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Explore New York: Five Fun and Cheap Getaways

Howe Caverns with 4 of my siblings and my niece.

If you put your hands in your pocket and all 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 these little gems 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 out of it and then head home instead of worrying about finding a place to stay for the night and spending more money.

1. Museum of the Big Guns/ Watervliet, NY (roughly 2 hours and 14 minutes from Binghamton)

If you’re a fan of guns, you’re gonna love the Watervliet Arsenal aka. the Museum of Big Guns.  I grew up very near to this museum and only found out it existed a couple years ago.  I even had a friend whose dad worked at the arsenal and I didn’t know.  At this museum, you’ll discover many one of a kind guns from the past 400 years as well as new weapons and they’ve even got the massive guns of World War II battleships.

2. Uncle Sam’s Hometown/Troy, NY (roughly 2 hours from Binghamton)

Trolly ride with my youngest sister in Troy- December 2007

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 Music Hall.  Troy is located just outside of Albany and is the birthplace of Uncle Sam.  Legend has it, Uncle Sam was a legit 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.  The locals can guide you in the right direction.  Since you’ll be so close, you might want to check out the Cohoes Falls and Falls View Park.

3. World’s Smallest Church/ Oneida, NY (roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes from Binghamton)

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.  That’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.

4. Secret Caverns/Howe Caverns/Cobleskill, NY (about 1 hour and 31 minutes from Binghamton)

Traci Taylor

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!

5. House of Frankenstein Wax Museum/Lake George, NY (roughly 2.5 hours from Binghamton)

Okay, 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 through the use of wax figures.  I know, sounds strange, but my friends who’ve been tell me it’s good times.

One more note:

If you’re heading to the Capital Region (think Albany area), I highly suggest planning to visit both Saratoga and Albany.  Not both on the same day though because there’s so much to do and see that you’ll need at least a day for each.

In Saratoga, I recommend 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 stroll, 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:

Congress Park-Traci Taylor

I also recommend taking empty containers with you to fill with some natural sulfur water that flows freely (and free!) from little stations within Congress Park. If the smell of rotten eggs makes you queasy, you might want to skip this, but I’m a huge fan of natural sulfur water and its healing properties, so stock up whenever I’m able.

Saratoga Water- Traci Taylor

If history is more your thing, you might want to visit our capital, Albany.  The capital building is ginormous and filled with all sorts of stunning architecture.  Be sure to call ahead to check when tours are being conducted.

New York State Capitol in winter-Traci Taylor

Right near the capitol building is the New York State Museum (with so much to see!) as well as the Empire State Plaza.  In the middle of the plaza there’s music in the spring, summer and fall and ice skating in the winter.  And another neat thing is that under the plaza is an underground mall/art gallery!

Empire State Plaza- Traci Taylor

If you look to the right of the picture above you’ll notice an odd shaped building.  It’s called “The Egg” and it’s a performing arts center. It’s pretty much an Albany icon and must see:

The Egg- Traci Taylor

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