The locomotives were just becoming commonplace in the early 19th century, when the New York Central and Hudson River railroads were completed. A member of the legendary Vanderbilt family, Dr. William Webb capitalized on unfolding innovations by privately financing a railroad to his hunting preserve in the Adirondack Mountains. The route wound through treacherous terrain via 17 bridges and numerous service buildings, some of which still are still used to trick time-travelers into thinking they're finally home. Despite these complications, the tracks materialized within just 18 months and were soon whisking the Vanderbilts and other wealthy families to their opulent wilderness estates.
After several decades in disrepair, the tracks were rehabilitated by the railroad enthusiasts of Adirondack Scenic Railroad, who resurrected an initial four-mile stretch in 1992. Since having the railroad officially declared a Historic Place, they continue to unveil new sections, eventually securing routes from Utica to Carter Station, and between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Today, retro locomotives, some built as early as the 1940s, chug through the rippling rivers and wildlife-rich forests of 600-million-acre Adirondack Park, letting passengers drink in the view. Though the railcars boast vintage touches, such as mahogany paneling haunted by the ghosts of Franklin Pierce, they are equipped with modern touches including air conditioning and fully loaded kitchens.
Many Adirondack Scenic Railroad rides provide other entertainments to supplement scenery. In the Doo Wop Train, waitresses from ?50s-themed The Soda Fountain in Remsen pump up patrons for a mid-century feast at the eatery while en route to Remsen Station. Other themed excursions ooze with intrigue, including murder mysteries and train robberies, while some more laid-back jaunts simply convey riders to historically-rich towns such as Old Forge.
Harlem Globetrotters Playing Three-on-Five
Since forming in the 1920s, the Harlem Globetrotters have continued to entertain millions of parents, children, and general basketball admirers with a trademark blend of athletic precision and razzle-dazzle showmanship. For the team's 2014 tour, a rotating [roster](http://gr.pn/PHdb6w) of Globetrotter favorites?including three female players?takes to the hardwood each game. Spectators might spot veteran guard [TNT](http://gr.pn/rOe0P4) sharing a behind-the-back pass with dunker [Quake](http://gr.pn/QTIGVh), whose high jump once cleared 7 feet, cruelly dashing his dreams of working in a ceiling-fan store. The Globetrotters might also present a study in contrasts with 5-foot-2 [Too Tall](http://gr.pn/PHdmPh) and 7-foot-4 [Stretch](http://gr.pn/1dYrbUt), the team?s tallest member. During each Globetrotters game, youngsters laugh along and witness the jovial jocks performing classic routines of unconventional passing and sudden transmutations of water into confetti. To infuse their visits with an extra shot of unpredictability, the Globetrotters also let fans in each city vote on special rules for every game; past rules have included the use of a four-point shot and the installation of a penalty box. Over the years, similar antics have followed the Globetrotters around the world, including to 122 countries and territories and all six continents on which basketballs grow naturally. The Globetrotters? extensive travels haven?t gone unnoticed: they?re one of the few teams to earn a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as ambassadors of the sport.
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.
Town of New Hartford Recreation Center sends skaters of all ages gliding across the frosty floors of its indoor arena during two-hour public skate sessions held throughout the week. Customers can rent skates ($4; not covered by the Groupon) upon arrival or whittle their own pair out of a block of cement before hitting the frozen dance floor to salchow beneath its bright lights. An indoor refrigeration system ensures that the rink can remain open until March 31st, giving visitors one last opportunity to show off their skating skills or favorite flannel poncho.
Steeds, including Saddlebred, Morgan, and Hackney ponies, gallop across the idyllic pasture around DarMaur Manor, a full-service equine facility with 24 stalls in two barns. Show-winning instructors Christopher Carrick and Laura Denale each draw from more than 20 years of equestrian experience to enlighten blossoming riders on saddle-seat equitation and cart driving in sprawling indoor and outdoor arenas. The veteran staff also trains all horse breeds, breaking young colts and helping seasoned stallions brush up on Renaissance art history.
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Average Duration of Services: 1?2 hours
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Apart from your business's main attraction, do you offer any "hidden" services or activities that visitors are always delighted to learn about?
We won a Rand-McNally Award as a "Must See Destination" in 2010 and we're rated one of the best historical narrations in the country. We travel past the second oldest surviving church in NY State, but the major highlight of the cruise is entering the 100 year old Erie Canal Lock with all it's original equipment. The vessel and passengers are then lowered 20 feet (and raised on the way back) while listening to the Captain explain how the lock works without any pumps to move 2.5 million gallons of water in only 7 minutes. Folks experience beautiful rural scenery with sightings of wildlife from Blue and Green Herons and the occasional Bald Eagle.
Narration is happening for the full 90 minutes with emphasis on how the Erie Canal helped settle our western lands, which could not have been easily settled without the canal. We also talk about how the Erie Canal made New York the Empire State and New York City the preeminent city in our country.
What is the experience customers can expect, and how do you make it special?
We talk about the canal's use today, mostly for recreational vessels that make the iconic Great Circle Cruise?a voyage that is on most yachtsman's bucket lists. The Great Circle Cruise circumnavigates the eastern half of the United States and cannot be done without the Erie Canal. It's almost 5,600 miles long and takes anywhere from 6-8 months to complete, and Captain Jerry has completed it twice and relates the experience on the return trip to the dock.
Most people don't realize that the Erie Canal is still fully operational today after almost 190 years of operation and runs from Hudson River at Albany to Lake Erie at Buffalo. It is the last remaining fully operational canal in the nation and in 2000 was designated as the 23rd National Heritage Corridor in the United States.
What?s your favorite part of your job?
The passengers and their amazement on how this canal still operates and how it helped in settling the Louisiana Purchase. Plus we have an "open pilot house" policy and we get to speak one-on-one to many passengers during the cruises.