Looking for a different way to tap into the wonders of the region with your children this summer? Here’s a selection of attractions for a variety of ages and interests, ranging from live animals and natural history to appreciation of art and science.
Kinderhook has played host to a portion of the Jack Shainman Gallery for the past two years, dubbed “the School” because the 30,000-square-foot space was once a schoolhouse. The School provides a local option for viewing of artists from North America, Africa, and East Asia. Through October 22, on display is A Change of Place: Four Solo Exhibitions, which “converge on themes of transformation, environment, and remembrance.” Two of the artists focus on contemporary wars, a third is showing apisculptures (made collaboratively by artist and a colony of bees), and the last installation is “composed of paintings made from photographs taken of interiors of The School.” The School is open 11am-5pm on Saturdays. 25 Broad Street, Kinderhook.
On the campus of the Millbrook School, Trevor Zoo is the only zoo in the United States that’s at a high school. On six acres are housed 180 animals from 80 species, tended by both professional staff and student volunteers who are learning the ropes. It’s open every day of the year for just $5 admission. Bring your own food, and expect to carry your trash out with you. 282 Millbrook School Road, Millbrook.
Fishing Center & Museum
There is a something about fly fishing that transcends using bait; the artistry and mimicry needed to tie an effective lure takes the relationship between angler and fish to a whole new level. Local fly fishing is on display in Livingston Manor, where exhibits about legends of the art intersect with classes to put visitors on the road to mastery themselves. “We invite you to interact with the fly tyers, rod makers, environmentalists, and naturalists who present programs at the center.” Admission is $12, and the museum is open 10am-4pm seven days a week until November, then Tuesday-Saturday. 1031 Old Route 17, Livingston Manor.
Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum
Billed as “Hudson Valley’s best place for (little) kids,” this Poughkeepsie museum is packed with programs and exhibits designed to attract the wee ones and keep them busy as they learn by encouraging exploration, be it with giant foam shapes or a mastodon skeleton. There are parent guides to the exhibits available online. The museum also has weekly drop-in sessions and family learning nights. Admission is $8 per person age one and older; check mhcm.org for hours and additional programs. 75 North Water Street, Poughkeepsie.
New York State Museum
The Albany-based New York State Museum is “dedicated to exploring the human and natural history of the state.” It includes an ever-changing series of exhibits that explore the art, history, geography, and ecology of the Empire State. With 100,000 square feet in which to work, museum staffers can maintain several permanent exhibits even while switching others out seasonally. Visitors are sure to see the Cohoes mastodon and learn about Adirondack wilderness and Albany archeology, among others. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday by donation, but the parking fee is mandatory, not suggested. 222 Madison Avenue, Albany.