"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

12 April 2009

Fun and Frugal Family Day Trips

This post is geared for people who live in or near the Capital Region of NYS.
The pic above is our State Capital building, here in Albany.
Since this is Spring Break week where most schools are on vacation until next Monday, I thought I'd list some fun and educational places to take children and teens.
If you are a homeschooling family, you could even make some of these places a "field trip" for Social Studies/History, Physical Education/Gross Motor Movement, or just a day of fun!
I have taken my children to all of these places.....most are free or very inexpensive. Most offer something educational! For those of you who do not live near the Capital Region of NY, you can copy this list if you are planning on coming out this way for summer vacations or are ever in the area!
  • The Children's Museum of Saratoga Springs: a very good friend of mine from my former church is now the Executive Director here! (congrats, Michelle S.!!). There are 11 interactive exhibits and a hands-on art studio. This place is most appropriate for children ages 2-10. Children will be inspired to use their creativity, imagination and you can nurture discovery! I used to run a playgroup for my oldest when she was a preschooler and we took yearly field trips here. My youngest has been there a few times as well. I highly recommend this if you have young children. It is only a 30 min. drive from Albany. Check out their website!
  • NY State Museum: located in Downtown Albany at the Empire Plaza, this museum is free! Donations are highly encouraged and accepted. There are several "hands -on" activities scheduled throughout the spring and summer. The main part of the museum includes various aspects of NYS such as: the Adirondacks, NYC, gems and minerals, Native Americans. We have been to this many times and it is always a thrill to see what new exhibits have been added. Appropriate for all ages but some teens, if they have been there before, might get quickly bored. Check out the website.

  • Latham Greens Family Fun Center: located right here in my own town, this is a family friendly type of place. There are many mini-golf places in the greater Capital Region but this one is truly an experience! The theme of the 36-hole golf course is "A Knight's Tale". There are medieval statues and decorations and gorgeous landscaping with bright, blooming flowers. You can choose to play 18 or 36 holes. It is a bit pricier than some of the golf courses to the north and west of us but we try to get here at least once per spring or summer. AND...if it rains, you can head inside to the indoor mini golf course which is a "glow in the dark" wild jungle and outer space theme (little boys seem to love this!). As a family, we have not been to this part of the establishment. The indoor course has 18 holes plus a video game room and a yummy dairy freeze with a fairly good menu. There is also a driving range (my husband likes this part!) when you are ready to "hit a bucket of balls". There are even instructors on site! This place makes a great nite out for small groups or youth groups, too! It does tend to get crowded on the weekends so keep that in mind. Check out their website.
  • Saratoga Battlefield at Saratoga National Park, Saratoga Springs: This is a gorgeous place and I personally believe that every family living in the Capital Region should visit this place at least once. We have been here 2 times as a family and my daughters have been here for 4th grade field trips while studying the Revolutionary War/NYS History which is a requirement in NYS 4th grade Social Studies. It is a 3,000 acre battlefield and the site of TWO American victories in the Revolutionary War. In 1777, British and American troops walked every inch of it. Benedict Arnold is considered by many to be the hero of this battle but his name does not appear on any of the monuments or statues on the battlefield. The "boot monument" stands at the spot where he was shot in the leg. It is the only war memorial in the USA that does not include the name of a person being honored. Stop at the Visitors Center first to pick up a park map/brochure. There is a 20 min film and fiber optic exhibits and maps. There is also a nice gift shop. Tours of the battlefield are self-guided with 10 interpretive stations and maps along the way. You can hike or bike for a great work-out as well. OR you can take the tour by car. April is the best time to tour by car because it is FREE! Starting May 1 there is a $5.00 charge per vehicle. I highly recommend taking the free walking tour....it is a long hike but well worth it. And of course to hike or bike it is always free and open all year round. I recommend this for all ages but if you have a child under age 5 (like we did once!) I highly recommend a stroller or back carrier. You can also bring a picnic lunch. For more info go here.
There are many more great day trips in and around the Albany, Troy, Saratoga area but these are the ones I highly recommend for Spring Break. They are fun and perfect for the "frugal family"!!


Anonymous said...

Hmmm I didnt know that some of these places existed.....

Homemanager said...

Thanks Faith! We have visited a couple of these and enjoyed them. We can't always go away and day trips give a break away from the routine. Besides, day trips can actually be more satisfying because you aren't "stuck" in just one place. :)

Faith said...

Hi Karen! thanks for visiting! I'm actually doing a post about not being "stuck" in one place while on vacation. It truly is possible when away from home to visit all that the area you are visiting has to offer. Unless of course you are on some kind of island and then you are limited depending on which island you are on :)

FrugalNYC said...

Looks like a great list! Tweeting about this list :)