By Vikki Moran | The Grateful Traveler
To the North
John Brown’s Home in North Elba (outside of Lake Placid)
115 John Brown Road, Lake Placid;
After abolitionist John Brown’s execution, his wife returned his body to this very farm for burial. His statue sits on this New York State historic site for the conversation to begin with your family and continue during and after this trip. In 1849, John Brown led freed slaves in farming on this property. He assisted free-born blacks who wanted to homestead but the bleak and unforgiving farming conditions made this unbearable and their settlement, known as “Timbucto,” did not survive. Later, Brown spent several years pursuing his anti-slavery campaign. The site includes his home and all the history is there to share, teach and enjoy.
High Falls Gorge
4761 NYS Route 86, Wilmington;
High Falls Gorge is a 22-acre, privately owned nature park that provides safe trail access for the whole family to an otherwise inaccessible area, with four splendid Adirondack waterfalls cascading over rocks into a deep crevice carved a billion years ago. In the shadow of Whiteface Mountain, you can take a nature walk to view the famous Ausable River as it falls over ancient granite cliffs. All this while strong bridges, walkways and groomed walking trails provide safe access to breathtaking Adirondack views and scenic vantage points. Make sure you sling a camera around your neck or have a great cell phone for pictures because they will be memorable and awesome.
To the East
Brattleboro VT; brattleboro.org
Located in southern Vermont on the bank of the Connecticut River, Brattleboro is a popular four-season tourist destination, with excellent swimming (it may be too early for this), tennis, golf, hiking and biking. Brattleboro is home to the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, the Tasha Tudor Museum, and other cultural institutions and, honestly, it’s just plain stunning to see. One such example of its beauty is a covered wooden bridge within the town of Brattleboro, the only surviving example of such a bridge in the region. Constructed in 1879 of spruce lumber, the Creamery Covered Bridge is named after, yes, a creamery that was located adjacent to the bridge site. It consists of a single span bridge 80 feet long and 19 feet wide supported by two flanking timber lattice trusses, with a covered sidewalk attached to the eastern side of the span. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge is a popular tourist attraction that attracts visitors from all over to take in the beautiful scenery.
To the South
Shawangunk Wine Trail
Starting 60 miles north of New York City, the Shawangunk Wine Trail is accessible from the New York State Thruway at Exits 16, 17, and 18, and can be approached from south of I-84 at Warwick and Washingtonville and from north of I84 at Marlboro, Pine Bush or New Paltz. Travel to 13 family-owned small to medium in size wineries, located from New Paltz in Ulster County to Warwick, in Orange County on the Shawangunk Wine Trail. The landscape will be breathtaking and the wines wonderful and unique. The wineries produce award-winning white wine, red wine and distilled spirits right here in New York State’s beautiful Hudson Valley. A relaxing day trip from the Capital Region and so many places to stop for the gourmet food that the Hudson Valley is known for, too!
Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing, Kingston;
Located on the historic Rondout waterfront is the Hudson River Maritime Museum. It is recognized for the collection, preservation, research, exhibition, and interpretation of historical artifacts related to the maritime heritage of the Hudson River and its tributaries. This is the only museum in New York State exclusively dedicated to this mission and certainly well worth the time to drop in and explore.
To the West
The Corning Museum of Glass
1 Museum Way, Corning;
The Corning Museum of Glass is dedicated to the art, history and science of glass but it is so much more to the families who visit each year. You and your family can do just about anything with glass, from hot glassworking, to flameworking, to fusing, to sandblasting. There is assistance at hand, as experienced glassworkers make sure that your experience is fun and rewarding. Opportunities exist for all ages and no experience is necessary. These short experiences are 20 to 40 minutes in length, depending on the Make Your Own Glass project. Note that a parent or guardian must remain in the studio while children are participating in Make Your Own Glass.
1 Utica Zoo Way, Utica;
The Utica Zoo cares for over 200 individual animals representing 99 species. The main exhibit collection has over 140 individual animals representing 64 species. Some of these animals may be off exhibit during the colder months so this trip may be better planned for later in spring for maximum viewing. Zoos are always family fun for everyone. With a desire to learn and see animals and a little planning, this could be a close and wonderful trip for you. The spring highlights in 2018 are: Saturday, March 31 – Eggstravaganza; Sunday, April 1 – summer hours and admission start; Saturday, April 28 – Earth Day Celebration; Sunday, May 13 – free admission for moms.
Spring trip to Walt Disney World only hours away by plane from Albany Airport
A trip to Walt Disney World is a real easy one from the Capital Region and your family will probably never forget a spring getaway there! For many, Disney represents a place to return time after time as they add and change the parks as the years go by and the result is always fresh and new things to experience.
One of the biggest and most exciting additions this year is Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“This is an attraction that the entire family can enjoy,” Joe Rohde says. Joe Rohde is Walt Disney Imagineering Portfolio Creative Executive. (Can you imagine a better job to be had?) “We put you into a magical experience that comes to life through the bioluminescence, the plant and animal activity and the shaman’s music. There’s a wonderful harmony in the entire glowing scene during this lyrical, uplifting journey that builds to a really beautiful crescendo.”
In addition to the bioluminescent plants of Pandora, with species names like Spiny Whip, Dapophet and Vein Pod, other wonders of the land include the creatures that guests encounter and, in some cases, interact with. “The landscape will be alive with creatures,” Rohde says. “We’re bringing to life everything from the largest creature you might encounter to the most microscopic. Animals will appear out of the underbrush – big Pandoran animals will appear at the edge of the forest, and you’ll hear the very complicated calls they issue back and forth.” The thriving Pandoran landscape reinforces messages intrinsic to Disney’s Animal Kingdom such as transformation through adventure and conservation and stewardship. A similar value system underlies the AVATAR film, producer Jon Landau says, and he’s hopeful guests are inspired to find meaning in their expedition through Pandora. Another awesome transformation is the Soarin’ Ride located within Epcot. Since 2016, the ride has you flying about The Great Wall, The pyramids, The Eiffel Tower and much more. There are new missions at Mission: SPACE in Epcot, the updating of the Presidents at The Hall of Presidents to include President Trump and so much more including wonderful new fireworks and lasers each night over the Magic Kingdom.