Family Birthday Adventures At Kalahari

Kalihari Elephant

We love to do birthday adventures with our nieces and nephew. Our littlest niece turned 4 in March, so we packed up and drove to Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos. It’s about 3 1/2 hours from Rochester and a pretty simple drive.

For this trip we opted to rent a family suite and the whole family came along! I’ll be perfectly honest, it was nice to have 6 adults to 2 kids in the waterpark. It’s busy in there and it takes a lot of attention to keep watch on the kids. My 4 year old niece loved the slides in the kiddie section. She went down the slides over and over again and was happy to take any of the 6 of us down the slide with her! She had a bright smile and loved every minute.  Her 6 year old sister loved the wave pool. She didn’t want to get out. She also loved the indoor/outdoor hot tub. It was cool to duck under the door and be outside with the snow and cold.

The adults loved the Paxton Grotto swim up hot tub bar that was also indoor / outdoor. Since there were 6 adults we took turns with the kids while the “big kids” did some of the bigger slides. I vowed that I would try any slide that Frank did. He’s more of an adventurer/risk taker than me. You know you have to try it when your almost 60 year old dad is also doing all the big slides! My sister and I along with Frank and my dad also did some of the big 4 person slides! There was a little bit of screaming, a lot of eye closing, lots of laughter! The cheetah race was one of our favorites. We did that one over and over again trying to get better times and racing each other. At first I was a little concerned that I had to go head first down a slide, but it is so much fun! The Tanzanian Twister was fun. I think I now know what it feels like to get flushed! I wasn’t sure where the bottom of the slide would come out, but till you get into the funnel at the bottom you realize there is just a hole that you drop out of. It’s slow, but 2 out of 3 of us came out head first! It was very entertaining to plop head first into a deep pool at the end.  There were so many big and little slides at the park it is fun for everyone. If your not a ride or slide adult there are plenty of chairs and tables to sit at, hot tubs to dip in, and a few bars to grab a drink.

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The family suite is probably good for 6, it was a little tight for 8. Someone has to sleep on the pull out couch in the living room. The downside is that you have to be the last one to bed and the first one up. We had plenty of counter top space for food and snacks and a mini fridge for cold stuff. If you’re all coffee drinkers, I would request more coffee for 8 people or bring your own filters and coffee. There is 1 chair, one couch and 3 chairs at the table. It’s a little tight for everyone to have a seat when you’re hanging out, but there was plenty of room to camp out on the floor if the bed is folded up.

We had dinner at Sortino’s Italian Kitchen, where it was easy to find something that everyone liked. We had pizza at the waterpark the first night for dinner. I was surprised, but the other restaurants in the water park didn’t appear to be open for dinner. We grabbed lunch the second day at Zulu Grille, which was a burgers and fries type of lunch spot right in the waterpark. Frank and I had lunch at B-Lux (the burger joint) before heading home on Sunday. The Italian place was good, but we would highly recommend a visit to B-Lux. The burgers were great and they had all kinds of tasty alcoholic and non-alcoholic milkshake desserts.

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Overall, our stay at Kalahari was a lot of fun! We know it’s a successful birthday trip when they keep saying they want to go back, do it again, or they ask if you remember when they did “xyz” with you. I would highly recommend Kalahari. I recommend watching for middle of the week or special day discounts. You can also reach out to some travel agents that might have deals for specific weekends. I recommend having at least one adult per child. And lastly, I recommend bringing some of your own food and snacks to help cut down on the costs of eating on site. (there really isn’t anything nearby).

 

Around Town: Rochester, NY

We started this blog to talk about our travels. Since we have years to catch up on and talk about, I thought it would still be fun to add in a little HERE and NOW.

This Friday and Sunday we went to Amerks games. We are big hockey fans, so we have season tickets to the Amerks. For us, it’s definitely one of the perks of living in Rochester. The Amerks, like their NHL counterpart the Sabres have struggled the last two seasons. But we aren’t fair weather fans and we LOVE hockey. As season ticket holders, we have become friends with the people who sit in our section. And even when we play poorly, we enjoy the games.  This weekend, however, there was a fire under the Amerks and they won three back to back games. We love this level of hockey. It’s fun to see players who go on to have great NHL careers. But it’s also great hockey, at a good price, and lots of fun.

