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New York's Falls to the Finger Lakes
New York's Falls to the Finger Lakes

16 Kid Approved Places to Visit This Summer in Western New York!

12-acre Harlow Lake's small sandy beach at Darien Lakes State Park

As a child, there was nothing better than summertime. It has that special feeling. The school year has ended, the weather is perfect and it's time for kids to be kids. Playing, laughing, exploring, learning are all part of the summertime experience.

This summer help make lifetime memories for the children in your life, by visiting these “kid-approved” places in Western New York!

Livingston County | Genesee River Valley

A world of wonder awaits, by experiencing a free tour of the Mount Morris Dam at the southern end of Letchworth State Park in Mount Morris, NY. The massive 230 foot-tall structure was built to protect the City of Rochester from flooding. There are two daily guided tours that take guests inside and outside of the dam. The views from the top of the dam are pretty amazing. A film and several exhibits in the visitor center add to this educational adventure. The dam is a great stop, when visiting one the United States’ most beloved parks.

Family entertainment is the name of the game at Minnehan’s in Lakeville, NY. This place has amusement fun zones that will produce many laughs and smiles. A big attraction are Minnehan’s three exciting go-cart tracks. Racers ages 3 years and older can safely experience the thrill of driving and racing. A challenging and whimsical 18-hole mini-golf course awaits those who are up for some friendly competition. A waterfall, large wine barrel, and watermill are some of the obstacles golfers must navigate on the course. Kids will love the giant inflatable bounce house and indoor obstacle course inside the Discovery Zone. There are additional attractions and food options at Minnehan’s that make this a perfect place to spend a summer afternoon.

For generations, a trip to the local drive-in is a right of summer. Give a child a memorable experience, by taking them to see a movie under the stars at the East Avon Vintage Drive-In in Avon. During the summer months, the drive-in hosts double features at three screens. No drive-in experience would be complete without a bucket of popcorn from the snack stand.

Wyoming County | Outdoor Adventure

Children love Hidden Valley Animal Adventure in Varysburg because they can get up close and personal with some of the world's most exotic animals. The park is home to over 40 different species and is a truly extraordinary experience for the whole family. The self-driving Wild Game Safari Tour through the park provides an up-close and personal interactive experience with exotic animals like camels, zebra, llama, emu, bison, and many more. Casual dining and lodging can also be found here.

For some fast and furious (and very safe) fun, visit Adventure Calls Outfitters in Letchworth State Park (Castile, NY), for some rafting and floating through Class 1 & 2 rapids. Situated in the bottom of “the Grand Canyon of the East,” a float down the Genesee River is an amazing experience. The 5.5 mile paddle is perfect for first-timers, youth groups and families with children. At the end of your trip, a bus awaits to take rafters back to their vehicles.

Go on a hike with llamas at Arcade, NY’s Llama Adventures. Take a llama for a one-hour guided hike through the woods. The minimum age to lead a llama is 12 years old, however younger children can share leading with an adult. All hikes include an informational introduction to this interesting animal. This is truly one of Western New York’s most unique experiences.

Genesee County | Theme Park Thrills

Kids of all ages love Six Flags Darien Lake Theme Park in Darien Center. Simply put, this is one of the funnest places in New York State. Six Flags Darien Lake is a 1,200-acre resort, with seven wild roller coasters and over 45 exciting rides. One of the crown jewels inside the theme park, is the region’s largest waterpark; which includes a massive wave pool, exciting waterslides, a lazy river and a special section for small children. The park has a myriad of on-site lodging options. The Lodge on the Lake, cabins, a guest house, RV’s and campsites are all available to make memories.

Five minutes from the theme park is Darien Lakes State Park, which exudes what summer is all about for children. Swimming and playing on the beach at the park’s lake are favorite activities for visitors. Fishing for largemouth bass, hiking on the miles of trails, playing a round of disc golf, or simply having a picnic are additional reasons to stop here. Extend a visit by renting one of the park’s 158 campsites.

Visiting the JELL-O Gallery Museum in LeRoy is a fun exercise in exploring local (and American) history. Invented in LeRoy in 1897, the museum is dedicated to all things JELL-O. The history and marketing of “America’s Most Famous Dessert” are all on display. In the building’s basement is a small exhibit that covers over 100 years of transportation history, including carriages and early automobiles.

Orleans County | Lake Country

Get active and enjoy the outdoors by taking a guided kayak or hydro-bike tour on the Erie Canal and Glenwood Lake with the YMCA in Medina, NY. Take a bike ride around historic Medina or on the Erie Canal Heritage Trail. Floating adventures can also be had on Oak Orchard Creek and Glenwood Lake with the Erie Canal Bike Company or Oak Orchard Canoe & Kayak Experts

Visit one of the largest model train layouts in the United States at the Medina Railroad Museum.  The HO Scale train layout is 204 feet long and 14 feet wide, and is filled with several running trains and model-size villages and landscapes. The details are simply amazing. The museum is located in a 300-foot long NY Central wooden freight house, and also includes railroading, fire-fighting, military and local history exhibits. Popular two-hour themed train excursions depart from the museum at various times of the year. In June, the popular "Thomas & Friends" excursion returns. Fall foliage trips and  The Polar Express and Santa excursions take place during the holiday season. 

Orleans County is one of the premier freshwater fishing destinations in the United States. Introduce the kids to this great sport during New York State’s annual Free Fishing Days throughout the year. On designated, anyone can fish the waters of the Empire State with no fishing license. Oak Orchard Creek is one of the region’s best places to drop a line in the water and try to reel in a fish. A few days of free fishing might ignite a passion in kids or teens for fishing or being with nature.


Allegany County | Western NY Wilds

Families that own ATVs can go riding on over 70 miles of trails at Tall Pines ATV Park in Andover, NY.  The park’s professionally groomed trails assure safety for riders, as well as cater to both beginners and experts. Guests can rent one of the beautiful cabins, on-site houses or RV and tent camping spaces. In addition to being an ATV park, Tall Pines is a fully functioning farm, specializing in Christmas trees, grains, pumpkins, cattle and more.

Camping is considered to many as one of the ultimate summer experiences. Take the kids to Sun Valley Campsites in Arkport, NY for a family-friendly stay that all campers can enjoy. At Sun Valley, the pool and playground are popular areas for kids. Guests can take a scenic hike to the campground’s beautiful waterfall. On the weekends, the campground hosts several themed events, which add to anyone’s visit. Cabin and campsite rentals available at this 180-acre property. 

For some exercise and encounters with nature, go hiking at either Houghton College Forest Trails in Houghton, NY or WAG Trail in Wellsville. Both trails offer easy hiking opportunities for children of all ages. The Houghton College Forest Trail features a four mile network of trails, while the WAG Trail is a nine-mile multi-use trail on a former railroad bed.  It’s also a great opportunity to see a diverse selection of forest creatures and local ecology of the Southern Tier countryside. 


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