Saturday, July 18, 2015

Kamping at Knoebels

We've been on a LOT of family trips so far this year! It's one of the (few) benefits when no one has a steady job - we can take off when we please and when the rates are cheaper. All of these trips have been with and at least partially funded by either Jake's parents or mine, because they wanted a trip with the grandkids. We have contributed financially, but in general the trips have been a treat to us.

Soooo... we went to camp and play at Knoebels Grove! If you've never heard of this jewel of an amusement park, don't feel bad - it's a semi-secret up in the mountains of Elysburg, PA. This park is one of very few that doesn't charge admission or parking! Think of that - NO ADMISSION CHARGE! FREE PARKING! They offer either tickets or ride-all-day passes for their rides, so everyone from Grandma down to the babies can come and enjoy the well-shaded park. Not only that, there are many picnic groves at the edge of the park where you can enjoy your thrifty packed lunch.

Knoebels actually says on their website (and in many places around the park) that their MISSION is to provide a fun time at a reasonable price to all families. I don't see that at other parks. Even Kennywood, which I love, doesn't make it a point to allow families on any budget to come and have fun - Knoebels is very special that way. My friends who have many children really appreciate this - you can buy a $20 book of ride tickets for $16 at Weis grocery stores, which can be used on whichever rides you choose. When you have 8 kids like my one friend, not having to shell out entrance fees for all of them is huge - AND you can pack your meals! And I should say - while they do sell food at the park, it's not all that expensive compared to other parks. One of the better deals (if you can eat gluten and dairy) is a whole pizza for $15. Ice cream cones are around $2.50 - $3.00, a large Pepsi for $2.50. Very nearly real world pricing, as opposed to the captive audience fees where a 20 oz bottle of water will cost you $3.00!

The rides are classic park fare, with 4 roller coasters for the thrill seekers, and a wide base of family friendly rides. There are two carousels, both with antique hand-carved horses, and the larger one still allows you to catch the brass ring for a free ride. (Jake got it on one of our rides this year!)

The park also offers a HUGE swimming pool and water slides, for a separate entrance fee - we considered swimming one of our days there, but it was a bit chilly, so we opted out.

Which brings me to another part of this - the camping! Knoebels has campsites both right next to park grounds and a few miles down the road, and cabins and cottages for rent (some right IN the park). The price for the sites is meh... $46 a night or $260 a week, which still beats most hotel prices, but seems a little high for "roughing it". My MIL covered the costs, though, and brought her pop-up camper. The bathhouses are pretty good at the site, and we camped within a decent walking distance from the park itself. Decent in the morning, anyway - when we were tired from a full day, it seemed much further!
Peeking out of the camper.

Catie hanging with the cousins.

Seriously, Mom?

We met Santa one site over, too. His license plate even said SANTA. So it was totally him.

The greatest part about spending a few days there was that when nap time or lunch time rolled around, we could stroll back to our site, take a break, and go back when we were rested and fed. The pressure to have a good time NOW and hit ALL THE RIDES was off - we had plenty of time. And because we were there with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her family, and various cousins, when Jake and I wanted to slip off and ride a roller coaster, it was easy to do.

My nephew rode this ride three times in a row, and the last time fell asleep holding the bell string. When they woke him, he mumbled "one more time..."! No pics of him, so Tristan grinning will have to do.
Jake, Tristan, and my MIL on the train.

I love camping. I especially love coming back from camping with a renewed appreciation for my mattress and tub baths.  :)  We got back at dinner time last night, made gluten free spaghetti (I was too tired to finish it, which is astounding) bathed, and everyone crashed hard. Tristan is still a little run-down and extra snuggly, so we're having a mellow day. Catie and Daniel are celebrating their reunion with their tablets (we leave those behind when we camp).

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