Get (Safely!) Out and About In and Around the Capital District this Winter
Your family could really use a fun outing, but you're committed to social distancing. If you haven't been motivated to get outside in the winter in the past, make this your year to explore new places and try new things, all while staying a safe distance from others. If you can, switch your schedule and do your outings on weekdays to avoid weekend crowds. Here are a few suggestions you may not have considered, and all of them are in the Albany, Schenectady, and Troy area.
And don't forget your masks!
There's never been a better time to learn a new winter sport. Staying at home all the time is tedious, and we're all hoping that we can make this winter fly by. If you're not sure where to get started, begin with our Embrace the Winter article that offers an overview of some outdoor sports you might like to try. Of course the most popular is downhill skiing and snowboarding, and we've got a list of places within driving distance. Remember, different resorts may be following different protocols, and you may need to pay attention to crossing state lines as well. Be sure to click on the ski resorts website to get all the details before setting out.
When Staying Home is Your Only Option
We know that things are changing quickly, and whether it's new local regulations or your own family's need to isolate, even the safest "out and about" options may not be appropriate for you at some point this winter. If that's the case, keep in mind that we've got plenty of ideas to keep life interesting while you're at home.
Go on a Hunt
Kids love a good hunt! There is something very motivating and satisfying about seaching for something, whether it's treasure or not. One fun way to lean into that impulse is to go geocaching. Did you know that little treasures are hidden all over the place? If you've never tried geocaching, it's a wonderful opportunity for kids to get some activity outside while using using their deductive skills. There are also tons of companies that offer virtual scavenger hunts, either for items that you can find just about anywhere, or region-specific hunts that provide a tour of a special place. Both activities offer the chance to safely explore while keeping a distance from others.
If you dress appropriately, you can take a hike year-round. It's great exercise, it lets you connect with nature and each other, and best of all, it's free. Put away the phones (except for cool activities like geocaching, looking up new plants, or making a photo collage or map) and head out to the trail! Click the link below for nearby options, and also check out our article of tips and tricks for making the most of the experience and avoiding whining.
Sculpture Parks: Art OMI and Opus40
Sculpture parks offer the opportunity to take in some sculpture while enjoying outdoor space. Some of the art pieces encourage interaction (although be careful: some don't), and you can enhance your experience by bringing along sketchbooks or cameras to see how the sculptures can inspire your own compositions. The sprawling grounds allows kids to be a bit more relaxed than in a typical museum, and best of all, it's easy to keep a distance from others. Visitors to Opus40 must register online ahead.
Shaker Sites: Shaker Heritage Site & Hancock Shaker Village
Both the Shaker Heritage Site, located in Albany (near the airport), and Hancock Shaker Village, in Pittsfield, MA are facinating places to visit under normal circumstances. Because both sites are comprised of multiple buildings, outdoor grounds with gardens and animals, they're a fun visit even when you stay entirely outdoors. Visiting the grounds of Shaker Heritage Site is permitted from dawn to dusk, and it's free. Hancock Shaker Village is currently closed for the season, but they're still booking private guided tours and group tours. Whether you choose to review the website to make it a history lesson or just enjoy the farm animals, either are a great outing.
Animal Encounters: Dakota Ridge Farm & Into the Woods Farm
Visit Dakota Ridge Farm, in Ballston Spa, to meet some llamas. They offer pre-scheduled Tours and Treks that allow you to feed and pet a llama as well as taking photographs. Meet goats at Into the Woods Farm in Middle Grove. Schedule a Wild Walk or sign up for some Goat Yoga. For both of these farms, you'll need to sign up for an appointment in order to take part in activities. Check their website or to schedule a visit.
Ellms Family Farm, long popular for fall fun and Christmas tree shopping, has hosted several fabulous Drive-Thru events with extra fun activities thrown in, like December's Rudolph's Movie Experience and Pyrotechnics Show. Follow them on social media, and if you see an event coming up that you're interested in, sign up right away. While many local drive-in movie theaters have closed for the season, you can enjoy holiday lights in Washington Park. Be sure to check their websites to review COVID-19 procedures before you go.