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#NYSummer2017 In Review

Our family had an amazing summer traveling around New York State.  Through four separate road trips, we saw parts of New York that we had never visited before. During one of these trips, I discovered my love for the Adirondacks and I can’t wait to make a return visit.  This summer also made me realize that we’ve only seen a fraction of what New York has to offer.  We really do live in a spectacular state! Here is our #NYSummer2017 in review: (Links take you to the full posts on the blog.  They will be updated as additional posts are published.)

Trip #1 (Albany, Adirondacks, Saratoga)

Day 1:  We traveled from our home in northern Westchester County to the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology in Troy, NY.  After a couple of hours at the museum we drove to John Boyd Thacher State Park in Vorheesville, NY.  We stayed at the Econo Lodge in Colonie for one evening.

Day 2:  We drove into Albany and toured the state Capitol building.  We then walked around Empire Plaza, past the Egg to the Corning Observation Deck.  After riding the elevator to the 42nd floor for some amazing views of the city we headed back to the concourse for lunch.  After lunch we visited the New York State Museum before driving to Moreau Lake State Park, where we tried cabin camping for the first time.  This was our “home base” for the week.

Day 3: We visited the Adirondack Experience in Blue Mountain Lake, NY.  My husband drove up after work Friday evening and met us at the cabin for a long weekend.

Day 4:  We visited the Olympic Sites at Lake Placid.  We ate dinner at A&W.

Day 5:  We spent the day at Six Flags Great Escape and then had dinner at Farmstead Flatbread in Queensbury.

Day 6:  We drove into the town of Lake George.  Unfortunately, it was a rainy and cold day.  We played indoor miniature golf  and walked around by the lake.  After a Middle Eastern lunch at Ali Baba Express, my husband drove back home.

Day 7: The day started out rainy again.  Our first stop was to Yaddo Gardens.  Then we visited Congress Park in Saratoga Springs where we rode the carousel (pictured above) and had lunch at Ravenous Creperie.  After lunch we drove to Saratoga Spa State Park where we did some geocaching and walked the geyser trail.

Day 8: We spent the morning at Lake Moreau and the kids finally got to go swimming.  Later in the afternoon we went white water rafting with Beaver Brook Outfitters.  That evening we drove back home.

Trip #2 (Buffalo/Niagara Falls)

Day 1: We drove the 6.5 + hours to Four Mile Creek State Park.  We were tent camping on this trip.  We got there after dinner and had to set up the tent…..in the rain.

Day 2: We drove to Buffalo and had a great brunch at the Lake Effect Diner. After eating we did a quick drive around the SUNY Buffalo campus.  During our drive it started to rain so we visited the Herschell Carousel Factory Museum.  After spending the afternoon there we drove over to the Canada side of the Falls.  After taking lots of pictures of the Falls in the rain we walked around Clifton Hill.  Luckily, by evening the rain stopped. We were able to see the falls lit up and the fireworks show before heading back to the campsite. We returned to the campsite to discover our tent had caved in and the kids’ air mattress and sleeping bags were soaked!

Day 3:  After packing up the camp site, we headed to the falls area on the American side.  After lunch, we took the Maid of the Mist boat ride and then headed home.

Trip #3 (Binghamton/Ithaca)

Day 1:  We headed up to Binghamton.  On the way up, we stopped at Animal Adventure Park and got to see April the giraffe and her baby Taj!  We then drove to Binghamton University where we walked around my husband’s old college campus.  After, we visited Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca.  The water was freezing, but the kids braved it to go swimming.  Finally, we drove to Cortland and had dinner at Central City Bar and Grill before heading to our hotel.

Day 2: We spent the day in Ithaca visiting Cornell University, my old college campus.  We started at the Botanic Gardens, then did some geocaching and walked along Beebe Lake for a bit. We walked around the campus and headed down to Collegetown for lunch.  After lunch, we drove to the Dairy Bar for ice cream.  After leaving Cornell, we drove down to Purity Ice Cream in Ithaca for some more treats!  We ended the day at Buttermilk Falls State Park.  It took us awhile to hike down to the falls where we were disappointed to discover that there was no swimming allowed that day.  We spent a little time at the playground and then had to hike back up to the car.  We then headed back home.

Trip #4 (Corning, Rochester, Syracuse)


Day 1:  We drove up to Corning, where our first stop was the Rockwell Museum.  After a short visit to the museum, we had lunch at the Old World Cafe.  Then we visited the Corning Museum of Glass.  After our visit, we went to our hotel at the Staybridge Suites, where the kids had a quick swim in the indoor pool. Then we headed out to dinner at Hand + Foot.

