My husband and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary this year (19 years all in all) and went back to visit the Catskills region.

Yogi bear Jellystone Park

This time, we stayed at Yogi Bear Jellystone Park in Gardiner, NY with no set itinerary (it’s the first time in awhile since I didn’t write up a detailed itinerary for a trip). With the pandemic and many other things that happened this year with our family, I decided no plans and just some basic research and to go with the flow.

The park was a kids’ dream day with a creative and interactive Waterpark Area filled with small, medium and they even had a large curvy slide!

We stayed in the Hillside Premium Cabin and enjoyed our stay very much! There is space for 2 cars to prek out front. The AC was amazing in there- very cool — the bunk bed we didn’t even use, but we let the girls stay on queen bed and my husband and I stayed in the pull.out bed for two. There was a ladder with attic type space out there that could sleep 2 more people and the girls were obsessed with climbing the ladder and used it like a club house and played their wikki stix and played with their Polly pockets. The side grill and Firepit were used nearly every night! Customer service was great over email for the majority of our stay. The phone was almost inaccessible I suppose due to the large volume of calls since reservations for the Waterpark area had to be made in advance for a time a lot. One lady who worked there gave us a great tip to go at the 8:30am time slot because it is usually emptier during those times. Golf cart rentals were almost all fully booked. Staying at the cabin, we didn’t need one really and was able to walk everywhere even with the kids. Do carry a flashlight (I always try to bring an emergency radio crank water proof deuce with me on trips for emergencies) and I brought a bike helmet flashing light to clip on me and my husbands’ backpacks for emergencies.

We love the Fun with Nathre Book! So easy to read and the pictures are large and clear . I highly recommend this book for any kid or adult who pick up leaves and try to identify them! The pocket microscrope was neat because you can hold the bug in the viewer hike and it won’t escape, but it magnifies a lot and with some adult supervision and guidance, you’ll find yourself with so many things tuck under the viewing slot to explore! It came in a sturdy handy dandy carrying case too. The foam paper airplanes were fun to do while waiting for dinner time. They fly really far and they last a long time- great qaukity. There were two slots you can choose from to put the plane wings that determine whether it flies straight or makes a turn. The turns are amazing! It works so well it will surprise you and your kid!

If you are looking to use wifi, maybe call to confirm ahead of them because our cabin didn’t get any wifi at all during the entire stay. I found that only when I woke up really early around 7am, were times I was able to upload photos onto my icloud drive. There were some channels with Disney junior I think.

Kitchens were namely supplied with most basics like plates, forks, small knives, cutting board (my friend stayed at a different room and her cabin had different items). Note: Bring your own grill items like tongs, aluminum foil, etc. They had a pretty well stocked store filled with some grocery items like hotdogs or eggs. Their store was pretty great too filled with cool 99cent store like things kids love that are not overpriced. Beautiful colorful t shirts, cups, mugs and dish towels to bring home for grown ups too and they seem to be of great quality.

The only thing I would recommend to be consistent are the hooks for coats and towels. Our cabin had no hooks whatsoever, so call to ahead of time to see if they can get you a cabin with hooks. I would also recommend investing in a toilet paper holder because it kept falling out! Customer service was pretty good and addressed all our questions and needs, but we didn’t want to bother then with this somewhat “minor” things. The linen rentals were helpful and I must say this is the absolute cleanest campground we ever stayed in. The entire place was spotless from the corners of the floors to the sink, bathroom, porch areas with mosquito screens, entire pool area/ table and bathrooms outside the cabin as well.

All in all, it was memorable and fun stay! The playgrounds on site were a huge plus early in the morning or after/before dinner . The bouncing pillow was fun and we didn’t even get to so mini golf , laser tag , gem mine, crafts or the karts! There was a little fishing pond we checked out too and a larger one in the river we didn’t even get to fish in- the RVs were all parked along that River and we were told it was between 5-8 feet depending on rainfall- it was pretty shallow the part my husband stepped out to check out– now, we want an RV! We saw Sandy bear driving around once time and wished we could’ve had Yogi Bear visit our cabin, but it wasn’t available due to Covid.

Lake Minnewaska State Park

Note: This Park was $10per car I think– and it was completely worth it!!

We started at the lower parking lot to take a short walk/hike (maybe 20–30 minutes) straight to Awosting Falls! It was a gorgeous sight-the girls loved sitting there and stepping on the stones on the part that wasn’t too deep and just splashing briefly in there.

This place was pretty magical because we were able to drive to the upper area to go to visit the beach area and hike around the lake as well!!! I read about this place and put it on my list when we were upstate in the past, but I always assumed the trails were too difficult. I read it was kid friendly, but after reading that many trials were so also moderate, not easy, that deterred me from going with the kids when they were little and I was pregnant then too with Esme.

