On my very first visit to The Wild Center, I cannot believe what I've been missing (further proof I need to get out more), but this is truly one of the most unique experiences in the Adirondack region.
I can claim this with confidence, not just because I have lived in this area for over sixteen years, not because I am biased, which I clearly am, but The Wild Center honestly embodies everything I love about living here. I love art, I love to learn, I love fresh air, fun, wildlife, and walking within the trees.
Family Friendly Fun
The first thing I see is the glacier wall exhibit, it's amazing -- the natural exhibits at The Wild Center are incredibly thoughtful, both to the wildlife residents and visitors alike. A great balance of hospitality, education, and entertainment has been struck here to perfection.
At the Otter Falls exhibit, the otter encapsulates the dictum, "Work hard, play hard." A very able hunter and forager, a serious parent, and an entertainer at heart, for the most part the otter finds themselves at the top of the food chain in a river, swamp, pond, or lake.
The only time they find themselves at risk to a predator is while playing or traveling overland, but even this is rare. They are clever and slick and fast so a bear, coyote, or domesticated dog would have to get very lucky indeed. To be sure the otter's personality and disposition is a certain tell of the charmed lives they lead.
As I wander like a child through the natural exhibits a renewed understanding and respect for nature and wildlife comes over me.
You'll discover and learn about all forms of aquatic life from ducks and turtles to fish. Botanical life exhibits ranging from mushrooms to wildflowers are plentiful.
Learn Listen Laugh
The Naturalists Cabinet is a study, playroom, and learning center in its own right. Sit down and listen to bird calls and songs and learn to identify them. Study rocks, minerals, bones, and artifacts. Open drawers and discover insects, trees, and of course for fun - wildlife hand puppets.
Far from our drawers at home filled with socks and shirts, these drawers are mini-museums within themselves and children's eyes are opened wide.
The sun breaks out and the study fills with a dreamy haze. I am drawn to the many windows in this room and outside in the foreground reeds and cattails wave in a gentle breeze before frozen Greenleaf Pond.
Art Imitating Wildlife
An interactive art gallery in the center of the museum displays the work of local artists and their visions of the forever wild Adirondacks; trees, animals, rivers, and landscapes.
You are encouraged to paint your own Adirondack scene. Take a seat by yourself, or sit down as a couple or an entire family, and paint your own masterpiece and hang it out to dry for all to see.
Wildlife demonstrations happen throughout the day in the Big Wolf Great Hall. Meet a live turtle or a live owl.
You can amble around all day at your leisure, take guided tours, behind-the-scenes tours, or watch one of the many short films scheduled throughout the day in the Flammer Panoramas Theater. There are experiences for the entire family, all day long. With a day pass, you're free to leave the campus, and come back, but you are more than welcome to stay the entire day -- again, you'll need all day to see it all.
I set off with the snowshoes available here and an ornate footbridge over Greenleaf Pond leads me into a pristine, lower alpine forest.
I end my day feeling closer to nature and more in touch with myself. I know one thing after my first visit to The Wild Center, I have to come back to see what I missed and experience it for the first time again and again within all the four seasons and the distinctive views they provide.
There is much more to explore in the Tupper Lake Region and local lodging provides a great base camp to launch all your adventures. If you enjoy fresh air and outdoor recreation any time of year, as I do, step into some snowshoes and get moving and get into nature on one of the many trails here and be sure to end your adventuresome day with a well-earned reward of food and drink at a local tavern.