The rolling mountains and natural beauty of the Adirondacks make this northeastern region a popular family destination year-round. Whether you’re visiting during the snow-blanketed months of winter or lacing up your child’s hiking boots for his first warm weather mountain hike, you’ll find no shortage of fun things to do with kids in the Adirondacks.
Enjoy Thrills and Chills
If you’ve got young daredevils in your house, the Adirondacks offers plenty of thrill rides. Zip down the tracks on the Alpine Bobsled roller coaster, plunge down 200 feet on the Sasquatch or scream your way through a classic wooden roller coaster at the Great Escape Six Flags (sixflags.com) in Lake George. For a real bobsled experience, kids can ride down the same track used by Olympic athletes with a professional bobsledder at Whiteface Mountain (whiteface.com). The sled goes heart-racingly fast down the icy track, so more timid kids might want to sit this one out. There’s more excitement at Adirondack Extreme (adirondackextreme.com), where kids learn to navigate ropes courses and zip lines on a pint-size, beginner-friendly course.
Take a Ride
Climb aboard one of the trains on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (adirondackrr.com) for a meal your kids won’t soon forget. The thrill of riding on a train to one of the Adirondacks' picturesque towns may be plenty fun all by itself, but you can up the ante by booking a train ride that features a magician or clown, or one that gets boarded mid-trip by an inept, train-robbing bandit. In the summer, families can ride the trails around Lake George on horseback with Saddle Up Stables (ridingstables.com). Kids who aren’t ready to ride on their own can enjoy a pony ride by the stables. For a different view of the Lake George shoreline, hop on an old-fashioned steamboat for a cruise around the water. The Lake George Steamboat Company (lakegeorgesteamboat.com) has a nighttime fireworks cruise that’s especially fun for kids.
Walk in the Woods
With its 31 acres of surrounding grounds and interactive indoor exhibits, the Wild Center (wildcenter.org) offers a fascinating look at the natural world of the Adirondacks. Step back and let the kids discover the secrets hidden around the center at kid’s-eye-view, such as the underground pop-up window in the otter exhibit. The trails outside are not to be missed, so if you’re visiting in the winter, pick up a free pair of snowshoes at the desk. Kids who participate in 16 hikes in the Adirondacks can pick up the Kids on the Trail patch issued by the Adirondack Mountain Club (adklaurentian.org). Pick up a copy of the book “Kids on the Trail! Hiking with Children in the Adirondacks” -- available at bookstores or through the Adirondack Mountain Club -- to get the complete list of recommended hikes.
Explore a Local Wonder
Kids will feel like they’ve fallen into the Land of Lost when you raft the Ausable Chasm (ausablechasm.com). The Ausable River flows between towering cliffs fringed by primeval forests, and a river guide can steer you smoothly over the rapids and past the Whirlpool Basin. It’s about a 30-minute hike to the top of High Falls Gorge (highfallsgorge.com), but the ascent over bridges and walkways is worth it for the great views of four waterfalls from the top. Don’t skip it in winter -– the frozen waterfalls are spectacular, and you can rent the kids snowshoes for your adventure. You can explore the aboveground caves on your own, but it’s worth making reservations with a guide to visit the caves themselves at the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves (stonebridgeandcaves.com) in Pottersville. Kids will never forget the sensation of floating in the water through an underground cave.