The story of the United States Navy begins on Lake Champlain. The year was 1776, and the fledgling American Revolution seemed doomed to failure almost before it began after a naval retreat to the town known today as Whitehall, New York. Then the Continental Congress issued a command on June 17 of 1776 "to build, with all expedition, as many galleys and armed vessels as ... shall be sufficient to make us indisputably masters of the lakes Champlain and George." By August, eight new gunboats were afloat on the lake—just in time to face the British in the Battle of Valcour.
That story and hundreds more come to life in the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's collection of more than 15,000 artifacts, images, and documents. Visitors can marvel at the massive 10' x 8' rudder of the steamboat Champlain II, and explore her shipwreck in real time using a remote-operated vehicle. In the Hazelett Watercraft Center, the 111-year-old ice yacht Storm King towers over 90 dugouts, bark canoes, kayaks, rowing skiffs, and sailboats. But the core of the museum is the Key to Liberty exhibit, where visitors can read eyewitness accounts of the Battle of Valcour and marvel at a 9-foot scale model of a gunboat. On fair days, the full-size gunboat replica Philadelphia II sets sail, giving passengers a glimpse of a distant era without the bother of going though a time machine broker first.
Owner and pilot Todd J. Monahan remembers chasing hot air balloons across the sky as a land-locked child. After attending extensive training and FAA-approved safety seminars, he finally caught up to them, founding SunKiss Ballooning and enlisting the expertise of his brother Scott as well as a cast of experienced pilots and crewmembers. Citing safety as a priority, SunKiss' captains stay up to date on the latest in balloon technology, and they escort passengers through the sky in nine vessels, each rated to carry different gross weights and repel different-sized Mothras.
For 2.5 hours, tourists can thrive on historical, architectural, and edible tidbits courtesy of Saratoga Springs Food Tours in Saratoga Springs. The walking tour begins at the Saratoga Farmers Market, where locally grown legumes flaunt their healthy stuff to the tune of live music as tasters sample various dishes such as Greek–style yogurt, jams, tapenade, and goat cheese. After visiting the Olde Bryan Inn, a historic restaurant named for a Revolutionary War hero, carefully crafted olive oils and vinegars lube tongues at the Saratoga Olive Oil Company, and spicy concoctions highlight the region's diversity at Saratoga Salsa. Tours end on a sugary note at Bettie's Cupcakes with toothsome drinks and tiny treats that hold rampaging sweet teeth at bay.
The adventurous tour guides at GO Mountain Biking! lead scenic nature-gazing rides for all skill levels as well as harrowing jaunts through rocky terrain for more experienced riders. Each client takes part in a phone interview before the tour to schedule a time and devise a game plan. Tours begin with a review of safety and technique before guests venture out into the wilderness of the Glens Falls area to enjoy the lush landscape, scope out resident wildlife, and gulp fresh, clean air without having to suck from a balloon inflated by Mother Nature.