Saturday, August 29, 2015

Crystal Springs Family Aquatic Center

The thing I love about my father's home state of New Jersey are all the family-friendly places you can access within driving distance from Manhattan.

This weekend, we decided to drive down to Sesame Place to take advantage of our free second tickets to the toddler amusement park in Langhorne, PA.

However, we wanted to leave early Friday morning and get to the park right around when they opened at 10AM to beat the crowds.

Given it takes about an hour and a half to drive down, we should have left around 8AM. However, by the time we got ready and had access to our car, it was closer to 12PM before we left. Assuming we'd get to the park around 2PM, it would be pretty full and crowded, so we altered our plans.

Instead of driving all the way to PA to Sesame Place an afternoon session, we decided to go to early Saturday morning at 10AM instead. So for Friday. we decided stop along the way in East Brunswick, NJ (about an hour drive) to hang out at the local town's swimming pool, Crystal Springs Family Aquatic Center.

Despite their lackluster website, the place is pretty amazing for a town pool. While my father's hometown pool only had two big pools (one for everyone and one for lap swimming), Crystal Springs had a few water a lazy river. Yes, folks, a town pool with a lazy river!

Fortunately, even non-residents can come and enjoy the public town pool. However, they're not running a charity, so you have to pay an entrance fee if you're visiting.

So for our family of 3, we had to pay $19/adult and $18/toddler. Now, $54 isn't cheap by any means, but it was a great way for a family to spend a hot August afternoon.

We had visited before in 2013 with some family friends, but this time, I was almost 4 years old and could better enjoy what Crystal Springs had to offer. As you can imagine, I was pretty excited to get into my swimsuit.

On one side, you had the regular pool for teens and adults. The lounge chairs were pretty much all taken by the time we arrived at 1PM, but a super generous man gave us two chairs his family wasn't using. Thank you, New Jersey citizen!

We then went to the zero entry toddler pool. I've become a huge fan of these zero entry pools that replicate the beach. It allows me to walk into the water at my own pace without having to jump in.

But I was also still a big fan of the baby pool area that had some structures and animal-shaped fountains for us to play with. If I wanted to get out of the water and play in the wet playground, there was also one available.

For the older kids, there was an obstacle course as well. And three fun water slides that were at least 3-4 stories tall.

And for the hard working fathers and mothers out there, there was the lazy river where you could just circle the park for hours at a time.

For us New Yorker types who travel "asset light," there was the town pool snack shop that had kid-oriented and tasty food. But as you can see, they had more than just the chicken fingers, pizza and hot dogs - they had nachos, tacos, churros (perhaps there's a big Hispanic community down there?). Now, I don't think Michelin will award Crystal Springs snack bar any fine dining stars, but the quality was actually much better than what we usually find at these types of places.

But for those families that enjoy bringing their own food, you could reserve one of the multiple picnic areas and BBQ grill whatever you wanted to bring and throw on the charcoal grills.

Not bad for a local New Jersey town pool, right?

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