Educational Family Day-Trips in the Adirondacks

Part of visiting the Adirondacks is learning about nature!  Just a short drive from Ampersand Bay Resort, there are dozens of things to do that combine fun and adventure with a great learning experience for the whole family.  Here are some of our favorites:

Nature Centers and Interpretive Hikes and Walks

If you love the Adirondacks and marvel at the wildlife, geography, and natural history of this great region, you won’t be disappointed.  In just a short drive from Ampersand Bay Resort, you will find some great attractions that provide a fun and educational experience for everyone in your party.

One of our favorite places in the Paul Smith’s Visitors Interpretive Center, AKA the VIC.  At the VIC you will find great trails, interpretive walks, birding, and more!  During the summer months, they are host to a great Butterfly House and in the winter they offer some of the best snowshoeing and nordic skiing in the region.

For a perfect example of functional art, take a ride on the Adirondack Carousel.  Each hand-crafted seat on the carousel is a local animal, there’s even a black fly!  It’s a great place to learn about wildlife while you take a ride on each of our local species!

Another must-see destination is the Wild! Center in Tupper Lake.  In addition to interpretive hikes, canoe paddles, and outdoor activities, the Wild! Center is also a Natural History Museum with great exhibits that include tons of Adirondack wildlife like ducks, fish, turtles, and even otters!

The ADK Loj at Heart Lake is also a great place to visit with kids.  They have an information center for hikers and visitors to the Adirondacks as well as outdoor interpretive activities.  We recommend combining a day hike up Mount Jo with a trip to the Visitor’s Center.

Natural Wonders

The Adirondacks are famous for their soaring High Peaks, bountiful lakes and streams, and spectacular wildlife.  While most of the natural wonders are part of our wilderness area and can be found with a map and compass, others are commercial tourist attractions with the benefit of easy access, friendly staff, interpretive materials, and some added fun.  Here are a couple of our favorite family attractions:

Ausable Chasm– This deep river canyon has been made into an awesome tourist destination.  With great things to do like float tours, high ropes courses and interpretive hikes and walks along stunning boarwalks, it’s a must see!

High Falls Gorge– This deep gorge and spectacular series of waterfalls have been made accessible by a series of trails and bridges that take your breath away!  With awesome views of Whiteface Mountain over your head and the AuSable River below you, it’s a great place to spend the day and learn about the way that water builds amazing natural features in stone!

The Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway- The stunning view from the top of Whiteface is great, but when you add a cafe, awesome interpretive plaques, knowledgeable staff and a gift shop, it makes it that much better!  Did we mention that you can drive to the top instead of having to hike all that way?

The Adirondack Public Observatory- Located in Tupper Lake, this new attraction enables experts and novices alike to view the spectacle of space with a variety of telescopes.  Kids and adults will have a ball learning about the night sky!

Museums and Historical Attractions

When you are out on a hike or drive in the Adirondacks, it’s hard not to think about the pioneers who led the way into this great wilderness for the first time and the people who first eeked out a living in the unforgiving wilderness.

Lower Saranac Lake and Ampersand Bay Resort have their own interesting historical tales and played an integral part of the exploration of the region, but for a more in-depth experience, we suggest a visit to the Saranac Lake Laboratory.  This tuberculosis lab turned history museum is a great way to explore the history of this area on a rainy day.

For a full-day adventure, the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake is well worth the drive.  With tons of exhibits, hands on activities and educational programs, it’s a must see for a family with children.  Combine this with a visit to the Wild! Center in Tupper Lake for discounted tickets!

The Olympic Museum in Lake Placid is another great stop for a cool historical experience.  This is a great stop to make if you are going to be in Lake Placid for the day and you have an hour to spare.  While you are there, you can explore the Olympic Venues as well!

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