When Utica Zoo opened its gates 98 years ago, three fallow deer comprised its entire animal population. Today, visitors can traipse the zoo's walking trails to view more than 200 animals, including alligators, bald eagles, zebras, and an African lion. The zoo also provides a safe haven for threatened species such as snowy owls and mexican spider monkeys. Staff members guide tours and conduct presentations, allowing visitors to get a close look at animals.
Lori and Matt Sames founded Hannah’s Hope Fund (HHF) in 2008 when their 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with giant axonal neuropathy (GAN). They set up an office at their kitchen table to raise funds to help treat and cure GAN. Over time, HHF expanded into an internationally recognized organization that mobilizes volunteers and sponsors fundraising events that range from lemonade stands to galas. Through their efforts, research into GAN has grown exponentially. Before HHF began, only one doctor worldwide was studying GAN, but now scientists have developed gene-replacement therapy that they believe will save patents’ central nervous systems. They have started human clinical trials to test the treatment and seek a cure.
Legend has it that in 1901, on his way from the Adirondacks to Washington, where President McKinley had just been shot, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt made a pit stop in Ballston Lake. There, he allegedly ate a meal at Carney's Tavern—then known as the Ballston Lake Hotel—and used its telephone, one of the area's first. Historians aren't totally convinced of Roosevelt's appearance, but none dispute the rich heritage of the restaurant, which has nourished diners since 1877.
These days, chef Michael Pallozzi continues that legacy as the head of the tavern's kitchen. Along with timeless options such as grilled reuben sandwiches and veal parmesan, he creates more contemporary dishes, such as pizzas topped with shrimp and wild-leek pesto. Chef Michael's feasts unfold in a spacious dining room enhanced with historical touches, including an original tin ceiling and a trolley rail now serving as a bar footrest.
The instructors at Side Kicks Family Karate aren't just about helping their students progress in belt colors—they aim to help them progress in life. In their martial-arts classes, which combine Japanese fighting styles with kickboxing and basic grappling, they not only teach men, women, and children how to defend themselves, but also how to cultivate self-discipline, self-esteem, and strong character in and out of the dojo.
Along the main stretch at Hilltop Paintball, one recalls the Old West while spying the silhouettes of two cowboys leaning against wooden structures and dangling signs swinging in the wind before a camo-clad anachronism emerges from behind a wagon wheel. The stranger locks and loads a paintball marker before hightailing it to one of seven terrains with scenario games, such as Alien Planet and speedball. In order to win matches, he and his teammates must navigate obstacles, including stacks of logs, hay bales, and clones of Barney Fife. In airsoft matches, they play a paint-free game with similar principles to paintball, and an onsite target range gives them a chance to hone their aim. To shake it up, they can practice putting at an 18-hole mini-golf course, try their hands at Nerf Dart Tag, or refuel at the barbecue and picnic area. The facility also accommodates larger groups for special events such as corporate outings and birthdays with custom packages, and a private party tent is available with advance reservations.