[This trip was hosted by The Wild Center. All opinions about the trip activities are my own.]
A trip to the Adirondacks was long overdue for me so I was extremely excited to spend a weekend in Tupper Lake, NY along with my husband. I have been interested in visiting the area ever since passing through it on my way to Saranac Lake last summer. I always love checking out the small, unique Adirondack towns, delving into the landscape and the community.
The other thing I was excited about was finally getting a chance to check out The Wild Center. I’ve been wanting to go to this awesome natural history museum for awhile now, after learning about the Wild Walk, where there is a platform to walk along the treetops. Come to find out, there is much, much more to do and see!
Here is a quick breakdown of my ideal weekend itinerary, and below that you’ll find more detailed information about each stop:
Ideal Weekend Itinerary for The Wild Center and Tupper Lake Area
- Check-in to local lodging
- Dinner at Woodshed on Park
- Breakfast at the Washboard Donut Shop
- Visit The Wild Center
- Indoor Living River Trail
- Climate Solutions Exhibit
- Lunch at the cafe
- Wild Walk
- Immersive Sound Trail
- Hopscotch Stickwork Sculpture
- Wild Pines Play Area
- Guided Canoe Trip on the Raquette River
- Dinner at Raquette River Brewing
- After-Dinner Drinks at Woodshed on Park
- Sunset walk at the Tupper Lake Municipal Park
- Sunrise hike at Mount Arab Fire Tower
- Breakfast at Well Dressed Foods
- Check out of hotel
- Hike up Coney Mountain on the way home
Weekend Itinerary Details
We arrived in the Tupper Lake area around 4pm on a Friday afternoon (yay for getting out of work early to go to the mountains!) First, we checked into our hotel. You can find local lodging options at Tupperlake.com
By the time we settled in, we were travel-weary and hungry, so we made our way a couple minutes down the street to a new restaurant called Woodshed on Park. Recently opened just this past year, Woodshed on Park specializes in French-Canadian inspired cuisine and hand-crafted cocktails. In the age of struggling restaurants, I have to say that I was supremely impressed from the second we set foot in the door til the time we left. First – the decor and the vibe was right up my alley. I loved the dark, rustic, intimate atmosphere. Second – the service was excellent. We could tell that the staff were well organized and worked so great together. Third – the food was unique and so, soo good. My husband can be a picky eater, and even he just kept saying “wow, this is delicious”. I also very much enjoyed the hand-crafted cocktails which were equally pretty and delicious.
Breakfast on Saturday morning was a truly unique experience. Picture this…you walk into what you think is a donut shop, and suddenly you’re surrounded by washing machines and sweet, doughy aromas. That’s right, we went to the Washboard Donut Shop! This unique little place is a combo donut shop, laundromat, and gift shop! The donuts are freshly made each day, and you can order them with various options of frostings and toppings. I got a maple frosted donut with a large coffee. There’s nothing like a donut freshly done and still warm.
The Wild Center
Saturday was devoted to exploring The Wild Center. We arrived a few minutes ahead of the official opening time, but the staff graciously let us in anyway 🙂 Some background on the Wild Center – it’s a science-based natural history museum with the goal of providing experiences, exhibits, and programs that help people find new ways to look at our relationship with nature. Opened in 2006, the Wild Center encompasses 115 acres to help people become acquainted with and immerse themselves into nature. The center is very family oriented, and has something for everyone at any age and ability level.
The museum building is home to the Indoor Living River Trail and the Hall of the Adirondacks, which showcases 12 different areas representing various environments in the Adirondack Park. There are tons of fish, turtles, birds, and even a pair of fun loving river otters to read about, experience, and observe. The whole exhibit is interactive and involves all of your senses. Yes, there is even a display that encourages use of your sense of smell!
Another area of the indoor section includes the Climate Solutions exhibit, which I was very interested in, since I recently made a career switch into a sustainability focused role. The exhibit tells the stories of various people that are making a difference in their local communities, and how they are doing so in order to preserve the environment for future generations.
Right on the museum campus there is a gift shop and the Waterside Cafe, which was perfect for grabbing a quick bite to eat before heading to the outdoor activities!
The outdoors exhibits were my favorite part. There are several miles of trails on the grounds, which lead you through gorgeous wildflower fields, around a pond, over a few bridges and through the woods. One of my favorite areas was the immersive sounds trail that features music from the Crane School of Music, which is blended with natural forest sounds. It was ethereal and beautiful, and really a unique way to explore the forest. It felt like walking into a fairy tale, and honestly channeled some main character energy!
Hopscotch is the name of a Stickwork art sculpture by internationally acclaimed artist Patrick Dougherty. It was very large and fun to walk in and around it.
Another great location, especially for the kiddos is the Pines Wild Play area, where everything is made out of natural materials. There was a cool tunnel you could walk through made entirely of sticks and branches, and other toys and features made of wood.
The Wild Walk, of course, was the main attraction. It’s a unique, accessible experience that allows you to walk on platforms and suspension bridges above and among the tree-tops, giving an interesting vantage point. Being a hiker of mountain peaks, getting to the very top of the Wild Walk in the Eagles Nest was naturally my favorite part, as you get a birds eye view of the surrounding area. The Wild Walk is another great place for kids of all ages because of the interactive elements like the giant “spider web”, the bird viewing area, the bird board game on the floor, and all the fun places you can climb around.
The last part of our Wild Center adventure included a guided canoe trip of the Raquette River oxbow, which is a unique formation of the river providing important habitats to local wildlife. We headed down the trail to the Raquette River overlook deck to check out the river views, and then headed down to the cabin and the canoe launch area where we met our guide for the trip, and a couple other families who signed up. Canoes, paddles, and lifejackets were all provided as part of the trip. The canoe trip took about 2 hours and our guide shared interesting information about the area, the Raquette River, and the different types of plants and animals we might come across.
For more information on the Wild Center, check out https://www.wildcenter.org/
For dinner we went over to Raquette River Brewing and grabbed a drink and a craft beer before checking out the three food trucks available on-site. There were options for wood fired pizza, Mexican fare, and BBQ and burgers. The food was good, and the place was quite busy!
After dinner, we decided to stop back at Woodshed on Park to snack on one of the appetizers we didn’t get a chance to try the day before, and order a couple of gorgeous cocktails!
After that, we headed down to the Tupper Lake Municipal Park to walk the path along the lake, and we were treated to a lovely sunset over the lake.
Sunday was the day to head home, but not before I had the chance to squeeze in a couple of short hikes!
Hike #1: Mount Arab
Somehow I managed to summon super human powers to arise before dawn so that we could take the 15 min drive over to Mount Arab, to do a sunrise hike. Mount Arab is one of the hikes needed to complete the Tupper Lake Triad, the local hike challenge. It is also a firetower hike and counts toward the ADK Firetower Challenge! When we first started hiking it was very dark and I could see the stars in the sky. However, by the time we got to the top of the mountain and tower, everything was covered in thick clouds. It was also very windy so I was hopeful that our luck would change, and eventually it did! The clouds covered the sunrise, delaying it by a little bit, but we were treated to outstanding views.
We stopped in at Well Dressed Food for breakfast and had a yummy and filling omelette which was very much needed after the sunrise hike!
Hike #2: Coney Mountain
By this point, my husband and I were both pretty tired but I was determined to squeeze in one more hike. We pulled into the trailhead and I left him to rest in the car while I hiked the mile to the top of the wide, open, rocky summit, earning me a second mountain toward the Tupper Lake Triad.
The final mountain for the Tupper Lake Triad is Goodman Mountain, but I left that one for the next time I visit Tupper Lake!