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Best Family-Friendly Attractions in the Adirondacks

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Set on over 6 million acres, the Adirondack Park is bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and the Great Smokies combined. With so much rugged natural beauty, outdoor adventures abound in this area of Upstate New York. But what can you do with children in tow? Here are the five best things to do in the Adirondacks with kids during your next family vacation.

Fall in the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks are particularly beautiful in fall (Photo credit: Nyker, Depositphotos.com)

1. The Wild Center

Young curious minds observe nature closely at The Wild Center in the Adirondacks. This is a state of the art, but quirky, science center. Exhibits and films explore space, climate change, and the natural world.

Planet Adirondack, where visitors learn about the Earth and other planets in our solar system at The Wild Center in the Adirondacks

Planet Adirondack, where visitors learn about the Earth and other planets in our solar system (Photo credit: The Wild Center)

The outdoor Pines Wild Play Area is composed entirely of sticks and dirt for maximum creativity and connection with nature. It was developed by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, a book about saving our children from nature-deficit disorder.

Meanwhile, Wild Walk provides a different way for visitors to experience nature with a series of bridges through the treetops. Look for hiking trails and guided canoe or standup paddle boarding trips, too. The Wild Center, including the Wild Walk, is stroller and wheelchair accessible.

The Wild Walk at The Wild Center

The Wild Walk (Photo credit: The Wild Center)

This unique attraction is also home to more than 900 animals indigenous to the Adirondacks like porcupines, owls, snakes, turtles, and fresh-water fish. Check the day’s schedule for otter feedings.

Otter at the Wild Center in the Adirondack Mountains)

Otter at the Wild Center (Photo credit: Nancie Battaglia, The Wild Center)

Your family can enjoy lunch at the on-site Waterside Cafe at outdoor tables with a view of the center’s pond. Indoor seating is also available.

Adirondack Experience museum

Adirondack Experience museum (Photo credit: Adirondack Experience)

2. Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake

Go to the Adirondack Experience museum to discover the history of the people who make their home in the Adirondacks. Visitors learn about famous people who lived in the Adirondacks like Teddy Roosevelt, as well as the area’s native peoples, the Mohawk and Abenaki. Also, see artifacts from early settlers and the outdoor occupations of the area, like maple sugaring and ice harvesting.

After exploring the educational exhibits, stay to play on the museum’s extensive grounds. Kids can climb aboard a stationary train, play house in a number of camps, and experience the great outdoors through hands-on outdoor sports discovery stations.

Look for special events with fun things to do at the Experience Center with kids, such as the Harvest Festival with apple-pressing and stagecoach rides, Familypalooza, and Family Camp.

Cannons at Fort Ticonderoga

Cannons at Fort Ticonderoga (Photo credit: zhukovsky, Depositphotos.com)

3. Fort Ticonderoga

See firsthand the daily lives of colonial soldiers at Fort Ticonderoga in the Adirondacks with kids. Watch musket demonstrations, learn how to eat like a soldier, listen to the fife and drums, and follow the troops as they march on parade. Afterwards, bring a picnic to spread out at the King’s Garden, or hike Mount Defiance to look out on Lake Champlain.

Look out for Reenactment Days that line up with your Adirondack family vacation. These weekend events feature battle reenactments from the French and Indian War or the American Revolution.

Stone Bridge, the largest marble cave entrance in the eastern U.S.

Stone Bridge, the largest marble cave entrance in the eastern U.S. (Photo credit: Natural Stone Bridge & Caves)

4. Natural Stone Bridge & Caves

The family-owned Natural Stone Bridge & Caves is home to Stone Bridge, the largest marble cave entrance in the eastern U.S. It was formed by the flow of water and is still being carved by Trout Brook today. Enter through Stone Bridge to find grottos, potholes, waterfalls, and the oldest rock in North America. All of this can be seen on a self-guided, ¾-mile, natural stone step nature trail. Be sure to wear sturdy closed-toe shoes!

