Top 20 Places to Take Kids in the Albany, NY area
Great Places and Activities with Children in Albany and the Capital District
1) The New York State Museum is widely regarded as THE family-friendly learning center in the Capital District -- not least because entrance to its exhibit halls is FREE. History and Science blend here, with many permanent and traveling exhibits. History, science, and culture camps are offered in the summer, and they have an award-winning after-school program. A vibrant web site keeps you up-to-date on Museum events and activities.
2) The Geysers at Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga. Walk the streams and get soaked by the sulfur-smelling water that spews 10-15 feet into the air. Fish the streams in season and taken fly fishing lessons from local expert. There are trails and playgrounds and many picnic areas to pick from.
3) Steamer No. 10 Theatre: Steamer No.10 Theatre, Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt professional theatre creating shows for children and families, and touring to schools and theatres throughout the Northeast, producing five shows each year in Albany. Dubbed the "mad scientists" of children’s theatre, they also hold classes and workshops for kids.
4) Peerless Pools in Saratoga Park. These have something for everyone. There’s a very cool baby pool with a mushroom fountain, a large sloping swimming pool and an area with two slides. Food and drinks from home are allowed and there plenty of grassy play space to run. Very family-friendly.
5) Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve: Walk, bike, run, cross-country ski or snowshoe within the 600 acres along the Mohawk in Clifton Park. Portions of the Erie Canal and Towpath can also be found, but most exciting are the huge snapping turtles.
6) Albany Indoor Rock Gym (AIR): Kids can creep , crawl, slide and climb for hours in side the indoor caves. They can even climb across the ceiling! They also boast the nation's only indoor cave system. You can bring your own food and drinks. Great winter alternative to the outdoors. They offer 5-day climbing clinics for ages 10-adult in the summertime.
7) Grafton Peace Pagoda in Grafton, NY. The Pagoda is really quite impressive. You can follow the path around and view the intricate carvings and artwork. The temple is open to the public but you must take your shoes off and enter very quietly. A lovely and entirely different kind of cultural experience for kids.
8) Ellms Family Farm in Ballston Spa provides wonderful old-fashioned family entertainment in the fall, with a corn maze, all kinds of fall farm activities, and a Halloween Hay Ride that is fun, not scary. They have a jumping pillow, numerous slides, a cow train, and a short zip line, plus delicious donuts and cider. They also offer Christmas trees to cut and other activities during the December holiday season.
10) Zoom Flume: Great for a special all-day adventure in the summer, and a nice way to impress out-of-towners with a day of active play in the water. Kids of all ages seem to love water slides, and there are plenty of them! Located in East Durham, about 50 minutes southwest of Albany.
11) Guptills Arena, the world's largest indoor roller skating arena, located in Latham. Skating, skating, and more skating. Oh, and parties in "Secrets." Middle school night is Friday night. Guptills is often known as THE place to go for birthday parties and as a cabin fever reliever.
12) Hoffman's Playland, a little amusement park and family fun center in Latham, opened in 1952. Season is May through September. It’s wonderful for the younger children with old-fashioned rides and ice cream. There is no park entrance fee; rides are redeemed with tickets you purchase. They often have "report card specials" that give free tickets for report cards with good grades.
13) Visit a Saratoga Battlefield Reenactment at Saratoga National Historic Site. At only $10.00 a carload, this is a must-see at least once for everyone in the Capital District. Reenactments are held twice each year on weekends in the fall, and are quite a sight to behold. You can help fire a real canon and talk with the reenactors.
14) The Children’s Museum of Science and Technology in Rensselaer Technology Park in Troy offers science and technology fun throughout the year. It was named a Top 20 Science Center by Parents Magazine. If you're there in Troy the first Sunday of December, check out the Troy Victorian Stroll, a longtime family-friendly event that offers more than 100 attractions during the day, most of them free. Storytelling, juggling, clowning, trolley rides are just a few. People in period dress stroll along the city streets striking up conversations with passersby.
15) The William K. Sanford Library in Loudonville. This family-favorite library was voted best in the Capital District for kids. Their many programs for children include events, book clubs, movies, crafts activities, and 'tween nights out.
16) At the Hirsch Observatory at RPI, you can observe the stars, the planets, and more The public is invited to use the facility on Saturday evenings February 7- November 21 from 8-10 pm. Astronomy programs are shown if the weather obscures the view. The Hirsch Observatory is located at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, and has been serving students, researchers, and the public since 1942. This website from the Rensselaer Astrophysical Society has a handy “Clear Sky Chart” to help you plan to go on clear nights.
17) The Malta Drive-In Theatre brings back memories of sleeping bags on the car roof, and blankets and pillows spread out on the van floor. The Malta Drive In has been open for the last 50 years! It’s open from April to September. Old-fashioned summer fun.
18) Ten Broeck Mansion from the Albany County Historical Association. They are open for tours May through December, run several marvelous camps in the summer including one for archaeology, and several special seasonal events. You can't beat the super-low entrance fee, either!
19) Albany Aqua Duck Tours - an amphibious tour and trolley tour company. The Ducks offer unique, educational and fun-filled tours. See the historic sites and then Splash into the Hudson River for a mariner's view of the city's skyline and others who call the Hudson "home" including the USS Slater and Dutch Apple Cruises.
20) Oasis Family Fun Park in Troy: Chosen by Metroland Magazine as the best miniature golf course in the Capital District, Oasis Family Fun Park has laser tag, a "Defender Dome" bounce house, and a paddle boat activity area with a drive-through cave. The Park is open during the warmer seasons; all-year-round they are open for group appointments for birthday parties and laser tag.
Compiled by Kristie Hodgens, KOA's Albany Content Manager, with input from readers