Explore New York – Seven Fun and Cheap Getaways
If you put your hands in your pocket and all that you pulled out was a bunch of lint, it’s probably safe to say you’re not planning to take an all-inclusive vacation this year.
If you’re trying to plan a mini getaway on the cheap, but have no idea where to go or what to see, I think you might like some of the little gems we have right here in New York.
You can get to each of these places in under three hours, so if you wanted to, you could make a day-trip out of it and then head home instead of worrying about finding a place to stay for the night and spending more money.
I spent a lot of time in the hometown of Uncle Sam when I was a kid. Actually, the first play I was ever in was Annie and it was at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Troy is located just outside of Albany and is the birthplace of Uncle Sam and legend has it that Uncle Sam was an actual person. The man’s name was Samuel Wilson, but people called him “Uncle Sam” and he did a lot to help the troops. While you’re in Troy, you can even see Uncle Sam's grave-site in Oakwood Cemetery and if you're not sure where to find the grave just ask a local and they'll point you in the right direction.
Since you'll be so close, you might want to check out the Cohoes Falls and Falls View Park. Also, if you go to Troy in the wintertime, they have a really nice festival around Christmas where you can ride an old fashioned trolley around town.
This church is located near Syracuse and is so teeny tiny that it really only holds about 3 people because it’s only about three feet by six feet. Told you- it's small! Church services aren’t held in this church because, well it’d be a little tough, but the church is open to the public by request and available for special occasions and meditation.
I’ll never forget the first time I went to Howe Caverns. I was in complete awe of the beauty that was in front of me. That was when I was a kid and even now, as an adult, Howe Caverns still amazes me. Take an elevator ride deep into the earth to see some of the most spectacular sights of the natural earth that you’ll ever see. Oh, and be sure to bring your camera. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t!
I’ve never been to Secret Caverns (located right next to Howe Caverns), but I’ve been told by friends who’ve visited that it’s a very trippy experience. There’s a 100 foot underground waterfall and a 103 foot descent into the earth and even a moment when you’ll experience the caverns in complete blackness and silence!
The first thing I’ll tell you is that if you decide to go to Lake George, you should plan on staying the night. There’s too much to do and see in Lake George to only go for one day. From shops to eateries to the lake to an amusement park and outlet shopping, Lake George has it all in a very relaxed and family friendly environment and when I lived in the Albany area, it was one of my favorite places to go exploring.
If you’re into creepy things, the House of Frankenstein is the place for you. House of Frankenstein features the sound of screams as grotesque things are done before your eyes by wax figures. I know, sounds strange, but my friends who’ve been tell me it’s good times.
In Saratoga, I recommend taking a stroll down Broadway, where you’ll find the most adorable shops and eateries (and where my Dad used to go every Sunday and as we’d walk together, I'd sing, “give my regard to Broadway.” Loudly). Just off of Broadway is Congress Park where there used to be a casino run by mobsters and where you’ll find this gazebo- the one my parents got engaged in. There are also ponds with sweet little ducks who love being fed bread and who will make your littles laugh with delight!
If you plan to visit the quaint town of Saratoga, you can't leave without vising the mineral fountains. Pack a couple washed out, empty milk jugs or soda bottles because you can fill them up for free at the free flowing fountains located all around Saratoga. There are 18 fountains and you can get a list of their locations here. You just walk up to the fountains and use your hands or a cup to take a drink and if you want to take some home, fill up your bottles. Just be nice and slide out of the way for a minute if there's a line so that someone else can take a taste.
Sulfur water definitely isn't for everyone. It smells and tasted a little bit like carbonated eggs, but I guess I'm just used to it because I grew up drinking it. It was healthy and free and I learned that the trick is to drink it really fast- unless you like the taste and smell of rotten eggs. Why put yourself through this torture? There are more reasons why sulfur is good for our bodies than there are bad. From metabolism to glaucoma to connective tissue- natural sulfur is said to help these things and more.
If history is your thing, you might want to visit our state capital, Albany. The capital building is ginormous and filled with all sorts of stunning architecture, but be sure to call ahead to check when tours are being conducted.
Just a block or so away from the capital building is the New York State Museum. Admission to the New York State Museum is free, but they do have cash boxes if you’d like to make a donation. The museum is filled with so much to see, including an incredible September 11th tribute, which is sure to pull at your heart-strings.
In front of the New York State Museum is the Empire State Plaza. Smack dab in the middle of the plaza are huge fountains, surrounded by walkways. On any given day during the spring, summer, or fall, you’ll find vendors, musical entertainment and people enjoying lunch under blue skies. In the winter, the water is frozen and there’s ice skating in the plaza.
Under the Empire State Plaza is an underground mall and art gallery and it’s free to walk through. If you visit and notice an odd shaped building that stands out from the rest, you’re probably looking at what is called “The Egg.” The Egg is a performing arts center and definitely an Albany icon.