Review of the Day Archive

As voted by Trekaroo families, here are the Reviews of the Day from back in the day to today.

July 30 2014
1 family found this helpful
"Horseback Riding at a Ranch"

Our family of 5 just completed an all-inclusive mid-summer stay at the Malibu Dude Ranch in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  The weather was gorgeous each day and we got to enjoy what really makes the ranch special: Horseback riding.

My eldest daughter has morphed herself into a bit of a horse lover and now her younger 9 year old sister has joined group. Not to say that my 12 year old son didn’t enjoy himself. He liked riding but while the girls immersed themselves into everything horseback, he chose to sample all of the activities at the ranch. Asked by some newly minted friends at breakfast each day what they would be doing the girls responded daily with a resounding “riding! “ As if we did not already know.

The Malibu Dude Ranch is located in the pristine Pocono Mountain Area in Milford Pennsylvania nearby the western New York border. It is about 75 miles from New York City and 120 miles from Central Connecticut. There is a vibrant downtown area with shops and restaurants, but the ranch itself is a few secluded miles away. Actually we found really no need to go into town for anything once we set ourselves up at the ranch. The ranch itself is set over 800 rolling acres consisting of verdant forests, open meadows and penned areas for the horses. The grounds are very well kept and inviting. If we felt the need to leave we knew that the Delaware Watergap National Recreation area filled with hiking trails and natural diversions was just on the other side of town.

There are a variety of rooms at the ranch. There are motel style rooms in the main lodge which has a definite western feel. The soaring ceiling is anchored by a large stone fireplace with cowboy décor. The motel style rooms accommodate 4 people for the most part, but in certain larger rooms a cot can be set up for those of us with a family of 5. Each of these rooms has their own bathroom. The rear rooms have balconies facing the tennis and basketball courts and are a lovely place for morning coffee. There is also a large outbuilding of rooms perfect for family reunions or larger parties such as scouts. Finally there is a selection of cabins. The oldest of these is the Stone House which has Native American roots. There is also the Boathouse which is situated on the property lake and several lake view cabins dotting the lake. Behind the lodge are more cabins for a more private feel. We stayed in a Lakehouse Cabin.

The cabin itself was large enough to accommodate our family of 5 with 2 separate sleeping areas, a sitting area with a view of the lake and a large bathroom. The room itself is a bit dated but was generally clean and well kept. I would say those liking a more typical hotel stay should reserve a lodge room, while those seeking a more rustic, private experience should seek the John Wayne upgrade and ask for a cabin room. I would liken the cabin experience to ' glamping’. We had air conditioning, a bed to lay our head on at night, enough room for our family of 5 and a spacious bathroom. A few more hooks to hang wet suits and dirty clothes would have been a nice option. That there was no TV and so much to do we did not spend much of our day in the room. Our day was filled with activity on the ranch and of course horseback riding.

Horseback riding:
An all-inclusive stay at Malibu includes unlimited horseback riding during riding times at the ranch. While we were there the horse stables were open from 9am-1pm and then again from 2pm-4pm. At slower times during the week we could complete one trail ride and immediately go out again for another ride. There are constant rides starting and ending. The Ranch also offers hourly rides for locals or people passing through or economical day passes that include lunch and as much riding as you can muster. However, to get the full experience I would definitely recommend a stay.

After breakfast we would change into our riding clothes and meander down to the stables to be matched with our horse for the ride by the barn manager Chris.Knowing the finesse required to complete these more complicated strides I was happy that the wranglers made a complete evaluation of rider ability before allowing more difficult rides. Safety is their number one priority.
The trail rides themselves are varied in length and number. The trails led us through the woods and meadows. The weather was absolutely perfect and we never got hot wearing our jeans. We spied several deer and fawns on the trail as well as numerous other critters only adding to our secluded feeling.

Trail rides are available to children 8 and up only. Younger children can have pony rides.

