Category Archives: Budget Travel

Knoebels Amusement Resort

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If you live in the Northeast and enjoy amusement parks, you should consider visiting Knoebels Amusement Resort.  My wife and I recently had the opportunity to visit this gem of a park located in Elysburg, Pennsylvania for a family outing.  Knoebels Amusement Resort is a wonderful park nestled in the Endless Mountains in Central, Pennsylvania.  Knoebels is located about 13 miles off Interstate-80.  It is about a 3-hour drive from New York City, a 2-hour drive from Philadelphia, a 4.5-hour drive from Washington D.C., and a 6-hour drive from Boston.

Most amusement parks are no longer a frugal option for families to enjoy.  The average cost for a general admission ticket to enter a popular theme park ranges from $80 to well over $100.  Some parks now require reservations to go on rides.  They charge to park, there are extra costs for shows, and the prices for refreshments are astronomically expensive.

Knoebels Amusement Resort is a throwback to the amusement parks of the past.  It is the largest free-admission park in America.  You can buy tickets for the rides that you want to go on or you can buy a pass that allows unlimited access to all the parks rides.  Parking is free.  All the many different shows and exhibits are also free.

Food

There is a picnic grove that is free to use if you decide to bring your own food.  The picnic grove has free electricity.  There are coin operated gas stove tops to rent or you can bring your own grill.  Refrigeration is available if reserved.  Pets are allowed.  Coolers are allowed.  Alcohol is not allowed at the picnic grove because it is a family friendly environment.

There are many different dining options.  The Alamo Restaurant offers entrees, sandwiches, and gluten free options.  The Nickel Plate Bar & Grill serves alcoholic beverages as well as great burgers and hot wings.  There are also many different snack stands around the park if you want to grab something quick to eat while you are on the move.  There is a Nathans Hotdog Stand, Cesari’s Pizza, an ice cream shop, and even a Starbucks.

The cost of food sold at the park is reasonable as well as very tasty.  The New York style pizza at Cesari’s was delicious.  A large cheese pizza only cost $17.

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Rides

Knoebels opened in 1926.  It has been family owned for over 90 years.  Many of the rides at Knoebels have won awards.  Knoebels was voted by The Travel Channel as one of the Top-10 family friendly parks in America.  Knoebels currently has a 4.5-star rating based on over 1,800 reviews on Tripadvisor.com.

There is no shortage of rides at Knoebels.  There are currently more than 60 rides.  New rides are added almost every year.

There are rides for every age group.  There is a carousel from 1913 that is fun for almost everyone.  There is a spooky, yet family friendly Haunted Mansion Dark Ride that was featured on the Discovery Channel.  Knoebels is also famous for its two wooden roller coasters named the Twister and the Phoenix.  The Phoenix wooden roller coaster is consistently ranked by Amusement Today magazine as one of the best wooden roller coasters.  I found the Phoenix to be intense.

My wife and I are not hard-core when it comes to rides.  Our favorite ride is the Scenic Skyway.  The Scenic Skyway is a 14-munute ski-lift that climbs a mountain next to the park.  This ride is great if you are into seeing panoramic mountain views.  It is a nice ride to take some photographs.

Camping

Knoebels has a large campground with a few options.  The campground is ideal for visitors who want to stay and enjoy the park for more than one day.  There are campsites for tents as well as campers.  There are also rustic Cozy Log Cabins as well as the Eagles Roost Units that offer more amenities.   The campground is open from April 15th to November 1st.

Golf

If golf is your game, a quarter of a mile from the park is the Three Pond Golf Course.  The Three Pond Golf Course is an 18 hole, par-71 course, that is broken into two 9-hole courses.  There is a discount to play this course for those who are staying at Knoebels Campground.

Swimming

If you want a break from the great rides, go for a swim to cool down.  There is the gigantic Crystal Pool as well as a kiddie pool if you want to swim or relax poolside.  You can purchase a daily pass or even a pass for the whole season.  Group discounts are also available.

