Skip to main content

Western New York Explorer's Guide

The only comprehensive travel guide to the region

Home
About Us
Contact Us
Site Map
Member Login
About Author
Media Interviews
Testimonials
WNY Resources
WNY Attractions and More
Explore WNY blog
Upcoming events
Articles
Celebrate Black History
Naples, NY
Olean
Mayville Ice Festival
Mid winter getaways
Art and History Museums
Visit Aviation Museums
Hiking Trails
Welland Canal
Athenaeum hotel
Bemus Point
Cobblestone Trail
Niagara Pkwy part 1
Niagara Pkwy part 2
Rock Park
Clifton Springs
WNY Amish
Nature in Winter
Wine & Chocolate
Winter Wonderland
Outdoors in winter
Inside in winter
Old Fort Niagara
Power Vista
WNY Waterfalls
Corning
Dads and Cars
Artpark
Hershey
Native American
Lake Ontario Shore
Lockport Cave
Sonnenberg
Amish traditions
Day Trips Rock
Country Barn Quilt
Halloween in WNY
Fest of Lights
Chautauqua Holiday
NYC by Train
Chautauqua Wine Trail
Mayville Ice Castle
Outdoor winter fun
Chautauqua Institution
Farm Markets
Recharge at Chautauqua
Niagara Wine Trail
Local boat rides
Local beaches
Chautauqua County
Lewiston Jazz Fest
Hammondsport
Buffalo Waterfront
Pumpkin Fun
Chau Wine Trail LEL
Fall Road Trips
Off season getaways
Free attractions
Winter Fun
Spring Break
Taughannock
Winery Train
St Lawrence Seaway
Seaway Trail Journey
Welland Canal LEL
Sandusky
Cleveland
Fall Festivals
Scenic Fall Drives
Holiday Hollow
Shopping in NYC
Holiday Shopping Corning
Buffalo has Wright
Snowshoeing
Toronto
Elmira
Buffalo Religious Art
Ten must see getaways
Chautauqua and Erie
Welland Murals
The Tonawandas
Ten Hidden Places
Wing Festival
Presque Isle
Marble
Lewisburg PA
Victorian Christmas
Chocolate Trail
Fun with Grandkids
George Eastman House
National Historic Landmar
Thing for Wings
Olcott Beach
Little League Museum
Rock City
Glass Blowing
Queenston ON
Lawn Fetes
Chautauqua Co Bicentennia
Shaw Festival
Chautauqua County 2
Olcott Carousel
10 Hidden Gems
Chautauqua
Olcott Beach 2
Roycroft
Hot Dog Spots
Westfield
Canandaigua
Enjoy Presque Isle
One Tank Trips
Belhurst Castle
Shop in Lewiston
Cuba Cheese Museum
Pumpkinville 2
Snowshoe 2
Spooky Treats
Walkable Shopping
Norman Rockwell Museum
Fatima Shrine Lights
Christmas Lights
Albright Knox
Darwin Martin
Maple Weekend
Divine Mercy Shrine
Erie Canal
Rochester
Cape Cod
Cobblestone Trail 2
8 Great Fall Road Trips
Little Known Places
Buy Local
Made in America Store
Vidlers
Great Lakes Seaway Trail
Lovely Gardens
WNY Festivals
Erie PA Waterfront
Grape Discovery Center
Salt Sanctuary
Holiday Hollow 2
Historic Hull House
Buffalo Religious Arts Ce
Mall Madness
One day holiday getaways
New York City by train
Cabin Fever
Niagara on the Lake
Elmira 150th Anniversary
Carousels of WNY
Ontario Beach Park
Lockport Locks
USA Bird Supply Blog Arch
Backroads and Byways of U
Forever Young
February 2011
 

Where to take the grandkids for fun

 

            Your children have taken you up on your offer to keep their kids for a day, overnight, or even a week. So now that you have them, what are you going to do to spend quality time with them while having fun? Depending on their age and your stamina, you’ll find plenty to do in western New York, from mild to wild. Here are just a few suggestions on places that both you and the grandkids will enjoy.

