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10 Best Places to Take Your Kids in Central New York

If traveling to Upstate New York to scope out the wonderful fall foliage is on your agenda, or if you just happen to be passing through with the family, this is for you. The following kid tested, mother approved list of the (lesser known yet) truly great places to visit in Upstate New York is certain to offer kids room to explore, learn, and understand the wonders of the area. And also provide hours of entertainment for the whole family. Here’s the 10 Best Places To Take Your Kids in Central New York

1. Fort Rickey Children’s Discovery Zoo

Nestled in between Oneida Lake and in the countryside of Rome, New York, lives a fine collection of animals of all varieties. Owned and operated by Len Cross, whose dedication to conservation and adventure has touched the lives of many for over ten years, life at Fort Rickey is exciting for its caretakers and its creatures. From otters to owls, snakes to wallabies, deer to owls, wolves and peacocks, catfish and tortoises, and bison to pigmy goats, Fort Rickey offers a truly remarkable adventure for kids and kids at heart. This child focused environment is based in kindness, conservation, and the freedom of exploration. Children learn about Fort Rickey’s residents through engaging, entertaining, and interactive experiences certain to foster memories that will last a lifetime.

For more information about Fort Rickey Children’s Discovery Zoo, go here:

2. Howe Caverns

Leave life on Earth behind by taking a 156 foot “plunge” deep below the surface to a prehistoric 6 million year old (and counting) series of rock formations collectively known as Howe Caverns. Located in Howe’s Cave, New York, and just minutes away from picturesque Cooperstown, New York, Howe Caverns is a great place to learn the magnificence of what lies underground. The adventure begins by stepping onto an elevator and travelling deep below to a carefully preserved and protected underworld majesty. Explorers witness and learn more about the limestone formations, stalagmites, flowstone, and stalactites which make Howe Caverns complete with highly trained tour guides. Above ground there is a museum, full of culture and rich in history, the Howe Caverns Mining Company, a Cafe, Sweet Shop, and Gift Shop.

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3. Sterling Renaissance Festival

The Sterling Renaissance Festival takes people back to the English Renaissance circa 1585 in a place similar to that of Warwick, England. Located in Sterling, New York between Syracuse and Rochester, time travel doesn’t a require more than a car to take a quick trip to the rolling wooded countryside full of professional performers offering whimsical comedy, great food, and history. With one hundred stage and street performers, actors, and musicians, the young and old may delight in shows like Don Juan and Miguel, The Pub Sing, The Mud Show, Wench Auction, Trial & Dunke, and even a Knight’s Joust. Games like Test Your Strength, Tomato Toss, Pillow Fyte, Mud Mayhem, and a walk through Maze offer laughter and adventure. When visitors get hungry, they may enjoy savory English delicacies, like Steak-on-a-Steak, Turkey Legs, Portabella sandwiches, Mile High Cakes, and more. Highly unique, artisan shops offer the best craftsmanship available, with award winning, high quality wares, as well as keepsakes.

For more information regarding The Sterling Renaissance Festival, go here:

4. Erie Canal Village

The Erie Canal Village is located on a reconstructed 19th century site where the original Erie Canal was first shoveled on July 4, 1817. One year later the canal opened and as time passed, the site grew to become home to three outdoor living museums including the Erie Canal Museum, the Harden Museum, and The New York State Museum of Cheese. Additionally, the site also has Bennett’s Tavern, a Blacksmith Shop, a Railroad Station, an Ice House, Wood Creek School, Maynard Methodist Church, the Shull Victorian House, Settle’s House, Crosby House, and the Canal Store. The Erie Canal Village is a great place to soak up the history of the Barge Canal System, including the first proposals for the waterway, as well as a collection of exhibits based upon vehicles, farm equipment, cheese making, and other facets of life during the 1800s on the canal.

For more information regarding the Erie Canal Village, go here:

5. Sylvan Beach Amusement Park

Tucked on the Eastern shore of Oneida Lake lies the Historic Sylvan Beach Amusement Park. Synonymous with adventure, excitement, great food, and fun for the entire family, this park pairs small town flare with high thrills. Featuring rides like the Scrambler, bumper boats, Galaxi Coaster, Carello’s 1896 Carousel, Tilt-a-whirl, the Crazy Dazy, and several others, Sylvan Beach Amusement Park also has an arcade, a super slide, mini golf, carnival style games, souvenir shops, and great food. As an added bonus, this park is just steps from Sylvan Beach and minutes away from other great locations.

