soaking wet butts off! (Don’t tell my kids I said butt.)

I remember so vividly when Splish Splash opened in 1991. I was 13 and at the height of my water park obsession. My Dad & I packed up the car and were on our way. My husband had a similar vivid memory, Splish Splash was his first destination after getting his license. Our kids didn’t care about either. Ha!

But we love days like this- where raising our family close to where we grew up both brings up nice memories and let’s us create new ones. 

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

Enough with the nostalgia, let’s get on to the day! Splish Splash is right off the L.I.E about 45 minutes east of where we live. We parked and headed inside. With maps all over and the larger attractions numbered, it was easy to find our way around.

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

We started on The Abyss riding two at a time. It was great that my three year old could go on a big ride to start the day. I was even happier to find this was the case on most rides!

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

We continued on to Mammoth River. My kids giggled the entire time down while I smiled that we could all ride together in one raft as a family.

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

Next, we visited Hollywood Stunt Rider. Another family ride with winding dark tunnels. Equally great about this ride was the view – we were above the trees (a really big deal to my kids) – and could see the whole park.

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

My daredevil daughter next begged to go on Shotgun Falls, a free-falling drop slide with a five-foot drop into a very deep pool. Luckily her father is a good sport and took her.

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

Realizing height was a bit of a challenge on some rides, my husband offered to take our 38ish” son over to the beautiful and activity filled Kiddie Area while my daughter and I headed to the awesome roller coaster like Bootleggers Run. I should mention, at 5’2”, I’m a pretty lame tall team captain.

We met back up at Johnny Rockets for a quick lunch. As a big “bring our own lunch” family this was a big upset for us, but the park doesn’t allow outside food so we gave it a go. We got a chocolate shake. It all worked out.

We continued together looking for family rides and headed towards The Battle of Mutiny Bay (which also happened to be the perfect low key post-lunch digestfest ride). With water cannons coming at you from on-lookers, you had no choice but to attack back! My kids were hysterical! I can see why the Travel Channel voted it one of their 10 favorite water park rides.

Next, we relaxed a bit in the Kahuna Bay Wavepool, one of two wave pools we tried and then on to Dinosaur Falls and Dragon’s Den. The rides were great – not too scary but exciting and thrilling, the perfect combination.

Speaking of perfect – one of our last rides was everyone’s favorite – the Lazy River. I was lucky enough to have a snuggly little boy on my lap who just wanted to cuddle. I could have stayed that way for days.

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

Our time at Splish Splash was wonderful. The park was clean, there were tons of options for children of all ages and sizes, and there was plenty of shade.

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

A few Splish Splash tips now that I’m a pro:

  1. My daughter often suffers from swimmers ear so we got her the EAR BAND-IT Swimming Headband. She loves it and so far so good.
  2. I bought the Travelon Floating Waterproof Smart Phone/Digital Camera Pouch because I realized I had to take pictures! All were taken through the plastic, not so bad, right?
  3. I love individually wrapped Babyganics Alcohol-Free, Hand Sanitizing Wipes and always have one with me. We quickly washed our hands before lunch without walking to a bathroom. Score!
  4. Wear water shoes NOT flip flops, I happen to love these from Keen.
  5. You can never go wrong with a nice long sleeve rash guard.
  6. I found a super cool (not) sunglass cord in a drawer and figured – why not?
  7. We rented a large locker (there are three choices, large fit an over-stuffed beach bag easily) but cubbies were at each ride entrance.

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

If you live in the area, and have a child over 36”, you should definitely check out Splish Splash. It would be a great destination the week before school starts. The Travel Channel agrees, they voted Splish Splash one of the best water parks in America!

*Get your discount tickets here!*

Or use promo code: MintChipMamaSBlog17 in the top right box on the website!

The Mint Chip Mama - Splish Splash

The Downtown Experience, powered by The Ride

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The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride

@TheRideNYC

I never make a big deal out of my birthday. This year, after dealing with three kids all day and never having time for myself, I thought I would try something new – and celebrate it properly! As if on cue, I received an invitation for the new Downtown Experience, powered by The Ride. As a lover of all things Manhattan, and The Ride – since my first tour in 2012 – it was the perfect fit!

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride

This brand new historical 90-minute adventure not only offered a comprehensive, theatrical, interactive tour around lower Manhattan, but it was the premier of their new 360 degree Virtual Reality component using TimeLooper. And let me tell you, it was Ahhh-mazing!

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride

Together The Ride really painted a picture of the evolution of Manhattan like none other. Did I mention all of this happened while riding in a stadium-style seating bus redone with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, LCD TV screens, 3,000 LED lights, and surround sound? Yep!

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride

Similar to The Ride in Times Square, the The Downtown Experience, powered by The Ride was the perfect marriage of guided and on screen touring with live cast members on the street (who looked like normal New Yorkers going about their day) woven together. My favorite part of both tours was how these cast members seamless entered our world and then disappeared into the pulse of the city like they were never there.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride

Between our wonderfully knowledgeable and animated tour guide and the Virtual Reality headsets, we witnessed President George Washington’s swearing in at Federal Hall in 1789, time traveled to see urban planning, attended a ticker tape parade, and observed the different cultures who have flocked to the downtown area for centuries – to name a few.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride Fearless Girl

From immigration, to the building of the first department store, bridges, tunnels, factories, theatre, arts, the financial center, the charging bull, the fearless girl, we saw it all!

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride

Having worked in a building at the corner of Water and Wall Street over a decade ago, I spent a great deal of time in lower Manhattan. But since I was always walking around at street level, trying not to bump in to someone, I never looked up. Thanks to The Ride’s glass topped bus I saw the beautiful, decorative tops of building I used to pass daily in a completely new light!

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride

The route was perfectly planned to teach as the city evolved in front of us. I still don’t know if some of the things were part of the show or just another wonderful random occurrence that could only happen in Manhattan.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride, Photo Credit Alexis Qualls

Photo Credit: Alexis Qualls

Another favorite part was the looks we got in our crazy cool bus driving around the tight streets of downtown. Everyone wanted to wave to us – even the other tour buses! We were like celebrities since the look is so unique… And only one person flipped us the bird.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride

If you’re looking for a fun, new, and different experience for a special occasion – or just something new to do – check out The Ride. This is the perfect fit for both locals and tourists.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride

Here’s some proof that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s cool – on June 15th, at 7pm, The Ride celebrates its 15,000th performance in Times Square!

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride, Photo Credit Alexis Qualls

Photo Credit: Alexis Qualls

The Downtown Experience, powered by The Ride begins at 200 Water Street overlooking the New York Harbor in front of the historic blocks of South Street Seaport. What consistently amazes me about Manhattan tours, after living and working in the city for thirteen years, is that I always learn something new! But I don’t want to spoil the fun and give away everything – you’ll have to learn the rest for yourself!

And I can help!

The Ride has generously offered to give away a pair of tickets to The Downtown Experience, powered by The Ride to two lucky readers of The Mint Chip Mama!

To enter, please:

  1. Like my Facebook page (if you haven’t yet): The Mint Chip Mama
  2. Share this blog post on your Facebook page
  3. Comment below (on the blog’s page) why downtown Manhattan is special to you!

Winner chosen Saturday, June 17th, 2017 at 5pm EST.

The Mint Chip Mama - The Ride, Photo Credit Alexis Qualls

Photo Credit: Alexis Qualls