 

MUSEUMS

            Museums are a great place to take the grandkids; they are fun for kids and not too strenuous for grandparents not used to keeping up with young kids. There are many kid-friendly museums in the area; places where children have so much fun they don’t realize that they are learning something at the same time. Some of the suggested museums are right in the Buffalo area while a few are a bit further away, making them perfect day-trip or overnight destinations.

 

Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Pkwy, Buffalo, 716-896-5200, www.sciencebuff.org. Daily 10am-4pm. This museum covers everything from anthropology to zoology, with many hands-on exhibits. My eight-year old son especially enjoys the Explorations Gallery, Connections Gallery and Our Place in Space. There are also a number of traveling exhibits that come to the museum each year. The current exhibit, The Chronicles of Narnia, which opened January 24, runs until May 8. Kids can step inside Narnia and learn about the science behind the blockbuster Disney movie, as well as learn more about author, C.S. Lewis.

 

Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, 25 Nottingham Court, Buffalo, 716-873-9644, www.bechs.org. Tuesday- Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm. The Buffalo & Erie Country Historical Society is one of the country’s oldest regional history institutions. This is a great place to introduce your school-aged grandkids to area history including information on the Erie Canal, Native American history and the 1901 Pan American Exposition.

 

Old Fort Niagara, Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown, 716-745-7611, www.oldfortniagara.org. Daily 9am-4:30pm. Step back in time 300 years when you visit Old Fort Niagara, a National Historic Landmark. The fort’s costumed staff demonstrates 18th Century military life, including drills and musket and cannon firing. The fort’s French Castle is the oldest building in the Great Lakes Region.

 

Herschell Carrousel Museum, 180 Thompson Street, N. Tonawanda, 716-693-1885, www.carrouselmuseum.org. Open April to December. This museum, located in the former Allan Herschell Carousel factory, has exhibits on the early carousel industry and a collection of carousel animals. The highlight of your visit will be a ride on the 1916 hand-carved carousel.

 

Explore & More Children’s Museum, 300 Gleed Avenue, East Aurora, 716-655-5131, www.exploreandmore.org  Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm. This is the perfect place to take young grandchildren, as this museum is geared for kids pre-school age to sixth grade. It is just the right size to have kids explore the exhibits without getting lost. Children are encouraged to touch the exhibits as they discover, play, and learn.

 

The next four museums are a bit of a drive, an hour or more from the Buffalo area. They are perfect destinations for a long day trip, when you have the kids overnight or for the weekend.

 

Medina Railroad Museum, 530 West Avenue, Medina, 585-798-6106, www.railroadmuseum.net. Year-round Tuesday-Sunday 11am-5pm. If your grandkids are into trains, this is the museum to go to. Located in a circa 1905 wooden fright house, this museum has one of the largest HO-scale layouts in the country, along with all sorts of railroad memorabilia and antique toys. The museum, which is about an hour from Buffalo, also offers a variety of scenic railroad excursions on a vintage train.

 

National Museum of Play, 1 Manhattan Square, Rochester, 585-263-2700, www.museumofplay.org. Monday-Thursday 10am-5pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 12-5pm. Formerly known as the Strong Museum, the National Museum of Play is the first museum in the country devoted to the study of play and the only museum in the world to focus on the importance of play in learning. Almost all of the exhibits are interactive and there is even an indoor butterfly garden. The current exhibit, which opens February 5th, focuses on the Tinkertoy.

            Special note: Plan on spending the entire day here as it is quite large. Given that fact, it is hard to keep track of kids here. It’s best to have more then one adult to help supervise them. You will be exhausted when you are done here!

 

Rochester Museum and Science Center, 657 East Avenue, Rochester, 585-271-4320, www.rmsc.org. Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 11am-5pm.While this museum is just a short drive from the Museum of Play, do not be tempted to try to do both in one day. This museum is also quite large and you can easily spend the entire day here. It has three floors of exhibits on science and regional history, including many interactive exhibits.

