As a mother of three children, my boys have always been curious individuals. My middle son is autistic and mentally disabled. Finding family friendly places to take my children that were fun, engaging, and interactive… but also educational and inspiring… was absolutely a challenge with school aged kids and one with special needs.
When my three boys were younger, I was a single mother seeking out places where my creative and imaginative boys could be boys. I had to find adventures that my special needs son could go on, and places that would welcome him.
I found museums and scenic spaces, in cities and towns that had a main street where we could walk, shop, eat, and explore.
These same spaces welcomed my boys as they grew into teenagers, and these spaces still seemed curious enough for them to want to keep exploring.
I’d like to share about five wonderful and curious spaces that would welcome your entire family, in small cities and towns that invite you to explore them.
This article is presented through a content collaboration with ACE and CapNY.
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THE FRANCES YOUNG TANG TEACHING MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY
Skidmore College | Saratoga Springs, NY
“The purpose of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery is to awaken the community to the richness and diversity of the human experience through the medium of art” – the introduction on the Tang website’s ABOUT section.
I don’t know if I can truly express what this museum is about better than that wonderful statement right there.
The Tang is a fantastic museum and art gallery… and it’s also a teaching museum, a space for curious individuals to explore and imagine, and a safe environment for both established and emerging artists.
The Tang Museum does approximately twelve exhibitions each year. Most of the exhibits are originated by the Tang. Faculty and students are involved as curators and advisors for its signature interdisciplinary exhibitions.
These large-scale projects combine diverse objects such as antique maps, scientific equipment, Rube Goldberg cartoons, Hudson River School landscapes, Shaker furniture and dynamic new works of international contemporary art.
Tang Guides, many of whom are Skidmore College students, are trained gallery ambassadors and tour guides. Through this program, they are introduced to the Tang and the museum world, and trained to give tours, while gaining valuable real-world experiences interacting with visitors.
Located in Skidmore college in Saratoga Springs NY, your family can visit the museum in this vibrant little city and spend a few more days exploring all of the downtown shops and restaurants. Make sure you plan enough time on your visit to take a short day trip to the Saratoga State Park or nearby Saratoga Lake.
815 North Broadway | Saratoga Springs, NY
SOCIAL: IG @tangteachingmuseum | FB @tangmuseum
THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM AT SARATOGA
Saratoga Springs, NY
Are you looking for a fun & interactive day trip to go on with the kids or are you searching for a getaway for a few days with the family and you have to keep them entertained? Then add Saratoga Springs, NY, and of course The Children’s Museum at Saratoga, to your list of places to visit. With many wonderful shops, restaurants, and a lovely park nearby that has a beautiful carousel to ride on, you can easily spend several days and more in this little city.
“Where Learning and Play go Hand-in-Hand” describes what this Museum is about, “Paying it forward‘ and “community giving” are words often used to describe what this museum selflessly does for other organizations. The Children’s Museum at Saratoga’s foundation was created on the belief in inclusivity and equity of all children, including those outside the museum walls where they reach into and positively impact their community.
The mission of this museum is to inspire, spark and nurture children and foster active parent involvement in their child’s learning.
This museum not only offers the opportunity to experience an exhibit when you visit them, but children of all ages can interact in a variety of public programs such as Story Time, Science Explorers, and Art Adventures. This includes toddler & pre-school aged children too. The museum offers Seasonal Programs as well, such as Nature Exploration. Field Trip, Outreach and Hybrid Programs are options too.
The Museum’s hours will shift based on seasonal variations in attendance. Check their website for changes in their hours and to see what days they will be closed.
65 South Broadway | Saratoga Springs, NY
SOCIAL: IG @childrensmuseumsaratoga | FB @childrensmuseumatsaratoga
THOMAS COLE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Whether you are traveling near or far, you must take a detour to Catskill NY…. where you will find quiet, serenity, and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. “We are still in Eden… Shall we turn from it?” was an expression of how Cole felt about the Catskill Mountain Region.
Thomas Cole was known as the most influential American artist of the nineteenth century. He founded this country’s first major art movement that was now known as the Hudson River School.
Located in the Village of Catskill, in the Hudson Valley at the foot of the Catskill Mountains, The Thomas Cole Site is part of the Hudson River Skywalk. The Hudson River School Art Trail connects you with the places in nature that Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School artists made famous in their 19th-century landscape paintings. The Collection of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site includes over six hundred objects and two research archives. Cole was a huge advocate for the preservation of the American landscape as a national treasure.
“The moment you witness the breathtaking mountain views from Cole’s porch, you’ll fully understand his devotion to landscape painting” – Times Union
The Museum shared that “He urged his fellow Americans to value and preserve the wild and natural beauty of the landscapes he depicted in his paintings. In his Essay on American Scenery, Cole wrote: I cannot but express my sorrow that the beauty of such landscapes is quickly passing away.“
“Being removed from the noise & bustle of the house is really charming.” He wrote.