If there’s one place you MUST check out in the Catskills Region, it would be this place!!! It was gorgeous everywhere you walked! I was going to have us stick to the Rainbow trial (I think orange markings), but we stopped a lady whole was a regular again the park and asked her thoughts about kid friendly hikes at the park.She recommended us to do the walk around the lake (I forgot what the trial was card but it was filled with red markings and it literally went all around the Lake Minnewaska) and said it was a decent amount of walking but nothing crazy. She was right! I would say it is stroller friendly for most of it, but I would rather put a baby in a baby carrier rather than push a stroller uphill at times.

There were 3 composting toilets when we got to the swim/ beach area. The beach areas was a dream to be at- here was a stunning lake, with lifeguards who I must say seemed very good at keeping the people safe- kudos for them for caring and avidly watching everyone. there was a gravel area instead of sand and people brought their own food for a picnic. There were markings on the height of the water (I think it started at around 3 feet) where it was deemed swimming area. The water looked pretty clean! The surrounding was so beautiful to take in. We went to the beach first before the hike but we sure wish we did the hike then cooled off at the beach. This was after the beach on the way back to the parking lot– I’d say it was a hidden gem because it wasn’t packed at all. We went off the trail a little to.leek at what was on the other side of the green Field of grass and found this! We had a snack here, but we will have a real meal here next time!

Be prepared to spend the whole day there!! I think the hike took about 2 hours because we were with kids but we didn’t really time it— all we know is we took breaks and the kids finished it. I will pay more attention to time next time we go– and that is for sure we will go again. P.S. Can you spy the interesting bug my husband found on a randome giant rock?

Coxingkill Split RockS Swimming hole

This place was free I think last time we went a few years ago, but now it is $12 per person (that means kids too). The sign says 30 minute limit at the swimmimg hole but we didn’t see the sign until after, so we were there for about an hour this time. The lady at the parking lot said there wer kid friendly trails, though we didn’t make it though the whole trail of one of the trails we started. We stopped when I saw an animal jump – could’ve been a deer, but since we couldn’t get a clear view, we went back.

We visited this swimming hole once before when we stayed at the Clove Cottages. it was really cool because this time we had Esme with us and we got to take khr friends too. It was pretty different because the water level was low enough for us to touch the falls- people weren’t able to drive in this tine. You can read more about it here. I think I must’ve came across one review that mentioned snakes on TripAdvisor last time, but this time there were apparently 2 snakes! There was one in the crease of a large rock that we were told was harmless and another which was a Copperhead which was that someone found in the crease of the large rock right by the water all. Glad we were out of that area by the time it was found there-whew!

Wrights Farm

We visited Wrights Farm twice and loved the super fresh produce and meat there. I didn’t get a picture of their meat freezer but it was filled with mostly pork and the most amazing bone in pork chops (we picked some up on the way home and wish we brought back more! they were like a cross between pork belly and pork chop).

Their apple cider donuts were the best we’ve ever had- the donut felt and tasted almost a like a light zeppoli with a little chewy bite, but not as crumbly as the usual apple cider donuts you know– they had just the perfect and generous amount of cinnamon sugar— sooo good (just make sure you look before you buy because I picked up a few in the morning quickly to take home and they seem to be refrigerated from the night before and the sugar seem cold and melted)).

Our basket of goodies, plus some strawberry basil jam!

Mountain Brahaus

We revisited Mountain Brahus and the food was just as we remembered, fresh, great portion size and still the best kids menu we ever came upon! There is a beautiful area out back for outdoor dining with trees (our kids lives climbing them), benches and tables and even more seating near the parking lot with tents. You can read more about what we ordered the last time we went here. You have to visit if you ever visit the Catskills.

Mohonk Mountain House

The main highlight of our trip was our 10 year anniversary Day Trip to Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY. We started with their weekend brunch and it was a tour de force! The amount of food it came far exceeded our expectations and each plate of food they brought was amazing- just great quality, flavor and presentation.For the price we paid how it includes the day there, it was definitely of great value. We had so much food we didn’t even order all our desserts and doggy packed food. The kids were about half price and they also got adult portions of food!

One of the best hikes we’ve done and this was the view we had once we reached Skytop Tower. You can find a video/slide show of our day there on Youtube (woohoo! we are finally on youtube– so please like and subscribe).

The girls ages 4, 6 and 7 were able to do the hike up to the top and I believe it was 1/2 a mile trek with several steep parks– some parts were even tricky for me to do!We took sunscreen, bug spray, sun hats and a large water bottle with us and took a lot of much needed breaks. Many, if not all parts of the hike was picturesque and great photo opportunities. DO hold on to your kids though though most parts seem to be fenced, the gaps on the fences are huge so please be careful! I think some parts may be strollers friendly, but the hills are high and some parts seem more narrow than others, so if I had a baby, I would probably just use the baby carrier instead.

Once we were inside the Skytop tower be sure to peek out each window to see the pretty frame of the scenery it captures! The tower was very easy and comfortable to climb up for all of us and the girls even wanted to do it twice!

The views from the top of the Tower were magnificent!