Day 2:  We drove to Elmira and went kayaking down the Chemung River with Southern Tier Kayak Tours.  After a quick lunch, we drove to Watkins Glen and went horseback riding at Painted Bar Stables.  Then we visited Watkins Glen State Park and walked the Gorge Trail to see all the waterfalls.  We made a short stop at Seneca Harbor Park before heading to dinner at Nickel’s Pit BBQ.  After dinner, we drove to Hammondsport, where we stayed for the night.

Day 3:  We spent the morning walking around the Village Square in Hammondsport.  We went down to Depot Park, where only my son was brave enough to withstand the cold temps for a quick dip in Keuka Lake.  We then had lunch at the Village Tavern Restaurant before heading to Rochester.

Day 4:  We spent the day at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester.

Day 5:  We spent the day at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford.

Day 6:  We spent the morning at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester.  We then drove to Syracuse and spent the rest of the day at the New York State Fair.

Day 7:  We got up early and drove the four hours back home.

We had a lot of fun this summer and the kids will have lots of memories.  As you can see, there is so much to see and do throughout New York. We can’t wait to continue to explore the Empire State!

What is your favorite New York State attraction?

 

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Walking Under Waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park

We visited Watkins Glen State Park on our recent trip to the Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes region. I was able to cross another New York State Park off my list AND I was able to walk under waterfalls!  Not only was this park already on my want-to-visit list, but it won 3rd place in a 2015 USA TODAY Readers’ Choice Award for Best State Park!  We couldn’t be in the area and not visit.

Watkins Glen State Park is one of the most well-known state parks in the Finger Lakes region.  Covering 778 acres, the park has an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a playground. It also has 293 camping sites, including 10 cabin sites.  However, people come from near and far to walk the trails along the gorge to see the waterfalls.

The park has three trails: Indian Trail, South Rim Trail and Gorge Trail.  The park recommends hiking the Gorge Trail for the best experience of Watkins Glen.  This trail follows Glen Creek and includes over 800 stone steps, stone bridges and 19 waterfalls.  Several labeled landmarks are situated along the 2 mile trail.  During the summer, shuttles run from both the main and upper entrances if you are too tired to walk back.

On our visit, we entered through the park at the main entrance off Franklin Street and parked by the pool.  We walked down to Lily Pond and crossed the Suspension Bridge.

The Suspension Bridge is the only bridge on the trail not built of stone. As we walked along the trail, it was necessary to constantly stop and take in the beauty of the waterfalls.

Around every bend was another beautiful sight to see.  It was such a peaceful and scenic hike.  It’s unbelievable to think that this gorge is thousands of years old.

As promised, we were able to walk under Rainbow Falls and touch the water!  Truly a memorable experience!  As you can tell from the picture, you may get wet from the falls!

We did not walk the entire two-mile trail as we were already tired out from a full day of kayaking and horseback riding.   Instead, we walked approximately 3/4 of the trail to Mile Point Bridge.  There, we crossed the bridge and walked the South Rim Trail back to the parking lot and avoided climbing the 180 stone steps of Jacob’s Ladder near the upper entrance.  FYI, the South Rim Trail is higher than the gorge and does not offer views of the waterfalls.

Watkins Glen State Park offers a day of family fun.  The trail hikes include truly amazing views and a visit to this park will not disappoint!

The Details:

Watkins Glen State Park
1009 N. Franklin Street
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
(607) 535-4511

Parking:  $8 per vehicle, which includes pool access  (fee is collected during peak times, please check the website for exact dates and times)  The Empire Pass is accepted here.

Hours:  Although the park is open year-round, the trails are only open mid-May to early November, weather dependent. Please check the park website for up-to-date information and trail status updates.

Pool is open 11 AM – 7 PM, daily during the summer (dates and hours are subject to change and it is advised to call the park office to confirm hours before visiting)

Trail Shuttle:  9 AM – 6 PM, $5/person

Tips:

*Use the bathroom, located at either of the entrances to the park before beginning the hike.  There are no rest rooms on the trails.

*Pack drinks and snacks.  There’s nothing like hungry and thirsty kids to ruin a good hike!  The upper entrance has a snack bar and gift shop if you need to buy something before your hike.

*Wear appropriate footwear.  Hiking boots are best, as the rocks get slippery from the water.  Plus, there are steps and uneven surfaces.

*Weekends, especially in the summer, tend to be the busiest.  It wasn’t too crowded when we visited on a late Thursday afternoon in August.

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Visiting the Corning Museum of Glass with Kids

(Thank you to the Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes and the Corning Museum of Glass for hosting us.  As always, all opinions are my own.)

The first thing people associate with Corning, NY is the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG). There are a bunch of good reasons why so many people come to the Finger Lakes region of New York each year to visit this museum. It houses an extensive collection of glass, with pieces dating back 3,500 years. Guest artists visit from around the world and give demonstrations of their work.  Plus, there is a Changing Exhibitions Gallery with new pieces being shown regularly.

