Embracing Your Inner Child in the Adirondacks

Embracing Your Inner Child in the Adirondacks

Embracing Your Inner Child in the Adirondacks

As we grow older, we forget the carefree nature we had as children. Work and life get in the way, but sometimes, if we are lucky, certain moments will bring out that inner child again. For me, it always happens while I am traveling; suddenly, I am free and my whole perspective on life changes.

Huge ice cream cones with Vicky Flip Flop and Stay Adventurous

That was exactly how things were during my recent visit to the Adirondacks and Northern New York. There’s so much to see and do, especially in the great outdoors, but there are two places I found that really brought out that inner child: The Wild Center and the Adirondack Museum. Both pay homage to the region, one through nature and wildlife and the other through the human impact and development of the area over the years; both are worth a visit.

The Wild Center

The Wild Center

Sitting on 81-acres of forest and riverfront, The Wild Center was the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified museum in New York state. Here, nature and people can coexist and the setting is simply stunning. Not only do visitors get an appreciation for the natural surroundings, but they are also inspired to conserve and make sure this beauty can be seen for generations to come.

Home to over 900 live animals, including four otters, the museum aims to inform visitors of the wildlife who live in the region, and they do so in a way that makes learning fun. There are tanks full of animals, colorful displays and explanations, and an area for kids to paint and get crafty. Right away, you realize that this isn’t your typical museum.

But, inside is just the beginning, because the real fun happens on the Wild Walk, an elevated path with more than 1,000 feet of bridges and platforms through the forest. The Wild Walk offers a different perspective than that offered by the trails, allowing visitors to experience the forest in an entirely new way: from the tops of the trees.

The Wild Center

Full of forest related fun facts and activities, visitors learn a lot while walking around, but none of it feels like learning, at least not in the traditional sense. Visitors get to experience what life is actually like for those who call the forest home.

The Wild Center

To start, there’s a life-size board game where visitors pretend to be a bird that either chooses to stay or migrate during the winter. From there, one follows along the path to see if they survive, and we learned that there’s a 50% chance of surviving. There’s no sugar coating it for the kids, which I think is an important lesson, as nature and life aren’t always fair.

Wild Walk

There’s also a giant spider web to play on, and I am glad that Jayme convinced me to go on and play with her. Hanging 24 feet off the ground, with a large spider lurking nearby, it’s a great place for kids to jump and run around. I can’t say we were too successful, but luckily we captured the moment and Jayme tweeted it out for the world to see. We may not be quite as graceful as spiders, but we still had just as much fun as the kids who were running around next to us.

After experiencing life as a spider, we made our way to the highest point of the Wild Walk: the life-sized bald eagle’s nest.Embracing Your Inner Child in the Adirondacks

Here, we got a different kind of bird’s eye view of the forest that surrounded us. We were able to see above most of the trees and had views of many of the surrounding mountains.

The Wild Walk

From there, we went back down to earth, heading for the replica of a snag, which is a dead tree stump. We crossed the swinging bridges and headed inside to explore the uses of a snag in the wilderness, as it becomes the home of many different animals. It’s interesting to see how nature uses all resources, even after they’ve died, and the snag brings that to life for visitors.

Embracing Your Inner Child in the Adirondacks

There was a lot to see, but also several places to stop along the way and soak it all in. As someone who hikes a lot, it was interesting to see the woods from this perspective, which was much different than the dense forest I normally look at while trekking along. This gave me a whole new appreciation for the time I have spent in the woods.

After leaving the Wild Walk, something even a big kid may have a hard time doing, there’s a natural playground where kids are encouraged to climb, build, and get dirty.

Embracing Your Inner Child in the Adirondacks

I love that The Wild Center encourages hands-on activities, and it was wonderful to see so many kids getting their hands dirty and building. There’s also a lean-to by the play area, and having just been on the trail, I felt a sudden urge to get back inside under shelter, grateful I would be spending the night in the comfort of my hotel, rather than in the lean-to.

Leaving The Wild Center and Wild Walk was hard, as there was still so much to see and do. But, it’s definitely a place I will return to in the future, especially because it brought out the kid in me.

Adirondack Museum

Embracing Your Inner Child in the Adirondacks

Sitting in front of the Adirondack Museum is a massive chair, which is the first hint that this place isn’t just about learning. Where The Wild Center focuses on natural life, the Adirondack Museum focuses on the humans who have made the Adirondacks their home throughout the years. Covering 32-acres and overlooking Blue Mountain Lake, there are displays and exhibitions that will delight any adult and kid.