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6. Northeast Classic Car Museum

Anyone interested in the evolution of transportation, its effects on American culture, and the role of automobiles will adore the Northeast Classic Car Museum. Chartered by the New York State Department of Education and funded by private and corporate donors, admissions, gift shop sales, and fundraising efforts, the Northeast Classic Car Museum’s dedication to education is profound. Since 1997, the museum’s collection, preservation, interpretation, and exhibition of vehicles has grown from 50 vehicles within one building to 160 vehicles within five buildings. Additionally, with a staff of 5 and over 100 volunteers, all visitors receive an enhanced experience complete with informational videos, period fashions, and some of the best classic cars on earth.

For more information regarding the Northeast Classic Car Museum go here:

7. Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Over 700 animals - from the very smallest bugs the very largest Asian elephants - call the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York, home. The zoo features several exhibits full of animals like: the fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates found in the U.S.S. Antiquities; the Diversity of Birds Aviary full over over two dozen different species of birds; the Adaptation - Natural Selection at Work exhibit full of nocturnal animals like naked mole rats, bats, spiders and others; the Penguin Coast where chinstrap penguins are viewable through six windows; the Wildlife Trail where visitors can view grey wolves, bighorn sheep, markhors, spectacled bears, red pandas, snow leopards, red wolves, Amur tigers, white lipped deer, and other animals; the Ecosystems building full of apes, lemurs, monkeys, meerkats, fossa, and other jungle species; an Outdoor Bird pond full of ducks, flamingos, raptors, and other winged creatures; the Domestic Animal Barn complete with barn dog Emma, Guinea hogs, goats, a barn owl, a donkey, and a calf; the Lion Corridor home to lions Joshua, Kierha, and Mindine; and the Asian Elephant Preserve home to seven elephants and offering visitors a touching experience through the Elephant Encounter where they can actually feel an elephant’s trunk! The Zoo also offers space for birthday parties, great food at the Jungle Cafe, a gift shop, educational programs for children and adults, craft making sessions, and even overnight adventures!

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8. Bowman Lake State Park

Nestled in the rolling foothills of Central New York is the “camper’s paradise” known as Bowman State Park. Located in Oxford, New York, this park features the best of beaching, biking, boating, camping, hiking, picnicking, fishing, hunting, and everything the great outdoors offers. Hearty evergreen and hardwood forests offer plenty of shade for campers and over 103 different varieties of birds for birdwatchers. Amenities include a nature center, a concessions and snack stand, showering facilities, a playground, nature trails, and ample room for fun outdoor activities.

For more information regarding Bowman Lake State Park, go here:

9. The Discovery Center

This mission of The Discovery Center in Binghamton, New York, is based upon Albert Einstein’s declaration that “Play is the highest form of research.” The Discovery Center lets youngsters explore, imagine, and learn with 30 hands on exhibits. Kids can shop at the Giant Market, soar in an A-10 jet, drive a full sized rescue/fire truck, step in front of the camera in a TV station, create art at Studio 60, serve food at the Plum Dragon Palace, ride in an Ambulance, check their pearly whites in an Open Wide dental exhibit, climb high in a tree house, explore the natural world in Eco-Kids, explore the Susquehanna as it winds to the Chesapeake, grow their minds in The Story Garden, and even stand within a giant bubble. The Discovery Center also offers an outdoor exhibit, free parking, indoor and outdoor picnic areas, vending machines, sleepovers, and other amenities.

For more information regarding The Discovery Center, go here:

10. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

The collection, preservation, exhibition, and interpretation of the history and development of baseball is located in Cooperstown, New York at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. For over 70 years, this independent and non-profit educational institution is based upon the appreciation of America’s favorite pasttime and honor of the people who have contributed to the sport. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum features three separate entities, including the Museum, the Hall of Fame, and a tremendous research library. All artifacts, art, literature, memorabilia, photographs, and materials are collected through the generosity of donations. All archives and artifacts at the Museum are preserved meticulously by research, cataloging, documentation, and permanent record maintenance to ensure a truly educational experience and research facilities.

For more information regarding the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, go here:

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