Things to do / Travel Guide
Northern New York is an excellent playground for kids of all ages, with plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to keep the entire family busy and smiling. From historical battlefields to rodeos to train rides and staged robberies, theme parks to beaches to hiking to biking, visitors to this region can easily find plenty of fun things to do year-round.
For those with a taste for history, northern New York has several former forts and battle sites worth visiting - including Fort Ticonderoga, Fort William Henry, and Fort Crown Point. A true highlight is the expertly-restored Fort Ticonderoga, which includes a military museum, cannons, barracks, kitchens, stables, and artifacts from the wars in which it served as a pivotal outpost. Artifacts on-site include a lock of George Washington's hair and Ethan Allen's old pocket watch. For anyone into weapons, also on display are nearly 1,000 pistols, muskets, bayonets, and swords dating back to the 18th century. During the summer, events such as parades and cannon firings are staged for visitors. Guided tours are led by costumed re-enactors, who really allow visitors to see and feel how life used to be when Fort Ticonderoga was in use. Located on State Road 74, Fort Ticonderoga is open to visitors from May-October.
Mysterious Mazes in Northern New York
Test your inner lab rat! If you're visiting the region in the summer, go ahead and get lost in the six-acre Great Adirondack Corn Maze at the family-owned and operated Tucker Farms, nestled into the Adirondack Mountains. Tucker Farms gives wagon tours around their grounds, where they mostly grow potatoes, as well as strawberries, vegetables, and grains, showing off what they call their “million-dollar view.” They also have a petting zoo on-site. Tucker Farms is located on Hobart Road in the town of Gabriels (near Saranac Lake).
Northern New York is home to another maze, located further north in Alexandria Bay. Mazeland is located on one full acre with 250 fabric panels and over 2,000 seven-foot cedar trees that form tricky paths for kids and adults alike to navigate through. Located on State Road 12, Mazeland is open from the third week in May until Labor Day in September, from 10 a.m. until dusk. They also host scavenger hunts for both children and adults, which change in theme from week to week.
Family Hiking in Northern New York
Numerous hiking trails appropriate for families with kids (fun, scenic, and not too long or strenuous) can be found throughout northern New York. Some recommendations are the Boreas River Trail Hike, the Cascade Mountain, Owl's Head Mountain, and Sawyer Mountain Hike in the Lake Placid area and the Floodwood Mountain Hike, Panther Mountain Hike, Azure Mountain, and St. Regis Mountain in the Saranac Lake area.
Lake George Festivals
Summertime in Lake George means fun outdoor festivals filled with playful activities for everyone. For over 30 years, Lake George has hosted its annual Family Festival, sponsored by the local fire department. Held in August in Lake George Village, this festival includes games, music, and arts and crafts. Are your kids fans of magicians, clowns, and jugglers? Check out “Musical Magical Mondays” every Monday in July, where live performers entertain kids and parents in Lake George Village's Shepard Park.
Olympic Family Fun
A wonderful and unique activity for sports-loving children is touring the Olympic venues in Lake Placid, including White Mountain, site of the alpine skiing events. At the Olympic Jumping Complex, kids get a chance to watch athletes in training on the 90-meter jump. At the Olympic Ice Arena they can catch a hockey game or ice-skating competition. Passenger rides are given on the bobsleds year-round, down a mile long run boasting 16 curves. Hold on tight as you ride with both a professional driver and brakeman down the 1980 Olympic bobsled track!
Railroad Rides in Northern New York
In northern New York, visitors can chug their way through mountainous tracks on historic train lines. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad, leaving from Thendara, takes passengers on an exciting scenic ride aboard the Grand Adirondack Line. The train winds through a spectacularly scenic area of the Adirondacks, with rides ranging from one-hour to day-long trips between Utica, Old Forge, and up to Lake Placid. Trains leave throughout the day and run from late May to late October. Especially fun for younger passengers, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad also offers staged train robberies and a polar express.
The Upper Hudson Railroad also runs special trips for the entire family, including a polar express and the popular, heart-pounding payroll robbery trains in which passengers try to catch the bandits who have stolen the train loggers' payroll. The Upper Hudson Railroad runs from May-October, between the towns of North Creek and Riparius.
Theme and Fun Parks in Northern New York
For a day full of amusement park fun, head to the Great Escape Theme Park in Lake George - one of the top action adventure parks in northern New York. Great Escape features roller coasters and a river-raft ride as well as daily shows like the Super Circus, High Divers, and the Magic Show. The Magic Forest is another cool stop in Lake George for the entire family. One admission fee here covers all rides, shows (such as magic shows and tropical bird shows), and visits with baby animals.
Ever wonder how and where Santa does all of his work? Head to Santa's Workshop in Wilmington, where kids can see Santa at work in the North Pole, amongst his storybook friends. Look out for the live reindeer on the premises as well!
Head to the Wild West of Frontier Town, a theme park featuring stagecoach hold-ups, a rodeo, and wild shows. Frontier Park is located in North Hudson, off of I-87, and is open from Memorial Day through mid-September, with limited hours in early June.
Visitors to the Family Fun Park at Colonial Village will have trouble choosing from the many attractions at their fingertips, including a 3,000-square-foot indoor fun center that features laser tag, an arcade, and a virtual roller coaster. Outside, challenge your kids to a friendly race around the quarter-mile go-kart race track. Located just off of State Road 11B, east of Potsdam, the park's hours vary depending on the season.
Water Activities in Northern New York
Northern New York is filled with gorgeous beaches along the shores of its many lakes and rivers, perfect for a day of swimming and building sand castles with the entire family. There are also numerous campsites in the region, where RVs can park and/or tents can be set up, another fun experience for children. Still another option is heading out for some fun family fishing.
The Old Forge Lake Cruises provide for a unique and rewarding experience for their younger passengers. During this 15-mile, one-hour cruise around the Fulton Chain of Lakes, every child gets a turn to steer the boat and receives a Junior Captain's license. Boats depart at 5 p.m. every day June 30th-August 26th, excluding national holidays.
Instead of rowing or paddling, why not try tubing down one of the many rivers in northern New York; a relaxing and/or adventurous experience fun for the whole family. Companies like Tubby Tubes offer group tubing trips and tours along the beautiful Lower Hudson River Gorge near the Lake George area.
Ice fishing fans? Enter your kids in the Lake Luzerne Annual Ice Fishing Contest! Children up to the age of 16 can compete (with parental supervision required). First, second, and third prizes are awarded to the children who catch the three largest fish. Hot dogs, hot chocolate, and other treats are available on site as well.
Family Vacation Ideas in Lake Placid, Lake George, Saratoga Springs, Adirondacks and Northern New York