You might not think a building full of glass is a great place to bring kids.  However, after recently visiting with my two children (ages 9 and 11) I can tell you that this museum is indeed a kid-friendly destination. I will admit, visiting with kids creates a very different experience of the museum versus visiting on your own or with other adults.  You will still have a great time.  To help you get the most enjoyment from your trip, here are some tips for visiting the CMOG with kids:

1. Prior to your visit, sign up for a Make Your Own Glass project – These projects are created in The Studio, located in the building across the parking lot from the CMOG.  Projects range in price from $13 for sandblasting to $30 for hand-blowing glass ornaments, glass forming flowers, fusing picture frames and more.  There are recommended age ranges for each project.  Classes fill up quickly and if you wait until the day of your visit, they might be all booked up.  This is a memorable experience for the kids, plus they will have a keepsake from the visit to take home.

2. Visit the Contemporary Art + Design Wing – There are many glass exhibits throughout the museum.  However, if you are short on time, I highly recommend you make sure to visit this exhibit.  This wing is part of a 100,000 square foot addition that was completed in March of 2015.  This section is spacious and bright with large, colorful, eye-catching exhibits, sure to interest even the youngest children.  Although we didn’t download GlassApp, the museum’s app, there is a Scavenger Hunt available on it for this wing.

3. Participate in a Gallery Hunt in the Glass Galleries – Near the entrance to the Glass Collection Galleries, there are several different gallery hunt booklets and pencils.  While there are no prizes for completing the gallery hunt, it will help give kids a focus while walking through the galleries.  These galleries have hundreds of pieces of glass and it can be a bit overwhelming for children. My kids enjoyed the “Searching for Animals” gallery hunt.  You can also download the different gallery hunt sheets as PDFs from the museum site to have before your visit.

4. Watch at least one glass demonstration – There are many different glass demonstrations held throughout the day.  The demos range from 15 minute glassbreaking, optical fiber and flameworking demos, to 30 minute hot glass demonstrations.  Each demonstration is held many times throughout the day, in one of six different locations.

During our visit we sat and watched two different hot glass demos.  We saw one in the Courtyard Hot Shop before we even entered the museum, and the other in the Amphitheater Hot Shop.  The amphitheater demonstration has a special camera inside the furnace so you can watch the glass being heated on one of the many large screens.  The shows are narrated, so you learn about each step of the glass making process as they are happening. It’s amazing to watch a glob of molten glass turn into a pitcher or a sculpture in a span of 30 minutes! These demonstrations were one of the kids’ favorite things to do at the museum.  We probably could have sat there ALL day and just watched the gaffers (master glass makers) create different pieces.  At some of the demos, the gaffers give away some of their glass pieces.

5.  Visit Innovations – This is the hands-on section of the museum.  Here kids can look through a periscope and see a 360 degree view of the town of Corning.  They can also look through a telescope, see the difference between regular glass and Low-E glass, bend glass, try to break glass, and participate in several other activities.

6.  Make a stop at the “You Design It; We Make It” – This is a great place to take a little break and let your children’s inner artist come out.  In this little area, kids can use paper and markers to create a design.  If they are lucky, their drawing may be chosen to be recreated in glass!  Each week, glassmakers from the Hot Glass Demo team choose two drawings to recreate in the Amphitheater Hot Shop during a special “You Design It; We Make It!” demo. The Flameworking team also chooses a drawing daily to create at a special Flameworking demo.  Both of my kids sketched designs which unfortunately were not chosen.

7.  Make use of the two consecutive days –  Your ticket is good for two consecutive days and I advise you to make use of it!  Let your kids temperaments and attention spans factor into how you structure your day.  If they are really into watching the glass demos, you may want to spend a large portion of one day watching the various scheduled sessions.  Consider visiting in the morning one day and the afternoon on the next.

The Details:

The Corning Museum of Glass
One Museum Way
Corning, NY 14830
(607) 937-5371

Parking:  Free parking

Hours:  Daily 9 AM – 5 PM (9 AM – 8 PM Memorial Day through Labor Day)

Admission:  $19.50/adults, $16.60/55 Plus, AAA members, military and Students with ID, Free/children 17 and under  (**Tickets are valid for 2 consecutive days)

Tips:  

There are plenty of seasonal activities and exhibitions.  If you will be visiting during the holiday season, try to plan your visit to take advantage of the seasonal fun.

Food is available in the Cafe (open 9 AM – 5 PM).  Here you will find soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza and more. Sample prices:  $2.50 for a slice of pizza, $8.95 for a Chicken Salad wrap, $10.95 for a Southwest Steak Salad. There is also a coffee bar serving locally sourced coffee and tea.

You can bring your own food as well.  If the weather is nice, there are picnic tables to use outside.