We went back to Mohonk Mountain House and visited their Gift Shop which also had a Soda Fountain and got a really tasty grape soda! The gift assortment was great for kids and adults. Then we were headed to the garden!

We had such an amazing time there! We will definitely be going back for the food, hikes and views!

Bonus Review of an eco-friendly and biodegradable alternative to Wet wipes/ babywipes, Pristine Sprays!

Last time I brought a few boxes of Biobags, a biodegradable ziplock to our trip and I was eager to find another eco friendly item to bring along to try out! I love how during our trips, I find new goodies to explore– being in the beauty of nature, it feels just right trying out new eco friendly products each trip! We stopped using wet flushable wipes because they tend to clog the toilet because of how thick they were; so I searched for an option that would be more cabin toilet friendly, as we were staying in one of the premium cabins at Yogi Bear Jellystone park. I came upon Pristine Sprays (also featured in Shark Tank!) and was eager to try them out and they were kind enough to send us a travel size sample of both their scented and unscented versions to review.

Take from their website, what is it and why should we try them out:

What is it?
Toilet paper spray is an eco-friendly and more natural alternative to wet wipes.  Simply spray Pristine onto toilet paper to create a wet wipe feel that is actually flushable and free of harsh ingredients.
Why Should I Use Pristine?
 Actually cleans and improves hygiene.
 Lightly moistens toilet paper so that it easily glides across skin.
 Aloe, coconut oil, and apricot oil soothe and moisturize the “area.”
 Flushable, biodegradable & septic safe. No clogged pipes or environmental impact.
The unscented for the kids and the scented for the grown ups– it gave our cabin stay a more pampering feel, getting to take some time spoil ourselves a little more than usual! Here is a little about Pristine Sprays taken from their website about the founders and the inspiration for it and creates their own spray to fulfill the same purpose of baby wipes/wet wipes, except it is more eco friendly:
“I needed another option that did not contain harsh chemicals and that was friendly to my plumbing and the environment. I did not find any other wiping options that are easy and functional for a busy mom and a new potty user.”

Upon chatting with someone from Pristine Sprays, I found out some interesting things in wet wipes and also did some more reading and research on wet wipes and found out some shocking things:

1- Wet wipes are not biodegradable

2- Wet wipes actually contain chemicals in it

3- Water wipes were an alternative to chemicals, but still not biodegradable

I was even more inspired than ever to try out Pristine Spray! Jess and Brandon are the founders and created this for their family to use, kids and grown ups alike- they talked about how the diaper rash and skin irritation went away after using their Pristine Spray. You just spray on the toilet paper before cleaning away. Here is some info on what’s in their sprays- I included a photo of their ingredients as well:

We knew that we wanted a spray solution that would work with toilet paper for Jess’s son and Brandon. But the spray also had to be gentle and work for diaper changes too. We were incredibly selective with the ingredients that we chose. Jess is a self-proclaimed naturalist and a diligent label reader.  She has a laundry list of ingredients that she will not use on herself or her family. We approached the creation of Pristine the same way when choosing ingredients. We chose only the highest quality and most natural ingredients that we had thoroughly researched and deemed safe for ourselves and our families.

The kids seem to be more comfortable after using it and the original scent smells lovely, like flowers, whereas the unscented smelled like almost nothing (maybe a very small tad of a clean smell)! When inquiring about the witch hazel in it and asked if it would be a replacement for sanitizers since it seems to have antibacterial properties, she said it’s not considered a sanitizer, but she used it to wipe down public toilet seats, clean hands and even as an air freshener!

We really loved using it and plan to order more for use at home and not just for travel! You can see more of their products here.

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4 Replies to “2 hour drive Kid-friendly Catskills Getaway close to NYC: Yogi Bear Jellystone LazyRiver Park Trip (Gardiner, NY); Lake Minnewaska State Preserve; Coxingkill Split Rock Swimmimg hole; Mohonk Mountain House(New Paltz, NY)”

  1. My family and friends are going on Monday to Jellystone for the first time. This article is a great guide, now I know what to expect at the park and what I we can do outside of the park. Thank you for the information!

  2. We happily booked a week long cabin stay at Yogi Bear in Gardiner based on a story in an online publication.

    It was a much needed break for my husband two kids age 8 and 10 and myself.

    What a mistake. What a nightmare.

    The park was filthy, the pool was green and disgusting. The employees were angry, nasty and incompetent. If you could find them.

    Management had an attitude like “Screw you, I won’t do anything to make your stay better.”

    I’d never go to Jellystone again. I’d recommend that nobody ever think of going there. Overpriced. Understaffed. Bad attitude. Terrible experience.

    1. Hi Roberta. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and sharing some of your feedback on your trip. I’m sorry to hear of your horrible experience at Yogi Bear in Gardiner. I was on the trip in 2020 with my family, so I’m not sure if management might’ve changed. If I end up going back with my family, I will update my post to reflect the most recent experiences. Best, Yvonne

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