The treats at Control Tower Ice Cream are so tasty that they regularly cause pilots to land their planes near the shop. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Albany International Airport’s north runway is paved a few 100 yards from the creamery’s door. Regardless, from March to September, the staff serves nearly 20 specialty sundaes and more than 40 flavors of ice cream that woo adults and kids alike. More savory foods, such as hot dogs, burgers, and paninis, complement the desserts. After eating, guests can watch the planes land and take off or visit Control Tower’s go-kart track, miniature-golf course, or batting cages.
FunPlex Fun Park engages joy-seekers of all ages with a diverse array of family-friendly outdoor activities. Guests wielding the power of a Fun Card can select any 10 attractions from the recreational buffet. Familial compatriots can battle for control of the top bunk or first dibs on the classified listings over 18 nautically-themed holes of miniature golf or on the 25 vibrant and eclectically-oriented hoops of the bank-shot basketball court.
The Give Me Five pass grants access to five of any of the following activities: Kimball Farm's 300-yard driving range, nine-hole pitch-and-putt course, and batting cages will help golfers and batters adjust squeaky swings, and the Animal Adventures exhibit allows guests to interact with reptiles while discussing current events with talking birds. Give Me Fivers can also perform kinetic-energy experiments using colorful balls on the Waterfall Run or Forbidden Mine miniature-golf courses before boarding a bumper boat to faithfully recreate Star Wars on melted ice. The pass may also be used to acquire a play card (a $6 value) from the Olde Sawmill Midway Arcade.
Not every golf course can boast a visit from two of the game’s titans, but Saratoga Spa Golf is one of them. In the late 1950s – some 20 years after the founding of the course – Arnold Palmer and Gary Player strolled among the majestic pine trees during a round to commemorate a major design overhaul. Fast forward to today, and players can walk in their footsteps and scuba dive for their waterlogged golf balls as they take on the 18-hole championship course. Stretching for a mighty 7,145 yards through Saratoga Spa State Park, the course was listed among the country’s ten best courses under $55, according to the July 2012 issue of Golf Digest. Meanwhile, a nine-hole, par 3 course beckons to clubbers looking to hone their short game, and a driving range with grass hitting stalls fosters improvement and grass-eating competitions. Course at a Glance:
Golf courses are designed to compound players’ mistakes. An errant tee shot winds up buried in the rough, on a side-hill lie, or shut out behind a tree—where golfers may not be able to take a full swing, let alone concentrate on how to correct their mechanics. In golf, the driving range is the only safe haven. Saratoga Springs Golf Range’s all-grass hitting bays provide a smooth, flat surface that lets golfers concentrate on improving their swings and grants amnesty for past swing transgressions in the form of range balls and a course notary who expunges all mulligans from players’ official records.
Saratoga Springs Golf Range helps swings enter into a harmonious relationship with their sticks through custom club fitting, loft and lie adjustments, and regripping services. The range’s club technicians also offer various repair services for snapped club shafts and emotionally distraught drivers.
At Player’s Park Family Fun Plex, gentle hills and dales peppered with greenery surround an 18-hole miniature-golf course, the park’s scaled-down version of the nine-hole par-3 course. The par-3 course, open during the day and into the evening, provides players with short-game practice, just as the mini-golf course provides putt-polishing opportunities for players shorter than a putter. The mini-golf course and par-3 course are lit for evening play.
In addition to hosting rounds of golf, Player’s Park stays true to its name by inviting kids to play on a row of bounce-house inflatables. Families can also visit the ice-cream parlor, where they can play the quiet game as they chow down on Perry's ice cream. The parlor has an air-conditioned interior as well as an outdoor porch for those who prefer Mother Nature’s air conditioner—the flapping wings of a curious butterfly.