Other activities:
If yours is an active or outdoorsy family you will not get bored here. There is a small lake for fishing (bring you own tackle and gear) for bass and perch and also row and pedal boats for a fun ride. Other activities include a large indoor nicely heated pool with a zero entry pool perfect for little ones, a deck area overlooking the lake and modern changing rooms. The pool was perfectly warmed, not too deep and a welcome respite after a long day of riding.
We also took part in playing tennis (rackets provided) and basketball. Additionally we tried archery and the shooting range at the ranch for our first time. The bows and arrows are provided although you can bring your own. Guns are also provided at the range but there is a nominal fee for the ammunition. On select nights the ranch hosts a hayride and bonfire.

On Saturdays during summer the ranch hosts an authentic rodeo with bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing and of course rodeo clowns. We were lucky enough to watch the rodeo while we were there. The rodeo is open to the public, but if you are staying at the ranch you are given preferred, reserved seating.

I love that the Malibu Dude Ranch is all inclusive. I never had to worry about what the kids were eating next, making a reservation or where we would go. The meals are scheduled each day and sounded by the whistle so you could come to the dining room when the meal was ready. A menu is located at the desk in advance so the choices are obvious. Breakfast was always a hearty fare of pancakes, French toast, eggs and breakfast meats or cereal. Lunch was typically lighter fare like sandwiches or salads. At times lunch was served barbecue style on the expansive lawn. The chef always has a hidden bean or veggie burger for vegetarians. Dinner usually consisted or 2 choices including a meat or pasta dish, salad, bread and dessert. We were never left hungry and the kids never complained about the food. There is also a children menu usually consisting of mac and cheese and nuggets. We would have preferred a bit more fresh fruit choices at both breakfast and lunch.

There is also a saloon on the property that allows kids everywhere but the bar area. It was hopping on rodeo night but not so busy during other times

With daily overnight rates starting at $129 per person winter and $149 summer with all meals and unlimited horseback riding the value here is tremendous. Considering in these parts a 1 hour horseback ride can fetch $50, the value is terrific. There are also rates for longer stays depending on how many days you would like to ride.

I did consider giving the ranch a 5 star rating, however given the outdated decor of the cabin this would not be fair. If you want to ride horses and have a terrific family vacation, this is the place to be.

Bring along a helmet for each rider.
A cowboy hat will make you feel right at home.
Bring jeans to wear on the saddle.
Bring a raincoat or poncho just in case. must have boots. Cowboy boots work best Ma'am!

Our family really enjoyed the ranch. The girls are already planning a return visit with friends to introduce them to riding and their favorite horses. At these prices we are considering it. I would definitely recommend staying at the ranch, the best times being mid-week.

Disclosure: While my family and I were graciously provided a complimentary stay at the Malibu Dude Ranch, I was not required to provide any specific details and all opinions are my own.

Review of the Day: July 29 2014
Malibu Dude Ranch
351 Foster Hill Rd,
Milford, Pennsylvania
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July 27 2014
1 family found this helpful
"Something fun to do with kids"

Imagine Frontierland in Disney World. Now imagine a team of people with the best of intentions tried to replicate it but with only 40 acres and limited funds. What you are probably envisioning is alive and well and located in Oklahoma City.

Upon walking into Frontier City, my 13 year old daughter and I couldn’t help but giggle. The first thing you see upon walking in is a Main Street USA type facade with no actual stores but good for posing with to send pics back home. The decor is good for a few laughs, and they do a good job of sticking to the Frontier theme as far as naming the attractions.

The park is clearly aging, but has at least two relatively new thrill rides that we were able to ride. My favorite was the Steel Lasso, the only suspended family roller coaster in Oklahoma (in case you’re not an amusement park nerd, that means your feet dangle but you don’t go upside down). We would have been able to ride several times with no wait at all, but we opted to wait for the front of the coaster instead, which is totally worth the 5 minutes we waited each time. My daughter liked the Silver Bullet, a high speed looping roller coaster. We also got to ride the Wildcat, a wooden coaster built in 1968 and completely relocated from Kansas City in 1991. The Wildcat was not something I wanted to ride twice for fear of suffering from a brain aneurism, but I did anyway, and lived to tell the tale! It’s a little on the shaky side, but most of all I wondered why the four middle rows of seats were roped off and only the front four and back four rows were “operational”.