Once your family has learned about the geology of the rock formations, kids can experience a number of fun activities. Expect disc golf, a climbing wall, and gemstone mining. Some activities cost extra but the DinoDig and playground are free. There’s also an ice cream stand and gift shop onsite.

Visiting the Adirondacks with kids in winter? Sign up for a snowshoeing tour of the Natural Stone Bridge & Caves trails!

Snowshoeing tour at Natural Stone Bridge & Caves in the Adirondacks with kids

Snowshoeing tour at Natural Stone Bridge & Caves (Photo credit: Natural Stone Bridge & Caves)

5. Lake Placid Olympic Center

Get a glimpse into the training regimen of champions at the Lake Placid Olympic Center. Here you can visit the Olympic Museum, go on a guided tour of the Olympic Center, or head out to the Olympic Jumping Complex. A chairlift takes you from the ski jumps’ base to the top of the 120-meter jump where, even in the summer, Olympic hopefuls launch into aerial acrobatics. Leave time to lace up skates at the same rink that hosts world-class events from figure skating competitions to hockey tournaments. Splurge on the bobsled adventure, but only with kids taller than 48 inches.

Lake Placid Olympic Center in New York

Lake Placid Olympic Center (Photo credit: Luke H. Gordon, Wikimedia)

Vacation in the Adirondack Mountains

The American tradition of family vacations traces its origins to the Adirondack Mountains. Back in the early 1900s, summer heat and deadly fevers drove those who could afford it to “vacate” cites in favor of the fresh clean air of the Adirondacks. Somehow, the term “vacation” stuck, while our friends across the pond favor going on “holiday.” More than a century later, visitors still appreciate the pristine setting and fragrant balsam air of contiguous America’s largest park.

Beautiful fall drive to the Adirondacks

Autumn drive to the Adirondacks (Photo credit: Nyker, Depositphotos.com)

Getting to the Adirondacks

Interstate 81 and 87 bring you within easy reach of most of the things to do on this list of Adirondack attractions. Getting there is half the fun in early autumn when fall foliage stages a spectacular display!

How to Connect Kids with Nature on Family Vacation

Connect kids with nature on vacation (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Explore More with Kids

For more outdoorsy vacation ideas, take a look at these ways to connect kids with nature on vacation.

If you’d like to see more of New York, then be sure to read our tips for visiting New York City for the first time. You’ll also want to discover all the fun activities in Central Park with kids.

Head to the New York-Canada border to experience the best things to do in Niagara Falls.

The Best Things to Do in the Adirondacks with Kids

Save these tips for visiting the Adirondacks with kids!

For future reference, be sure to save this list of the best things to do in the Adirondacks with kids. Simply pin the image above to Pinterest. We hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Sandra Foyt writes about fun and educational family adventures on Albany Kid. Based in Upstate New York, she stars in her own version of “Where’s Waldo?” on road trips across the U.S. and return engagements to the Virgin Islands.

Comments
  1. The Adirondacks is such a gorgeous area. I’ve been there several times with my family. We haven’t been to all of these places yet, though.

  2. Wow I had no idea there was that much to do there. I didn’t realize it was that large either. That wild walk looked amazing. I can’t wait to go there some day.

  3. I am hoping that I can take my family to the Adirondacks one day. I’ve heard it’s so beautiful!

  4. Oh my goodness this place looks so amazing and is so beautiful! It looks like an awesome place to go and explore and hike all around! I gotta add this to my list of destinations for 2021!

    Kileen

  5. These are really awesome recommendations! Thank you so much! Adding these to our list!

  6. I love to get experience for Natural Stone Bridge & Caves because I love snowtours I’ve never experience that in my whole life. This place sounds wonderful trip great recommendations!

  7. Wow, I would love to be able to go here. Dreaming about the days when things are back to normal and we can travel again!

  8. Emman Damian says

    This is the first time I heard about Adirondacks. I hope I can see the caves and natural stones. So cool! Great photos too! I’ll visit after pandemic.

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