There is a huge gift shop selling all types of glass items from jewelry to decorative items.  There’s even a section with items created in-house.  Not everything in the gift shop is expensive!  You can find glass items including ornaments, flowers and marbles for under $10.

If you need to charge your phone, there are outlets in the “You Design It; We Make It” area.

 

Touring the New York State Capitol

I’ve been a life-long resident of New York state and somehow made it to my late 30’s without ever visiting our state Capitol.  Located in Albany, it is just a two hour drive from northern Westchester County. As the mother of soon-to-be 4th and 6th graders, I wanted to visit with the kids this summer.

After parking in the visitor lot, we took the elevator up to the main concourse and entered the Capitol.  Whether you enter the Capitol through the main entrance or the concourse, you must pass through a metal detector and all bags will be scanned. We arrived at 9:30 AM and went to the tour desk to sign up for the free 10 AM guided tour.  I was surprised that we were the only family from New York in our tour group.  Only one other family had children, but my 9 and 11-year-old were the youngest on the tour.

Our tour guide was very informative and we learned a lot.   Photography is allowed and encouraged throughout the tour.  Since our group was small, our guide even volunteered to take family photos at both the elevator and the Million Dollar Staircase.


The first stop on the tour is the Senate Staircase. This staircase went through a major renovation and the final results were unveiled by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013.  The brightened space showcases the detailed stone carvings that decorate the staircase.

 

Construction on the Capitol began in 1867 and wasn’t completed until 1899, with a final cost of $25 million dollars. This made it the most expensive government building at the time.  Although a dome was planned, one was never constructed due to financial reasons.  This leaves the New York State Capitol as one of only a few state capitols without a dome.

The tour visits both the Assembly and Senate Chambers.  The Assembly Chamber, pictured above, is the largest room in the Capitol.  The 150 members of the Assembly vote on approximately 2,000 bills and resolutions a year using an electronic voting system.

My favorite part of the tour was seeing the staircases.  The Capitol has three major staircases that are the most beautiful that I think I’ve ever seen in-person.  This staircase is the Great Western Staircase, also known as the Million Dollar Staircase.  After fourteen years, construction of the staircase was completed in 1897. The staircase cost over $1 million dollars to build and employed over 500 stone cutters and carvers.  Carved into the staircases are the faces of 77 famous people including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Susan B. Anthony.

Near the end of the tour we visited the War Room.  The ceiling murals depict important events in the state’s military history.  Located next to the War Room is the Hall of Governors, where portraits of New York’s 56 governors are displayed.  Our tour ended here with the option of independently touring the hall.

The Capitol also has a haunted history.  Nightwatchman, Samuel Abbot, died in the 1911 Capitol fire, but his spirit allegedly remains in the building.  We saw the demon that a disgruntled worker carved into stone.  In October, special Capitol Hauntings Tours take place, where those interested can learn more about the spooky legends of the building.

While I enjoyed the tour of the Capitol, the 60 minute tour was a bit much for my kids although they admired the beauty of the building. The information correlates so well with what they have been learning in school. However, I think the tour would be better appreciated if they were older.

The Details:

New York State Capitol 
State Street and Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12224

Parking:
 Metered street parking is available or there are several parking garages located throughout the surrounding area.  The V-Lot is located underneath the Empire State Plaza with a $10 fee before 11 AM or $5 fee after.

Weekday Walk-in Tours:  Free tours are given at 10 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM and 3 PM, sign-up at the Lobby.  Reservations are not required unless you have a party of 10 or more.  Visitors are welcome to take self-guided tours during building hours.

 

A Summer Visit to the Olympic Sites at Lake Placid

{I received complimentary Olympics Sites Passports.  However, all opinions are my own.}

Lake Placid, a small village nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, was the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.  While the town may be small, there is so much to see and do regardless of what season you visit.  My family and I took a road trip up to Lake Placid this summer.  This was our family’s first time visiting the area, but will not be our last!  It’s approximately a four-hour drive from northern Westchester County and there’s enough to see and do in the area to make it a weekend visit.

{The Olympic Passport, comes with a lanyard to wear around your neck}

If you plan to visit the Olympic Sites, than the Olympic Sites Passport is your best bet.  For $35, you get one-time admission to the Lake Placid Museum, Whiteface, Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway, the Olympic Sports Complex and the Olympic Jumping Complex.  Plus, you get discounts on additional activities.  The passports are valid for one year, so if you don’t get to see everything in one trip, you can come back!

{Trying to keep pace with an Olympic speed skater}

Our first stop was the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.  The museum is located in the Olympic Center, where the famous 1980 “Miracle” ice hockey game took place.  The museum is small but packed with artifacts and information about the winter Olympics.  Some of our family’s favorite exhibits were the collection of torches and fashion from the various Opening Ceremonies and the mascot collection. We even got a peek at the 2018 Winter Olympic mascot!  We enjoyed several photo ops including a medal podium and sitting in a bobsled.  The museum has several hands-on exhibits, including speed skating and curling, which my kids enjoyed.

