While New York may be most famous for the glittering metropolis centered around Manhattan, you would certainly be missing out to not take advantage of what the rest of the state has to offer. Lush forests, green valleys, serene lakes, awe-inspiring gorges – the state’s ecology makes it as diverse as its inhabitants. It’s the ideal place for students who have a passion for science, the outdoors and exploration.
The Lake George area, four hours north of New York City, has long been a family-friendly destination and one that people return to year after year. With the incredible array of ecological wonders and natural beauty everywhere you look, it’s no task to keep students interested in this natural classroom. Experiencing science and ecology firsthand through the area’s caves, mines, adventure courses, education centers and even a floating classroom – there’s no better way to bring science to life than by stepping out into the great outdoors. Check out the options that are at your fingertips when planning a trip for the next generation of scientists:
Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course
You won’t want to leave Lake George without a visit to the largest aerial adventure course in the U.S. Set high in the treetops of the beautiful Adirondack Forest, this course challenges students of all ages to step out of their comfort zone and work with one another. There are giant zip lines, rope swings, Tarzan jumps, slides, climbing walls, nets and ladders that offer thrills but also respect the natural surroundings in which they’ve been built – an important reminder for people of any age. The course takes about four hours to complete, with a shorter junior course also available, and groups have access to the picnic facilities on site.(www.adirondackextreme.com)
Garnet Mine Tours at Barton Mines
The Adirondack mountains just to the north of the Lake George area are always popular among nature lovers, but some of the most impressive features lie beneath the ground. Chances are, not many students have had the chance to visit a mine, and at Barton Mines, they will be able to hunt for their own garnet gemstones, large garnet crystal faces and museum-quality garnet specimens. Knowledgeable tour guides explain the history and geology of the mine and demonstrate how to find these ruby red treasures that can be faceted into beautiful jewelry or kept as souvenirs. Everyone can appreciate the thrill of finding a glistening gemstone tucked inside the earth, and what better souvenir to bring home from the Adirondacks? (www.garnetminetours.com)
Up Yonda Farm Environmental Education Center
Beekeeping, butterflies, pond life, wildlife, wildflowers…all of this and more is right at your students’ fingertips at this unique facility in the Lake George area. Visitors explore the Adirondack ecology and wildlife through hands-on activities like building a bat or bird house, snow shoeing, maple sugaring, woodworking, geocaching and planetarium shows. Spend a few hours on one of the many season-specific programs offered September through June. Picnic facilities make this a great spot to wind down between your busy days out in the field. (www.upyondafarm.com)
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Lake George Association’s Floating Classroom
Many experiences just can’t be replicated in a traditional classroom. So when in Lake George, hop aboard a 40-foot catamaran for a hands-on aquatic adventure. Students will learn all about the science that makes Lake George special. History, ecology, animals and lake protection efforts are just some of the topics students will explore out on the water. And they will have the chance to put their learning into action by measuring water clarity, catching zooplankton, and testing water pH and temperature. The program can be adjusted for any age group (maximum of 30 people) and runs from May through October.
Natural Stone Bridge & Caves
Just as they relish a scene from one of their favorite books, students will love spending time exploring the largest marble cave entrance in the East as they navigate the trails to caves, grottoes, waterfalls and gorges. Along the way is the natural stone bridge, an extraordinary feature of Adirondack geology. Whether you choose to explore the park on your own or with a guide during the summer months, the area is a great group setting and also has picnic pavilions with a snack shack on site. Other fun student activities include the Dino Dig, Caveman Bouldering Wall and Disc Golf. This is surely an outdoor adventure to remember. (www.stonebridgeandcaves.com)
Six Flags Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom
Six Flags provides the perfect adventure for students as they experience the park as scientists in action. In June, as the school year is just winding down, Physics Days turn the park into one giant learning lab. Six Flags provides students with workbooks to measure and compare different ideas in the science world as they enjoy over 135 rides and attractions. What better way to show students that science really is all around them? The park is an excellent host for school groups of any size with plenty of picnic pavilions and catering options available to make your job a little easier. Whether you plan to spend a few hours in the park or the entire day, this is an adventure not to be missed in the Lake George area. Be sure to ask about student group rates. (www.sixflags.com/greatescape)
The Lake George area makes any trip planner’s job easier. With so many attractions and educational experiences in such close proximity, your biggest problem may be trying to fit it all into one trip. Heading out into the fresh air with excited, energetic students brings alive a new curiosity and a way of looking at the world around them that you don’t often find in the confines of a classroom. When you choose a place as beautiful – and fun – as Lake George for your next student group trip, the memories will surely carry over into lifelong learning and a growing appreciation for science that you can only get by stepping into the great outdoors.
For more information visit VisitLakeGeorge.com or contact Tanya Brand at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-761-6575 for additional information on student offerings.