Situated in upstate New York, the Capital District consists of the four counties that surround Albany, the capital of New York State. The counties are Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer and Saratoga. Each county is rich with history, charm, and family-friendly activities.
Several museums are in the Capital District area, but one of the most popular is in the capital itself. New York State Museum features collections and exhibits that detail the art, history, and anthropology of the state of New York. The museum hosts family-friendly activities throughout the year, including a friendly Halloween party in October and a chocolate expo each December. Summertime offers child-friendly tours and story times, and a family fun day occurs one per month. While the New York State Museum offers plenty of kid-friendly activities, the Children’s Museum at Saratoga doesn’t offer an activity that isn’t for children. The hands-on museum is geared toward elementary-age children, although some programs and activities will keep the attention of older kids, too. Children can climb around in the Congress Park Treehouse, learn about pond life, work in a construction zone or learn about the work of veterinarians in a hands-on environment.
In business for more than 60 years, Hoffman’s Playland is one of the most popular destinations in the Capital District. Making its home in Latham, the amusement park offers an old-fashioned arcade with video games and traditional arcade games, a variety of food venues, and a Subway restaurant. The real amusement is the rides. Hoffman’s offers 14 rides for small children and five rides for children of all ages. Families wishing to plan a bigger amusement park trip will find Six Flags Great Escape in the Lake George area. Great Escape offers more than 40 amusement and water rides, each rated between mild and maximum. A hotel on the grounds includes 200 family suites and a water park that spans nearly 40,000 square feet.
Nature and the Outdoors
The Capital District is no stranger to natural beauty. Parks, hiking trails, and other outdoor activities call the area home. One popular destination is the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center in Voorheesville. Children can get close to nature at the center, which includes bird viewing, fossils and a live honeybee hive. Hiking and skiing are also popular in the area’s forests and fields. The center offers several educational classes and programs for children throughout the year. In the Ballston Spa area is the Ellms Family Farm, a family favorite during fall and winter. The family can begin the season by picking pumpkins and going for a Halloween hayride. A few short weeks later, many enjoy apple cider donuts while choosing a Christmas tree. The farm also offers educational tours and a giant jumping pillow.
Indoor Play Places
In winter, a child’s pent-up energy can feel out of control. Tiny Tot Tea Room is an indoor playground aimed at children ranging from 9 months to 6 years, the establishment offers daily open play and a cafe in the Clifton Park area. Children can bounce around before enjoying a snack and drink at the cafe. The cafe also offers fancier options for the adults. A similar playground can be found in Rotterdam. My Place to Play is for children up to 7 years of age, but does not discourage older children from enjoying it, too. Climbing equipment and riding toys are abundant. Families can bring their own snacks, though the staff does ask that parents respect the peanut-free environment. Additionally, the center offers birthday parties, a preschool and a variety of summer activities.