Olympic Jumping Complex

After a quick lunch which we ate by Mirror Lake, we headed to the Olympic Jumping Complex,  located two miles away.  We rushed to get there in time to watch the Summer Jumping series show, advertised on posters all over town, only to be disappointed to discover that it was not taking place.  We parked at the top parking lot and rode the chairlift down to the bottom of the hill.  For an additional fee, you can extreme tube down the hill on the left! We watched as several people tubed, and screamed, down the hill, but my husband and I were not brave enough to try!  Although the kids would have done this in a heartbeat, you must be at least 13 to ride the 90-meter jump.  The 20-meter hill available for children 12 and under to ride is closed until mid-August.

Although the Summer Jumping series show wasn’t taking place we did spend some time watching athletes practicing their jumps into the pool.  After seeing other athletes jumping off the traditional ski jumps we rode the chairlift back up to the top of the hill.  We took the elevator to the top of the observation deck where we watched athletes ski down the hill and got to see amazing scenic views.

We then drove to Whiteface Mountain base lodge, an approximately 15-minute drive from the Jumping Complex.  We rode the Cloudsplitter Gondola from the base to the top of Little Whiteface in the enclosed gondola.  We enjoyed the scenic views during the approximately 15 minute ride to the top.

The top of Little Whiteface is 3,678 feet above sea level.  From here you can see Whiteface Mountain in the distance. There is also an observation area that offers spectacular views of Lake Placid.  There’s an Adventure Zone that includes several different inflatables including a bounce house, slides and more.  Children can play for $10 an hour or $15 for the day.  After our gondola ride we left Whiteface.

At the last minute we decided to end our day with a drive to Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway.  The historic highway, opened in 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, takes you to the top of Whiteface Mountain.  We are so glad that we made this decision!  After passing the Toll House it’s a five mile drive to the top of the summit.  There are nine scenic stops along the way, which we decided to pass, and instead headed straight up to the top.  Once we parked the car we first took a quick peek in the Castle, where there’s a small gift shop and a cafe.

We then opted to climb the Alpine Nature Trail, a fifth-of-a-mile-long trail with both steep steps and rocks.   I wish I was more prepared with my hiking boots, but luckily, we were all wearing sneakers!

Once at the top, we were 4,867 feet above sea level and literally in the clouds.  We were at the top of the fifth highest point in New York state!  Unfortunately, it was a pretty cloudy day.  Regardless, these were the most breath-taking, scenic views of our visit.  After spending some time up here admiring the views we opted to take the elevator down to the parking lot.

The Veteran’s Memorial Drive was our last site visit of the day.  We were able to visit four sites within the span of a day without feeling rushed.  Summer is a great time to visit the Olympic sites in Lake Placid with so much to see and do!

The Details:

*The Olympic sites are spread throughout Lake Placid and the surrounding area.  A car is necessary to get from one site to another.

Lake Placid Olympic Museum
2634 Main Street
Lake Placid, NY 12946
(518) 302-5326

Hours: Open daily 10 AM – 5 PM
Admission:  $7/adults, $5/seniors, students and children (6-12), Free/children 6 and under

Olympic Jumping Complex 
5486 Cascade Road
Lake Placid, NY 12946

Hours: Please check the site, as dates and times vary
Admission:  $11/adults, $8/seniors, juniors, Free/children 6 and under Event Days:  $16/adults, $10/seniors, juniors, Free/children 6 and under

Whiteface Mountain – Cloudsplitter Gondola Ride
5021 Rt. 86, Scenic
Wilmington, NY 12997

Hours:  Peak season (June 30 – September 4) 9:30 AM – 5 PM
Admission:  $22/adults, $15/seniors and children (7-12), Free/children 6 and under

Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway 
Memorial Highway
Wilmington, NY 12997

Hours:  Peak season (June 6 – October 9) 8:45 AM – 5:30 PM
Admission:  $15/vehicle/driver, $8/additional passenger, Free/children 6 and under, $8/bicycle

Tips:
Make sure to wear sneakers, even in the summer.  There is a lot of walking and if you visit Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway, rock climbing and steps (if you opt to take the Alpine Nature Trail).

Pack water!  Lots of walking makes you thirsty!

Food and beverages are sold at Whiteface Mountain, Veteran’s Memorial Highway and the Olympic Jumping Complex if you are hungry or thirsty.

You may want to bring a sweatshirt or jacket with you to Veteran’s Memorial Highway.  Remember, you are 4,867 feet above sea level!

A Visit to The Adirondack Experience

*I received complimentary admission tickets.  However, all opinions are my own.

