Even "Indoors Cats" Can Unwind in Family Friendly Central New York
I’m an “Inside Cat.” Sure, I’ve always loved to play golf and putter around the backyard on a summer evening. But for the most part, I’ve tended to unwind by watching superhero movies (even the bad ones), playing cards and diving into a book. Then I married an “Outside Cat.”
Anne, my wife, loves the outdoors to the point that she enjoys mowing the lawn (with a push mower nonetheless!). And as our kids, Catherine and Andrew, have grown I’ve managed to not only leave the Great Indoors from time to time, but enjoyed doing so. I’ve also found that enjoying the outdoors doesn’t always mean trekking up a mountain, as great as that is. That in fact, there’s a lot to enjoy outdoors for Outside Cats and Inside Cats alike.
So, here are 12 Flaherty Family-approved outdoorsy things to do in Central New York (PS, you'll find all these great places at www.madisontourism.com):
- Flying kites at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia. The landscape is stunning and the breeze is perfect. And if your kids are like mine, they’ll love playing by the artwork.
- Hiking at Great Swamp Conservancy in Canastota. Depending on when you visit, you’re likely to see various species of birds, turtles, frogs and all kinds of critters along the mowed paths and 900-foot boardwalk. There’s no better place to watch nature change with the seasons than here.
- Meet the Mets – the Syracuse Mets. The AAA affiliate of the New York Mets, put on a great show and their stadium upgrades look to be “Amazin!” And we all love “Scooch,” the mascot.
- Blueberry picking at Critz Farms in Cazenovia. Pick a few quarts, enjoy the playground and say “hi” to the farm animals (my kids love the goats). Oh, parents – stop by the on-site tasting room for a sip of beer and hard cider produced on the farm.
- Relaxing at Delphi Falls County Park in Cazenovia. You’re able to get close enough to the falls to feel the mist. Take it from me, you might want to pack a towel along with your picnic basket.
- Ice cream cones at ZEMS in Canastota. Along with great ice cream, they have an old-fashioned candy shop, mini-golf and a great arcade. And hop aboard the Caboose for a photo!
- Follow the Yellow Brick Road in Chittenango. The hometown of L. Frank Baum, author of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, hosts an annual festival in his honor. Enjoy a parade, carnival rides, face painting and Oz programming. Be sure to skip down the yellow brick sidewalks in the village and check out the All Things Oz museum, too.
- Open Farm Day. Each July, for one day only, farms across Madison County welcome the public to experience life on the farm. Meet cows on a dairy farm, smell fresh hops growing on a bine, see where your alpaca sweater may have originated, feed goats (my kids’ priority) and more. And be sure to take home some fresh products!
- Feeding the Zebras and Giraffes at the Wild Animal Park in Chittenango (and safely observing the Grizzly Bears, Tigers and Alligators). This zoo welcomes you to get up and close to a variety of animals from around the world. My kids favorites? You guessed it, the goats.
- Getting lost in a corn maze. In the fall, we try the corn mazes at Critz Farms and Golub’s Our Farm, both in Cazenovia. Once you find your way out, go apple picking at Critz’s and watch “Boris” the trebuchet launch a pumpkin at Golub’s!
- Shopping in Bouckville. When I was little my dog ate one of my favorite action figures. Years later, I found a perfect replacement in Bouckville. And you’ll find all kinds of rare items, beautiful glassware, vintage furniture and more in the many shops throughout this antique corridor. Return in August for the largest outdoor antique show in New York, Madison-Bouckville Antique Week.
- Catching a football game at Colgate University in Hamilton. Enjoy a Division I contest and get a photo with Raider, the mascot. Then head into the village to shop the Colgate Bookstore, the region’s largest independent bookstore. And grab dinner across the street at the famous Colgate Inn.