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For those of you who don’t know it, I’m a Maryland girl.
Maryland Os (mostly in pronunciation, but I like baseball too) .
Old Bay. Forever.
I never for a moment imagined I’d live anywhere else.
But, life has a funny way of surprising you.
I’ve been in New York State for over 21 years now after a short few years in Virginia.
Three of our kids were born here. It’s the only place our oldest remembers.
And when it was time to teach state history, I had to acknowledge it would be New York State history.
Not Maryland history.
One thing I’ve come to understand (and it didn’t take very long) is that when people hear you are from New York, they automatically assume the city.
As in New York City.
It turns out that New York is a big state.
And most of it is rural.
Think dairy farms,
There is so much to explore in upstate NY,
that you might start to think what city?
Nature Destinations in Upstate NY
New York State is prime for outdoor adventure. From the Catskills to the Adriondacks through the Fingerlakes and on to the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls, it’s hard to beat the variety and beauty found in upstate NY.
The geology here is breathtaking.
- Adirondack Experience– a museum dedicated to helping families experience the heritage of the Adirondack mountains
- Cayuga Nature Center– located in Ithaca, NY, this is a nature center on Cayuga lake
- Sterling Nature Center– a quiet nature preserve with trails along the shore of Lake Ontario
- Lime Hollow Nature Center– 430 acres of trails including bogs, creeks, vernal pools, and forest.
- Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge – located at the northern end of Cayuga Lake, this refuge is home to many migrating water fowl
- O.D. von Engeln Preserve– a Nature Conservancy site, this location has a set of trails through glacial formations like eskers. There is a bog and a fen with native growing pitcher plants.
- Cornell Botanic Gardens– there are gardens and an arboretum to visit along with a vast network of trails
- Herkimer Diamond Mines– available for tours and the chance to sift for diamonds
- Garnet Mine Tours– one of the world’s largest garnet deposits, treasure hunting is encouraged
- Secret Caverns– 45 minute tour of a small network of caverns
- Howe Caverns– cave tours and more mining opportunities
- Ausable Chasm– the grand canyon of the Adirondacks, with many recreation opportunities
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology– the birding mecca of the world, the Lab of O offers trails and a lovely building for observing birds.
- Robert Treman State Park– lovely trails with waterfalls and vistas
- Buttermilk Falls State Park– a gentle sloping falls with a nice trails that goes up the side of them on up the gorge
- Taughannok Falls State Park– higher than Niagara and fantastic trails. Of note is that you can do all three of these state parks in the same day easily.
- Niagara Falls– One of the most powerful waterfalls in the world, as Lake Erie empties into Lake Ontario. This is a must stop in upstate NY!
- Letchworth State Park– home of a large canyon and you can camp on the rim!
- The Wild Center– located in the Adirondacks with an elevated walk in the tree tops
Science & Technology Field Trips
I’ve listed a few and there are many more. STEM related field trips are easy to find!
- The Sciencenter– community based science museum in the Finger Lakes
- Niagara Science Museum– hands on exhibits
- Niagara Power Project’s Power Vista– virtual reality ride and hands on exhibits
- Niagara Gorge Discovery Center– learn about the falls and the surrounding area
- Museum of the Earth– if you like fossils, this is the place to seek out with a collection dating back to 1932.
- Children’s Museum of Science & Technology– in the Albany area
- Discovery Center of the Southern Tier– play and learning space for kids in Binghamton
- National Soaring Museum– all things motorless flight
- MOST– Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse
- Kopernik Observatory & Science Center– observatory on 1,740 foot hill with three observatory telescopes and many more portables scopes.
- Rochester Museum & Science Center– science center and history museum with many NY Native American exhibits and Underground Railroad artificacts.
- Corning Planetarium– located at the community college, this is a public resource
- Corning Museum of Glass– see glass displays, fiber optics, and watch glass blowers
- Henry Hudson Planetarium– a NASA play space in Albany, NY
- Challenger Learning Center– on of many centers located in Rochester
- Fuertes Observatory– open every Friday night from 8PM until midnight for viewing through the observatory telescope and others year round.
History Field Trips in Upstate NY
New York is one of the 13 original colonies with a storied early American history. Six U.S. Presidents have roots in New York.
You can find colonial history along with Revolutionary War history.
And NY is in the forefront of more modern history as well.
- The Wilder Homestead: Home of Farmer Boy– the childhood home of Almanzo Wilder just as it is described in the book, Farmer Boy. Hands down the best field trip we’ve ever taken and the best of all the Little House sites!
- New York State Museum– located at the state capitol complex, this is a museum all about New York
- Cooperstown– home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and museums that capture the life and times of James Fenimore Cooper
- National Women’s Hall of Fame– see who’s been inducted and learn about women’s history
- National Soccer Hall of Fame– in Oneonta, NY not far from Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Two birds, one stone!