We went on a Monday afternoon, and crowds were low, so I’m not sure if that was the reason why several attractions were closed. A good 40% of the rides were either not staffed or temporarily closed for repair. We were unable to ride the Diamondback which looked really fun, because when we went to wait in line it was temporarily closed, but we did see it operating after we left and could see it from the street. Darn! Of the two water rides in the park, Renegade Rapids, a white water rafting type course where you may or may not get soaked, was fun. We both definitely got soaked! The other ride is Mystery River Log Flume, not to be confused with the ride of the same name at Six Flags New Orleans. It was the longest line in the entire park the day of our visit, and we waited 45 minutes. The drop at the end is fun, maybe not worth 45 minutes, but with such short lines at the rest of the available attractions, doable provided you’re in line with someone you enjoy talking to.

We did wait a good 25 minutes for the Ol 89’er Express Train. We had seen the train going past as we were walking around, and several other people were waiting there as well, so we had no reason to think the train would never arrive. Slowly, all the other people gave up and eventually so did we. We also waited in line for a ride called Quick Draw. There were people working there, but neither the ride nor the line moved the entire time we were there. Finally another man came over and let all the people who were stuck on the ride off, but no communication was given to anyone who was waiting in line, so we just gave up. That seemed a little unnecessary!

Before going to Frontier City, my daughter had read some reviews of the park online and they were filled with negative comments about the food. We actually both enjoyed the food. Not saying I would go there just to eat the food, but it was fairly priced and the portions are big enough that we were able to share. You can also purchase souvenir cups for $8-10 (depending on how many you buy) and get fountain drink refills for $1. We bought one and shared. It was much better than paying for multiple $4 bottles of soda throughout the day, plus we took away a cool souvenir.  

Overall, Frontier City was a fun way to spend an afternoon. I think if I lived in the area, I would most likely consider purchasing season passes ($75.99 plus tax) that would come with free admission to the concert series the park has, which we unfortunately missed while we were in town (Zendaya was there only a few days before we were, and Chris Young only a few days after). The park would be something to do when we had nothing else going on, and being able to visit multiple days would allow us more opportunities to ride ALL the rides - all of them have to be open one day or another, right? On the other hand, if you are an out-of-towner visiting Oklahoma City, depending on how long you are staying and how far you’ve traveled, I don’t think I’d list Frontier City near the top of my recommendations.

Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary visit to Frontier City.  I received no other compensation and these opinions are entirely my own.

Review of the Day: July 28 2014
Frontier City
11501 N I-35 Service Road,
Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma 73131
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July 15 2014
3 families found this helpful
"Relax and Enjoy"

Walking into the Finger Lakes Health and Wellness Center is like walking into a friend’s house.  You will be greeted with a smile and then led to sit at the kitchen table and offered a beverage while you fill out a little paper work.  This is also where I met the lovely young lady who would be providing my service.  

When it was time for my treatment, a back scrub and massage, I was led upstairs into a comfortable room and instructed how to prepare.  Throughout the service, told what would come next and I was asked if it was ok.  Having been kayaking on a very windy lake just prior to my appointment, the massage was very much enjoyed.  

Afterwards, I was asked what I’d like to drink and when I was ready, I went back down to the kitchen to enjoy a beverage.  Everyone that came and went was very pleasant, introduced themselves, and engaged in friendly conversation.  

Kids are only allowed if they have a service scheduled.  This could be a great idea for a mother-daughter afternoon having your nails done.  Or, enjoy a little respite from the family and recharge your batteries.  

I absolutely loved the atmosphere and layout; it was so much different and more “homey” than any other spa I’ve visited.  I wish I lived closer to be able to visit more often.  The other benefit of the spa is that it is conveniently located on the outskirts of Hickory Hill Camping Resort!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary spa treatment for purpose of review.  All opinions are my own.  