Recently, our family visited the Adirondack region of New York. Spanning more than 6 million acres, seeing all of the region in one visit is impossible.  When researching our trip, one of the places that I wanted to visit was Adirondack Experience (formerly known as the Adirondack Museum), located in Blue Mountain Lake, NY. Encompassing over 121 acres, it includes  24 galleries and historic buildings with tons of hands-on learning and fun. An “experience” it is!

We arrived at Adirondack Experience at the 10 AM opening.  We made sure to take the activity book they offered, since the kids (and I) are big fans of these.  This gave the kids some focus as we wandered around and they were motivated by the small prize they’d receive if they completed it.

The first building we entered was The Great Outdoors. This is a play and adventure exhibition geared specifically towards children.  Here the kids did some fishing, climbed a rock wall, walked in a pair of snow shoes and so much more.  We spent a lot of time in here as the kids explored.

Next, we visited the Work in the Woods building.  We learned all about logging in the Adirondacks, from past to present.  Outside the building there is a climbable fire tower, relocated here from Whiteface Mountain, New York’s fifth tallest peak.  From the top of the tower, you can see great views of the mountains.

The highlight of the visit was the new “Life in the Adirondacks” exhibition which opened in the beginning of July.   The exhibit includes 19,000 square feet of interactive fun.  When we first entered the exhibit, we saw a short film about the Adirondacks.  There are hundreds of artifacts housed here, including a canoe, stage coach, snow mobiles, a totem pole and many objects used in everyday life.  We walked through the Oriental, a private railroad car, and the kids dressed up in time period clothing, blasted a rock in the mine, cleared a virtual log jam and rowed a guide boat.

When leaving the “Life in the Adirondacks” exhibition, we made sure to pause and take in the beautiful view of Blue Mountain Lake!

The only scheduled activity on the day of our visit was the trout feeding at 12:30 PM.  The kids really enjoyed throwing the food pellets into the pond and watching the fish pop up and eat them.

After feeding the trout, we were getting hungry ourselves.  Adirondack Experience has a great eatery right on property, the Lake View Cafe.   David, owner of The Well Dressed Food Company and his culinary team provide a great dining experience.  They have an espresso bar and serve bagels and breakfast sandwiches for those eating earlier in the day.  We arrived at lunchtime and had difficulty choosing from the selection of flatbread pizzas, burgers, salads, sandwiches and more.  My daughter ordered the White Garlic Basil, Chicken and Broccoli Flatbread pizza ($9.95/individual pizza), my son had the Fried Cod Sandwich ($9.95) and I opted for the Gyro Wrap ($9.95).  Portions were generous and everything was delicious.  They have a children’s menu for kids 12 and under with choices of a hot dog, chicken nuggets or grilled cheese served with chips and pickle ($6).  They also serve a selection of wine, domestic and imported beer and craft beer and cider.

After lunch we headed to the Reising Schoolhouse and Kids’ Cabin.  Here the kids played old-fashioned games, like top spinning, Jacob’s ladder and ring toss.  Then they helped with Wash Day, scrubbing pieces of cloth and hanging it to dry.  Afterwards, they played in the cabin kitchen. Before wrapping up our visit, we did a quick walk-through of the Boats & Boating exhibit and the recent art acquisitions in the Lynn H. Boillot Art Gallery.

If you have the time, I highly recommend taking advantage of the second day free admission.  There was plenty more that we didn’t see and time-wise I focused on kid-friendly exhibits and activities. There is really not enough time in one day to fully see and do everything that Adirondack Experience has to offer. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to spend another day visiting and we had to rush through the end of our visit to make sure we got to see everything before our target 4 PM departure.  After six hours of walking around, the kids were pretty tired.  I would have loved to have done the self-guided hike to Minnow Pond if we had more time and energy.  Fortunately, this gives us a reason to go back for another visit!

The Details:

The Adirondack Experience
9097-NY 30
Blue Mountain Lake, NY 12812
(518) 352-7311

Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM, seven days a week (May 26-October 9, 2017) 10 AM – 7:30 PM Mondays in July and August
Parking:  Free, large parking lot
Admission:  $20/adults, $18/seniors, $12/students (with ID and children 6-17), Free/children 5 and under Active Military Personnel are free
*Free second visit with paid admission within a one-week period
Food:  Available for purchase at the Lake View Cafe or you can bring your own food and drinks.

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The Road Trip Begins….

#NYSummer2017 is starting as we head to Albany, Lake George, Saratoga and Lake Placid

#NYSummer2017 has begun!  As you are reading this, the kids and I are on our way up to Albany for the first leg of our New York State road trip!  On this leg of our road trip we will be visiting Albany, Lake George, Saratoga and Lake Placid.  It will be quiet around the blog until we get back.  However, feel free to follow NY Foodie Family on Instagram and Twitter to get updates on our #NYSummer2017!!