- West Point (US Military Academy)– home one of America’s oldest service academies. While are there, take a campus tour!
- Fort Stanwix– location of the fort that protected the land at a crucial location between the ocean and the Great Lakes.
- Women’s Rights National Historic Park– location of the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY
- Washington Ivring’s Sunnyside– the home of American’s first internationally known author
- Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor– lots of information and places to learn more about and experience the Erie Canal, America’s oldest man-made waterway.
- George Washington’s Headquarters at Tappan– the location for his headquarters four times during the Revolutionary War.
- National Bottle Museum– on a mission to preserve the nation’s first industry, bottle making
- Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park– located in Buffalo, NY on Lake Erie it is home to several decommissioned Naval vessels
- Fort William Henry Museum– constructed to command the southern end of Lake George, it was an outpost to protect the colonies and was embroiled in conflict.
- Erie Canal Museum– learn the history of the canal, visit one of the last remaining structures of its kind, and climb aboard a life size canal boat
- Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site– the site of one of the last battles of the Revolutionary War.
- Olana State Historic Site– the home of Frederic Church, painter. You can visit the mansion and grounds and his art.
- Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum– learn about and experience the most prolific maker of carousels in the world.
- Fort Ticonderoga– situated on Lakes George and Lake Champlain, this fort was America’s fort and was important in the early formation of our country.
- Bannerman Castle– an abandoned army depot located on an island in the Hudson
- FDR Home National Historic Site– home of FDR and the first presidential library
- National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House– home of suffragist, Susan B. Anthony and headquarters of National American Woman Suffrage Association when she was president.
- Thomas Cole National Historic Site– American artist and advocate for the Catskills area of NY
- Eleanor Roosevelt Historic Site– the only National Historic Site devoted to a first lady.
- Harriet Tubman Home– the home in Auburn, NY that William Seward had built for Ms. Tubman. You can see her sewing machine and other original artifacts in the house after you see a short video about her work with the Underground Railroad.
- John Brown Farm & Gravesite– most do not know that the abolitionist, John Brown, was from a tiny town in the high peaks region of New York. You can visit and tour his home.
- John Jay Homestead– principal drafter of the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War along with being the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court among many other roles as a public servant, including Governor of New York.
- The Samuel Morse Historic Site at Locust Grove– visit the home and museum of the man who invented the telegraph and Morse Code.
- William Seward House– one of our all time favorite field trips, visit the home of Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Seward. He was also a New York state senator and governor of New York. This home is full of artifacts from the Civil War era.
- Fort Ontario– a fort on Lake Ontario dating back to the French & Indian War, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812. It was occupied by the U.S. Army through WWII. Now visitors can tour the fort and learn about military life in the early America.
- Sackets Harbor– quaint town on Lake Ontario with a history related to the War of 1812
- Lake George Steamboat Co– take a ride on the oldest continuously running steam boats in American on a gorgeous lake on the border of New York and Vermont.
- Geneseo Country Village & Museum– large living history museum where you can experience life as a 19th century American
- Erie Canal Discovery Center– a museum dedicated to the making of the Erie Canal and especially the Flight of Five and Deep Cutting at Lockport, NY.
- Lake Placid– you can visit Whiteface Mountain and other natural locations as well as Olympic Park for a look at the Olympic venues for both the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Grown in NY Field Trips
Did you know that NY state is the second biggest producer of maple syrup behind Vermont? We’re number two because we send our sap to Vermont for processing.
New York is the number 2 apple producer as well.
Enjoy field trips to cider mills and sugar shacks!
American Maple Museum– history of sugar making and techniques
Dry Brook Sugar House– family own syrup makers with events
Arnot Teaching & Research Forest– research, education, and outreach with a maple program
Sugarbush Hollow Maple Syrup– a production farm in the Finger Lakes of NY
Wood’s Maple Sugar Bush– gives tours in the Adirondack area
Eagle Mills Cider Mill– working mill dating back 100 years
Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard– historic water powered cider mill, open year round
The Cider Mill– enjoy fresh pressed cider, doughnuts, and local goods
Grisamore Farms– you pick fruit summer and fall plus a cider press and hayrides
Hollenbeck’s Cider Mill– Using a knuckle joint press from the 1870s, they press their own cider and have a fabulous bakery
Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard– Innovate local apple growers with orchard picking and cider
Over the last 21 years, we’ve made our home in NY state.
And we’ve come to love it here.
I’ve enjoyed learning NY State history and the chance to see so many lovely places.
Like Great Lakes,
and bedrock close to the surface.
A few years ago, I learned that my mom’s early relatives settled in New York.
So, it turns out I wasn’t striking out on my own
as much as I was coming home.
Consider this post, a welcome mat
for your visit to New York State.
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