There’s a fire in the field and only one way out. Unfortunately, that way is twisted and riddled with dead-ends. But at the end, past 5 acres of carved paths and corn-themed puzzles, past thousands of stalks of corn swaying in the wind, past delirious visions of poker-playing scarecrows, is a fire hose. Such is the theme of Ellms Family Farm’s interactive Hero Rush Amazing Maize maze, an obstacle that carries on pastoral autumn traditions with roughly 90 minutes of music and fun. Yet this maze is just one way that the Ellms family celebrates the changing season—it also serves up crispy apple-cider donuts, lobs wee ones into the air on the farm-favorite Jumping Pillow, and treats guests to a number of other themed activities it has developed over the years.
The farm’s history stretches back to 1984, when Chip and Sally Ellms planted their first batch of Christmas trees and began inviting visitors to stop by and admire the easy wind and downy flakes of winter. As the family grew, the farm kept pace, expanding to cover more than 200 acres and incorporate activities that help guests celebrate autumn as well. Throughout the harvest season, guests flock to the fields to play conductor or coal shoveler on the MooMooChooChoo train or pick out fresh pumpkins in the patch.
For more than 70 years, the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium has showcased innovations from the frontiers of science, technology, engineering, and math for curious minds of all ages. A full calendar of exhibits and live demonstrations facilitates understanding of science fundamentals, introduces visitors to new gadgets, and unearths complex equations mapping Einstein's hairdo from the vast archive of documents and photos. Enacting the museum's mission to provide experiential learning, the interactive exhibit Power Hour engages hands to reveal the earth's invisible forces and drops jaws with inventions such as the bridge of fire, and investigators of all ages conduct lively experiments in the Fetch! Lab, where the scientific method––much like Bob Barker––is kept alive by a vibrant game-show setting. The planetarium pinpoints 8,500 stars and 24 constellations with one of only 12 GOTO Star Machines in the nation, augmenting mechanical illumination with human insight during seasonal sky tours and humorous stories from the Cowboy Astronomer.
Revolutionary Velo-Watts’ CompuTrainer is a microprocessor-controlled indoor ergometer and trainer that refines riding styles to boost racing performance. Bikers of all abilities can bring their two-wheelers in to mount on the virtual tutor’s stationary wheels, allowing for immediate familiarity with their equipment while hooked up to the machine. The video software simulates famous courses that relate to trainee’s desired goals—the Lake Placid or Wisconsin Ironman for a triathlete, the Tour de France for a mountain racer, or downtown San Francisco for a motivated paperboy. While pedaling in place, data is generated showing heart rates, speed, wattage, and number of wheelies popped. After the workout, cyclists can take advantage of shower facilities or squeegee their sweat into a mason jar for a delightful memento.
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.
Contrary to its name, the equestrian training and boarding facility Winter Glen Farm is actually an ideal spot for year-round riding. Thanks to the farm's indoor and outdoor arenas, students can practice their horsemanship skills whatever the season. The farm also boasts 12 resident horses, and a highly experienced staff of instructors. This staff includes decorated equestrian coach Paige Faubel and manager Peggy Aedjian, who's trained horses and humans alike for the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden. They offer English-style riding lessons to riders as young as 8 years old. Each session is personalized to the student; it can be tailored to cover advanced principles or the basics, such as mounting one of the resident steeds, easing it into a trot, and chasing down a rival king's spies.
If you haven't touched a paintbrush since you were in grade school, you'll fit right in at Canvas, Corks & Forks. Most of the folks who walk through the door have never painted in their lives, and the classes here are designed to accommodate artists of all skill levels. During two-hour painting classes, participants sip on wine and craft beer while snacking on bites from the gourmet mac and cheese bar. Meanwhile, instructors lead the class through easy-to-follow painting instructions and offer friendly reminders that brushes should not be dipped in wine bottles. Subject matter varies from class to class, so check the schedule to determine your preferred work of art.