Catskill, NY, is also full of places to stay, dine and explore. You can take a hike in the Great Northern Catskills, and find shops and galleries on historic Main Street. There are river activities such as fishing and boating. You can dine at waterfront restaurants. The Thomas Cole website can direct you on how to plan your entire trip around visiting them. I believe you’ll feel what Thomas Cole was trying to express about this region, when you are there in person.
218 Spring Street | Catskill, NY
SOCIAL: IG @thomascolesite | FB @thomascolehistoricsite
WORLD AWARENESS CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
Glens Falls, NY
In beautiful Warren County, is the City of Glens Falls, NY, not far from the Adirondack Mountains. This gateway community to the Adirondack Mountain region is a wonderful place to visit with your family… and while there, you must explore The World Awareness Children’s Museum.
A hands on, interactive museum, The World Awareness Children’s Museum is full of Art Exhibits and a variety of programs. This museum houses a collection of pieces from 140 countries and includes 8,000+ artifacts (fashion, musical instruments, dolls, toys and other objects). Their creative learning space features art and artifacts. The museum’s permanent collection that includes 7,000 pieces of original children’s art from 81+ countries.
The World Awareness Children’s Museum’s mission is “To inspire curiosity and foster understanding and appreciation of worldwide cultural diversity.” “Art is truly the universal language“, shared by the museum. This NYS Designated Charter Museum has a passion to bring their diverse world to children, and they do this well.
“Our museum is a place where families can learn about our diverse world, encouraging them to engage curiosity when they encounter diversity in their community.” Bethanie Muska Lawrence – Executive Director
The Museum space is divided into the following hands on, interactive exhibit areas:
World Gallery, Home & Family Life, Animal Preserve Research Center, World Music, Textile Marketplace, World Fashion, Art Studio & Gallery.
WORLD AWARENESS CHILDREN’S MUSEUM : FREE ADMISSION DAYS!
June 11th and 12th from 12:00 am to 3:00 pm
When you do visit the City of Glen Falls NY, make sure you plan time to walk around and visit the restaurants and shops nearby. Plan to day to drive around the region looking for places that welcome you explore Warren County. With several small neighboring towns and cities nearby offering so much entertainment and activities for individuals of all ages, you may have to plan another trip back.
89 Warren Street | Glens Falls, NY
SOCIAL: IG @worldkidsmuseum
MUSEUM OF INNOVATION AND SCIENCE
When you visit this museum, you will instantly know and feel that this space was created for the young and the young at heart.
Founded in 1934, miSci has created a space that encourages learning, imagination, and creativity. In 1997, the Museum merged with the General Electric Hall of Electrical History and combined their collections. Now, more than 15,000 science and technology artifacts, thousands of advertising publications, 1,500 films, 400 audio recordings, and two million photographs document the history of electricity, electronics, and the impact of technological change.
The miSci has gallery space that you can wander through. Misci is a 44,270-square-foot facility that also houses The Suits-Beuche Planetarium, and thousands of curious individuals visit the museum to experience what the planetarium has to offer. You will find interactive exhibits and experiences at this creative museum that allow you to have fun and engage with the exhibits. It’s a wonderful space to be in, and this educational museum is for all ages.
The Mission & Vision of miSci :
At miSci, exhibitions, educational programs, and events are designed with our mission in mind: “To inspire people to celebrate and explore science and technology past, present, and future.” The Museum fulfills its mission by preserving and interpreting the history of technological change and its societal impact, helping visitors explore the creative processes that inspire discovery and invention – engaging visitors with interactive exhibitions and programs that encourage them to inquire about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. (STEAM)
The museum offers programs like the “miSci’s Little Edison’s program“, for kids ages 3 to 5. “A fun way to nurture the curiosity of pint-sized future engineers, chemists, and inventors.” is what’s shared on their website.
Also, If you haven’t had your birthday at a museum before, you can now! Host your child’s next birthday party at this museum too!
Schenectady, NY is full of incredible history that influenced, changed and moved this Country forward. There are many shops, great restaurants, and small locally owned businesses that fill up the downtown and surrounding area for locals and tourists to enjoy. This museum is worth visiting with your family. In the summer, just a short distance from the museum, you can experience the Harbor with live music along the Mohawk River. Schenectady is a great day trip destination, or you can stay for a long weekend.
15 Museum Drive | Schenectady, NY
SOCIAL: IG @misci_ny | FB: @misciny
Nellie Ackerman-Vellano is a freelance brand development professional, writer and photographer who writes for a variety of periodicals including 518 Profiles Magazine. | IG: @FeedMe518 | @BonVivantPhotographe