Review of the Day: July 27 2014
Finger Lakes Wellness Center & Health Spa
7531 Route 13,
New York
July 05 2014
1 family found this helpful
"Great stop. Go early to beat heat in the summer!"

The Mount Vernon estate includes a state-of-the-art museum, beautiful grounds, a working farm with animals, Potomac River access, outbuildings and living history events, and of course, the mansion where Washington lived and died.

Tickets include entry to all of it. We started with the 20-minute film depicting the highlights of Washington’s life, then proceeded to the grounds where we had a guided tour of the house via timed entry. We visited during a busy summer day, so we did wait in lines, even though we’d purchased our tickets online in advance. (The timed entry marks the time to get in line for the house tour, not the time you’ll actually go in.) Bring plenty of water, as you’ll be waiting in the sun.

The tour of the house takes about 25 minutes to go through, and shows Washington’s formal entertaining rooms, dining room, personal study, and several bedrooms, including the one he shared with Martha Washington and died in. You’re deposited outside, where you can tour the outbuildings on your own. During our visit, a team of university students were actively excavating an area behind the house, trying to find the site of the original well and other structures. It was nice to talk to them about their findings.

We toured the stables, smokehouse, and kitchens, then the final resting place of Washington and slave memorial (Washington owned many slaves). There’s a wooded trail to a slave cabin that I remember being very interesting from a previous visit, but the day we were at Mt. Vernon, it was too hot to make the trek. The farm (adjacent to the grounds) is also a good place to go when the weather cooperates. During our visit, baby pigs had just been born, and young sheep jumped in the pastures.

We saved the museum for last, relishing the air conditioning after so much time outside. Allow at least an hour for this space: there’s a lot to see about Washington’s life and American Revolution history. If you have young kids, look for the children’s activity room run by museum staff about halfway through the museum. They have daily crafts kids can do if they need a break.

Review of the Day: July 26 2014
George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,
Mount Vernon,
Virginia 22121
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July 25 2014
3 families found this helpful
"FREE camp!!"

One of the best, hidden secrets we have found is FREE summer camps at Microsoft stores!!  My daughter has attended 2 this summer; Smart Game Coding, and Smart Movie Making.  Later in the summer we are signed up for Smart Photo Taking & Enhancing.

The camps are broken up into age groups: Jr. Designers (8-10) and two age groups for Designers (11-13) and (13+).

These camps have been AMAZING!!!  We have been so impressed!!  

First of all, FREE!!  

~next, the classes meet for 2 hours M-Th, (and each class is geared to be one week long).  Kids are invited to come back on Friday and get more time on the programs and computers to further enhance what they have learned all week, but it’s not a scheduled camp day.

~next, while most kids that are at least 8 years old can navigate their way around a computer better than a lot of parents, it’s not required that your child have any previous computer experience or be at any skill level to participate.  They are taught everything they need to know during the week.

~next, the programs that the kids are being taught to use are FREE to download at home, giving them the opportunity to further their learning or work more on their projects once the class it over.  I thought they would be trying to hook you into buying expensive software programs but that’s not the case at all.

~next, the camp counselors/teachers have been amazing!!  So helpful and patient and have made the camp experience so positive and fun.

~next, it’s organized!!  Not a crazy, over-crowded camp where kids are going wild.  Each computer (about 10) can accommodate up to 2 students.  Sometimes the kids pair up and sometimes the class is not full and they get to be on their own computer.  My daughter signed up with friends and enjoyed being able to work on her projects with somebody.

~next, the kids are given work books and bright blue Microsoft t-shirts to wear in class.  Since they move around the store using video equipment and other things, I’m glad the kids are in Microsoft shirts so the staff can keep track of who needs to stay in the store.  I felt comfortable leaving my daughter knowing they had a good system for keeping track of everyone.

My daughter has enjoyed these classes so much!  She has had a lot of fun while honing in her computer skills and learning new things.

Review of the Day: July 25 2014
Microsoft Camp
578 Shops at Mission Viejo,
Mission Viejo,