 

 

Corning Museum of Glass, exit 41 off I-86, Corning, 607-937-5371, www.cmog.org. Daily 9am-5pm. Kids 19 and under admitted free. Corning is about a 2 ½ drive from Buffalo, so this is a rather ambitious day trip or an overnight getaway. This museum is one of the most popular attractions in New York State. It houses one of the most comprehensive collections of glass objects in the world. Be sure to catch the Hot Glass Show, where glassblowing is demonstrated. There are also many interactive exhibits pertaining to glassmaking science and technology. Sign up early in the day to get a place in one of their walk-in workshop (additional fee) where you can try your hand at glassmaking.

 

DISCOVER NATURE, ZOOS, AND MORE

 

            If your grandchild is interested in animals, there are a number of places to take them where they can observe animals in their natural habitat.

 

Buffalo Zoo, 300 Parkside Ave., Buffalo, 716-837-3900, www.buffalozoo.org. Daily 10am-4pm, closed Mondays and Tuesdays in January and February. When my oldest child was a baby, his grandparents loved to go to the zoo with him. What better way to spend an afternoon than pushing a baby in a stroller at the zoo. The Buffalo Zoo, which is the third oldest zoo in the nation, has seen many renovations and improvements over the past decade. If you haven’t’ been to the zoo since your kids were little, you will be pleasantly surprised. Most animals are exhibited in areas similar to their natural habitat and not cooped up in cages.

 

Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St. Paul Blvd., Rochester, 585-336-7200, www.senecaparkzoo.org. Daily November-March 10am-3pm, April-October 10am-4pm. If you’ve been to the Buffalo Zoo many times and want a change of venue, check out Rochester’s Seneca Park Zoo, which is located north of downtown Rochester along the Genesee River. Operated by Monroe County, it is one of Rochester’s most popular attractions. It has also recently undergone millions of dollars of renovations, including a new viewing area for their African Elephants.

 

Aquarium of Niagara, 701 Whirlpool Street, Niagara falls, 716-285-3575, www.aquariumofniagara.org. Daily 9am-5pm.  This is a fun and interesting place to take the grandkids. Explore the undersea world and learn about all sorts of aquatic animals including sharks, piranhas, and eels. You can see a sea lion training session and seal presentations.

 

Beaver Meadow Nature Center, 1610 Welch Road, North Java, 585-457-3228, www.buffaloaudubon.org. This 324 acre sanctuary is a great place for kids to learn about nature. The visitor’s center houses a variety of exhibits, as well as a children’s discovery room with all sorts of hands-on exhibits. On the grounds, which has 7 miles of walking trails, you can observe many types of animals and migratory birds.

 

OUTDOOR WINTER ACTIVITIES

            If you and your grandkids are looking for some outdoor winter activities to share, here are some suggestions.

 

Chestnut Ridge Park, 6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park, 716-662-3290. We took our two youngest kids here last winter with our son’s Scout group to go sledding on the park’s large sledding hill. It was a lot of fun; I even went down the hill a time or two. Although the climb back up the hill is a killer! The park also has a toboggan run. One of our friends brought their toboggan and the kids and my husband tried it. They said it’s a fun, but bumpy ride.

Snowshoeing

            Snowshoeing is a winter sport that almost anyone can do. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. The previously mentioned Beaver Meadow Nature center rents out snowshoes and poles for a nominal fee. If you want a more structured activity, the store Paths, Peaks, and Paddles (1000 Ellicott Creek Rd., Tonawanda, 716-213-0350, www.pathspeakspaddles.com) offers snowshoeing walks/hikes every Tuesday night, as well as several introduction to snowshoeing courses and events coming up in February.

 

Ice skating at Rotary Rink, 40 Fountain Plaza, Buffalo, by the Hyatt Hotel. Free ice skating is offered at Rotary Rink from now until March 20. Skating hours are Tuesday-Friday 11am-2pm and 5-9pm, Saturday from 11am-8pm, and Sunday 11am-6pm. Ice skate rental is available.

 

Mayville Ice and Cool Jazz Festival, Mayville. February 18-20. www.mayvillechautauqua.org Enjoy outdoor activities and jazz music at this annual festival which takes place on President’s Day Weekend. The highlight of the event is the castle made of ice blocks cut from Chautauqua Lake. Activities include horse-drawn rides, a kids snow slide, chili cook-off and more.