Kid-friendly day trips in Upstate New York: 9 places to spend time with family (2022)

Kid-friendly day trips in Upstate New York: 9 places to spend time with family (1)

David Lassman | dlassman@syracuse.com

9 day trips for the family

When school is over, that means the carefree days of summer are here...for kids. For parents and caretakers, summer presents a whole new set of issues, like how to keep the kiddies entertained and happy while creating great summer memories.

Upstate New York is a summertime wonderland with plenty of great ideas for day trips you can take with the family. From outdoor art parks to summerized classic winter activities, here are nine great ideas for day trips to take with your kids in Upstate New York.

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Kid-friendly day trips in Upstate New York: 9 places to spend time with family (2)

Mary Esch | The Associated Press

Adventuring in Tupper Lake

The Adirondackshave long been a summer playland for people of all walks of life, from the uber-wealthy barons of the Golden Age to middle class suburbanites. Take part in the splendor of New York's great wilderness with a visit toThe Wild Center, where the Wild Walkgives visitors a bird's-eye view of the Adirondack Park. (No, really, there's even a bird's nest you can relax in!). You can also explore the Park by rail, kind of:The Rail Explorers pedal powered rail bikesmake use of forgotten waterside train tracks for a unique experience that lasts about an hour. (Children under 16 need adult accompaniment.) Looking for something a little more fast-paced? Head over to nearby Lake Placid and see if you can reach top speeds with theSummer Bobsled Experience. Who knows, maybe a future Olympics will be in your future.

The Wild Center
Address:45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake, NY 12986

The Rail Explorers
Address:121 Park Street, Tupper Lake, NY 12986

Summer Bobsled Run
Address:Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex, 2634 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY 12946

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Scott Schild | sschild@newyorkupstate.com

Strong National Museum of Play

With a name like "National Museum of Play," could you doubt that will fun will be had? This museum is all about having a good time, and activities like the Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventure Mobile Park gives visitors (ages 4-14) the chance to test skills of balance, climbing, and endurance. Or teach the kids how toreallyuse their thumbs — not on a tablet or other gadget, but the way you used to, on apinball machine. From the aquarium to the robot exhibit, the whole family will be entertained by a day trip to Rochester and this museum.

Address:One Manhattan Square, Rochester, NY 14607

» Website

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Kid-friendly day trips in Upstate New York: 9 places to spend time with family (4)

Stephen D. Cannerelli | scannerelli@syracuse.com

Visit a Farm

New York State is a leader in agricultural production, but we all know why we love our rural landscapes: Those adorable baby animals! Several petting zoos and farm sanctuaries around Upstate New York welcome visitors to come and connect with nature in the form of a squishy sheep or a playful goat. Old McDonald's Farm is a working dairy and crop farm that encourages guests to play with farm animals and enjoy hay and pony rides (looking for a quick, cheap bite to eat in the area?Try this list) and Farm Sanctuary, near Watkins Glen, has hundreds of rescued farm animals, all with a unique story.

Old McDonald's Farm
Address:14369 County Route 145, Sackets Harbor, NY 13685
»Website

Watkins Glen Farm Sanctuary
Address:3150 Aikens Road, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
» Website

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Photo by Lydia via flickr

Carousel Tour

Broome County has one very distinct feature that sets it apart from the rest of the state: It is home to a mass of carousels generously gifted to the people of the county by George F. Johnson, president of the Endicott Johnson Corporation. Six carousels — most are on the National Register of Historic Places — are dotted throughout the county at West Endicott Park, George W. Johnson Park, Highland Park, Ross Park, George F. Johnson Recreation Park, and C. Fred Johnson Recreation Park. Create a passport for your family and indulge in a special dinner after you've ridden every carousel on this list.

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NCCED via flickr

Lockport Caves and Boat Tours

For this next day trip, go deep. Deep underground that is. The Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Ride, on the Erie Canal, is a half-hour drive from Niagara Falls and takes you to the underground caves and locks created by the canal system. The tour lasts just over an hour and features both man-made and geological wonders that are sure to astound. Bonus challenge: See how many words you can remember to theErie Canal songon your drive there.

Address:5 Gooding Street, Lockport, NY 14094
»Website

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raddiec via flickr

A day in Lake George

Lake Georgeis a four-season destination for the family, but summer is the best time to get out and really explore. Start on Canada Street, where a few arcades invite families to try their hand at old-school Skee ball or more modern computer-generated games. From there, work your way to one of the many mini golf courses (we're partial toAround The Worldfor its kitschy vibe) where you can come up with fun rewards for the winner (whoever wins gets out of dishwashing duty that week, for example). Zip across the street toMillion Dollar Beach, so-named for its astounding views and white sandy beach, and wind down the day there.

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Art Omni

Nestled into the rolling Hudson Valleyfarmland in the town of Ghent, Art Omi is a 60-acre sculpture park that features fixed and rotating exhibits. Like crops springing up from garden soil, some of the sculptures (which kids are welcome to climb and play on, in most instances) seem as though they grew right out of the ground. There is plenty of space for kids to run and play while parents get to take in a bit of culture. A cafe serves cold drinks and locally-sourced sandwiches, soups, and baked goods, or stop atGolden Harvest farmstandon your way by and grab doughnuts, cider, and maybe a bottle ofHarvest Spirits brand liquor, made on-site, to enjoy after the kids are in bed. Olana State Historic Site, Thoman Cole National Historic Site (both part of theHudson River School of Art) and theMartin Van Buren Houseare all nearby to extend your day.

Address:1405 County Route 22, Ghent, NY 12075

»Website

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Brian McClellan via flickr

Old-Time Baseball

Baseball is America's game, and it really isn't summer unless you've taken in a few innings. Why not go back to the beginnings and see baseball as it was once played? Known then as base ball (two words!), players at Genesee Country Village and Museum don vintage wool uniforms and wooden bats, minus gloves and protective equipment. The National Silver Ball Tournament is played here, scheduled for August 12-14 this year. Access to games is permitted with purchase of a museum pass.

Address:1410 Flint Hill Road, Mumford, NY 14511
» Website

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Enchanted Forest Water Safari

A day in Old Forge

Old Forgefeels like a distant relic of what New York State used to be: Everything moves a little slower in Old Forge, and the best parts of the town are untouched to maintain their vintage charms. Start the day with a big breakfast atKeyes Pancake Housebefore heading toEnchanted Forest Water Safari. Here, you can relive your own childhood memories while making new ones with your children, especially on the historic rides, electric train, and storybook village. Once breakfast has settled, don your swimsuits and embrace the summer-smell of chlorine with the many water slides and amusements. Dry off, then cap your day in Old Forge at the famous hardware store. Pick up a memento to remember your trip by (the bear bumper stickers are a hit) and a box of legendary fudge to enjoy on your way home.

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Joed Viera for newyorkupstate.com

More places to visit in Upstate New York

  • Day trip ideas in Upstate NY: 19 fun places to visit
  • Camping in Upstate New York: 10 best campgrounds to get away
  • Zipline ride at Niagara Falls to open in summer 2016
  • 15 waterfalls in Upstate NY to see in person before you die

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