CRYSTAL SPRINGS RESORT

Crystal Springs Resort has the look of an upscale exclusive resort combined with the feel of a family-friendly playground nestled among several golf courses and nature trails. Whether you are celebrating Galentine’s Day with a girlfriend getaway, or you are looking for a close-to-home vacay for Presidents Day Weekend or Spring Break, the separate Grand Cascades Lodge and Minerals Hotel both offer indoor and outdoor activities year-round that are sure to create lots of memories.

CRYSTAL SPRINGS RESORT / Biosphere at Grand Cascades Lodge

Grand Cascades boasts the impressive Biosphere Pool, with its German-manufactured glass, one of only three in the world. The kids will want to spend all day here inside of what looks to be a giant greenhouse, complete with a mini aquarium and a water slide. You’ll forget you’re in Jersey and think you’re in a tropical paradise. If you’re old enough you can sit in the indoor hot tub or sauna, or swim through the plastic gate to the in/out pool, a hot tub connected to the main pool where the fresh air hits your face – it’s absolutely incredible if you’re lucky enough to be there when it snows. And when it’s warmer, the roof and sides of the biosphere retract to make it an outdoor pool. There’s also a separate outdoor pool, the Snow Pool, that is heated to 98 degrees and overlooks the infinity garden.

CRYSTAL SPRINGS RESORT / The pool at Minerals Hotel

Minerals Hotel, which is just minutes up the road along Rte. 94, has a beautiful pool complex of its own. There is no slide here, but two huge areas of indoor and outdoor swimming (with a Cliff Jump that will have kids and adults yelling cowabunga!). If you want some quiet time, go to the pool later at night when most of the families have left.

CRYSTAL SPRINGS RESORT

If you feel waterlogged, there are plenty of activities “on land” that everyone can enjoy together. Make your own stuffed animal during a special kids workshop akin to Build-A-Bear. Take a hike along the nature trail and go forest bathing. Try goat yoga, archery, painting, laser clay shooting or metal stamping. Get a close up look at Miss Rosie the Tarantula or pet an albino snake during an animal show. You can even ride some ponies.

With springtime coming, there will be lots more outdoor stuff to do, like watching a kids show in the amphitheater, eating outdoors at the Chef’s Garden, playing foosball or ping pong on the game deck, listening to live music on the patio and heading to the petting zoo.

Don’t worry if an activity you want is at the other property; you can go back and forth via car, but keep in mind there is no operating shuttle.

CRYSTAL SPRINGS RESORT

One of the best activities over at Minerals Hotel is rock climbing ,where kids 6 and older can try to scale the wall. It’s definitely more difficult than it looks and takes some technique, though kids seem to climb easily like spiders. Adults are allowed, too, so challenge your group to see who can go the highest.

CRYSTAL SPRINGS RESORT / Crystal Tavern

There are plenty of options for food at both sites. At Grand Cascades, Springs Bistro is open on the weekends for Italian fare (definitely try the meatballs), and Crystal Tavern is open all week for American grub – there is a breakfast menu, but dusk is the perfect time to eat so you can see the sunset over the golf course and mountains (High Point State Park is visible in the distance). If you want something more low-key, go to the cafes by the pools at either hotel, or Grand Cascades has Rosebud Roasters.

At Minerals Hotel, you can go upstairs to Kites Restaurant for lunch and then head downstairs to the arcade area for some after-meal fun.

If you are going for a couples weekend, Restaurant Latour is the place to be; located on the third floor of Grand Cascades on the clubhouse side, you’ll be able to boast to your friends that you ate at a Wine Spectator Grand Award winning restaurant.

There are other awesome adults-only activities, such as a wine tasting after touring the wine cellar (make sure you don’t wear spiky heels because the spiral staircase is a feat of its own) that includes access to the largest private wine collection in the U.S. – 45,000 bottles worth $10 million – including the oldest bottle (1888 Chateau Latour) and the largest bottle (which holds the equivalent of 20 bottles). The basement area was originally planned for golf cart storage but was beautifully redone into tunnel after tunnel of wine displays. You’ll want to see the special collections of Remy Martin, and the Courvoisier bottles designed in Erte’s art deco style. Look in each case for the bottles that are signed by winery owners when they come to visit.

The Crystal Cabaret is an absolute highlight, too: for one price, you get to watch the show, order unlimited drinks, eat off the charcuterie board and see part of the wine cellar.

CRYSTAL SPRINGS RESORT

You can also make an appointment for a massage, facial or body treatment at Reflections Spa at Grand Cascades. The best part actually comes after the service, when you’re treated to champagne and chocolate truffles as you relax even more with a foot scrub and soak. Gaze throughout since 8,000 beautiful crystals are hanging from the ceiling. Minerals Hotel has its Elements Spa as well.

Many of the activities at both hotels have associated fees and require reservations, so sit down with your kids before your trip to gauge their interests. For free, you can roast marshmallows, go on a scavenger hunt, hike the nature trail (warning: you will see animal tracks along the 3.2-mile semi-strenuous path) and take a pony ride.

You can also head about 15 minutes away to High Point State Park, the highest point in NJ and where you can see views of PA and NY, too; or if you are an experienced hiker, venture along the famed Stairway to Heaven Trail, where you ascend 700 feet up the rocks of the mountains to Pinwheel’s Vista viewpoint along the Appalachian Trial.

Grand Cascades Lodge is located at 1 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg. Minerals Hotel is located at 2 Chamonix Dr., Vernon, just a few miles up Rte. 94 north. Mountain Creek Resort is in between. Both hotels are family-friendly but Grand Cascades is more upscale and has a higher price point. The rooms range from standard queens to studio apartments to 1- and 2-bedroom suites (with a private washer/dryer, fireplace and patio!).

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