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#NYSummer2017

When people think of New York, I’m pretty sure NYC is the first place that comes to mind.  However, having lived in the suburbs north of the city all my life, I can tell you that there’s so much more to this wonderful state.  A couple of months ago, my husband and I agreed that this summer was the perfect time for me to take our two children, ages 8 and 11, on an epic road trip of New York state.  Before we take on any more distant travels, we thought that it was important that the kids see as much of New York State as possible.  Planning this trip also made me realize how much of the state that I have never visited.

After several months of planning, I’ve narrowed down our road trip into four separate itineraries.  State parks, amusement parks and historical sites are all mapped out.

Our first leg will start July 19, after we spend 4th of July with my family in Rhode Island and celebrate my son’s 9th birthday. The kids and I will head to Albany, Saratoga, Lake George and the Lake Placid area. My husband will be joining us for a long weekend, but for most of the trip I’ll be traveling alone with the kids.

After a few days back home, my husband will be joining us for our second leg during the first weekend in August. All four of us will be traveling to the Buffalo/Niagara area and visiting Niagara Falls.

The third leg kicks off the second weekend in August, when the four of us will be heading up to Binghamton and Ithaca.  Part of this trip will include visiting Binghamton University and Cornell University, our alma maters.

The final leg of the trip will be in mid-August when I will take the kids to visit Corning, Rochester and Syracuse.

In between road trips, we will be exploring local attractions in Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as the Catskills.  Although we will be seeing a lot this summer, I know that this is only a small portion of all that there is to see and do in New York State.

This is going to be a memorable adventure for our family.  Not only am I breaking out of my comfort zone by taking the kids solo for most of the trip, but most of these places are new to me as well!  You can follow us on our adventures on social media.  I’ll be using #NYSummer2017 and #NYFoodieFamilyRoadTrip in all my travel posts.  And since there’s about a month before our first leg of the trip, please leave any suggestions or must-see attractions in the areas that I mentioned we’re visiting!

Your Guide To the NYC TKTS Booths


Do you love the theater and seeing Broadway shows?  If you are a fan, then seeing at least one show is a must when visiting New York City.  After all, Broadway is famous for showcasing the best of the best!  There are currently 45 Broadway shows selling tickets.  Some of these shows have previews beginning in March, but allow you to purchase your tickets now.  If you have your mind set on seeing Hamilton, I wish you lots of luck in getting tickets.  If you really want to take your kids to see Aladdin or the Lion King, then you should definitely pre-purchase tickets based on your travel plans.  However, if you are more flexible in what Broadway show you see, then I highly recommend you visit one of New York City’s TKTS booths.

TKTS Times Square

There are four TKTS booths in New York City located at Times Square (pictured above), South Street Seaport, Lincoln Center and Downtown Brooklyn.  The Times Square ticket booth only sells same-day tickets.  The other three ticket booth locations sell same-day evening tickets or next-day matinee tickets.  They all sell tickets to a variety of Broadway shows and plays at up to 50% off!

Here are some tips for purchasing tickets from the TKTS booths.  First off, check the site for each locations hours, since they differ.  Matinees are usually performed only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Second, plan on getting in line at your ticket booth location of choice approximately one hour before the booth opens.  Yes, you heard me, one hour in advance.  If the booth opens at 10 AM, I’d aim to get in line by 9 AM for best ticket choices.  Bring a book, your phone (with a portable charger!) or a friend to entertain you while you wait.  This ensures that you get the best selection of shows to choose from.

TKTS Show Board

All of the shows with tickets available for purchase that day are listed on the monitor located near the TKTS booth.  You can also download the TKTS mobile app to see the current show listings.  Ticket availability changes daily.  Just because you saw tickets available for a show yesterday does not mean that they will be available at the booth today.  Keep in mind that you will not find tickets available at the TKTS booth for shows like Hamilton, the Lion King or Aladdin, among others.

It is recommended that you have at least 5 different show selections ready.  Depending on your place in line, you may sadly watch your first, second or even third choices disappear from the screen as they sell out.  If you have your heart set on seeing a specific show that is listed, be prepared to sit separately from your party.  Often times, the more popular shows that have tickets at the TKTS booth only have single seat availability.

Plan on spending at $75+ a ticket.  From what I’ve been told and my personal experiences, TKTS only sells Orchestra seats.  This means you are getting amazing seats at up to 50% off regular price.  Keep in mind that regular orchestra seats can run upwards of $350+ depending on the show!  If you have a large party, have more than one person wait in line, as they will only sell six tickets per person.

Please remember, depending on location, you are purchasing tickets to that day’s matinee or evening performance (or the next day’s matinee, depending on which location you purchased your ticket from).  These tickets are also non-refundable.  Before you leave the window, double check you have the correct number of tickets and that they are for the correct show, date and time.  While recently standing in line to purchase tickets I overheard a woman telling an employee that she wanted to exchange her tickets that she had purchased earlier in the week.  Unfortunately, she was out of luck!