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Which brings me to our next adventure! While we were out at the game Friday night I shared a photo of us on Instagram. I like to check out what other people are up to when they like our photos on Instagram. So when @rocwafflefactory liked our Amerks photo I checked them out. If it’s not clear yet, we are foodies. So when I looked at their photos on Instagram I literally yelled to Frank in the basement to get dressed because we were going out for waffles! I spent a few days in Brussels, Belgium 14 years ago, and I’m not lying when I say I still dream about the waffles. You could walk 10 steps and be at another waffle stand. And they aren’t like the Belgian waffles you get at your average breakfast place. They have this thin layer of sweetness through the middle of the waffle. And they aren’t thin batter poured onto a waffle iron. They look like dough balls that get squished. And every stand has examples of the ridiculousness you can put on the waffle. Everything from Nutella and strawberries to whipped confections of goodness.

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Photo Above: Brussels Belgium circa 2003

So when I saw that The Waffle Factory  was inspired by true Belgian waffles, I had to go. I ordered the Elvis Waffly and Frank ordered the Apple Pie Waffle.  We were a little concerned when we looked online that they didn’t have much seating, but it was fine. You go in to the counter and order your waffles (they also serve eggs, bacon and some other breakfast stuff). Once you place your order you just pick a seat and they bring it out to you. And although it didn’t taste exactly the way I remember the waffles in Belgium, it was delicious. And if I am being perfectly honest, that was 14 years ago. Some of what I remember could just be plain old nostalgia.

So if you’re looking for things to do around Rochester, we highly recommend catching an Amerks game and checking out The Waffle Factory in Webster.

P.S. We also love Dinosaur BBQ which is right across the street from the arena. Make reservations or go early, they will be crowded. And order the brisket, you won’t be sorry. Next Amerks game is this Friday 3/31!

Black and Blue Steak & Crab, Rochester New York

This is the second year in a row that my husband and I have celebrated our anniversary at Black and Blue! When we got married in March we thought we would get away every year to somewhere warm and celebrate. However, that doesn’t always happen. For the last two years we have gone somewhere warm in January and chose to celebrate dinner out on the town.

We love Black and Blue, but it won’t be for everyone.  My husband and I are foodies. We love a great meal and we don’t care what it cost. When we go out for our anniversary we split a bottle of wine, we order the cut of steak we want (or in my case the blackened mahi mahi special), we order appetizers, we look at the dessert menu and we leave the evening happy, no matter what it costs. We don’t eat out like that every day, so when a special occasion comes up, we don’t worry about the bill. That being said, we thought the dinner we had last night was worth every penny. But if you’re scraping together pennies, Black and Blue is not for you.

The wait staff is very friendly and professional. I love that they swing by the table every once and awhile and top off your wine glass. We ordered a bottle of wine that neither of us ever touched. A lovely Pinot Noir from New Zealand! Here’s a little tip we use when we don’t know which wine to pick – Pick a wine from a place you’d like to travel! I spent a semester in Italy in 2003 and I learned a ton about wine. The most valuable tip was, the most expensive wine doesn’t mean it’s the best, it just means they didn’t make that much of it. So don’t feel bad about picking a wine that isn’t $100 a bottle. Sometimes the wine you’ll like best isn’t the most expensive. On the same note, mass produced gallons of wine that they can sell for dirt cheap could be like everything else you get that’s dirt cheap…

The atmosphere is very nice at Black and Blue. You feel like you’re in a classy place. The chairs are enormous, I actually wish they were a little smaller because it makes the tables feel cramped. You get up to use the restroom and you have to do a little dance with the wait staff to get around the room. But it’s clean, the light level is nice for an evening dinner, and there is soft piano music playing somewhere. I did wish there was a jazz piano player in real life, but maybe that’s not the atmosphere they wish to promote. And it was Monday night, so maybe on a weekend there is a different vibe.

But for us it’s all about the food. When they say their cuts of steak are premium, they really mean it. And the rosemary rub, delicious. The blackened seasoning is done perfectly and the sea food makes you feel like you’re on the coast even when you’re in a parking lot in the middle of Rochester. Yes, their location in a strip mall feels a little odd, but some of our favorite restaurants have been in strip malls. Once you’re inside you forget where you are. This night transported us to a different place, somewhere that we could forget about everyday life and just enjoy the evening. For that, we would go back every year.