Shopping

If shopping is your passion, there are many different shops to browse around in.  There is the General Store that specializes in old fashion country charm.  The park has a variety of different apparel shops that specialize in Knoebels hats, shirts, and other souvenirs. There are even different media stores to have custom photos and videos made from your visit.

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Attractions

Knoebels has other fun attractions.

Have you ever seen a Bald Eagle?  There are currently two at the Bald Eagle Preserve.  There are daily educational sessions at 2 pm.

Knoebels also has a few museums.  There is a Carousel Museum with 50 carousel figures that date back to 1870.  The mining museum has tools and artifacts from Pennsylvania’s rich mining history.  There is even a Knoebels Museum that provides a detailed history on the park.

If you are looking for a cool place to hang out, enjoy a round miniature golf under the shaded pine trees.

There are also many arcades, a Laser Command game with a full obstacle course, multiple theaters, and other fun activities.

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Conclusion

There is truly something for everyone at Knoebels Amusement Resort.  We had a great day.  The rides were fun and reasonable.  The food was tasty and affordable.  The park was not overly crowed like many of the big theme parks.  It is simply a nice park that provides affordable family fun.  In our group, everyone from the kids, to the parents, to the seniors had a great time at the park.

Have you ever been to Knoebels Amusement Resort?  If you have, please share your experience in the comment section.

London on a Budget

 

 

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In August, my wife and I are traveling to London for our 10th wedding anniversary.  In the past, we have avoided traveling to London because it is one of the most expensive cites in the world.  In October of 2016, as the result of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, we were able to book a trip to London for an amazing price.  We managed to book our trip for only $2,500.  That price included airfare from New York and 7 nights at a 4-star hotel in Kensington.

The first major part of planning the trip is complete.  Now we have to work on establishing a budget.  We will have to budget for food, guided tours, as well as having money for enjoying the city.

Food:

My wife and I are foodies, so exploring the eclectic flavors that London offers is exciting.  Now we need to create a budget for our meals.  When booking the trip, we selected a hotel that included a daily breakfast.  That would save us about $140 for the week.

For lunch, we are going to budget for $30 per day.  We are just planning for sandwiches or kebabs.  We are satisfied with eating lunch at street vendors.

For dinner, we are going to budget for $40 per evening.  Our dinners will mainly consist of going out for Indian or Chinese food.  We also would like to visit a pub for a traditional British meal.  We don’t drink alcohol, so that will save us money.

We will bring our own snacks from home.  We will pack almonds, jerky, protein bars and other snacks. That will cost about $50.  While in London, we will buy fruit or beverages for our hotel room.  We will budget $50 for the snacks and drinks we buy in London.

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Guided Tours:

The next section of our budget is for guided tours.  We are planning on enjoying two full day guided tours.  A large part of our budget will be spent on these tours.

Our first tour is to Windsor, Stonehenge, and Bath.  My wife is excited to see the English countryside.  This tour will cost a total of $202.

Our second tour is an anniversary gift to my wife.  It is a one day guided tour of Paris.  It includes the Eurostar passes, Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Seine River Cruise.  This tour will cost $620.  It is pricy, but it is a special occasion.

Pocket Money:

The rest of our vacation will be spent exploring London.  We will visit all of the tourist hot spots.  I want to go to Piccadilly Circus.  My wife wants to see Big Ben.  We will also go on a bus tour of the city.  I have gone on bus tours in other cities and you do get a good feel for a city that way.  We will budget about $400 for roaming around the city.

We don’t tend to buy too many souvenirs when we travel.  We do buy street art when we find something we like.  A painting is a souvenir that lasts forever.  We will budget $300 to be safe.

Total Budget:

Our total budget adds up to about $2100.  That is most likely on the high side.  It is our 10th anniversary, so I am not going to focus too much on the budget.  This trip is just about having fun and celebrating our special occasion.   I am  happy, however, with the thought of enjoying a fun filled week in London for under $5K total.

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