While holiday vacations are popular times for visiting New York City, they are also busy times for Broadway as well.  I recommend not trying to get tickets from the TKTS booth during these times.  We learned the hard way, attempting to get tickets over the Christmas break.  The line was super long and by the time we made it up to the window, there were no family-friendly shows available that had four seats together for a matinee show.  We ended up getting back in line later the same day (an hour and half before the booth opened!) and were able to purchase tickets to an evening performance.

While standing in line, there are several TKTS Patron Service Reps walking around, ready to answer any questions you may have.

Finally, no matter how desperate you are for show tickets, it is highly recommended that you do not purchase tickets from scalpers (the guys and gals on the street trying to sell you tickets).  There is no way to tell if the tickets are legitimate or not.

The TKTS booth may not be for everyone.  As I mentioned, if you are visiting New York City and have a specific show that you want to see, I recommend purchasing tickets prior to your visit.  However, if you love musicals and are flexible in what you see, (and don’t mind giving up time to stand in line) then I’d give the TKTS booth a try.  For theater fans, it’s a great way to see Broadway shows at an affordable price.

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Warwick Valley Bed and Breakfast

Warwick Valley Bed And Breakfast

Located in Warwick, New York, only about an hour’s drive from New York City is the Warwick Valley Bed and Breakfast.  Conveniently located in the historic district at 24 Maple Avenue, this bed and breakfast is housed in a restored Colonial that was built in the early 1900’s.

I recently visited this bed and breakfast with my husband, as a surprise weekend getaway to celebrate his 40th birthday.

Warwick Valley Bed and Breakfast

The bed and breakfast has seven different rooms to choose from.  Each room has a name and unique decor, with varying bed sizes and arrangements.  All rooms have a small seating area, a desk and a private bathroom.  Rates range from $144 to $229 a night, depending on the day and season.  Children are welcome at this bed and breakfast at an additional cost.

Reservations can be requested online and a confirmation e-mail will be sent to confirm your selected dates and price.  In our confirmation e-mail, Loretta, the Innkeeper also noted that she could help arrange appointments for massages or facials and make dinner reservations as well.

Back Entrance

When you pull into the driveway of the bed and breakfast there is ample parking around back.  You then enter through the back entrance.  The bed and breakfast has a no shoes policy.  Upon entering, there are shelves to store your shoes.  Slippers are available to wear.

Paisley Room

I booked the Paisley Room, which as you can see is named for the Paisley bedding.  This room has a Queen-sized bed and overlooks the back driveway.  It’s on the second floor, that is shared with two other rooms.

Sitting Area

I took Loretta up on her offer and had her arrange for an in-room massage for my husband as part of his birthday present. While he had his massage, I went down to the sitting area and read a book.

A benefit of staying at a bed and breakfast is that a homemade breakfast is included in the cost of your stay. There are two dining areas in the bed and breakfast.  We ate in the main dining room, pictured below.

Dining Area

We only stayed one night, so I’m unsure if the breakfast menu changes daily.

Breakfast

Loretta cooks everything herself in the kitchen adjacent to the dining room.  During our stay, breakfast began with a bowl of cinnamon-spiced fruit and nut mix.  We then had a choice of french toast, an omelet, or eggs cooked in any style of our choosing.  Sides included roasted butternut squash and bacon.  You could have any combination (or all!) of these breakfast options. I ordered the french toast with a side of bacon and butternut squash.  It was delicious!

I love that the Warwick Valley Bed and Breakfast is conveniently located in the historic district.  It is within reasonable walking distance to the nearby shops and restaurants.  The day of our arrival, the weather was beautiful and on our walk into town we discovered the Craft Beer Cellar and Taco Hombre.  The next morning we woke up to snow but still trekked back into town to check out the last weekend of the outdoor, local farmer’s market.

Iron Forge Inn

Saturday evening we had dinner at the nearby Iron Forge Inn.  This is a farm-to-table restaurant located in a revolutionary era home built in 1760.  Chef/owner Erik Johansen is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and provides a menu of Modern American cuisine that changes seasonally.  We had an amazing dinner and I highly recommend dining here!

On our way home we stopped at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets to enjoy some child-free shopping!  Other nearby attractions include Mountain Creek and the Warwick Drive-in Theater.  Several wineries including the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery and Applewood Winery are nearby as well.

My husband and I enjoyed our stay at the Warwick Valley Bed and Breakfast.  It was great to get away to celebrate his birthday and we loved the town of Warwick.  This was a perfect parents only get-away, as we decided our children wouldn’t appreciate the history and architecture of the village, that we found so charming.  There is enough that we didn’t get to see and do that we’d like to make a return trip soon!