We started our tour in the boating room, where we learned about the different boats that have been in the Adirondacks. Here, we also were able to watch an Adirondack guide boat being built by the boat builder in residence. There was also a child-size boat that I had to jump into, as well as boating books and puzzles nearby for kids.

Adirondack Museum

From there, we headed to my favorite spot, the cabin, which was complete with an outhouse. Visitors can play with the dolls inside, sweep the floors, pretend to make dinner and a fire, and can even do laundry outside; tedious tasks are suddenly fun when put in this context.

Embracing Your Inner Child in the Adirondacks

Vicky and I had our fun playing house, before heading to the nearby one-room schoolhouse. Outside, visitors can play a few old-fashioned games, though no one in our group seemed to be very good at them.

So we gave up and headed to the pond, where there are boat rides, an Adirondack lean-to, and a platform tent for kids to explore. There’s also a porter engine to play on, although we didn’t have time to.

Adirondack Museum

While we were there, there were Mountain Men setting up and demonstrating their survival skills. This is something the kids would love, and I had to give my survival skills a chance. As you can see, even the Mountain Man doesn’t believe I have a chance.

Embracing Your Inner Child in the Adirondacks

Each year, the Mountain Men return to the museum, set up camp and demonstrate musket shooting, fire starting, campfire cooking, and more. They help visitors discover what life in the wilderness was like in the 1820’s to 1840’s.

Again, learning here doesn’t feel like traditional learning, it’s fun, hands-on, and interactive, which is what kids need to retain information. Even adults want to get in on the action.

Adirondack Museum

On our way out, I just had to sit on the huge Adirondack chair that was on display. It felt fitting, especially because I got to feel as small as I once did as a kid. This is another place that I plan on returning to again in the future, there’s still so much I’d love to see and explore.

A visit to both the Wild Center and Adirondack Museum is a must while in the Adirondack region of New York. Not only is there a lot to learn, but there’s so much fun to be had, that it shouldn’t be missed. Not only will kids love it, but adults are guaranteed to remember what it was like to be a kid again.

A special thank you to the team at ROOST for having me on the #EatPlayLoveNY trip throughout Northern New York. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Comments (15)

  1. Sandy

    I have such great memories of our time at The Wild Center and the Adirondack Museum. You sum these experiences up perfectly! Love your photos. The giant chair photos are my faves!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Sandy! We had such a fun time at those places, and even though we spent a while there, I was still ready to spend more time there. I can’t wait to go back in the future when I have kids. 🙂

  2. Cailin

    The Wild Center was the coolest!! I am surprised that you with your fear of heights wouldn’t climb the fire tower but were all over the spider web! It scared me! lol Also I’ll have you now that I was quite good at the ring toss at the Adirondack Museum! lol It was fun traveling with you and getting to be a kid like you say 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      The spider web totally scared me, but I’m glad I gave it a try. Something about it didn’t seem as high and scary as the fire tower. We had so much fun together! Were you good at the ring toss? I missed that!

  3. VickyFlipFlop

    Aww, nice photos. Definitely looks like we’re embracing our inner child on some of those photos! The Adirondacks was the perfect place for some childlike fun 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      I absolutely agree! Great place for some kid like fun – glad we got to be kids together!

  4. Leah

    I really did love following this trip on social media. The Adirondacks seem like such a special place. I’m happy to read for from this pretty part of the USA. The Robert Frost quote is a great one. 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      One of my favorite Frost poems. 🙂 So glad you were able to follow along – we had such a fun time. The Adirondacks have quickly become one of my favorite areas in the US, so lucky it’s not far from home.

  5. Lance | Trips By Lance

    Planning trips that have plenty of activities for a kid can be tough. I know my son would really enjoy it, especially that spider web. That looks great. You’ve really shown what fun options there are in that part of New York.

    1. The World Wanderer

      I think it would be a great place to holiday with the family, Lance! Great options for kids and adults alike. Even I could have stayed on the Wild Walk all day…

  6. Traveling Ted

    I had no idea there was so much to do in the Adirondacks both in regards to outdoor adventure and interesting museums. You have definitely brought the region to life and illustrated how much fun it can be.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Ted! I know you would absolutely love it up there. So much to see and do, especially in the outdoors!

  7. Francesca (@WorkMomTravels)

    I’m a big fan of any place that makes learning fun and The Wild Center looks pretty awesome. Hopefully I’ll get back to the Adirondacks and if/when I do, I’ll be sure to check out these places.

  8. Fiona

    Sounds like a really fun way to learn about the local wildlife – more countries should do this!

  9. the lazy travelers

    buuut most importantly, what kind of ice cream did you have??

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